At one time or another most of us have run into Gustav Anjou and his incredibly creative research. He was a man with an eye for the market. His middle class American clients wanted glittering genealogies studded with famous historical figures. And, that's what he gave them. Unfortunately for his legacy, tastes have changed. Most of us now want accuracy more than glitz.
Anjou worked on hundreds of families. We've had a few discussions focused on correcting Anjou's work, so the curators have suggested it would be helpful to have a central project to publicize the Anjou problems and let us all work collectively to get them fixed.
So, my question to all of you is this: what's your favorite Gustav Anjou story? Did he claim to have evidence that your ancestor was descended from Henry VIII? From Shakespeare? Did your ancestor make an otherwise unknown voyage to the New World? Was she an illegitimate daughter of one of the Bourbon kings? Let's hear some real horror stories!
By the way, to add to Justin's engaging introduction, we started a Project about the great genealogical faker, and there we have links to lists of genealogies he wrote, researched or influenced. There is a list of family names of East Coast American families whose supposed ancestry was wrongly linked to generations of glittering European nobility. I imagine that many of those erroneous trees circulating on the web can be traced back to Anjou's work. Check out the project here, and join or follow it: http://www.geni.com/projects/Gustav-Anjou-Fraudulent-Genealogist
A claim against one of my wife's ancestors, Aert Pietersen Tack, is mentioned in "Ulster County, N.Y. probate records" authored by Gustave Anjou
The Tack surname is not listed in any of the Anjou watch lists I have seen. No claim of paternity or descent from Aert Pietersen Tack is made in the probate records compiled by Anjou.
Is there any reason to be concerned that my Aert Pietersen Tack record was added to this project?
I checked the list and don't see a Tack included in the project. You can check for yourself here:
You'll probably want to monitor the list yourself, checking from time to time.
Corrupt Genealogists and the Tools They Like
Gustave Anjou’s Genealogical Fingerprints
Michael Sortomme © 2012
1. One of Anjou’s genealogical signatures, commonly seen in trees connected to the 189 founding Colonial Families of the United States and in English and Scottish noble lines, is to erase three generations of women in a row, so you have fathers but no mothers. Without maiden names, lines shrivel and die into dead-ends. This practice was used in the royal lines in Europe when illegitimate births happened in every generation, in order to hide their dalliances with women who were considered “less-than”. But the mighty King’s seed had to be “protected and preserved” at all cost and the progeny created, secured and fitted with titles, without the rest of her/his family in tow. Anjou brought this practice to the US and, unfortunately, it has continued on to this day, contaminating almost every ancestry site on the web, including GENI and Ancestry.com.
2. Another one of his tricks is to insert false names for women for one, two or three generations in a row; so one is totally baffled by the names themselves and stops searching. That’s the time when I say: Game On! What are you hiding? Thanks for the clue! In our lines alone, to date, in a two hundred year period, we have eleven Mary Pollys and I know there are many more to be found. The reality is that we are looking for Marys, not Mary Pollys, two of them, 30 years apart. They make our combined trees of 200,000 Colonial American Ancestors a reality, vibrant and still growing. Without them, we are missing almost a ¼ of our needed information. By adding all these Mary Pollys, with missing birthdates and mothers, one is baffled and is unable to prove any Mary’s existence at all. One sees this phenomenon on Ancestry.com on a regular basis.
3. Inserting the birth dates for children a couple of hundred years before the birth of the mother (on some lines just a generation or two, but he favored two-hundred year slots), is one of Anjou’s all-time favorite things to do to destroy lineages. He did that when he couldn’t delete—so, he tried to implant doubt in accuracy instead. What is the saying? A seed of doubt? That’s all that is needed, one contaminated seed and the whole barrel of grain rots.
4. The constant appearance of common first names in direct family lines, such as Molly, Polly and Sarah, for instance (a popular happening with mixed-blood American Indian women after the Trail of Tears in the American South, 1840-1920), is an indication that the line in question is a link to major extended family connections. But, it is also a game of confusion, as talked about in #2. Beware if you find this happening in your trees or those of your extended family, it is a sign that something is off.
As responsible genealogists (and some of us have leanings to genetics as well, which separates the lies from truth quickly if you accept your Ancestors fallibility and libidos), it is imperative that we do not repeat the bad behavior of the professionals who came before us. If it is your will and desire to create a fictitious tree linking one’s family to European Royalty, as Anjou and others like him were hired to do (and I suspect the tradition of creating false lineages still happens for the right sum of money), then do it on your own site, away from other’s trees. Isolate your info, away from those who want true connections to reality, not a tea-party dream of pink princess china.
Those searching for Royals in their blood will copy and paste your fake royals day and night until they can no longer see. Trust me, I know. Out of thousands of genetic matches, some of them to genuine Royal lines through my maternal grandfather, I have seen dozens go crazy with the idea of social supremacy to the point that many have copied and held true the lies that I have exposed as fakes. This is a shame of great order, especially if those liars are holding onto the true matches as the false ones.
Bottom line: give me my two Marys, keep the Mary Pollys to yourself, and let us share with the world when we find people in the now upholding this creed of lineage fakery. Put your fear aside and bust them, regardless of how important they claim to be. They must be exposed for whom and what they are. Liars are liars, false and free to capture other’s intellectual short-falls. That’s why these fakers always have a job because there is a constant stream of vane individuals lined-up to take advantage of. Fakery must stop, truth must rule, even if it is messy and “behind-the-barn”. Illegitimate births keep dynasties afloat with fresh blood and verve; embrace your hiding Ancestors and know that is the source of your true power of change!