Gustave Anjou

Gustave Anjou was born Gustaf Ludvig Ljungberg in Sweden in 1863 and died in 1942. Widely known today for his fraudulent genealogies of early American families in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, Anjou was known to receive as much as $9,000 for a genealogy report from his wealthy clients. His report usually took three weeks to complete and included a coat of arms and surname history.

Much of the fraud in genealogy can be attributed to a desire for establishing a royal, noble, or otherwise distinguished descent or for laying claim to an estate.

According to the American Genealogist (July 1976) the genealogical works of Gustave Anjou, Charles H. Browning, C. A. Hoppin, Orra E. Monnette, Horatio Gates Somerby, Frederick A. Virkus and John S. Wurts “are so unreliable that nothing they say should be accepted without clear and unmistakable verification.”

Only three of the Anjou genealogies were actually printed, the works on the Freeman, Blaisdell and Shapleigh families. Only Freeman was actually published by Anjou, the other two were later publishing’s of
his original typescript.

The unprinted genealogies were all bound typescripts or carbons of the original and even the unsigned ones are recognizable as being Anjous’ creations. In 1927, Anjou published a catalog of 192 “genealogies,” leaving many unaccounted for. At this date over 305 surnames have been identified as the misleading work of Gustave Anjou.

The surname, Caldwell, was one of those 192 genealogies.

Mr. Robert Charles Anderson is the Director of the Great Migration Study Project sponsored by the New England Historic Genealogical Society, a Certified Genealogist, a fellow of the American Society of Genealogists, a fellow of the Utah Genealogical Association. With numerous articles published in The New England Historical and Genealogical Register, The American Genealogist, the National Genealogical Society Quarterly, The Genealogist, and is quoted from the Genealogical Journal Volume 19, Numbers 1 & 2, 1991 as saying;

“A typical Anjou pedigree displays four recognizable features:

1. A dazzling range of connections between dozens of immigrants to New England; for example, connections far beyond what may be seen in pedigrees produced by anyone else:

2. Many wild geographical leaps, outside the normal range of migration patterns;

3. An overwhelming number of citations to documents that actually exist, and actually include what Anjou says they include; and

4. Here and there an invented document, without citation, which appears to support the many connections noted under item 1 above”.

The leaps through time and space in the Caldwell myths most certainly sound like something that could have come from Anjou, but did they? Or maybe some of these stories were created by the first America “professional” genealogist, Horatio Gates Somerby.

The Autobiography and Biography of Rev. Joseph Caldwell, D.D., L.L.D., First President of the University of North Carolina, by J.B. Neathery, 1860, makes reference to ancestors of the Rev. Joseph Caldwell as being those Huguenot’s who were Muslim pirates around 1500, only to retire to France as Huguenots on their way to ride with Cromwell against the Irish in 1649, before buying a castle in Scotland during the rein of James I who died in 1625.

The Reverend James Caldwell, Patriot 1734-1781, by Norman F. Brydon, Caldwell Bicentennial Committee, Caldwell, NJ, 1976 also references this Caldwell as a descendant of Caldwell Huguenots who fled France after the revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685.

Personally, I think that the Rev. James would know that his father was born in Ireland in 1683 (two years before the Revocation) as was his grandfather, Joseph in 1657 (near the end of Oliver Cromwell’s life) as was his great grandfather, John in 1630 (twelve years before the beginning of the civil wars).

The Rev. James was a Presbyterian minister as was his father, John Caldwell, founder of Cub Creek, VA.

What I do find very interesting is that Dr. Orra E. Monnette acted as chairman of a meeting of Huguenot descendants which was held in California on Sunday, March 3, 1935, stating that the purpose of the Society was to be an organization of Huguenot descendants to enable them to become better acquainted and to cultivate a happy Christian fellowship with each other, as well as to extend the great principles of political and religious liberty for which the Huguenots had always stood.

Something that strikes me as interesting is the overwelming number of Orra Monnette genealogies with Huguenot ancestory. Actually, just about every genealogy conducted by Monnette contains Huguenots. Was Monnette primarily focused on finding Huguenots, or creating them?

The story of French Huguenots in the line of Cub Creek John Caldwell is a stretch, to say the least. This does not mean that there weren’t Caldwells who were French Huguenots, just not in the line of John Caldwell and Margaret Phillips. After all, my ancestors became Quakers, but that doesn’t mean that they all traveled with George Fox to Holland before coming to America – but that’s another story.

One thing is for certain, and many genealogists agree, including Richard Pence, author of “The ‘Three Brothers'” Paradigm” that researchers should be wary of all stories that begin, “Three Brothers….”

What makes that particularly interesting for me is that in mine direct line, three brothers left Ohio and settled Iowa in 1855. One thing that’s different in this instance is that these three brothers coming to Iowa are well documented, and family members still own the original family homestead.



  • FAMILY GROUP RECORD FRAUD, by Elaine C. Nichols
  • Locating Published Genealogies, by Donna Przecha
  • Sons & Daughters of America’s First Families
  • QUAKERS in BRIEF, by David M Murray-Rust
  • The Huguenot Society of California