Monday, November 21, 2016

Queens of the Military Bride Multiple Marriage Allotment Check Racket

They were called “War-Marriage Vampires,” “Fake War Brides,” "Allotment Wives,” “Allotment Brides,” “Allotment Annies” and “Victory Girls” – women who married multiple young men so they could fraudulently profit from the monthly government allotment checks they would receive for each husband and, when she got lucky, would when the husband died in battle receive a bonus payment.

An article published in 1950 stated that “hundreds of Allotment Annies were convicted of preying on servicemen during and after World War II. Convictions totaled 242 in 1946 but dropped to 47 in 1950, The effects of the Korean War will not be known for some time.” [Frances Spatz, “Allotment Annies are at it again,” The American Weekly (San Antonio Light) (Tx.), Dec. 17, 1950, p. 2]


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]


FULL TEXT (Article 1 of 2): From the looks of things, Mrs. Korene Stankowich, who at last count had accumulated at least 16 husbands, won’t be charged with bigamy.

To accuse a wife of bigamy there must be at least two complaining husbands.

Thus far, there seem to be no complaints.


Such husbands of the blithe redhead, who explained it all by saying that when a woman is very much alive there is no knowing what she will do, who did get peeved about the surplus of husbands are in no position to charge bigamy. Those few divorced her and, presto, they have no official standing.

The other husbands, some of whom met still other husbands under the guise of cousins, bother or plain dear friends, have made no attempt to get their mutual wife in trouble for being too enthusiastic about acquiring men.

In fact the low man on the totem pole, Pvt. Alexander Stankowich, of the Marines, No. 16, rushed out to round up bail money from her large circle of husbands until the Navy Shore Patrol interfered with with such enterprise by putting him in custody.

Julian G. McIntosh, chief assistant prosecutor, admitted Thursday there had been no complaints and that the FBI, which has interrupted Mrs. Stankowich’s marrying career bu putting her in jail for a surplus of pay allotments rather than husbands, had not consulted with the prosecutor’s office.


Some of her husbands are overseas and while he did not say it, McIntosh hinted that it might seriously hamper the successful prosecution of the war to start bringing them back. Both the Army and Marines, not to mention Mrs. Stankowich, have kept the husbands pretty well scattered and it might slow down action on all the fronts.

Uncle Sam is not concerned with her occupation but with the fact that she accumulated $1,500 from the military coup of her domestic entourage as allotment pay. As far as the FBI is concerned, only one of her husbands should have sent her money.


Mrs. Stankowich still was in jail Thursday because her most recent mate was suppressed  before he could contact the rest of the family circle for her $4,000 bail.

The FBI also was holding her incommunicado since every time a reporter talked to her more husbands kept developing and it was feared it might become embarrassing to a large part of the general public. “You never know who might be another husband.”

[James S. Pooler, “16 Weddings Don’t Add Up to Bigamy – Officials Need Two Complaining Spouses,” The Detroit Free Press (Mi.), Jun. 2, 1944, p. 1]


FULL TEXT (Article 2 of 2): Because after 12 or more civilian husbands, Mrs. Korene Stankowich started marrying into the Army and Navy, she wound up in Federal Court here last week.

Never once was thre thirty-five-year-old redhead threatened with bigamy, although her record indicates she was opposed to divorce, but trouble hove up because she was getting pay allotments, according to the FBI, from three soldiers and a Marine.


It wasn’t until after she was brought into Federal Court that Mrs. Stankowich revealed her nonstop marriage record which pales anything covered before.  In fact, she had considerable trouble recalling husbands. Uncle Sam recalled her recent four, all military men and accused her of getting a tidy $2,500 from the Government in allotments. However, Pvt. Alexander Stankowich, of the Marines, Husband No. 16, was undiscouraged and rushed ourt to round up $4,000 bail from her circle of husbands until a Navy shore patrol stepped in and stopped him.


Mrs. Stankowich evidently sharpened up her technique on the civilians for records show that five years ago she was careening around New York pretending to be one of the famous Couzens’ family, of Detroit. None of her husbands – most are now overseas – have come forward to charge her with bigamy but one civilian, who shucked her legally in bygone years, revealed that she used the heiress gag on him.

[“Woman with Many Husbands Accused of Defrauding U. S., “ The Detroit Free Press (Mi.), Jun. 4, 1944, Part 4, p. 5]





FULL TEXT: San Diego, Calif. – Go-go dancer Pandora Cooke, who allegedly married 14 servicemen for their allotment checks, has been sentenced to 18 months in prison for making a false statement to the Federal Housing Administration.

Mrs. Cooke, 29, a San Diego mother of three, wept as she was sentenced yesterday by U. S. District Court Judge Dennis F. Donovan stayed execution of sentence for two weeks and said she would be eligible for parole at any time during imprisonment.

The judge also dismissed 10 other counts against Mrs. Cooke who pleaded guilty Jan. 20 of making a false statement to obtain FHA credit for a loan on a house. She had been indicted on nine counts of defrauding the Government of $1348 in allotment checks and one count of claiming to be a Vietnam war widow to receive the benefits of a $10,000 insurance policy.

One of her husbands, Seaman Robert D. McColm, 23, testified at an annulment proceeding in Denver last October the FBI informed him Mrs. Cooke had 13 other husbands and was receiving allotment checks from them.

McColm, who said he was intoxicated when her married Mrs. Cooke in Las Vegas, Nev., after meeting her the previous night in a local bar, was granted an annulment.

The dark-haired entertainer was arrested here by the FBI last Aug. 23. She was released on $250 bail and has become the feature attraction at a San Diego cabaret.

[“Marrying Go-Go Girl Sentenced in Loan Bilk,” Philadelphia Daily News (Pa.), Feb. 17, 1967, p. 35]


FULL TEXT: San Diego, Oct. 13 – Pandora Cooke, 29, a go-go girl who allegedly had 14 husbands, mostly servicemen, was indicted on charges of defrauding the Federal Government.

Mrs. Cooke, who also used the name Anita Simons and other aliases, was charged in nine counts with defrauding the Government of a total of $1348.40 in military allotment checks.

She was accused in the 10th count of falsely claiming to be the widow of a marine killed in Vietnam to receive benefits of his $10,000 insurance policy.

The San Diego mother of three, who was arrested here by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, is free on $250 bail. She is expected to be arraigned in federal court Oct. 24.

Her most recent husband, Seaman Robert D. McColm, 23, received an annulment Tuesday in a Denver court on grounds he was intoxicated at the time of the wedding. He testified he met Mrs. Cooke in a San Diego bar June 30, danced and drank that night and woke up in Las Vegas, Nev., the next morning a married man.

Most of the names of husbands were “not available,” an FBI spokesman said. But, he added, “our file is about as thick as your fist.”

[“Girl Go-Goes To Altar Often – Had 14 Husbands, FBI Charges,” The Pittsburgh Press (Pa.), Oct. 13, 1966, p. 18]






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


1 comment:

  1. I was a Sailor in San Diego when the story of GoGo Dancer married to 12 sailors hit the press. And I believed that was it. My nephew is stationed there now and I was telling him about the GoGo dancer. He thought I was telling a Sea Story so I dug around until I found this. Come to find out, while I was on Operation Sea Dragon, two more sailors "HAD OPENED PANDORA'S BOX!" (Here in Alcoa,TN we use that expression to describe getting into something that brings misery)