Thursday, February 28, 2008

A family legend, a national mystery, a bullshit confession?

Another long-drafted post, and a bit of weird family history...

(Full-sized version available here.)

Preface: According to Wikipedia, Charley Ross, born Charles Brewster Ross in 1870, was the primary victim of the first kidnapping for ransom in America to receive widespread attention from the media.

(Another account of Charlie Ross can be found here.)

Jump to 2000: In a set of old family photos I received when my grandmother died in 2000 was a photo with this handwritten on the reverse (I believe the writer is my aunt, which is why in the note my grandmother is referred to as "Mom"):

Grace Van Fleet
daughter of
Mrs. Ruth Van Fleet
who stayed in our house.

    Grace died young at the White Haven
Sanitarium from tuberculosis. She +
Mrs Van Fleet + her murderer husband are
all buried in the White Haven Cemetery.
    Mrs Van Fleet + her daughter left Ruth's
husband in New Jersey or West Chester (in the Phila. area)+ came here to live.
    When Ruth's husband was dying
he came + found her in White Haven
(where she had moved to be near her daughter)
+ confessed to the murder of young Charlie
Ross on his death bed. Ruth gave him a proper
    Ruth came to live with Mom [my grandmother] in 1937 + stayed
until Feb. or March 1943 when she died here
at [my grandmother's home in Hazleton PA]. On her death bed she
confessed to Mom [my grandmother] that her husband had
admitted to the killing of Charlie Ross before he

According to the Wikipedia article, "The fate of Charley Ross remains unknown".

So, while it's most likely bullshit, I can't figure why a dood on his deathbed would confess to a famous kidnapping. You hear of the nuts who confess to things they didn't do while still alive and healthy. They're just attention seekers (and nuts). Buy why confess to something you didn't do when you're near death and can't "enjoy" the fame/infamy?

No comments: