Monday, July 3, 2017

De Weird –The Great Mystifying Wizard

James Thomas Riley Weir was born on October 19,1885, in Martin’s Ferry, Ohio. His father, James and mother Elizabeth, and the family moved to a home on Carey Alley in Pittsburgh. Three years later, James’ father passed away. A year later, young James’ twin brother Sylvester passed away. By the age of fourteen, James, along with his older brother and sister, took on the chores around the house. When James was fourteen, he got a job as an elevator boy in town. He had been performing small magic for the school he went to as well as other small shows.

The back of this card is Bicycle's Chainless #18 design.

            In 1906, he played a week in Altoona at a local venue featuring his skills as a magician and escape artist under the name of Professor James De Weird. He married Elizabeth Miller in 1907. James worked in a pet shop as a salesman while practicing his magic for customers. By 1914, he was a member of the Pittsburgh Association of Magicians where he was elected to the office of Vice President. His fellow performers enjoyed his skill and James was always trying ideas out on the members to hone his abilities. His forte and expertise was in escapes from handcuffs.

The back of this card is Bicycle's Mobile #2 design.

This is James Weir's WWI draft card.

The back of this card is Bicycle's Latern #2 design.

Some of the other members included George Wanner, Silent Mora, Copenhagen Paul, Charles "Baffles" Brush, Jack Gwynne, and Harry Rouclere. By 1918, James was nearly thirty-three when he registered for the draft. He was working as a salesman for a local pet shop on Smithsfield Street in Pittsburgh. James continued to perform at ladies clubs and local fraternity organizations for many years. In 1940, James claimed to be employed as a salesman at a Bird Seed Store. One of the last reports found was in 1942, where James was employed to entertain at a senior woman’s club in Pittsburgh. 

The back of this card is Bicycle's League #35 design.

This is James Weir's WWII draft card.

His last non-magic-related employment was as a night watchman. I received an email from a relative of James, or as she remembered him as "Uncle Jim." Evelyn mentioned, "...that he entertained all of us kids at family gatherings; he was the delight of our lives." James Weir passed away on August 17, 1951, and is buried Saint Michael's Cemetery in Allegheny County, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.


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