“Kidnapped: Child Abduction in America,” by Professor Paula S. Fass is the only study yet available on the subject. The book is useful for the accurate information which it contains despite that the fact that it also contains an abundance of inaccurate “facts,” distortions, and willful omissions - all which support the author’s ideological prejudices (which clearly lean heavily toward utopian/collectivist child-rearing by bureaucracies).
Throughout the book, Professor Fass makes broad claims that are not supported with a lick of evidence. One of these false claims is her generalization that women are seldom kidnappers for ransom, sadistic purposes, child labor purposes (prostitution, entertainment, servants). This is untrue.
Deceptive rhetoric abounds in “Kidnapped: Child Abduction in America.” In the book’s introductory chapter, the “myth” of Gypsy kidnapping is compared to the Medieval “blood libel” against the Jews, allowing the reader to get the impression that the myth of Jewish kidnappers for child sacrifice and the myth of Gypsy child kidnapping are similar in type and origin. In truth, “blood libel” is based on prejudice, while the “myth” of Gypsy kidnapping is based on fact. Gypsies have long practiced child kidnapping and a great many documented cases exist – throughout the 19th century well into the late middle 20th century.
Fass, because of her predilection for applying present-day of moral preferences toward ethnic groups (ie: “politically correct” politics) ends up falsifying history and consequently cruelly diminishes the actual struggles of minority people. In the case of Italian-American child kidnapping of the later “Black Hand” period – also ignored by Fass - it was honest Italian immigrants who were preyed upon by Italian criminals. It was not unusual for poor parents to be victims of ransom demands of whatever sum was “appropriate” for the working class. The suffering of these innocent Italian victims was immense, involving a huge number of crimes over a period of decades.
Professor Fass, by pretending that 1874 was the beginning of ransom kidnapping, the author manages to “historically cleanse” the rich and important history of child kidnapping of the 1830s-1860s, a period in which ransom child kidnapping gangs operated in Philadelphia, New York and elsewhere by erase inconvenient truths that violate her politically correct agenda. Likewise glossed over
the issue of the kidnapping of the pre-Civil War children of free black parents -- despite the fact that the phenomenon was not absolutely separate from the other forms of child kidnapping that occurred concurrently.
In the book’s front material the author discloses that the book’s writing was generously supported by a number of research grants, yet the final product proves that little research was actually done. The writing is quite good, but the scholarship is reprehensibly shoddy and its tendentiousness – which fosters ignorance – is dangerous.
It is an alarming fact that of the several long academic reviews of the book that have been published none even so much at hints that the “facts” that Fass reports in her book might need more looking into (let alone that her endnotes routinely fail to support her claims with evidence). Apart from some disagreements concerning the interpretive approach (rather than questioning the factual data per se), her colleagues swallow the falsehoods –hook, line and sinker – without even a whimper of dissent.
A Small Sample Early Child Kidnapping Cases in America:
FULL TEXT: A Lost Child. – Some few weeks since we observed in the Philadelphia papers, an advertisement signifying that a young child had been stolen out of a respectable family in the place of mendicant woman, (for the purpose we fancy of a more effectually exciting charity). Ever since that time, until within a few days, the parents have been truly distressed. After going to every expense in searching through all Pennsylvania, New-York, and most parts of New-Jersey, they were fortunate enough to find their lost offspring in Sussex county in this state. The wretch of as woman has made her escape.
[“A Lost Child,” Ostego Herald (N.Y.), Apr. 1, 1809, p. 3]
FULL TEXT: Oct. 25 – Diabolical Act. – On Thursday last an act was committed in this city, which for its atrocity, finds itself almost unparalleled.
