Sunday, September 4, 2011

Helen Drexler Ferguson: A Champion War-Marriage Vampire’s Lucrative Career - 1922

NOTE: There were thousands of scammers like this one in the United States in the World War I era. They were commonly called “War Marriage Vampires.” For an overview of the racket practiced by the defendant in the following case, see: Thousands of Fake War Brides in World War I (“War Marriage Vampires”) - USA, 1918


FULL TEXT (Article 1 of 2): Chicago, Dec. 2. – Mrs. Helen Ferguson Drexler, 22 years old, has confessed to having been married to sixteen men in the past three years. The young woman, who was arrested here today by Government agents, admitted having married the men,  all of whom where either soldiers or sailors, for the sole reason of securing the allotment issued by the War Risk Bureau to a wife of a man in the service.

“You men try to make me admit the marriage of ten men,” she said. “Why, that is just more than half. I had sixteen of them during my career and was going to marry another in a few days if I had not been arrested.

“The first man to whom I was married was an auto salesman, in  Boston, in 1918. After the wedding we lived together until he was called to France. Shortly afterward I got word of his death. I tried to forget, but being by myself I was soon forced to seek company, and finally married a man from New York. I was getting the allotment from the Government due me from my first husband at that time.”

“I lived with my second husband contentedly for several months. He joined the navy. I got an allotment from him. One day I met a woman who heard of the two allotments I was getting from the Government, amounting to $60 a month. She suggested that inasmuch as the money was easy I should keep it up and marry again. I could make hundreds of dollars a month by this scheme, if it worked.”

“I consented and married again, this time a soldier in the Brooklyn Navy Yard named John Kelly. He signed his allotment to me. I left him and went in search of another husband.”

“From then on life was just one husband after another. The income amounted to $500 a month. After two years I had married ten men. I can’t recall all the names. I went to Norfolk, Va., and married again. Each time I only stayed with my husband until I got the allotment signed to me and then left.

[“22-Year-Old Girl Married 16 Service Men; Collected $500 Monthly in Allotments,” New York Times (N.Y.), Dec. 3, 1921, p. 1]


FULL TEXT (Article 2 of 2): Mrs. Helen Drexler Ferguson, 2 years old, was released yesterday from Geneva jail, twelve days before the expiration of her six month’s sentence for marrying a number of soldiers and sailors estimated at from fifteen to seventeen, in order to get their allotments.

She is to undergo an operation at Aurora hospital.

Following the operation Mrs. Ferguson will be given a ticket to Washington, where her parents reside, by the Salvation Army, which has taken an interest in her case.

Mrs. Ferguson says she has no other plans fort the future than to go to some small city where she can find congenial employment.

[“Girl Who Married Soldiers For Pay Checks Released,” Aurora Daily Star (Il.), Jun. 21, 1922, p. 1]



For more cases of this type see: “War-Marriage Vampires”& “Allotment Annies"


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