1. 11John Charles Metcalfe, son of Richard Maria Wilhelm Oberwinder (son of Prof. Heinrich Conrad Ludwig Wilhelm Emil Oberwinder and Juditha Catharina Maria Treÿer) and Bernice Roche Metcalfe (dau. of William Lyons Metcalfe and Mary H. Roche). Born on 2 Aug. 1904 in Dresden, Sachsen, Germany. Died on 29 June 1971 in San Antonio, Bexar County, Texas, 66 years old. Buried in San Fernando Cemetery, San Antonio.
Married Violet Emma Maria Hurtig, dau. of Carl Axel Hurtig (son of Axel Robert Hurtig and Emma Kristina Adamsdotter) and Esther Kristina Nilsson (dau. of Olaf Peter Nilsson and Maria Jonsdotter), on 2 Jan. 1933 in Chicago, Cook County, Illinois when 28 years old (Violet Emma Maria was 25 years old). Violet Emma Maria Hurtig b. on 8 July 1907 in Chicago; bap. on 20 Oct. 1907 in Chicago when three months old; d. on 1 May 1987 in Los Angeles, Los Angeles County, California, 79 years old; bur. in Beverly Cemetery, Blue Island, Cook County, Illinois; m. (1) Samuel William Ångstrom (23 Oct. 1903 in Illinois–26 July 1987 in St. Petersburg, Pinellas County, Florida), son of Adolph Ångstrom and Amelia C. _____, on 6 Dec. 1924 in Chicago when 17 years old (Samuel William was 21 years old); divorced.
Issue of John Charles Metcalfe and Violet Emma Maria Hurtig:
|i.||son 12(May be living) Metcalfe|
|ii.||dau. (May be living) Metcalfe|
Notes on John Charles Metcalfe:
John’s birth name was Hellmut Maria Siegfried Oberwinder. It was changed to John Charles Metcalfe after his emigration to the United States in 1914.1
Subsequently he was nicknamed “Jacie” (for his initials, J. C.). It is believed that he took his American given names from a maternal great-uncle, John Charles Roche. His early journeys from Germany to various places in the U.S. are noted under his mother.2
Jacie and his brother James took their first communion and confirmation on 14 May 1916 at the University of Notre Dame.3
Jacie majored in Journalism at the University of Notre Dame Preparatory School from 1917 to 1922 and took additional courses in journalism at Englewood Night School in Chicago from 1923 to 1925. He became a reporter for the Associated Press in Chicago in 1925. He moved to report for the San Antonio Light in 1926. He returned to Chicago to become News Editor of the Southtown Economist in 1927–1932.
Jacie married Violet (Vi) Emma Maria Hurtig on 2 January 1933 in Chicago. His son, the author, was born on 23 November of that year.
At the bottom of the Great Depression, 1933–36, Jacie held a variety of jobs in Chicago. He was Public Relations Director of the Chicago Real Estate Board and Special Assistant to the National Association of Real Estate Boards. He was Assistant Editor of the magazine, Real Estate. And he was Public Relations Director of the Merchandise Mart.
In 1936–38 Jacie was a reporter for the Chicago Times. It was here that he got his “big story.” Prior to working for the Times, in 1933–35, he had assisted the FBI as a private citizen in investigations of German propaganda activities in the U.S., working with his brother Jim, the FBI agent, and reporting to Melvin Purvis. He was told by Agent Purvis, “We shall always deny having any connection with you!” Very comforting. Early in 1935 he was invited by Hitler, through the German Consul in Chicago, to come as Hitler’s guest to the Parteitag (Party Day) celebrations in Nuremburg, Germany. Agent Purvis wouldn’t permit the visit, saying “something could go wrong” and that it was too easy to arrange an “accident” if the Nazis had become suspicious of Jacie—reminding Jacie of his “deniability.”
Although a citizen of the United States by derivation (through his mother), Jacie was naturalized an American citizen (as was his brother Jim) in the U.S. District Court in Chicago on 19 August 19364, 5 on the recommendation of Agent Purvis—this to avoid any claim on him by Germany.
Now, in March 1937, Jacie became an undercover reporter for the Times. He joined the Amerikadeutscher Volksbund (the German-American Bund) as an active member, Storm Trooper and personal aide to Fritz Kuhn, the Führer of the Bund, using his fluency in German and his German name to great advantage. He spent six very dangerous months inside the Bund with his brother Jim and another Times reporter, William Mueller (who, unlike Jacie and Jim, couldn’t speak a word of German). The author, as a small child, remembers attending meetings with massed Nazi and American flags and storm troopers, wearing Sam Brown belts and jackboots, singing the Horst Wessel Lied (the Horst Wessel song—the Nazi Party anthem).
