Who is James S Day

Do you recognise this young man? 

Please don't leave this page without reading the story - 
you may be the key to the puzzle of James S Day.

James S Day - photographed on 28 April 1859 at the studio of Rufus Anson, New York, USA The inscription inside the photograph case indicting some of his travels

The daguerreotype photograph at left above, was taken at the studio of Rufus Anson, 598 Broadway New York on 28th April 1859. The subject of the photo is James S Day. From the photograph on the right above, we can see the inscription placed inside the case by young James, where he records some of his movements during a three year period. Over a period of 140 years, it found its way into a  children's museum in Kew Gardens, Queens. A passer-by found it and purchased it for his brother, a photography buff. It was a rare find - there are not many daguerreotypes floating around out there anymore.

Did you or someone related to you own that museum? Or did you or someone related to you donate or sell some old photographs to that museum? If so, we would like to hear from you.

When the new owner opened the case, he discovered the inscription inside which reads:-

I landed in Dublin
31st March 1860
Landed in Liverpool 23
March 1860
April 28th 1859
May 5th 1859 I
sailed        J.S. Day
for Melbourne 97 Days

So who is James S. Day?

On reading the inscription his curiosity was spiked into action. He wanted to know who this J.S. Day was and where he came from. Armed only with the dates and locations inscribed inside the case, we set about identifying him. The following are the known facts which are provable through existing records:-

About James S. Day

About the 1859 voyage to Melbourne

About the ship

Yes, but who IS James S. Day?

That is the $64 question - we don't know.

Do you know who James S. Day is? If so, we would like to hear from you.

If the passenger list of 1859 is to be believed, and there is no reason why it shouldn't be, then the lad in the photograph, who by his own hand states that he was in New York in May 1859 and that he took 97 days to get to Melbourne, then James S. Day was, indeed, a 13 year old seaman aboard the ship "Continent". This gives us at least a clue to his birth date.

By calculation, we have deduced that he must have been born between November 1845 and May 1847, but we have no positive idea where, other than America. A search of the IGI turned up several James Day's, but only one which fits into the right time frame to make him 13 in August of 1859.

The James S. Day whose birth date matches closest to that calculated for this young man, was born in Montague, Franklin County, Massachusetts on 31 October 1846, the son of Joseph Day and Hannah A. Shepard. That James S. Day enlisted at Springfield, Massachusetts in September 1863, and mustered out with 'G' Company, 2nd Massachusetts Volunteer Heavy Artillery on 7 December 1863. He was captured by rebel forces at the Battle of Plymouth, NC on 20 April 1864 and taken to Andersonville Prison in Georgia. According to records which are available, there is no record of that particular James S. Day past his transfer from Andersonville to Florence, SC. The only other clue is that there is a cemetery marker in the Locust Hill Cemetery in Montague, Massachusetts which lists his name and says "Died in Andersonville" - but he is not buried there.

Are these two young men one and the same? That these two young men are one and the same is purely conjecture. We cannot prove anything further than what we have here.

Did James S. Day who was born in Montague, Massachusetts spend several years of his young life at sea aboard the "Continent", returning to enlist with his brothers and comrades in the Union Army, only to die an ignominious death in a Confederate Prison camp.

If you recognise the young man in the photograph, or perhaps he resembles someone in your DAY family, we would love to hear from you. We would like know who James S. Day was and what he did with his life.

Contact Details

Please e-mail us if you have any information at all that may help solve the puzzle

 Julie Stokes  Bill Jacobs



Record Sources & Researchers who helped us trace James S. Day