Adolfo Hegewisch was born in 1878 at Veracruz, Mexico (1) to a wealthy family involved in banking, medicine, the legal profession and international trade. Obviously of German extraction, the family had important connections in both Europe (notably with the banker Edouard Noetzlin) (2) and in the United States. In fact, Adolfo’s uncle – also named Adolfo Hegewisch – was a U S citizen (3) and an important banker and railroad magnate for whom a city (now a far south side Chicago neighborhood) was named (4).
Adolfo traveled a great deal as a youth, becoming well acquainted the southern United States, and particularly New Orleans, where his family already had important roots (5). He also attended military school (6), and while still a teenager, participated in the war for Cuban independence (at some point between 1895 and 1898) (7).
In about 1905, Adolfo increased his family’s prestige further by marrying into the influential Quijano family. His wife, Maria Concepcion Quijano, was, in fact, a first cousin of diplomat and later-to-become Mexican President Francisco Leon de la Barra (8).
But Adolfo’s major occupation was running his family’s foreign trading business at Veracruz. He was an intelligent, energetic manager who ran the business very profitably and expanded it. By at least 1917, Hegewisch had established a branch of his business in New Orleans (9).
Checking passenger manifests and border crossings, we see that Hegewisch made numerous trips by land and sea between Mexico and the United States during the years of the Mexican Revolution. Perhaps most of the trips were business related, but some may have been political, for Hegewisch was definitely associated with right-wing elements of the Mexican political scene. In particular, he was a supporter of Adolfo de la Huerta and his failed 1923-4 rebellion centered in Veracruz (10).
In fact, Hegewisch, in New Orleans, served as de la Huerta’s representative in the United States. After de la Huerta’s defeat and exile, however, this support forced Hegewisch to live in exile as well, and the place that he chose to live was his second home anyway – New Orleans – which is where he lived for the rest of his life. Here he also married his second wife, Alice Tilton (11).
Over the next thirty years, Hegewisch exerted his enormous energy and talents toward the growth and management of his business. During this period, A E Hegewisch Company became one of the premier freight-forwarding firms in New Orleans.
Hegewisch was also a promoter of New Orleans as a port. Shortly after WW II, he was one of the founders, and an early president, of International House, an institution designed to encourage – especially — Latin American countries to expand their exports through the port of New Orleans (12). Founded partly by Rockefeller money (13), International House undoubtedly served a clandestine purpose as well, being ideally situated, as it was, for the gathering of intelligence regarding Latin America.
At any rate, in his capacity as president, Hegewisch extended his acquaintances with numerous businessmen and officials in Latin American countries, including presidents and dictators, whom he regularly hosted at International House (14).
In short, Adolfo Hegewisch was an ultimate expert on the wharves, shipping facilities railroad terminals, truck docks and warehouses of New Orleans. If anyone was familiar with what was coming in or going out of the city, it would have been Adolfo. Or conversely, if anyone needed to know how most effectively to transport something – say guns or contraband — Adolfo would have been the man to ask. (In fact, as far back as WW I, Hegewisch had been investigated by the FBI on suspicion of smuggling goods to an embargoed Germany through shipments to Spain.) (15). Furthermore, given the known relationship of organized crime to the shipping and trucking industries, it is not too speculative to think that Hegewisch might have had important contacts in the underworld as well.
One of Adolfo Hegewisch’s political hallmarks was a strident anti-Communism. In speeches and public utterances, he expressed strong opinions about the necessity of stopping Communist influence in Latin America. Shortly after Castro took over Cuba, Hegewisch became one of the leading anti-Castroites in New Orleans (16). Among his acquaintances were Alton Ochsner (17), William Gaudet (18) and Clay Shaw (20).
Furthermore, Adolfo was an early president of the Cordell Hull Foundation (21), very likely a CIA front. Indeed, with his knowledge and contacts, if Hegewisch was not a CIA asset, then the Agency was decidedly negligent in not having recruited him.
And now we come to something peculiar. Looking at Hegewisch’s obituary in the New Orleans Times-Picayune of Aug 11, 1966 (Hegewisch had died, at age 88, of an apparently self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head) (22), we find that Hegewisch’s son – also named Adolfo Hegewisch – living in New York City, was one of MEXICO’s representatives to the United Nations at the time (23).
Checking a list of Mexico’s UN ambassadors, we do not find Hegewisch’s name, so his position must have been below that of full ambassador. But still the connection is intriguing. Given the father’s all-but-certain CIA connections, one wonders about the true nature of the son’s functions at the UN – particularly since the Mexican government was pretty much in the CIAs hip pocket at that time anyway.
At any rate, we are left with the interesting situation that the head of one of the largest and most influential international freight-forwarding firms in New Orleans, almost certainly a CIA asset, had familial connections to the highest levels of the Mexican government, and to the United Nations. (No doubt Adolfo’s political standing improved substantially in the late 1930s, when President Cardenas invited de la Huerta back to Mexico – and into a political position.)
Oh, and one more thing.
In 1953, Adolfo Hegewisch, at age 75, decided to step down as owner and manager of A E Hegewisch, Inc., although he intended to remain “connected with the new corporation in an advisory capacity.” He turned over ownership and management to five long-term employees: Gerard F. Tujague (formerly the firm’s vice-president), L. Thaller, Evelyn M. Burt, Max Heinemann, and Frank G. DiBenedetto (24).
Before a couple of years had passed, in 1955, Gerard F. Tujague had taken over the presidency of the corporation entirely, renaming the company Gerard F. Tujague, Inc.
Also in the year 1955 the firm hired a local teenaged boy as a messenger, charging him with delivering various notices and papers to the docks, government agencies, and other forwarders in New Orleans.
In later years that boy would become far more famous than his employers – and one of the most mysterious figures in the annals of American history.
The boy’s name was Lee Harvey Oswald.
U.S. Naturalization Record Indexes, 1791-1992 (Indexed in World Archives Project),
Record for Adolfo Hegewisch, date: 13 Feb 1880.
See numerous passenger lists and border crossings for Adolfo Hegewisch, and
Everardo Hegewisch, (Adolfo’s father).
10 Mar 1918 passenger manifest states that Everardo lived in New York for 5 years,
and New Orleans for 14 years.
New Orleans Times-Picayune, 25 June 1875: p 8.
6) New Orleans Times-Picayune, 11 Aug 1966: p 12.
7) New Orleans Times-Picayune, 8 June 1951: p 2.
9) New Orleans Times-Picayune, 26 June 1917: p 4.
10) New Orleans Times-Picayune, 26 Jan 1924: p 3.
11) New Orleans Times-Picayune, 8 Aug 1966: p 24.
12) New Orleans Times-Picayune, 26 June 1947: p 2.
New Orleans Times-Picayune, 8 Aug 1966: p 1.
13) Davy, William. Let Justice Be Done (Reston, VA), 1999, p 76.
14) New Orleans Times-Picayune, 12 July 1948: p 22, and numerous other instances.
15) http://www.fold3.com/. FBI Case Files – Hegewisch.
16) New Orleans Times-Picayune, 24 Oct 1962: p 9.
17) New Orleans Times-Picayune, 29 Jan 1956: p 4.
18) New Orleans Times-Picayune, 6 Oct 1947: p 16.
19) New Orleans Times-Picayune, 2 Dec 1953: p 8, and several other instances.
21) New Orleans Times-Picayune, 10 Aug 1966: p 3.
22) New Orleans Times-Picayune, 10 Aug 1966: p 1.
23) New Orleans Times-Picayune, 11 Aug 1966: p 4.