Jacie again was invited to Germany to enter a special propaganda school, there to be trained as a Nazi spy and saboteur in operations in the U.S. This invitation was also turned down, for the same reasons, although in both instances Jacie wanted to go. His brother, Andrew, told the author’s sister that Jacie always had a slightly mad bent for danger.
Finally, in September 1937, the Times went public with the story, which was front page material for weeks.6 Jacie then served for a year (1938) as Special Agent to Congress and was appointed Agent-in-Charge of Nazi-Fascist Investigations for the House Committee on Un-American Activities, the first agent appointed by that committee. He was subsequently retained by the Criminal Division of the Department of Justice in 1940–42.
In this period, Jacie received many threats, one recalled by the author as a young child—a threat on Jacie’s life wrapped around a block of wood and thrown through a closed window of a hall in which Jacie was lecturing on his experiences. Shortly thereafter, he was ambushed in his car by automatic weapons, but was able to escape without injury by fast driving—although the car was riddled.
Also in this period (1938–42), Jacie was a technical advisor to Columbia Pictures, Warner Brothers and Republic Pictures. Warner Brothers in particular was accused by congressmen of “war mongering” in June 1941. In testimony before a House Committee defending the movie “Confessions of a Nazi Spy,” Harry M. Warner, President of Warner Bros. Pictures, said “our script writers referred [particularly to] articles in the Chicago Daily News [sic] by John C. Metcalfe. Mr. Metcalfe was not writing hearsay. As a reporter for the Chicago Daily News [sic], Mr. Metcalfe joined the German-American Bund, in order that he might have first hand knowledge of the Bund’s operation.”7
In June 1940,8 Jacie and his family moved to Bethesda, Maryland, and in June 1941 to Silver Spring, Maryland. In 1943–45 he was Washington Diplomatic Correspondent for Time Magazine. In 1945–1947 he had the same title at the New York Herald Tribune and also was a War Correspondent. He reported from most Northern European countries and some in Latin America. In 1949–55 he contributed to the Worldwide Press Service as a Foreign Affairs Correspondent.
In 1948 Jacie started a lecture bureau, National Lecture Management, Inc., in Washington D.C., representing the Vice President of the U.S., Alben W. Barkley, and many Senators, Representatives, journalists and authors. He also represented some entertainers such as Hal Holbrook and Tarbell, the magician, as well as the adventurer, Thor Heyerdahl.
In 1960 Jacie closed the bureau (the impact of television being a significant factor) but continued lecturing on foreign affairs. In 1966 he was appointed Expert Consultant to the State Department’s Agency for International Development.
Jacie and Vi moved to St. Augustine, Florida, and then to 2609 Cincinnati Avenue in San Antonio, Texas, where he died of bladder cancer on Tuesday, 29 June 1971.9 Vi then moved to Los Angeles to be near their son, the author, where she died of circulatory failure on 1 May 1987.
In 1936 Jacie originated the Sun-Times syndicated column of poetry, “Portraits,” which his brother Jim continued in the 1940s and 1950s. After Jim’s death, Jacie continued the column for another few years for the Publishers-Hall Syndicate.
He was an active member of the National Press Club from 1943; the White House Correspondents Association and the State Department Correspondents Association from 1944; the Overseas Writers Club from 1945; and the Rotary Club from 1940. His awards included, among others, the National Headliners Club Medal of Honor for 1937 for Best Story of the Year (the Bund story, shared with his brother Jim and with William Mueller); the Chilean Legion of Merit decoration in 1945 for his United Nations coverage; and the St. Olav Medal of Norway in 1946 for coverage of the allied cause in World War II. In connection with the latter two awards he was made an honorary citizen of Chile and of Norway.
Jacie’s papers relating to his Bund investigation were deposited in the Hoover Institute at Stanford University and are open to researchers. They are described at:
The abstract on that site reads: “Diary, correspondence, reports, notes, pamphlets, clippings, and printed matter, relating to the infiltration of the German-American Bund by J. C. Metcalfe as an investigative reporter in 1937, and to the activities of fascist organizations in the U.S.”
Jacie and Vi had two children.
1 Galveston Passenger Lists, 1896–1948. Hellmut Oberwinder. Arrival Date: 15 March 1914. Age 9 years. Ethnic Background: German. Point of Departure: Bremen, Germany. Ship Name: Brandenburg. Port of Arrival: Gaveston Texas. Friend’s Name: Eliza Lee Roche. Last Residence: Germany. Birthplace: Willnor, Germany. Microfilm Roll Number 16. Page 75.
