Remembering a WWII Veteran from My Family Tree

My great uncle James Kelton January died in the Pacific theater of World War II.

I discovered this by accident while doing family history work, which I love.  Modern technology has made it easy (and addicting) to find and trace your relatives. While my family history work has slowed down because of my academic research agenda, I look forward to getting back into it once I graduate.

Today I want to tell you what I know about my great uncle James K. January. I did not know him. I did not know his brother Rufus Morgan January, my great grandfather. I never heard him talked about while growing up, as the January family tree had been somewhat of a mystery until I began doing extensive research on it a few years ago. Here’s what I found.

He was born in Canton, Van Zandt County, Texas, on June 6, 1919.

He lived there with his parents, C. Derous January and Melvina Jane “Mollie” Paschal, until 1940, where he appears in the census. They were Protestants, which now seems obvious since I traced the Januarys back to the French Huguenots.

He enlisted with the U.S. Navy in November of 1940. He boarded his first navy vessel on January 28, 1941. He was a Ship’s Clerk 3rd Class. He never married, as far as I know.

He died on November 30, 1942, off the coast of Guadalcanal (now known as the Solomon Islands) in the Pacific Ocean. He was killed in the Battle of Guadalcanal, which you can read all about on Wikipedia.

He is buried in the Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery in San Antonio, Texas.

james k january cemetery


I’m grateful to him, and my great great grandparents. It must have been hard to lose a son, especially one so young. I’m proud to know that a World War II veteran is part of my family tree.



20 thoughts on “Remembering a WWII Veteran from My Family Tree

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  1. Thanks for sharing his story. It is fun to track lineage and make discoveries. I go in and out of research, as it does take time and sucks you in.

    1. I’m thinking that I should set aside a specific time each week to do this kind of research instead of completely abandoning it. It is such fun!

  2. I used to drive my kids to their piano teacher who lived in a teeny tiny town in the hills of Western Pennsylvania. (It was so small, everyone picked up their mail at the local post office.) Smack dab in the little town’s square was a memorial to the men who had died in America’s wars. I often think about boys (and now girls) like these..from small towns across the USA..leaving home to fight in places I’m sure they couldn’t even pronounce. “Greater love hath no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.”

      1. I remember reading a book about it. The author wrote that after 6 months of defeat after defeat for US forces in the Pacific, there was doubt at home that Americans might be “too soft” to slug it out with the Japanese army in jungle warfare. After Guadalcanal, that doubt was erased.

  3. Indians do not have such cemetery who lost their lives in WWII and you are making me to recall sarojini Naidu freedom fighter and writer wrote a poem mother India….It says they wrote their victory with the blood of Indian soldiers…Nice Emily J. with your post I can real patriotism .

    Thanks for experience.

  4. Your story is much like my husbands. He started out with his Family Tree and found that his Great Grandfather was a Real Patriot in the Civil War. He found Ambrose’s story so interesting that he started writing about him and a while later he found he had so much information that he published a book. Interestingly, it came out just in time to present his Grandson with a copy for his graduation from West Point Military Academy. He is now training to be a Ranger!! We are so proud of all the patriots for what they give for us all!!!

    Maybe in your research you will lead to more information and will put it to paper for us all to read too. What a great hobby you are enjoying – never know where it might take you!!!!

    1. How neat! I don’t think I can find enough for a book, but I know that some of the earlier Januarys were fighters in the Revolutionary War. Others have done that research, which I just stumbled on. It is so fun to learn about these people and their place in history!

  5. Dear Emily,
    Thank you for posting the information on James Kelton January. I am writing a genealogy book on the Paschall Family. Your 2nd great grandmother Melvina Jane “Mollie” Paschall’s father was John Columbus Paschall. His brother William Houston Paschall was my great grandfather. My questions is: Do you know what the “C.” in C. Derous January’s name stands far?
    Be Blessed – Linda

    1. How nice to connect with you, Linda! I do not know what the C. stands for, but I’ve always wondered. I did find him in census records as “Sederous” January, which I think caused a lot of confusion in finding him, but I don’t know if that is helpful to you. Anyway, thanks for commenting!

  6. Emily – hoping to connect with you on your January line. If interested would you email me so we can chat.

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