Many Bakers were involved across the USA/Canada/Europe and were innocent. They gathered records thinking they were helping others to file a claim on the "phony" estate. Make no mistake, the estate was phony!
No coal mines in PA, no billion dollars to be claimed, no owning Philadelphia or land in 16 counties across PA. I know many of you have letters from a Bakers' Heirs Assocaiation that look "official" and many more have stories passed through families about an estate that their family can claim.
The whole thing was proven to be a fake. The court case ended, but each year? More people start family research and find a letter about that old phony PA Baker estate, and the story gets packed to another generation.
Do use caution when accepting info from ANY charts completed by W.H. Baker, he resided later in Independence MO during Feb 15, 1934. He was the genealogist for the Baker Hoax scam. He gathered over 3,000 family trees, for the phony "Baker Association"
Few of the scam artists served time in jail, and if they did, it was for a VERY short time. I think the government wanted this over as soon as possible, since it caused so much news coverage in the USA, Canada, and in Europe.
For anyone wanting the case files:
National Archives Mid-Atlantic Region 9th and Market St, Room 1350 Philadelphia, Pa 19107
All filed under case number: 7293, US vs Emory Liken Biddle et al
Several other cases filed in the US District Court for the Western Division of PA at Pittsburg
US vs William Morrow Cameron et al Case: 9811 US vs Margaret Lighthill et al Case: 9849 US vs William Morrow Cameron et al Case: 9857
Appeal to Third Circuit Court Case Number: 6528-6533 inclusive
US vs Margaret Lighthill et al Case: 9858
Case file: 9857 does include an envelope marked: Defendants EX. F, 6/11/37 E.B. (This file has about 2 dozen books of receipt stubs)
The files below are the docket enries that relate to evidence:
Case 7293, US Dist Court for the Eastern Dist of PA US vs Emory Liken Biddle; charge mail fraud Dec term 1936. Docket action: Aug 31, 1937 Order of court imponding evidence filed.
Case 9811 US Dist Court for Western Div. of PA US vs Wm Morrow Smith; Charge: to conspire to take possession of estate on 12/22/33, 1/25/34, 4/6/34 etc. in various places. Dec term 1936, Docket action: None
Case 9849 US Dist Court for the Western Division of PA US vs Margaret Lighthill, Dec term 1936, Charge: Conspiracy to defraud, to take possession of estate on various dates/places. Docket action: None
Case 9857 US Dist Court Western Div of PA US vs William Morrow Cameron Smith, January Term 1937; Charge: Scheme to defraud at various places on numerous dates.
July 20, 1937: Order of court filed and entered imponding all the evidence until further order of the court.
Nov 13, 1937: Order of the Court files and entered that all papers in the hands of the Fidelity Philadelphia Trust Co. deposited by William Morrow Cameron Smith be turned over to Post Ofice Dept. until further order of the court.
December 21, 1937 Order entered directing the evidence impounded on July 10, 1937, be sent to: Thomas W. Lanigan, Special Assistant at Washington D.C., in preparation of brief to be filed in the Circuit Court; send evidence to be returned to the clerk.
November 13, 1939 Defendant petitioned for plaintiff to show why exhibits should not be returned, rule returnable Nov 17, 1939 at 10:00am.
November 17, 1939 Rule made absolute, on rule to show cause filed Nov 13, 1939. -- Case 9858 US Dist Court for Western Dist of PA US vs Margaet Lighthill et al; January Term 1937 Charge: Scheme to defraud in Baker Estates at various places/dates.
Docket Action: July 20, 1937 Stipulation that all documents remaining in the hands of the defendants relating to the Baker Estate will be impounded within the court. Later the same day an Order of the Court was filed and entered impounding all the evidence until further notice of the court.
-- Case 6528-6533 Inclusive, US Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit
Fred F. Sprengel, Norman H. Blough, W.H.C. Sprengel, Henry Wolford, David J. Anderson, and William Miller vs US
Case 6528 Docket Actions: March 4, 1938
Stipulation that all exibits placed in custody of this court etc. filed
Case 6528 Abstract of Costs Actions
March 11, 1938 Five packets of letters, 1 long package (chart) used by the government in exhibit room in Court
Feb 6, 1939 Given to Judge Biggs law clerk
Sept 28, 1938 Delivered to Post Office Agent, B.J. Mahon
Oct 16, 1939 Large envelope of exhibits returned to us (U.S. Court of Appeals) by Post Office Agent in exhibit room
Nov 2, 1939 Large envelope of exhibits returned to Post Office Agent (U.S. Court of Appeals) Nov 6, 1939
Nov 7, 1939 Sent to Clerk of District Court March 7, 1939 Returned to us (U.S. Court of Appeals) --
Cases 6529-6533 Docket Actions: March 4, 1938 Stipulation that all exibits placed in custody of this Court etc filed in 6528
In addition to the docket information listed in cases 6528-6533, you may find the following documents filed in the appeals cases noteworthy:
December 3, 1947 Ida O. Creskoff, Clerk of the US Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit in Philadelphia writes to Owen Burns, US Attorney in Pittsburg, stating:
"We have in our exhibit room a large map of the US which was a government exhibit in the cases of Fred F. Sprengel, et al vs United States. Nos: 6528-6533 inclusive, docketed here in 1937. What disposition do you wish made of this exhibit?"