2 The information for this person is provided from the personal knowledge of the author. This is supplemented by information from the biography of John Metcalfe, the author’s father, as he wrote it for his lecturing brochure, in the possession of the author, and known by the author to be factual.
Jacie’s birth was recorded in the author’s birth certificate and in sworn testimony to a congressional House committee in 1938, although Jacie otherwise recorded his birth place as Berlin.
Information was also available from a summary of a proposed book on his experiences, written in 1965, in the possession of the author, which was not published.
3 Notre Dame Archives, http://archives1.archives.nd.edu/minims/o.htm, 15 May 1999:
“Oberwinder, Helmuth (Oberwinder, Helmuth A.) receives 1st comm, confirmation 1916/0514 St Edwards’ Hall Chronicles UNDR 18/7 p.18.”
“Oberwinder, Helmuth (Oberwinder, Helmuth A.) Chicago, Illinois 1916/1917 Address Book Entry ULDG: Address Book 1910-18 p. 211.”
“Oberwinder, Helmuth (Oberwinder, Helmuth A.) Chicago, Illinois 1917/1918 Address Book Entry ULDG: Address Book 1910-18 p. 212.”
4 National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington, D.C.;Soundex Index to Naturalization Petitions for the United States District and Circuit Courts, Northern District of Illinois and Immigration and Naturalization Service District 9, 1840- 1950 (M1285); Microfilm serial: M1285; Microfilm roll: 120. “Family name: Metcalfe (Oberwinder). Given name or names: (Hellmut) John Charles Oberwinder. Address: 5416 S, Ridgewood Ct., Chgo. (2). Certificate no. (or vol. and page): P. [petition] 144333. CN. [court file number] 4154734. Title and location of court: U.S. Dist. Chgo. Country of birth or allegiance: Germany. When born (or age): Aug. 2, 1904. Date of naturalization: Aug. 19, 1936. Other facts of record: Name changed by order of court to John Charles Oberwinder Metcalfe from Hellmut Oberwinder.”
5 National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington, D.C.;Soundex Index to Naturalization Petitions for the United States District and Circuit Courts, Northern District of Illinois and Immigration and Naturalization Service District 9, 1840-1950 (M1285); Microfilm serial: M1285; Microfilm roll: 131. “Name: Hellmut Oberwinder. Birth Date: 2 Aug. 1904. Birth Place: Germany. Age at Event: 32. Court District: Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, Iowa. Date of Action: 19 Aug. 1936.”
6 Chicago Daily Times 1937 articles: http://dlib.nyu.edu/undercover/home-grown-nazis-john-c-metcalfe-and-james-j-metcalfe-chicago-daily-times
7 Rudy Behlmer, Inside Warner Bros. (1935–1951), (New York: Simon & Schuster, Inc., no date), 190.
8 The year of the move was provided by Jacie to the author as June 1939; however, the 1940 census taken as of 1 April 1940 showed the family still in Chicago. So it is likely the move was made in June 1940.
9 He was buried in Block 40, Lot 61, Space 385 in San Fernando Archdiocesan Cemetery #2 in San Antonio on Friday, 2 July 1971.
Images for John Charles Metcalfe:
S. S. Brandenburg, arrived at Galveston, Texas, on 15 March 1914, from Bremen, Germany, with Bernice Oberwinder, age 32, son Hellmut, age 9-1/2, daughter Elizabeth, age 8-1/2, and son James, age 7-1/2. Last residence in Berlin, Germany.
John Charles Metcalfe (born Helmut Maria Siegfried Oberwinder) and Violet Emma Maria Hurtig, on their marriage day, 2 January 1933, in Chicago, Illinois.
Notes on Violet Emma Maria Hurtig:
Violet (Vi), older daughter of Carl Axel Hurtig, was born at home (850 Erickson Avenue in Roseland on the south side of Chicago) at 3 p.m. on 8 July 1907, attended by a midwife. She was baptized Lutheran in Chicago on 20 October 1907.1
Vi attended Englewood Business School for two years (1921–2) and was a member of the Psi Delta Rita Sorority in 1923. She married first her apparent high school sweetheart, Samuel Ångstrom, whom she later described as a private detective, on 6 December 1924 at the Lutheran Evangelical Mission Church in Chicago when she was seventeen years old.2 He had taken her to her first party a year earlier, on 20 October 1923, where they played “forfeits” and “post office,” danced and had what was described as a “wild time” ending at 3:30 a.m. However, the marriage lasted only for a short time. She worked as a secretary and assistant credit manager for the Telephone Maintenance Co. in Chicago from 1923 to 1928 and as a private secretary at Sears, Roebuck and Co. from 1931 to 1933.
