The First Known Ransom Note Was Written in Philly

Germantown gets a little more historic.

Yesterday, it was squirrels. Now, ransom notes. One day last March, a Philadelphia school librarian called Bridget Flynn, found one such note in her basement. Here’s how it read, in part.

“Mr Ros, be not uneasy, you son charley bruster be all writ we is got him and no powers on earth can deliver out of our hand.”

Turns out that was from one of a stack of letters which are believed to be the first publicly confirmed ransom notes in American history, back in 1874. And wouldn’t you know it? The kidnapping, of a four-year-old son of a man named Christian Ross, occurred right here in Philly–Germantown, specifically. The kidnappers were demanding $20,000. (Again, in 1874 dollars.) Read the whole story of the kidnapping, the ransom notes, and the search for little Charley Ross at Smithsonian.

h/t Christopher Moraff