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TEH INFORMATION FROM THIS POST HAS BEEN UPDATED. Japanese linguist John Bartrum Hurt was a National Security Agency employee till August 1963. He was born in 1904 and died in 1966.

]Jim Root

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Jim,

Is the Social Security Death Index an index of everyone who has died who was on Social Security, or does it include everyone who died who was paying taxes into the program?

Perhaps this Hurt is not on the index because he worked for the federal government. I believe that some if not all federal employees have a separate retirement system and do not collect Social Security.

Ron

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Ron

I was hoping you would jump in here.

I have used the "death index" over the years with a great deal of success. Many governemnt officials, etc. to find county of death, birth date (information that can lead to additional information). I think I have posted before the number (146) of people with the name John Hurt who have died since 1932 in the US and did so with a degree of confidence. Now I find enough evidence to support the information I received (followup on wife within the death index and some information from obituaries from the area) to confirm her existence.

The Japanese linguist, John B. Hurt, (it is said) was the nephew of a Virginia Congressman. There were 10 congressional districts (at the time circa 1930) in Virgina and about 18 potential congressmen. I have attempted to cross reference their names to "Hurt" to no avail. It is now obvious that I need to look at West Virginia as well and will attempt to follow up in that area. Will cross reference the maiden name of the wife in this instance as well.

This is the first time that I have not been able to find someone in the death index when I have their name, date of birth, death date, residence, etc.

On a side note, one of the congressmen from Virginia was Howard Worth Smith the author of the Smith Act (Oswald requested Smith Act attorney Jonathan Abt to represent him before he died). This does seem to be a coincidence.

If you are interested and have a flare for genealogy send an email.

Jim Root

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I just stumbled into some information that I find wierd about a John B. Hurt.

1)  He is not listed in the Social Security Death Index

2) His wife is listed in the Social Security Death Index confirming the infromation I received on this John B. Hurt and where he lived

3) He fits in the right age as the Japanese linguist (Born 1889) and dying in the 1970's

4) He lived in the area of Raleigh County, West Virginia

5) Raleigh County, West Virginia is only a few miles from North Carolina.

Is this enough to generate additional interest for more research?  Why would this John B. Hurt not be listed in the SS Death Index?  Ideas please!

Jim Root

Jim,

It's my experience that the SSDI, like any other database, is only as good as the info entered into it.

I stand to be corrected, but it seems to me that there are several versions of this database accesible via the internet, with the main one being offered by Ancestry.com., the others seem to be some variation of it. I have used this database before, looking for other individuals and have encountered problems. For example, one guy was I was looking for , I eventually found by accident , after I found his SSI # elsewhere and searched based on that- his name was entered into the database incorrectly.

I haven't checked for John B. Hurt specifically, but I have also encountered problems with the use , or non-use of middle names for individuals, and the fact that when searching for John Hurt , for instance, I might get 1000 returns for that name. Without knowing where the person applied for his SSI # or indeed where he died ( never mind whether they were actually drawing SSI ) it makes it difficult to differentiate between John Hurt's and identify the one that you're looking for.

I've included the URL for Grovor Proctor's site , where he documents his research on the Raleigh call http://www.groverproctor.us/jfk/jfk80.html,. Although, when reading it, it's obvious that he wasn't looking for John B. Hurt, rather a John D. Hurt or a John W. - to me, it's worth a read anyway eg. ) what firm evidence do we have other than some info on the web that it is actually John B. that we're looking for ?a picture, or e-article ? Also, is the B. representative of a name starting with B, or is it possibly something like Bill, as in John William Hurt, for example ?

Since you have id'd his wife thru the SSDI, but haven't found him, my advice is to

work from the last known ZIP that benefits were sent to her.( it's in the info returned with the SSDI search ). Assuming it's a residence, as opposed to say a nursing home, resources like the White Pages, 411, etc. could be used to trace the current owner of the property and work backwards from there. Also, I know a URL that lists property ownership and assessment info, by address, for most counties in Texas ( including Dallas ) - I've used it several times to locate ancestors. Perhaps the same sort of virtual database exists for N.C. ?

I will start my search for this guy immediately.

Ian

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Jim

Good research.

Could the John Hurt reference on the Dallas jail phone memo possibly refer to

Raleigh, West Virginia?

Are either of the John Hurts in Raleigh North Carolina the Japan-based crypto analyst?

If the John Hurt you are looking at did not reside in North Carolina's Raleigh (city) he may have resided in West Virginia's Raleigh (county) ?