Vi married second John Charles (“Jacie”) Metcalfe in Chicago on 2 January 1933. When Jacie had his lecture bureau, Vi worked with him for many years as general manager. She enjoyed attending embassy receptions and hosting parties for diplomats and journalists with Jacie.
She suffered a stroke in 1961, paralyzing her right arm and leg. She was mostly wheelchair-bound thereafter.3 After Jacie died in 1971 she moved to Los Angeles to be near her son, the author, and his wife, Iris, living in her home at 1134 North Hudson Avenue in Hollywood. She died at 6:20 a.m. on 1 May 1987 in Los Angeles, California, of general circulatory failure in her eightieth year.4 According to her wishes, Vi was buried on 6 May 1987 in lot 97, section 1, grave 3 east, in Beverly Cemetery near her sister (grave 2 east) and parents (lot 116).5
Vi was enumerated in the 1910 federal census of Chicago, Cook County, Illinois, in her parents’ household as follows:6
Carl A. Hurtig, head of household, male, white, 28, married once for three years, born Sweden - Swedish, father born Sweden - Swedish, mother born Sweden - Swedish, immigrated 1901, naturalized, speaks English, tool maker car factory [Pullman], works for wages, reads, writes, rents home.
Esther K. Hurtig, wife, female, white, 22, married once for three years, one child, one living, born Sweden - Swedish, father born Sweden - Swedish, mother born Sweden - Swedish, immigrated 1904, speaks English, reads, writes.
Violet E. M. Hurtig, daughter, female, white, 2. single, born Illinois, father born Sweden - Swedish, mother born Sweden - Swedish.
Vi and her sister were enumerated in the 1920 federal census of Chicago, Cook County, Illinois, in her parents’ household as follows:7
Carl Hurtig, head of household, owns mortgaged home, male, white, 37, married, immigrated 1901, naturalized 1906. reads, writes, born Sweden - Swedish, father born Sweden - Swedish, mother born Sweden - Swedish, speaks English, toolmaker car shops [Pullman], works for wages.
Esther Hurtig, wife, female, white, 32, married, immigrated 1903 [sic], naturalized 1907, reads, writes, born Sweden - Swedish, father born Sweden - Swedish, mother born Sweden - Swedish, speaks English.
Violet Hurtig, daughter, female, white, 12, single, attended school within the year, reads, writes, born Illinois, father born Sweden - Swedish, mother born Sweden - Swedish, speaks English.DorisViolet Hurtig, daughter, female, white, 9, single, attended school within the year, reads, writes, born Illinois, father born Sweden - Swedish, mother born Sweden - Swedish, speaks English.
Vi was enumerated in the 1930 federal census of Chicago, Cook County, Illinois, in her parents’ household as follows:8
Carl A. Hurtig, head of household, home valued at $7000, no radio set, lives in a home, male, white, 47, married at 24 years old, reads and writes, born Sweden, father born Sweden, mother born Sweden, spoke Swedish before immigration, immigrated 1901, naturalized, speaks English, toolmaker in tool manufacturer factory [Pullman], works for wages.
Esther Hurtig, wife, female, white, 42, married at 19 years old, reads and writes, born Sweden, father born Sweden, mother born Sweden, spoke Swedish before immigration, immigrated 1903, naturalized, speaks English.
Violet Hurtig, daughter, female, white, 22, single [sic, divorced], reads and writes, born Illinois, father born Sweden, mother born Sweden, speaks English. stenographer at wholesale [?], works for wages.
1 From her birth and baptismal certificates. Information not otherwise identified came from family letters in the possession of the author, as well as his personal knowledge.
2 From their marriage certificate.
3 Interestingly, when asleep, she moved her paralyzed arm normally.
4 From her Los Angeles, California, death certificate.
5 From her Beverly Ridge Funeral Home Interment Record, Blue Island, Illinois.
6 Carl A. Hurtig household, 1910 U.S. census, Cook County, Illinois, population schedule, Chicago Ward 33, 10506 Michigan Avenue, enumeration district 1435, supervisor’s district 1, sheet 14A, line 24, dwelling 234, family 14; National Archives micropublication T624, roll 280.
7 Carl Hurtig household, 1920 U.S. census, Cook County, Illinois, population schedule, Chicago Ward 9, 10406 South Wabash Avenue, enumeration district 573, supervisor’s district 1, sheet 4A, line 39, dwelling 54, family 78; National Archives micropublication T625, roll 311.
8 Carl A. Hurtig household, 1930 U.S. census, Cook County, Illinois, population schedule, Chicago Ward 9, 10406 South Wabash Avenue, enumeration district 391, supervisor’s district 29, sheet 3A, line 2, dwelling 27, family 32; National Archives micropublication T626, roll 430.
Images for Violet Emma Maria Hurtig: