Biographical Sketch of Pvt. James R. Hickey

Palmyra, Wayne County, NY

James R.  Hickey

James R. Hickey Post #120 of the American Legion in Palmyra, NY was named after the first soldier from Palmyra to be killed in action in World War I.

James Raymond Hickey first appears in the 1900 census at age 11, residing in the Town of Palmyra with his father Morris, mother Bridget, and siblings John, Mary, Daniel, Morris Jr., Patrick, Anna, Michael and Katharine. His father Morris was said to be born in Canada in November 1858 to Irish-born parents. He emigrated to the U.S. in 1867, was a naturalized citizen, and a farm labor who rented a house. Bridget Hickey was born in Ireland in February 1856, emigrated in 1874, was married for 21 years, and had 9 children all born in New York State, of whom 9 were living. Eldest child John Hickey was born in December 1879 and was a day laborer for the railroad. Mary Hickey was born in July 1881, Daniel in June 1883, Morris Jr. in May 1885, Patrick in December 1886, James in November 1888, Anna in October 1890, Michael in January 1893, and Katharine in January 1896. All but the two oldest and youngest child Katharine had attended school within the past year.

In 1910 Morris and Bridget Hickey and 7 of their children were residing in Palmyra. Morris was a laborer who emigrated in 1867, and Bridget stated again that she emigrated to the U.S. in 1874. All of her children were still living. At home were John, a "builder on bridge," Mary and Daniel who were both laborers at a packing factory, James who was a laborer "working out," and the three youngest children Anna, Michael and Katherine. Morris Jr. and Patrick were living elsewhere.

At the time that James Raymond Hickey registered for the WWI Draft, he said he resided at 2 Spring St., village of Palmyra (which is right by the cemetery), and was employed in the factory of Garlock Packing Co. James was age 29, single, and born November 2, 1888 in Palmyra. There was no second page to his card so we have no physical description nor date of registration. But his name appears in village and town listings of many men due to leave Wayne County for basic training. [front page of The Newark Union-Gazette, Saturday, February 23, 1918]

* Seven months after his departure, his family and community received the sad news:

Rochester Democrat & Chronicle, Friday, September 27, 1918

First Palmyra Boy
to Die in Action

Palmyra, Sept. 26- James R. Hickey is the first Palmyra man to be killed in action in the present war. His father, Morris Hickey, is in receipt of a telegram from Acting Adjutant General Harris informing him that his son was killed on August 23d.

Mr. Hickey left this village on February 25th last, with other selected men; and went to Camp Devans where he remained about three weeks and was then sent overseas. He is survived by his father, five brothers, John, Daniel, Morris, Patrick, Michael, and three sisters, Mrs. George Crawley (sic), Anna and Catherine Hickey.

The Lyons Republican, Friday, September 27, 1918, page 6

A telegram received by the father Wednesday told of the death of James R. Hickey of Palmyra on a battlefield in France. Mr. Hickey is the first Palmyra boy to be killed in action and the second from Wayne county. He is survived by his father, five brothers, and three sisters.

* Five days after Mr. Hickey's receipt of the telegraph, the community held a memorial mass at St. Anne's Church. It appears that it had been a month between James' death and his family receiving notification.

The Lyons Republican, Friday, October 4, 1918, page 6

All business was suspended in Palmyra Monday from 10 o'clock till noon in honor of James R. Hickey, who was killed in action in France August 23. Requiem mass was celebrated at St. Anne's Church, Rev. James E. Hartley officiating, who paid a glowing tribute to the young man's worth and upright character. The Knights of Columbus, Red Cross Society and the business men marched to the Church.

* A year and a half later, Palmyra's veterans honored their fallen comrade.

Rochester Democrat & Chronicle, Friday, July 16, 1920

Legion Post Changes Name.

Palmyra, July 15.- The American Legion post of Palmyra has changed its name from "Rear Admiral Sampson Post" to "James R. Hickey Post." When the young veterans met to organize the name of Admiral Sampson was temporarily taken, as he was Palmyra's most famous son of modern times. As the membership of the post increased, it was voted to rechristen it with the name of one of the comrades who made the supreme sacrifice. As James R. Hickey was the first to fall in battle, his was the logical name to be chosen.

* It was anticipated that the bodies of James and other local soldiers were soon to be returned from Europe.

Rochester Democrat & Chronicle, Friday, April 22, 1921

Expect Remains of Soldiers to Be
Returned by Autumn.

Palmyra, April 21.- Bodies of Palmyra soldiers who were killed in the World War will be returned, but the date for their arrival has not yet been set. It is believed, however, that the bodies will reach here before fall. As soon as they are shipped from France the families will be notified. Word will also be sent here when the bodies reach New York and it is probable that James R. Hickey Post, American Legion, will take charge of the funeral.

James R. Hickey and Charles Beck were killed in action and Nelson Harmon and George Smith died of pneumonia.

