mystery man

Growing I heard stories of my grandfather Nicholas Dozenberg, confabulous stories about China and the pottery pieces that adorned the fireplace hearth. Far, far away places that I could only imagine. And that man.

I knew he was my mother’s father and had been married to my grandmother. There where “cousins,” in Santa Barbara California that had visited us but that was as much as I knew about his family. He must have had a family.

He must have been an interesting man for all of the grown up people to be talking about him. I heard from my grandmother that he spoke, “seven languages,” and that intrigued me more than anything. How could anyone speak that many languages?

right – Nicholas Dozenberg
HUAC Committe Hearings
secret testimony
Washington DC
May 21 1940

Why was my grandmother so intent on writing her story?

Why did my mother feel the deep loss of this man in her life?

Where was his family?

Where did he come from?

Who is a spy?

Who did he spy on?

Why was he a spy?

How could I know him better?

Would I ever know him?

Was he really a communist?

I grew up in a culture of hippies, free love and sunshine. A very different place then most of the rest of the world. My aunt listened to the Beattles and my favorite color was hot pink.

The information gap grew and turned into a lifetime pursuit of learning, understanding and appreciating the life of the mystery man

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Wordless Wednesday: 1940 Census

Frances and Ruth Dallant
1940 Census,Alban Towers, Washington DC

Just released this week the 1940 US Census on Ancestry.com. The Date of this entry is April 1940, Nicholas Dallant aka Dozenberg had been arrested in December 1939. Frances was alone with her young daughter with the exception of another man that had moved into the household. Humes Houston Whittlesey, USN had unprecedented access to a small child, left without her father. It is interesting to note that the name is spelled “Delant,”(the correct spelling is Dallant,) perhaps intentionally, Frances could have been attempting to protecting herself and her daughter from public scrutiny or alternatively, the couple had rented the apartment with a false spelling. Nick had lived and married under the assumed name of “Dallant,” for 12 years. Nicholas and Frances had lived at this Washington DC address since 1937. Later when the FBI searched the apartment records they where not able to locate this residence.

You can see the original image here 1940 Census Record – Alban Towers – Washington DC

Copyright © amanoffamily.com 2012

So I want to write a book

For some falls the task of recording the family history as it can best be known. My predecessors where such individuals as Albert Hopkins Davis who in 1927 recorded events and people in his infirmed years, and Joseph Francis Thornton who published his compilation covering generations before and as many after as he knew them in 1940. The motivation for taking on such a daunting task can be found in the very family of which they speak. For Albert he wished that descendants would know and appreciate the accomplished life his father Don Henry Davis a veteran of two wars and public servant. For Joseph, he desired to know his father who died within the week of his birth. He left the reader with the distinct privilege of coming closer to the dear Christian heart and benevolent love his mother showered on all of her children. 

As for me, it is my hope to write a version of public and private events that surrounded two of my closest and most interesting relatives; my grandfather Nicholas Dozenberg and the woman he loved who was as equally interesting; Frances Davis DeLawder. Frances’ personal reputation preceded her and was left for others to marvel at years after her death. It was no wonder that she attracted dashing, powerful, and equally charismatic men.  Her choice to become a mother at an unfashionably late stage of life was no less unique than also becoming a single mother in a social setting that was well equipped for the task. She cherished her only daughter and each of her grandchildren.  Her death, and his absence left a vacuum that could not be filled, the loss was palpable, and for at least one young man an insurmountable sum of events.

This story has its roots at least in part from family legend. This is a story that could only happen in America, the greatest melting pot ever known, where established families and immigrants came together in a new social context. I have read that for some descendants with ancestors of dubious character, they,(the descendants), end up on the “wrong side of history“. It is my opinion that there is no “side” to history but rather just a continuum of time in history.

After spending countless hours and personal treasure on researching the family tree and reconstructing events, my research aided by unimaginable technology in my ancestors time, I will present the story as I know it. I am not a historian in the academic sense, but an appointed historian in the familial sense. And so I embark on a journey like so many other journeys in life with an unknown destination, the first task is to settle on a title of my words yet to be tied together in some fashion of readable form.

I have come up with the title after much consternation. The final choice is: “A Man of Family,” and the title of this blog.

This is a true story that spans the globe, political philosophies and intimate personal desires, the stuff that makes up human life. I will share some of the details here. I am telling this story for “us,” the victims of a great deception. You are welcome to tag along as I trek along this path. 

from left to right: me with my family,  father, Amy, Allan, George, Grandma Frances, before the last baby was born

A Look Around the Internet

This story is about my family and one of my grandfathers, Nicholas Dozenberg. I grew up hearing confabulous stories about him from my grandmother. She was the only person that ever knew him. He left an impression on everyone that he met. He made a great splash in the American family that he married into. There was quite a flap over the subsequent public humilation and termination the marriage suffered.

Nicholas Dozenberg

He has become a legend of his own making. He is a favorite distained subject of John Earl Haynes and an object of admiration by communist and marxist sympathizers. A Soviet spy with his cover blown wide open he testified for the US government in the trial of Earl Browder and before the HUAC Committee ….. much of what is known about candelstine Soviet activites in the interwars years is because of him.

I doubt Nicholas ever thought his story would be so widely known. He died heartbroken after suffering a long debilitating illness. An internet search proves otherwise below is one site of interest.

Much of the information provided on this site was provided by this author or borrowed (without permission). The content is not necessarily endorsed by this author. As a matter of record the site claims to be run by the “Nicholas Dozenberg Family,” when in fact is maintained by a single family member.

copyright ©Alice Kramer 2010

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