Truth & Fiction: Family Details

Claims about L. Ron Hubbard's family background

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Born 13th March 1911 in Tilden, Nebraska, USA.

Source: Church of Scientology documents, passim

This is one of the very few undisputed facts about Hubbard's life. His birthdate was not, however, a Friday, as he later claimed.

Corroboration: US Govt records

Parents were Ledora [also 'Fedora' and 'Dora' - sic] May Hubbard (neé Waterbury) and Harry Ross Hubbard.

Source: Church of Scientology documents passim

Apart from some confusion about LRH's mother's name, also undisputed.

Corroboration: US Govt. records

Father was a Commander in the US Navy.

This is usually juxtaposed with information about LRH's birth, as follows:

"L. Ron Hubbard was born on March 13, 1911 in Tilden Nebraska. His father was Commander Harry Ross Hubbard of the United States Navy."

Sources: 'Mission into Time' (L. Ron Hubbard, 1973)
'What Is Scientology?' (Church of Scientology, 1978, 1992)

This is doubly untrue, as Harry Ross Hubbard was a Lieutenant when LRH was born and never rose above the rank of Lieutenant-Commander - a very different thing from full Commander.

Corroboration: Harry Ross Hubbard service record, US Navy Archives

Grandfather on mother's side was a wealthy Western cattleman who owned a ranch covering a quarter of Montana [35,000 square miles].

Sources: 'Mission into Time' (L. Ron Hubbard, 1973)
'What Is Scientology?' (Church of Scientology, 1978, 1992)
'Report to Members of Parliament on Scientology' (Church of Scientology, 1969)
Demonstrably untrue: LRH's grandfather, Lafayette Waterbury, was a frequently cash-strapped veterinarian based primarily in towns (principally Kalispell and Helena, Montana). His largest recorded landholding was of 360 acres in Nebraska. One suspects that had he owned a quarter of Montana, that fact would have been recorded somewhere.

Corroboration: 'Bare-Faced Messiah' (Russell Miller, 1987)

Grandfather, Lafayette Waterbury, and great-grandfather, I.C. Waterbury, were both Captains in the US Navy.

Source: LRH, interview given to the Oregon Journal, April 1943.
This is untrue on three counts: (1) his great-grandfather's name was Abram ('I.C.' were his grandmother's initials), (2) he was never in the US Navy and (3) nor was LRH's grandfather, Lafayette. It is inconceivable that LRH did not know this. Perhaps significantly, I have not found any evidence that he repeated the above claims after the war.

Corroboration: 'Bare-Faced Messiah' (Russell Miller, 1987)

L.R. Hubbard inherited his fortune and family interests in America, Southern Africa, etc.

Source: 'Report to Members of Parliament on Scientology' (Church of Scientology, 1969)
Frequently claimed and easily shown to be false. LRH's parents lived into the 1960s and he inherited little or no money from them. Prior to Dianetics and Scientology (i.e. pre-1950) he survived on a combination of money earned from writing pulp fiction, Navy pay and (after the war) Veterans Administration subsistence. His financial status can be judged from the following letter, dated 27 Jan 1948 concerning a demand that he repay an overpayment of $51:
'I cannot imagine how to repay this $51, as I am nearly penniless and have but $28.50 to last me for nearly a month to come ... I am very much in debt and have not been able to get a job but am trying to resume my pre-war profession of professional writing. My health has been bad and I feel that if I could just get caught up financially I could write a novel which has been requested of me and so remedy my finances. It would take me three months and even then I would not be able to guarantee solvency.'

(Hubbard file, VA archives)

He had no 'family interests' in America or elsewhere. The claim of 'interests' in Southern Africa appears to stem from his belief in the 1960s that he was a reincarnation of the 19th-century diamond magnate Cecil Rhodes.

Corroboration: 'Bare-Faced Messiah', Russell Miller, 1986]