Note: This is an encore post from 2006.
Dec. 5, 1907
A Los Angeles couple have a novel way of making money: Antonio Thompson and his wife sell their daughter Marie to the Gypsies, then go to court to get her back. According to statements taken in St. Louis, Marie has been sold off several times as a Gypsy princess.
The girl’s father obtained a writ of habeas corpus to get custody of Marie, 16, who was living with “King” Peter Adams, 17, in a local Gypsy encampment, The Times said. Thompson claimed that a Gypsy named Leon Lehan eloped with Marie when she was 12 and sold her to man named Elihi. The father says that as soon as Marie eloped, he and his wife set out after her and have traveled thousands of miles trying to get her back.
Adams, however, accused the Thompsons of running a scheme in which they sold off their daughter repeatedly, most recently for $800 ($16,418.86 USD 2005). “Pete Adams asserts that his wife has been sold four times by her father within the last year for sums aggregating $2,700,” The Times says. “He declares that Thompson now intends to get the girl back for the purpose of selling her again.”
The next day, the Thompsons were awarded custody of Marie, but were immediately arrested on charges of selling her into slavery.
Antonio Thompson refused to deny the accusation, shrugging his shoulders and saying: “Does a man sell his own daughter?”
Unfortunately, The Times never pursued this story, so we don’t know what became of the Thompsons or Peter Adams.
When my oldest daughter was little, in the 1980s, I routinely threatened to sell her to the Gypsies. She was never much impressed, never having heard of such a thing actually being done — well, 30 years later, here is my proof. Thanks Larry!