Wordless Wednesday: John Adam DeLawder, John Lurman DeLawder, Rosa Alice DeLawder

John A DeLawder, John Lurman DeLawder, Alice Rosa DeLawder (nee Glofetly)

from left to right: John Adam DeLawder, John Lurman DeLawder
Rosa Alice DeLawder  (nee Glotfelty)
most likely taken in Takoma Park, MD cira 1920

 

First Love: John and Frances

“Capital ‘D’-e” {pause} “Capital ‘L,’-a-w-d-e-r.” I can still hear my grandmother Frances spelling out her last name to persons unfamiliar with the surname. “DeLawder is two words, she said, always ending the spelling with this explanation. Frances clung to the name in honor of her beloved John and his family decades after his departure. 

In keeping with her Victorian upbringing, she remained faithful to her first love. I have said “John DeLawder lived a long and prosperous life after he died in 1924,” Frances never allowed his memory to fade. John was the epitome of the knight-in-shinning-armor; or, at least he morphed into this over the years. His thick dark hair, blue eyes, and chiseled features where not outdone by his unabashed tenderness and ambition.

top left: Rebecca Ruth (b. 1894), Martha May (b. 1897)
Kingsbury (b. 1892), and John Lurman (b. 1898.)

John Adam DeLawder and Rosa Alice Glotfelty married on September 3, 1889 in Deep Creek, Garret MD. John Lurman followed sisters Rebecca Ruth, Martha May, and brother  Kingsbury. The DeLawder family settled in nearby Washington DC, where John Adam worked in the government printing office.

Like the Davis family, the DeLawders where middle class Americans. Both heads of households held long-term government positions, Albert as a clerk for the Pension Department and John Adam DeLawder as Assistant Foreman in the Printing Office.

High school provided an outlet for Frances’ outgoing nature and enthusiasm. At home she was expected to be quiet and reserved. Her passion for life flourished in the public high school she attended. She received the praises and accolades of her instructors. At Business High School in Washington DC, she learned typewriting and stenography, she danced, played basketball, played tennis, and swam. Her undeniable charm made her a natural leader, being elected Vice President of the student body government. In her senior year she competed with the rifle team, and dabbled in the theater arts.

 

Washington Post, June 4 1914

Girls Rifle Team
Business High School 1914
Washington DC
(Frances is bottom row, left

In that same year the Davis family moved from 214 “A” St SE, Washington DC to Takoma Park MD, on the outskirts of the city. Frances’ determination to graduate entailed a daily commute on the street cars arriving home barely in time for the evening meal. Frances completed her public schooling in June 1914

Before graduation, Frances attracted the attention of a boy. He was a prize. George, Frances’ younger brother by two years, also liked John DeLawder very much and approved of the match. Mutual friends introduced them. John attended the McKinley Manual Training School across the street from Business High School in Congress Heights of Washington DC. From their first meeting, John was gallant, never engaging in degrading conversation about the “weaker sex.” Frances and John shared their lunch break, and so began a great love. 

Canoeing on the Potomac River, walks along the towpath, and secret passions was everything a girl could want in a boy. With John she was free from her distant father, who never tired of believing that Frances “should have been a boy” and her somber mother who believed that girls where “shedding their femininity.”

John Lurman DeLawder (1898 – 1924)

John graduated from McKinley in 1916 where he had studied science. He aspired to be a bacteriologist. He found his way into the Bureau of Standards(the Federal Governments first physical science research laboratory),  where he was appointed apprentice later that same year. It may have been John’s abilities that landed him the position in the Bureau of Standards from instructors at his high school as implied by this note in a closed case FBI file. John understood higher education was the way up and applied himself to study with as much vigor as he worked.

John would spend his weekends with his sweetheart in rural Takoma Park and travel back to the city for weekdays. She mourned his absence those days but John could not be persuaded to marry before he could provide for a wife and eventual children.

The nation’s capital was abuzz with the talk of war as the United States failed to negotiate neutrality in the European conflict.  Young John may have viewed the war as an opportunity to advance his career. At the age of 19 years, John and close friend Francis “Fran” Clarke enlisted in the Army at Walter Reed Hospital in Washington D.C as part of the National Guard.

He and Clarke where immediately sent to Long Island, NY for training at Camp Mills. They were assigned to the Medical Corps. The two friends departed for distant France soon after.

Copyright  ©amanoffamily.com 2012

edited by Donora Hillard

Update: CIA library manuscript released

Personal circumstances have kept me from writing the last few months but that will soon be remedied.I have news that the CIA library has released my grandmothers unpublished (lost) manuscript and expect a copy of it soon. (Thank you Scott Hodes)How did it end up in the possession of the CIA?  I hope to answer that question.Since I have at least a partial copy of one version and a nearly full copy of the another version (seemed she re-typed the story at least twice,) it will be interesting to compare the two complete versions.

It is a grand idea to publish her work, (unpublished manuscript), at least on the internet. Then I could help to accomplish what she didn’t see in her life.

Rest in peace dear dear grandmother,
       your love did not return void.

Portrait sent to John DeLawder in WWI via special delivery a favor from Humes Houston Whittlesey, Lt Commander, USN

Copyright  ©amanoffamily.com 2012

P.S. The manuscript did arrive! Fortunately it is the first version she wrote. The CIA preserved her work. No indication how it ended up in the library but the manuscript is complete.

The Cast of Characters

Every good story has charming and endearing characters and this one is chock full of them. Some of them are easy to spot; a Russian spy, a Russian Red Army general, a USN intelligence officer, Victorian women, a handsome young man, a baby girl, and some not so well known; a medical doctor, mobsters, counterfeiter’s, unidentified Gmen, and a myriad of accomplices all set against the backdrop of the turbulent 1930’s.

First and foremost is Nicholas Dozenberg, or “Nick,” as he preferred to be called by his friends and family. He was charismatic, intelligent, “generous to a fault,” with an impeccable sense of timing. He was described by his surviving spouse as the, “cleverest spy between two continents,” an interesting insight given the adamant plea that she, “knew nothing,” of his candestine career. He was a typical man in the sense that he admired beautiful and charming women. In 1904 he was a young Russian-Lettish immigrant following his oldest brother Carl Dosenberg who had already settled in the bustling Lettish community of Boston. He was one of 8 children and their parents most of them completing the journey to the promised shores.
Not much is known of Nick’s first wife, Katherine Peagle or “Ancit,” her casual name. She was also of Russian Lettish descent. She was his constant companion even following him into the Russian spy circles upon Nick’s recruitement in 1928 until her death January 1, 1936 in China.
Albert Davis with daughter Mary Frances Davis
named for one her paternal aunts

Upon the death of his first wife Nick wrote an American woman whom he had meet several years earlier and had corresponded with through letters and postcards sent from around the world. The letter of proposal reach Frances DeLawder Feb 14, 1936 in New York City. She cabled back her response and set out for Japan.

Born Mary Frances Davis in the year 1895 she was the sixth  of eight children. Her birth was preceded by the death of the second male child barely 14 months of age. Frances grew up under the tutelage of her older sisters, Ruth, Nina, and Emma. Mother Emma was preoccupied with George Easton the third male born a short 21 months later and the baby Winifred born in 1899.
Frances and John DeLawder
wedding portrait
April 1920

Frances was blessed with a “porcelain complexion,” and long lanky frame imbued with female charm that could not be ignored. She won the heart of her handsome childhood sweetheart, John Lurman DeLawder and with his safe return from the war front they where wed in April 1920 shortly after Frances’ 25th birthday. It was without any exaggeration the happiest day of her life. Her domestic future was secured at least for a short while.

The story that follows is not included in the “official version,” promoted and scrubbed clean by two well intentioned Victorian women, also sisters, but it is the truer to life and much more interesting, “warts and all.”

copyright © amanoffamily.com 2011

The Lost Manuscript

I can still hear the tap-tap-tap of the portable electric typewriter keys as they struck the paper and the ding as the carriage neared the completion of another sentance ….. it was a work in progress, typing and re-typing the story that wanted to be told but Frances never finished her story.Before the days of Xerox and Kinkos the only way to produce a copy of a typed record was to insert carbon paper behind the front sheet which would have contained the original key strokes.
Frances started working on her book the year I was expected into this world. Not too long after Elizabeth Bentley and Whittaker Chambers had both published their accounts of their lives as communists in the underground.

There was a manuscript produced, indeed there where probably two versions of the manuscript at one time and at least one was sent off for a publishers review. The manuscript was sent but was never printed or returned …. it whereabouts remained a mystery until now.
A Google search of grandfathers name a few months ago yielded a link to the unpublished manuscript.

I nearly fell off of my chair when I read the title: “Time and Chance: The Autobiography of Frances DeLawder.” Having read a copy of the much rumored manuscript only recently upon the death of my mother it was more than surprizing to find it listed in the WorldCat.

After sending off a few emails in the early morning hours I was filled with anticipation. Where could this manuscript be after all of these years? The next morning I found my answer waiting in my inbox … the manuscript landed in the library of the CIA.  It has been rumored that parts of this manuscript have been borrowed but thanks to the wonders of the internet it has been located.

Time and Chance: An Autobiography of Frances DeLawder
copyright ©amanoffamily.com 2010