Welcome to our journey to find Charley Ross, the child taken in the first kidnapping for ransom in America.  In 1939 an Arizona jury said they found him. They did not and we’ll tell you why . . .

Charley Ross

Gustave Blair

Nelson Miller

Charley Ross, The Library of Congress

The kidnapping of Charley Ross in Philadelphia, PA, happened in 1874, the year Nelson Miller was born.  Charley Ross was never found.  In 1939, a man who called himself Gustave Blair announced he was Charley Ross and could prove it. The brother who was kidnapped with Charley but released, Walter Ross, dismissed Gustave Blair’s claim as another attempt to extort money from the family.  He was right but Blair convinced an Arizona jury otherwise. They declared he was in fact the child kidnapped 65 years ago, Charles Brewster Ross. In 2011, we commissioned a Y-DNA study and determined a 99.99903% probability Gustave Blair was in fact a Miller, Nelson Miller.  He could not have been Charley Ross. When he died in 1943, Nelson was buried in Phoenix, Arizona under the headstone “Charles B Ross.” 

The details of the kidnapping are reported elsewhere on this site but here is a documented summary:


Nelson Miller, aka Gustave Blair and Charley Ross, (7/13/1874  –  12/13/1943) was one of eleven boys born to Rinear and Ann Miller in the small village of Melugin Grove near the Lee County city of Dixon, Illinois, in 1874.   This is our family. Some time between 1918 and 1920 he changed his name to Gustave Blair and in 1939 he convinced a jury in Maricopa County, Arizona, he was Charley Ross, the child taken in the first kidnapping for ransom in America. 

Gustave Blair – Nelson Miller

I would not have learned the truth about Gustave Blair and Nelson Miller without the inspiration, encouragement, and challenge of my nephew, Larry Miller, of Grimes, IA.   He is now the keeper of “The Black Satchel” a collection of family documents that have been passed down through four generations of Millers. 

aka S. Holmes

Among them is a confession of murder, sworn affidavits about what happened to Charley Ross, and the beginning of a book by one of the Millers.  We collaborated for fifteen years researching and sleuthing Gustave Blair’s claim that he was Charley Ross, hidden all along by one of his kidnappers in the home of our family and raised as Nelson Miller.  Larry nudged us forward to verify our findings with DNA analysis.  Our research reported here corrects the judgement of a Maricopa County, AZ, jury in 1939 that declared Charley Ross was found.  He was not.

Read the report of our research: ‘I am Charley Ross’ Gustave Blair, Nelson Miller, and the Crime that Changed a Nation”

(My website is under development.)