* But Palmyrans were to wait another five years for James to come home to rest on native soil. He'd left Wayne County just over 8 years before:

Rochester Democrat & Chronicle, Wednesday, March 24, 1926

Military Funeral
Held for Palmyra
Man Killed in War

Palmyra, March 23.- Business was suspended here to-day during the funeral services of James Raymond HIckey, at St. Anne's Catholic Church at 9:30 o'clock. Rev. E. J. Imyer (Imoyer?) was the officiating clergyman, assisted by four others from out-of-town. The Church was filled to capacity with relatives and friends of the World War veteran.

Hickey was born in this town on November 2, 1888, left for Camp Devans on February 23, 1918, and was killed in battle in the Vale Sector, France, on August 23, 1918. He was a private in Company M, 308th Infantry.

He was given a full military funeral by James R. Hickey Post, American Legion, which was named in his honor. The body was carried from the home of his sister, Mrs. William O'Brien, in Fayette street, to the church, and thence to the Catholic cemetery for burial on a government gun carriage drawn by horses. Flags on the many staffs in Main street were flown at half mast.

The survivors are his father Maurice Hickey, five brothers and three sisters.

* Prior to James Hickey's return for burial at home, a captured war relic was given to the local post.

Rochester Democrat & Chronicle, Monday, December 28, 1925

Palmyra Post Gets Gun
Captured in World War

Palmyra, Dec. 27.- A German trench mortar, captured during the World War, and given to the James R. Hickey Post, American Legion, by the government, has been received here. As soon as a foundation is completed it will be placed in the Church street cemetery. This cemetery is the last resting place of many former soldiers as well as pioneers of the town.

Private James R. Hickey rests with his parents and other family members in St. Anne's Roman Catholic Cemetery, Palmyra. However, his middle initial is in error on the almost 70-year-old burial list, and his parents' birth years on the list appear to be incorrect as well. Their ages in their obituaries correspond with birth years given in the 1900 census.

St. Anne's Roman Catholic Cemetery
List Made in 1940

Hickey Daniel 1852-1918 Mary A. Cavanaugh, wife 1854-19
Hickey James B. 1887-1918, son of M. & B., killed in WWI
Hickey John S. 1880-1929, son of M. & B.
Hickey Mary A. Collins, wife of Patrick 1858-1891
Hickey Maurice 1860-1932 Bridget, wife 1867-1917

* James' mother had passed away in 1917.

Rochester Democrat & Chronicle, Friday, July 6, 1917, page 3

Bridget Hickey.

Palmyra, July 6.- Mrs. Bridget Hickey, wife of Maurice Hickey, died at her home, on the Limerick road, Palmyra, at a late hour Thursday afternoon, in the sixty-first year of her age. She leaves, besides her husband, nine children, six sons, Maurice, Patsey, James, Michael and John Hickey of Palmyra, and three daughters, Anna and Catherine, of Palmyra, and Mrs. George Crowley of Clifton Springs. The funeral will be held on Monday morning at St. Anne's Church, Palmyra, at 10 o'clock, Rev. James E. Hartley celebrating the loss, burial following in Palmyra cemetery. [note: son Daniel wasn't listed]

* After James' death in the war, brother John was the next of the siblings to pass away.

Wayne County Journal, Thursday, January 17, 1929, page 5

John S. Hickey

John S. Hickey, 49 years old, died at the home of his father on Division street on Monday.

He is survived by his father Morris Hickey, four brothers, Michael of Detroit, Patsy, Morris, Jr., and Daniel all of Palmyra, and three sisters, Mrs. George Crowley of Clifton Springs, Mrs. Katherine O'Brien of Palmyra and Miss Anna of Buffalo.

The funeral was held from the home of his sister Mrs. Katherine O'Brien of FAyette street and from St. Anne's church at nine o'clock this (Thursday) morning. Burial in St. Anne's cemetery.

* James' father passed away in 1932.

Rochester Democrat & Chronicle, Saturday March 12, 1932

HICKEY- Morris Hickey died Friday morning, March 11, at Clifton Springs Sanitarium, after a long illness, aged 73. Survived by four sons, Daniel, Morris Jr., and Patrick of Palmyra, N.Y. and Michael of Detroit, Michigan; three daughters, Mrs. George Crowley of Clifton Springs, Miss Anna Hickey and Mrs. William O'Brien of Palmyra and nineteen grandchildren; one sister, Mrs. Ellen McGuire, Palmyra.

- funeral Monday morning from the home of his daughter, Mrs. William O'Brien, at 8:30 and from St. Ann's Church at 9 o'clock. Burial in St. Ann's Cemetery, Palmyra, N. Y.

James R.  Hickey

This large souvenir photograph of Private Hickey may have been given out at the first memorial mass on September 30, 1918, or at his funeral on March 23, 1926.

James R.  Hickey

James R.  Hickey


The first Palmyra boy to give his all for his Country on
the shell torn fields of France

Like the true blue soldier that he was he faced the supreme test
on that fateful August 23, 1918, and paid the supreme sacrifice with
brave unflinching courage.

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Created: 1/23/09
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