‘I am Charley Ross’
On February 4, 1939 Gustave Blair, a man known as a gardener, painter, and carpenter, legally asserted he was the kidnapped child, hidden all this time by the Miller Family in Lee County, IL. As early as 1932, Gustave Blair, his son, Ralph Blair and his Miller brother, Lincoln (known as L.C. Miller) began making statements about Gustave’s claim to be Charley Ross. Notably, these assertions began shortly after national news coverage of the now famous Charles Lindberg kidnapping. In an effort to bolster their argument, they obtained a copy of the book written by Charley’s father, Christian Ross, about his son’s kidnapping. It provided them with details of the kidnapping they would use to prove their case in a court of law.
In 1935, Gustave Blair told reporters he had twelve affidavits he would use to prove he was Charley Ross. His brother, Harrison (Hiram), also possessed nine sworn and notarized affidavits allegedly written in 1934 supporting Gustave’s claim. Harrison presented himself as a lawyer in St. Paul, MN. None of the affidavits were made public or used in the trial. It is reasonable to assume there was a falling out between the Miller brothers and that Harrison later withheld the affidavits. The affidavits and what appears to be typewritten testimony Lincoln Miller would give at the trial in 1939 (see below) are among documents now in the possession of the Miller family. Among the documents is an affidavit labeled “Confession” sworn by Lincoln Miller on December 29, 1932, in which he states an attending physician had determined he was dying. He confessed to concealing the Millers’ involvement in the Charley Ross kidnapping and concealing Charley’s identity as a Miller.
With his contention, on February 4, 1939, Blair sued the Ross family in Phoenix, AZ, to be recognized as their brother. The Ross family ignored the suit and did not attend the trial. Walter Ross, Charley’s brother, reported it was just another example of thousands of false claims that had been made over the decades. He said, “We have heard of this man before and have determined to our own satisfaction there is nothing to his story.”
Gustave Blair’s civil suit was heard before a jury on May 9, 1939.