On December 8, 1947 Burns advised Creskoff that she may destroy the map.
December 9, 1947 the clerk reports the map destroyed.
Many Linn Co Mo, and several 1,000 other Baker/Becker family groups in the USA/Canada/Europe tried to file to claim this phony estate.
W.H. Baker was the genealogist for this PHONY association. Many Bakers are trying to use this data for leads only, since it was never proven. Beware! The info may be false, since it was used to prove relationship to one Jacob Baker of PA. for the Baker Heirs' Association.
Ralph D. Shipp was updating his book to make corrections. W.H. Baker was quoted in his book, before Ralph knew about W.H. being the genealogist for the Bakers Heirs' Association. Ralph did wonderful research in his lifetime, and the bulk of his genealogy is accurate. Just use caution about the W.H. Baker parts of it.
Convictions in this case, or charges made:
Convicted Philadelphia, Pa, from Baker Hoax Trial during April 1- April 16, 1937
Emory Liken Biddle, Altoona, PA
Roy L. Biddle, Harrisburg, PA
John A. Biddle, Altoona PA
Warren H. Biddle, Altoona PA
Lewis C. Walkinshaw, Greenburg, PA
C.A. McCullom, Mendon, MO
Convicted during May and June 1937
William Morrow Cameron Smith, Washington D.C.
William S. Miller, (Sollie Miller) Indiana, PA
David J. Anderson, (aka D.L. Anderson) Johnstown PA
W.H.G. Sprengel, Johnstown, PA
Fred F. Sprengel, Johnstown PA
Rev. Norman H. Blough, Davidsville, PA
Henry H. Wolford, Johnstown, PA
Milton E. Best, Greenburg, PA
Mary Baker Kelly Best, Greenburg, PA
Margaret Lighthill, Pittsburgh, PA
Bertha Ross Dodson, Pittsburgh, PA
Leroy Eschrich, Pittsburgh, PA
Lilian A. Ryan, Portland, Oregon
Albert P. Baker, Pana, ILL
Mrs. Albert Baker, Pana, IL
E.E. Baker, Springfield, MO
O.S. Baker, DeSoto, Kansas
R.H. Baker, Middletown, VA
One last note? W.H. Baker was the genealogist for the phony Bakers' Heirs Association (and other names) and he was living in Independence, MO during part of the trial. Some of his records will be in Linn Co, MO or in Independence, Mo.
There is a copy of the 3'x4' chart he made, used at the trial. The chart may be 100% false, due to people wanting to claim the phony estate. So use caution with ANY of W.H. Bakers records/charts/info.
The records used for the trial contain: actual pages from family Bibles, professional research done to file for the estate, and personal letters used to prove fraud. W.H. Baker had over 3,000 charts made on various Baker Family. Some, were accurate except for the claim to the Baker Estate, and would help many Baker researchers.
If you run across Baker family papers from any name listed on the conviction list? Please share them...
They have been missing since the trial ended. The legal papers are on file regarding the court case, but the Baker exhibits have never been found.
From: E.L. Biddle
January 29, 1936
To: Mr. Harvey V. Daughterty
Register of Wills
Dear Mr. Daughterty,
Concerning the Will of Jacob Baker of which I was forced to present to your office by Edward P. Smith during the month of May, 1934. We stated at that time we were not ready to offer for probate, on account of insufficient evidence.
We are not ready yet to produce the evidence, and we ask you to hold the will or return it to me until we are in shape to produce sufficient evidence.
Yours Respectively, E.L. Biddle
Hoax Trial, no dates on this request from the US Attorney:
Henry Brautigan, Register of Wills Office Philadelphia, PA
To Produce: Will of Jacob Baker and will of John Pray on file in the office of the Register of Wills, Phil. PA
Charles F_ _ _ United States Attorney
NOTE: Have no clue as to why the Will of John Pray was called in for this trial. Anyone have John Pray, of Philadelphia on their charts?
From the Baker Hoax Files: Baker Family Newsletter Int.