Moved with his mother and his stepfather de Blumenthal to the USA, 1895. Taught Latin and Greek at American schools. Taught Russian at Chicago University, 1903-1907.
Returned to Russia as a businessman selling American agricultural machinery and soon became very prosperous. Became an American intelligence agent in Russia. Reported to the US government on the chaotic situation in Russia after the 1917 Revolution.
Arrested by the Cheka, sentenced to death, 1918. Twice taken out to execution, but not shot. Remained a prisoner at Lubianka, death sentence commuted in May 1920.
Released (with other American prisoners) due to a categorical demand by Hoover, head of ARA, the American relief agency. Transported to Narva, Estonia, 10 August 1921. Returned to the USA, and resumed teaching Russian and other modern languages at Chicago University and Culver Academy.