Department of Special Collections
William Penn Keffer Collection of Sheet Music,
ca. 1790-1895

Content and design by John Bewley

Philadelphia in Images: Portrait of Charlie Ross

Lithograph by H. W. Peirce on title page of: Bring Back Our Darling / words by Dexter Smith ; music by W. H. Brockway.
Boston: White & Goullaud, 1874.
Box 27, no. 3.

Charlie Ross (born 1870) was a child in Germantown, Philadelphia, when he was kidnapped on July 1, 1874. The story was a media sensation of its time. The abductors mailed the Ross family twenty-three ransom letters over the course of the first four months of Charlie's absence, but despite a willingness to meet the demands of the abductors, the Ross family never saw their son again. In November 1874 two men were shot while burglarizing a house on Long Island. Although both men died that night, one confessed to police that he and his partner were responsible for kidnapping Charlie Ross. He claimed that only his partner knew the boy's whereabouts. A third man, later picked up, was charged and tried with being an accomplice and sentenced to seven years in jail. For years following the incident people turned up either claiming to know something about Charlie or of actually being Charlie Ross, but the boy was never found.

Charlie Ross

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