morning of Sept.4,1951, Adamic's
body was found on the second floor bedroom-study of the century-old farmhouse
he had purchased in 1937 in Hunterdon County, in Western New Jersey near the village of Riegelsville. A bullet from the .22 rifle that lay
across his knees had penetrated his brain. The house and the garage across
the road had been set afire with rags soaked in fuel oil. But there were no
fingerprints found on the rifle and Adamic was not
4.a.m. when Howard Lippincott, a neighber of author Louis Adamic
in Riegelsville, N.J., smelled smoke. He poked his head out
of the window and saw flames rising from the Adamic
property. By the time volunteer fire fighters arrived. The Adamic's garage (containing a new car) had pretty much
burned the ground. Smoke was pouring out of the 100-year-old Pennsylvania
Dutch farmhouse. Rags soaked in fuel oil were scattered about.
When the fire was under control, firemen climbed
up the cramped little stairway to the second floor. In the bedroom-study they
the 52-year-old writer. He was sprawled on a studio couch. a
.22-caliber Mossberg rifle across his knees. There was a bullet hole in his
head. Just above the right ear. Powder strains rimmed the wound.
State troopers began an immediate investigation.
On the floor of the bedroom-study, they found manuscript notes for Adamic's almost-completed new book. "They Eagle and
the Roots." A portable typewriter on the desk was unopened. Downstairs. a second typewriter on a small table had a single sheet in
the roller. Four words had been typed on the blank page: "Now is the
There were no signs that Adamic had made any
preparations for going to bed. The house was dusty; the lawn, overrun with
weeds. Troop were told that the Adamics
hadn't been in occupancy for more than a year, but that Adamic
had returned in mid-July to finish his book.
An oilcan, its top punctured by an ax. Was found in the house. The ax itself
was found nearby. There was no note for Mrs. Stella Adamic,
Was it murder? Or was it suicide?
Lt. L.J.J. Harris of the New Jersey State Police felt it was suicide.
"The case has all the indications of death by suicide but we haven't
discovered a motive." he said. "A man about to take by his own life
and wanting to destroy all his own works with fire might have done
"There appears nothing to indicate anything
bit suicide," said Hunterdon Count Prosecutor Herber
But there were many who doubled this easy
verdict. Louis Adamic was not just another writer
who had fallen into a pit of depression. He had led a hard and stormy life,
rising from immigrant boy to celebrated writer to stormy political figure.
His name had been closely assocoated with Matshal Tito, dictator of his native Yugoslavia….