John W. Crawford – Lieutenant, United States Navy


Lieutenant Crawford, Admiral’s Confidential Man, Left Note Threatening To Commit Suicide
Worried Over His Debta
Told Friend He Owed $5,000 – He Planned To Leap From a Potomac Ferryboat

WASHINGTON, November 28, 1907

The police authorities today began dragging the Potomac River between here and Alexandria, Virginia, for the body of Lieutenant John W. Crawford, Admiral Dewey’s Secretary, who disappeared yesterday and left word that he intended to commit suicide.

Crawford was last seen last yesterday afternoon in the business section of this city, but in a letter from him received by B. A. Allen, a Chief of Divisionin the Office of the Auditor for the Post Office Department, after 8 o’clock last evening, he gave notice of his intention to drown himself from the deck of an Alexandria ferryboat.  The search by the policeboat has so far proved fruitless.

Mr. Allen stated today that he had little doubt that Lieutenant Crawford was dead. Crawford, it is said, left debts aggregating $5,000.  In a note which he sent to his wife through Allen, his friend of twenty years’ standing, he stated explicitly that the indebtedness had accumulated too much, but that it was not due to speculation or gambling.

In his letter to Allen he said that if the rights of one who takes his own life would permit he would like to be buried in the National Cemetery at Arlington, Virginia, but if otherwise, he expressed a wish to have his body cremated.  He also left a hurridly executed will and asked that his friend break the news to his wife and give to her the papers he had carefully made out showing his indebtedness.

“It’s all a mystery to me,and I am greatly shocked,” declatred Admiral Dewey today. The Admiral said he could not imagine why Crawgford  should kill himself unless it was due to financial trouble.

The missing officer left a note on his desk for his wife which was taken to his home today by Commander Spencer S. Wood, theAdmiral’s aide.  What it contained the Admiral declined to say.  Crawford also sent a postal card to Commander Wood in which he referred to a letter of busines to Admiral Dewey, to which he had given some attention. On this card, postmarked at Washington, 8 o’clock last night, Lieutenant Crawford said, “Good bye.”

Admiral Dewey said that Crawford was a man of the best habits and that he was a most invaluable assistant.  In addition to hisofficial duties, Crawford looked after theAdmiral’s private affairs, including those of a financial character, under the latter’s personal supervision.

Before leaving the office yesterday afternoon, Lieutenant Crawford had carefully arranged the papers on his desk, and left everything apparently in the best of order.  There was a big bundle of papers on one side carefully wrapped and marked “personal” for his friend Allen. Crawford’s checkbook, with all the stubs iorn out, and his gold watch and chain lay on top of the desk.

Admiral Dewey said Crawford lived modestly, and that his pay was about $3,000 a year.  He was prominently identified with the work of the Young Men’s Christian Association.



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