The July 1, 1874, kidnapping of four-year-old Charles Brewster "Charley" Ross from a sidewalk in front of the family home in the Germantown neighborhood of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania became the first nationally publicized kidnapping for ransom case in the United States. This collection contains six items: a letter, a manuscript draft of a reward advertisement, handwritten notes, a pencil sketched portrait of Charley, a manusscript account of experiences with the main suspects, and an undated newspaper clipping-related to the continuing investigation of the child's abduction, ca. 1909.
The one Letter in the collection is from Charley Ross's father Christian K. Ross to Rev. Henry Whitney Cleveland, October 20, 1877; Philadelphia. 2 pages. In it, Mr. Ross states that he cannot help Cleveland publish a book as his time is spent searching for his missing son. Ross mentions the book he published on the case, lamenting that he published it using a subscription service as it limited its circulation.
Written on the verso of printed, illustrated stationery of the Haynes Hotel, Springfield, Massachusetts, the manuscript draft of a Reward Advertisement stipulates a $10,000 reward for the return of Charley Ross alive, promising not to seek out or discover the identity of the kidnappers. The page is headed "For Local Article."
Notes: Six pages of pencil notes on checkbook stubs, measuring approximately 9x4 inches. Dating from July 1, 1874, to an unknown point in 1909, the notes begin from the point of Charley's kidnapping, chronicling accounts of the case. First remarking that Christian Ross had "run down false clews [in a] vain attempt" to locate Charley, the unidentified writer continues with a sparse summary of the alleged kidnappers capture "at Fort Hamilton, L.I. [Long Island]" and Joseph Douglas's confession that "Mosher & I stole Charly [sic] Ross." The next entry, dated 1909, discusses one Wm. G. Eyster, whose claim to be the lost Charley Ross was rejected.
The notes conclude with a sketch of a man wearing glasses and a bow tie, with the caption "3 days to get it ready, $20,000," followed by what appears to be notes related to other kidnappings and reference to a "Jessy James."
Manuscript: On October 9, 1932, James H. Hall wrote a nine-page summary of George W. Murdock's recounting of his experiences with the main suspects in the Charles Brewster Ross kidnapping case, Bill Mosher and Joe Douglas, while his mother was in charge of the lighthouse in the Hudson River. Murdock recalled Mosher and Douglas attempting to sell them a boat, described the two men, and described encounters with detectives who searched their premises and read their mail. Hall speculated about the possible role of the boat in the kidnapping.
Newspaper Clipping: An undated clipping regarding one Mr. W.C. DeWitt, claiming to be the lost Charley Ross and giving a lecture, titled "The True Story of My Abduction."
Portrait: A pencil sketch of Charley with an inscription that reads,"at the time of his abduction. Then 4 yrs. and Walter, his 6-yr-old brother. Disappeared from the sidewalk, near their home. July 1, 1874."