I hope that is helpful.

{{ PS Jim Root I will update the 1978 executive order post in the seminar thread again soon/somebody is reading it here/but locked out THERE/

Did you ever find the intersection of Al Haig, max Taylor and Ed Walker? Probably something there....also Lou Tordella and Marshall Carter, where do they intersect Taylor, Lemnitzer, Walker and Haig....see you in the funny papers. SC. }}

Edited by Shanet Clark
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I just stumbled into some information that I find wierd about a John B. Hurt.

1)  He is not listed in the Social Security Death Index

2) His wife is listed in the Social Security Death Index confirming the infromation I received on this John B. Hurt and where he lived

3) He fits in the right age as the Japanese linguist (Born 1889) and dying in the 1970's

4) He lived in the area of Raleigh County, West Virginia

5) Raleigh County, West Virginia is only a few miles from North Carolina.

Is this enough to generate additional interest for more research?  Why would this John B. Hurt not be listed in the SS Death Index?  Ideas please!

Jim Root

Jim,

It's my experience that the SSDI, like any other database, is only as good as the info entered into it.

I stand to be corrected, but it seems to me that there are several versions of this database accesible via the internet, with the main one being offered by Ancestry.com., the others seem to be some variation of it. I have used this database before, looking for other individuals and have encountered problems. For example, one guy was I was looking for , I eventually found by accident , after I found his SSI # elsewhere and searched based on that- his name was entered into the database incorrectly.

I haven't checked for John B. Hurt specifically, but I have also encountered problems with the use , or non-use of middle names for individuals, and the fact that when searching for John Hurt , for instance, I might get 1000 returns for that name. Without knowing where the person applied for his SSI # or indeed where he died ( never mind whether they were actually drawing SSI ) it makes it difficult to differentiate between John Hurt's and identify the one that you're looking for.

I've included the URL for Grovor Proctor's site , where he documents his research on the Raleigh call http://www.groverproctor.us/jfk/jfk80.html,. Although, when reading it, it's obvious that he wasn't looking for John B. Hurt, rather a John D. Hurt or a John W. - to me, it's worth a read anyway eg. ) what firm evidence do we have other than some info on the web that it is actually John B. that we're looking for ?a picture, or e-article ? Also, is the B. representative of a name starting with B, or is it possibly something like Bill, as in John William Hurt, for example ?

Since you have id'd his wife thru the SSDI, but haven't found him, my advice is to

work from the last known ZIP that benefits were sent to her.( it's in the info returned with the SSDI search ). Assuming it's a residence, as opposed to say a nursing home, resources like the White Pages, 411, etc. could be used to trace the current owner of the property and work backwards from there. Also, I know a URL that lists property ownership and assessment info, by address, for most counties in Texas ( including Dallas ) - I've used it several times to locate ancestors. Perhaps the same sort of virtual database exists for N.C. ?

I will start my search for this guy immediately.

Ian

Jim, and all

I forgot to include that in my other posts on this subject I attached a blurb from a Jim Cates who was in the NSA connected 441st in Tokyo in 57-58 . IMO, this also may be a good place to start since he may have known or known of a John Hurt.

Also see http://www.441st.com

Ian

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  • 1 month later...

For those of you looking for Japanese linguist John B. Hurt I have now identified him as John Bartrum Hurt. Retired from the NSA in August 1963. Died at age 62 in 1966. He NOW has his picture in the NSA museum with a few facts associated with his very interesting work attached.

It seems he relocted to New York in August 1963 after his retirement from the NSA. I have not been able to place where he was living at the time of his retirement.

It is interesting that in November of 1963 Lee Harvey Oswald may have had trouble trying to locate a person by the same name.

I continue to search for more infromation about this mans life.

Jim Root

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For those of you looking for Japanese linguist John B. Hurt I have now identified him as John Beltram Hurt. Retired from the NSA in August 1963. Died at age 62 in 1966. (Jim Root)

Good work, Jim.

Do you know the cause of death? Interesting to note that Harrod Miller also died in 1966.

James

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James

At present I am learning more and more about this John Hurt. The information is flowing and I am just starting to digest it as bits and pieces come in.

Let me also say that I hit many dead ends in my research and have sometimes jumped the gun in writting only to find a conflicting piece of information that comes from a source closer to Hurt himself. For example I was told that Hurt moved to New York upon retirement from the NSA in August of 1963. I have now learned that he and his wife actually planned to travel in France for a year before settling down in New York.

