I have a lot of "stuff" on this one. When I began my research back in 1980, the Wolfert Webber- Anneke Jans myth was one of the first things I came across. See below:
The Wolfert Webber - Anneke Jans Legend (MYTH)
During my Webber family research I came across a legend concerning a Holland inheritance and a Webber claim to property owned by the Trinity Dutch Reformed Church of New York.
According to the legend (myth), the Trinity property was first owned by Roelof Jans and upon his death his wife, Anneke Jans became owner. Anneke (again by legend) was supposedly Wolfert Webber's sister and they were royal descent from the German Prince William of the House of Orange, Nassau who was also referred to as William the Silent. Under King Philip of Spain, Prince William became the Stadholder of Holland in the last part of the 16th century.
After the death of Roelof Jans, Anneke married the Rev. Everardus Bogardus, the second Domine of the Trinity Dutch Reformed Church, and after the death of Anneke Jans Bogardus in 1663, the Manhattan property was supposedly willed to Anneke's children, however, the Trinity Church claimed legal title.
For generations, the descendants of Anneke Jans and Wolfert Webber argued the property had illegally been taken from the family by Trinity Church. Anneke Jans Bogardus Associations were formed, membership fees and donations collected, and with a considerable war chest, the Trinity Church was taken to court. The court ruled that the Church did indeed hold legal title to the property.
In 1929, the Director of the Anneke Jans Bogardus Association, Mr. Willis Timothy Gridley, a New York attorney was indicted, convicted and sentenced for mail fraud. While in jail Gridley wrote a book about the Webber-Jabs-Bogardus claim entitled "Trinity! Break Ye My Commandments". The book is on file in the National Archives and several copies are presently owned by today's descendants of Anneke Jabs Bogardus.
In 1973, George Olin Zabriskie published an article in the New York Genealogical and Biographical Record, volume 104, p.p. 65-72 and 157-160 entitled ANNEKE JANS FACT AND FICTION. By he use of church records, Mr. Zabriskie proved that Anneke Jans was not a member of the Webber family, but was born in Flekkeroy Norway rather than Amsterdam Holland.
In 1980, E. Virginia Webber Hunt of Deerfield, Illinois (now of 2 Clyfton Street, Plymouth, Massachusetts 02360) a descendent of Wolfert Webber, published a comprehensive, well documented genealogy entitled the "Dutch Webbers of Indiana and Illinois. All serious Webber Family researcher of Dutch descent should become familiar with Virginia Webber Hunt's work.
In a April 29, 1981, letter to Kurt Webber, William Bogardus, the president of the Anneke Jans and Everardus Bogardus Descendants Association, wrote:
"....Lawyers were the only ones what made money on this legal maneuvering since they and the various associations obtained dues and other funds to support the cause from countless, very gullible, descendants. I presume millions were collected. As to the information published by Mrs. Hunt concerning Mr. Zabriskie's article, I support both Mrs. Hunt and Mr. Zabriskie. I'm enclosing a copy of one of Mr. Zabriskie's three articles on the subject. The enclosed item is from the Dutch Settlers of Albany, NY- Society Yearbook, Vol. 43, 1970-1972, pp. 12-13."
In addition to the claim to the Trinity Church property, the descendants of Wolfert Webber were lead to believe they were entitled to a Holland inheritance left by one Sarah Webber. In his Genealogical Sketch of the Descendants of Several Branches of the Webber Family, Alphonzo Button writes the following about the Holland inheritance:
"About the middle of the seventeenth century, one Sara Webber died in Holland, bequeathing property then valued at 36,000 pounds to her heirs. But, the property was to be invested at compound interest until the third generation thereafter should appear upon the stage of life. But in the course of a generation or two, these important documents became lost in some of the musty cobweb courts of Dykeland. Jans heirs (who it appears are identical with the Webber and Brower heirs), the long lost wills were found, and it was discovered that about $70,000 were awaiting lawful claimants in Holland."
Apparently, there were several genealogist, lawyers and others contacting various Webber families concerning the claim to the New York property and Dutch inheritance. In 1907, my great uncle William Alonzo Webber was contacted concerning our family linage. Not having family records beyond Nathaniel Burrel Webber, Sr., Alonzo was told he could not be added to the list of heirs. In the back of Button's genealogy he includes a Form of Declaration and an Power of Attorney form and makes the following statement:
"......if you are a surviving child, and have good reason to believe that you are a descendant of the family in question, and therefore an heir, then it will be proper to make out and execute a simple declaration of the facts of your descent, and forward the same to me, or the person with whom you prefer to entrust the entire control of your interests in connection with this kinship, together with a power of attorney, as per forms hereinafter given.
.................Having given you such brief instructions as is presumed to be sufficient, for the present at least, I will further ad that the fees charged by Mr. E.B. Humphrey in advance, is $7.50, which includes the arrangement and registering of each claim, and a commission of ten per cent, on all sums recovered for each heir."
Alphonzo Button's genealogy is on file at the Library of Congress, call number 18295 (CS71.W37).
Kurt W. Webber
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