Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Scams Part 2

Yesterday, I discussed inheritance scams of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. In most cases, the con artists were caught, tried and convicted. However, these were not the only scams in operation at that time. There were about a half a dozen "professional" genealogists who, for a fee, would produce one's genealogy including supporting documentation.
This was a time when there was a great interest in proving one's lineage to a Mayflower pilgrim, to a patriot of the American Revolution, to an ancestor who settled in the colonies prior to the revolution, or to European royalty.
It was the wealthy class who could afford to hire someone to conduct such research. So, it's not surprising that some "professional" genealogists might see an opportunity for a quick buck. I came across a few articles on the Internet that identified about a half a dozen people as scam genealogists. At least one name on the list seems to be an error and I have not had an opportunity to confirm or refute the others named with the exception of Gustave Anjou.
He was quite prolific in producing genealogies especially for the wealthy of northeastern United States. The Family History Library in Salt Lake City website has posted a list of family histories in their library that are suspect because Gustave Anjou authored or provided the "documentation" to a client who authored the family history.
I was curious if Willem Teller, Peter Stoutenburg or Resolved Waldron were among the list of suspect family histories. I found accounts that Willem Teller was the son of Baron Rudolf Teller of Germany, Peter Stoutenburg was the grandson of Johan van Oldenbarnevelt of the Netherlands, and Resolved Waldron was a baron and his 2nd wife, Tanneke Nagel was Lady Nagel. Since none of these stories are true, I thought that Anjou may have been the source of the tales.
At this point, I have no evidence that Gustave Anjou was involved in the fabrication of the family lore associated with these three mean. But what I learned about Gustave Anjou was very interesting.
His obituary in the New York Times on March 3, 1942, claims that he was born in Paris but lived in Sweden. It also claims that PhD was conferred on him at Upsala University in Sweden. The article further claimed that he married a Swedish woman from a prominent family and then emigrated to the United States.
From the records I've seen, he had no children. None were mentioned in the obituary. I am curious to know who provided the information for the obituary. Since his deceased wife's name was not mentioned, I believe that the informant was not a relative but a staff writer for the New York Times.
The obituary mentions that he was a genealogist who charged wealthy clients $9000 to research the family history. It also mentioned that later he had a mail order business with a catalog of family histories that could be purchased for $250.
I found a handful of family histories that Anjou printed and many more in which he is cited as the source of information. His heyday seems to be between 1890 and 1916.
I first encountered Gustave Anjou as the transcriber of Ulster County Probate Records published in 1906. I don't know why or how he happened to transcribe these records but on November 17, 1905, the New York Times published an article, "Anjou Library Sold." The Anderson Company of New York City sold his library.
The various records regarding Anjou all have conflicting information. In 1900, he was living in Hasbrouck Heights, NJ with his wife and mother-in-law. All three were born in Sweden and he and his wife, Anna, came to the United States in 1890. His mother-in-law, Maria, came to the US in 1899. His occupation was a heraldist and genealogist.
In the Swedish emigration index, I found a Maria Gustava Anjou Spångber who left Stockholm Lån, Sverige to New York. The entry was filed on April 15, 1899. My Swedish friend, Mona, said that Anjou was not a Swedish surname. When I tried to find its origin, it seems to be more of a French name.
In 1910, the family was living New Brighton on Staten Island. This time the record claims that he was born in France as were his parents. He and his wife Anna came to the US in 1890. His mother-in-law, Maria, came in 1900. His occupation is historical researcher.
In 1920, his mother-in-law appears to be deceased as the family consists of Gustave and his Swedish wife. They both came to the US in 1890, he was naturalized in 1917, born in France along with his parents and he is a genealogical professional.
The SS St. Paul passenger list on October 2, 1909 includes a Gustave Anjou, age 46, married and a United States citizen. The SS Belgenland passenger list on November 20, 1925 includes a Gustave Anjou, age 61, widowed, naturalized in Richmond County, NY Court on March 9, 1918 and living at 177 Rice Avenue West, New Brighton, NY.
I found his passport application of April 19, 1924, in which he claims that he was born in Paris, France. His father, also born in France, was Charles Gustave Maris Anjou. He claims to have been naturalized in Richmond County, NY on March 9, 1918.
I viewed a passenger list in 1902 in which he was a US citizen and another in the 1920s in which he was naturalized in 1919. I haven't yet found the ship on which he arrived in 1890 but I am sure that it will conflict with these other records.
During his life time I found indications that others were questioning his research. Investigation of the reliability of the "History of the Longyear family" by Gustave Anjou in New York, U.S.A. is just one example.

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