Once source suggests that he died of heart failure in 1966 and had health issues prior to his retirement. This has not been confirmed by my other sources at this time.

I want to remind readers that I came upon this person while researching Edwin Walker and Maxwell Taylor. I have no proof that he is the John Hurt that Oswald attempted to contact after the assassination of JFK. His apperance in this forum may just be a coincidence of name and association although the events surrounding my "discovery" of this person makes me feel he MAY be a character of interest in the assassination drama. James, connecting Harrod Miller to this John Hurt and your suggestion of an association between Miller and Max Taylor is just another puzzle piece that I find interesting.

With this said, John B. Hurt (of the NSA) is a person that does deserve a place in history and it intrigues me that his name has seemingly been erased from the official records.... One could suggest that perhaps this is because his name could be associated with the "Raleigh Call" and the NSA.

I have learned that this John Hurt was the person who translated the first part of the December 6, 1941 Message from the Japanese Foreign Ministry to their Ambassador in Washington (the message that was supposed to lead to a declaration of war before the attack on Pearl Harbor, because we knew the contents of the message we did not allow the declaration to be delivered until after the attack was completed). While he may have played a minor role, in some ways, this was perhaps the beginning of the single most significant event of US History in the 20th Century.

He seems to have been an American hero whose work was never declassified during his lifetime. John Bartrum Hurt seems to be a man who served his country without attaining fame, fortune or distinction but whose work did in fact help the United States survive a perilous time in history.

Jim Root

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  • 4 months later...

Jim,

In case you haven't seen this, the following article appeared on September 4th, 2005 in 'The Roanoke Times'.

James

*****************************

Wytheville linguist's World War II role is finally revealed

Researchers from Virginia and Japan have documented John Hurt's contributions to breaking Japanese coded messages.

Paul Dellinger

New River Current

WYTHEVILLE -- John Hurt was pretty sure a Japanese attack was coming. But he and others at work trying to break Japanese message codes in the days before World War II did not know the target.

Hurt, who grew up in Wytheville, wrote in private recollections declassified in 1983 that they thought it would be at Manila.

Few people knew much about Hurt's wartime work that, though far from the lines of combat, was crucial to the Allied effort. Like others in his agency, Hurt suffered immense stress and even a mental breakdown from the vast amount of secret work he was processing.

It wasn't until a Japanese writer began making telephone inquiries around Wytheville that his hometown began to realize his role.

Hurt, who died in 1966 at the age of 62, turns out to have been one of the key people involved in intercepting Japanese code messages during World War II and affecting the conduct of the war. If the Japanese had known their codes had been compromised, it might have changed the course of the war.

Beverly Repass Hoch at the Wythe County Genealogical and Historical Association took the call from Mamiko Kiyono earlier this year. Kiyono was seeking information on Hurt, who was emerging as one of the major personalities in her book on the diplomacy in the period just before World War II.

Hoch said she began making calls. "And the answer was 'Who's John Hurt?' So Mamiko was responsible for telling us about his history."

Then Hoch tried retired postal employee Carroll Montgomery, who seemed to know everyone in the county. "I called him and, within minutes, I had it all," she said.

Hurt was born March 4, 1904, in Fairmont, WVa., the oldest of six children. He was still young when his family moved to Wytheville. Brothers Jacob and Clarence Hurt for years ran the Millwald Theater, which had opened in downtown Wytheville in 1928 and, until last month, reigned as the oldest continuously-operated theater in Virginia.

Jeanette Clippard, widow of Jake Hurt, remembers her brother-in-law, but not all that well. Her daughter, Nancy Hurt Umberger, who now lives in North Carolina, remembers him better from her childhood.

He did not drive, and had trouble making change, Umberger said. Despite apparent difficulty with mathematics, he became part of a code-breaking team that influenced the outcome of World War II.

It was in languages that Hurt's expertise stood out. His mother's brother, former U.S. Rep. Joseph Crockett Shaffer, who served as 9th District congressman for one term, got Hurt an interview in 1930 with the Signal Intelligence Service, a predecessor to the National Security Agency.

The congressman, who was the father of Edwin Shaffer, a former Wythe County commonwealth's attorney who still lives in Wytheville, had learned that the agency was looking for someone fluent in Japanese.

"But after that, he was on his own," Hoch said. "He proved himself very, very well."

Frank Rowlett was one of a handful of cryptanalysts hired by William Friedman, who was the sole professional assigned to code and cipher work for the U.S. War Department. They worked in New York under Military Intelligence, also known as G-2.

In his book, "The Story of Magic: Memoirs of an American Cryptologic Pioneer," Rowlett recalled the report from the officer who interviewed Hurt.

"I've never met an American who is as proficient in Japanese as that young man," the officer said. "It is unbelievable. If you don't employ him, you will be making a great mistake. He is remarkably fluent in conversational Japanese, he can read both forms of written Japanese, and his vocabulary is fabulous. He knows Japanese much better than I or, for that matter, anyone else in G-2."

Hurt had mastered that language, among others, without ever having visited Japan. He also spoke French and did not visit France -- although he did marry a French concert cellist named Ana.

"He'd had so many close friends in college who were Japanese," Hoch said.

In talking to people about Hurt, she has learned that he was introverted, a private person, "maybe what we today would call a nerd or a geek."

Hoch tracked down a History Channel program, "Sworn to Secrecy: Breaking the Japanese Code" in the cable channel's "Secrets of War" series, which mentions Hurt as part of the "Magic" team.

That show outlined how Friedman's team broke several Japanese codes and eventually developed a machine that could translate messages and provide vital wartime information. Because the Japanese ambassador to Germany reported on hits or misses of Allied bombing raids on Germany, and even on his tour of German defenses at Normandy, the code-breakers even got data helpful in the air war and D-Day invasion.

While the mathematicians worked on getting the text of the Japanese communications, it was Hurt's linguistic abilities that provided nuances and less-than-obvious meanings in the communications. It was tense and never-ending work, and both Friedman and Hurt suffered from nervous breakdowns during their careers.

Hurt went back to intelligence work, however, eventually retiring after a 33-year career.

Kiyono, the researcher from Japan, came to Wytheville in June to get some of the information collected by Hoch. Kiyono had already visited a U.S. cryptology museum and other places.

"The two of us know more about John Hurt than the museum," Hoch said. "In the world he was in, he was very important. It's just that it was a secret world."

"I think he should have been given more respect from a historical point of view," Kiyono said. "The people who work in Washington, D.C., are not interested in Mr. Hurt anymore. It's too old," she added. "So the role of the local historian is very important."

There are currently no plans for an English translation of Kiyono's book. But Hoch, who has been interested in genealogy for 35 years, will probably do at least an article on Hurt as part of the local genealogy association's journal. She maintained the interest in different parts of the country where her husband, Frank, was working in the space program before they came to her native Wythe County to retire.

"I did one on Edith Bolling Wilson a few years ago and I loved doing that," she said.

The future wife of President Woodrow Wilson was born in the Wytheville building complex where the genealogy association now has its offices.

Of Hurt, she said, "I think it would be really sad if the local people didn't realize how important he was."

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James you have uncovered my source.

Ms Hoch and I have been in communication for some time now and she has been a wealth of information and very kind. She was at first surprized that there were two people who were suddenly interested in John Hurt at the same time, myself and the Japanese author. I was able to provide her with some backround that I had uncovered as well as the names of two other authors and researchers that had developed information about Hurt. The pictures that I have were provided by her, wish I could get you copies, as well as additional documents authored by Hurt himself.

She had said she would provide me with a copy of the article that was soon to come out in our last correspondence. I assume that she ment this article.

I will contact her tommorrow.

Thanks for the heads up!

Jim Root

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James

I have e-mailed Ms Hoch and she returned some clarifications that, since we now have the article in the record here, should be made dealing, in particular, with his travels to France.

"I'm so happy you enjoyed the article. I handed the reporter a foot-high pile

of papers on John Hurt to read and there were two interviews. The only thing

he got wrong was that John Hurt never went to France. Pretty good for

journalists. They work differently than historians."

"There's not much information on the background of Ana Dratelle, the 1st

and 3rd wife of John Hurt. She was apparently very good at speaking French

and perhaps was living in France when Hurt met her aboard ship on his way

to/from France. The family says she studied music in Europe. The information

about her being Russian comes from the book Story of Magic, I believe, and

perhaps also from the family."

Hurt first married Ana in the 1930's but quickly divorced. He remained married to his second wife until she died, I believe shortly after the war ended. He then remaried Ana Dratelle. Apparently Hurt travelled to France for extended periods twice, once before the war and once again in 1963/64. He was known to have made the comment that "The French do not know how to speak French."

Ana was a concert cellist although, as Ms Hoch suggests, very little is know about her. Hurt was a man who could sing many of the most famous opera parts and was a lover of clasical music.

Although he was known for being such a great Japanese linguist, Hurt never traveled to Japan.

Just for the record,

Jim Root

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