A little girl, named Susan, aged about five years, the daughter of Mr. Benj. Farioli, artificial florist, who resides at 33, Chatham-row, took her departure at 9 o’clock for the purpose of going to school, kept by Mrs. Temperence Ely, at No. 9, Frankfort-st. The child’s return was naturally expected at noon, but did not appear, nor did she come home all night. In the morning the uneasiness of the parents can be more easily conceived than expressed, as she was deemed a most innocent and engaging child by all who knew her. An advertisement was prepared, mentioning the time of her leaving home, her dress, &c. and very humanely inserted by the respective editors of most of our daily papers; but the child was neither seen nor heard of till Saturday evening about 8 o’clock, when Mrs. Bachie, an intimate acquaintance of the family, happened to be in Chatham-street, near Mr. Lolliard’s, was called by her name two or three times by the child, whose dress, however, was so metamorphosed, that if she had not recollected the voice she would not have known her. Her chip hat was cut all round and her Vandyke changed – a cap and a large ruffle made of muslin put round her neck in such a manner as almost entirely to hide her face, and her petticoat was taken away. Her little hands were tied together at the wrists by a rope; there were likewise 2 ropes round her body, the one under her frock and the other above it. The lady procured a penknife from a gentleman passing by, and cut the ropes with which her hands were tied. At this period two black women came up, one of whom, taking the child by the hand, wanted to take her away; but upon the gentleman asking her what she wanted with the child they both took to their heels. The account which the child, who is very intelligent for one of her age, gives of this very extraordinary transaction is as follows: -- That when she had along as far as the corner of Beekman-street, and was standing by some barrels by Mr. Houston’s grocery, she was accosted by a coloured woman, who gave her some sugar candy, and coaxed her to accompany her, promising her sweetmeats, play things, &c; that she carried her somewhere in the country, where she gave her apples, and had her under some trees; that she afterwards took her back to the city, where she was made to sleep in the same bed with the said black woman, and that along side of the bed there were several hogs. Upon this fiend leaving her apartment the next morning, she tied the child’s hands, and bound her with a cord to the bed-post, to which she continued tied till Saturday evening, when taking advantage of the absence of her prosecatrix, she ground the cords asunder and made her escape. It is probable, however, that if she had not fallen in with Mrs. Bachio at the very time she did, she would have been re-taken by the said two wenches. During her confinement, which was for three days and two nights, she ate nothing but some apples and sweet things; and upon her crying for her mother, she was compelled to be still by severe whipping, and a threat that she should be sent to Bridewell [prison in New York City]. The woman had on a blue frock; and she had a daughter named Charlotte. It is supposed that the place of her confinement was in Orange-street, or somewhere in its vicinity. Pains are now taking [sic] to find out the residence of the person, who, it is hoped, will be discovered and brought to that punishment to which a wretch who could commit so infernal a deed, is so well entitled.
[“Diabolical Act.” (from New York Commercial Advertiser), Connecticut Herald (New Haven, Ct.), Oct. 31, 1815, p. 2]
FULL TEXT: A Child of the Subscriber named SUSAN FARIOLI, aged about 5 years, left her home on yesterday morning, from No. 33 Chatham street, with the intention of going to School in Frankfort street, and she has not been seen or heard of since that time. She has on a straw hat with a blue ribbon and a blue frock with little white specks on it. The distress of the parents upon this occasion can scarcely be conceived, and it is not doubted than any person who may know any thing concerning the Child, will give information to the afflicted father. – BENJAMIN FARIOLI, Artificial Florist, No. 33 Chatham st.
[“To the Friends of Humanity.” (advertisement), Oct. 21, 1815, p. 3]
FULL TEXT: In Chautauqua County, N. Y., a man calling his name James Jaquith, has been convicted of stealing a female child, eight years since, using it to secure pity in begging about the country. It was stolen two years and eight months old and has now been found by its parents, when near eleven years old.
[“Child Stealing.” (From N. Y. Inquirer), Christian Watchman (Boston, Ma.), Aug. 4, 1826, p. 143]
FULL TEXT: The following particulars, which have been furnished us by Dr. Cyrenius Chapin, we publish in the hope that may lead to the restoration of the child in question to its parents, from whom it has in all probability been stolen.
A woman apparently about 35 years of age, calling herself Stevenson, was arrested here a few weeks ago since, for plundering a house in which she had been employed as a servant. She brought to town with her a girl of about six years of age, whom she called her daughter. After her arrest,. The child was placed in the poor-house. She manifested much fear and dread of her reputed mother, and to a woman in the poor-house, who has gained her confidence, she stated she is five years of age, that she gave her name as Mary Ann Stevenson, by order of the woman who brought her here, as she had threatened her with some direful calamity, if she gave up any other name. She says when at home she lived near a great lake, where there were many houses, her father’s name was Hook and her mother Mrs. Hook; and that her father sometimes laid bricks, and sometime plastered walls. She can give no further account of herself, nor does she disclose by what means she shame into the possession of the woman, Stevenson. The child has light hair, and rather deep blue eyes, looked cautiously from under her eyebrows, as if in fear, and seems loth to speak of herself, from an apprehension of punishment. – Her hair and skin have both the dull colour contracted by exposure.
In a trunk from the woman, who is now in jail here, were found the papers and articles mentioned below, by which it is hoped some clue to her history may be obtained viz
A knight templar’s apron and sash; a letter directed to Mr. James Israel, Cincinnati, Ohio, dated City of St. Louis, Mo. 19th May, 1828, and signed Phineas Herbert; an agreement dated 4th May 1820 between David Gilmore, of Franklin, County of Norfolk, Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and James Campbell and Hollis Bond, of Brewer, in the county of Penebscot; a promissory note to Jas. T. Prother, an order, made by Thos. T. Spear, for $550; a certificate that Mrs. Grave and child had their bill paid at the City Hotel, and a small sum collected from the numbers of Columbian lodge No. 58, and others of the fraternity, dated Frederickstown, Md. and signed N. S. Turbutt, S. W. with this line at the bottom, “I hope the widow and orphan will not be neglected, N. T.”; a paper dated Baltimore, 16th of March, 1829, Cassin Lodge No. 45, granted Mrs. Graves, believed to be the widow of brother mason, five dollars, and procured a passage for her and child to New Castle, on her way to the eastward, signed Samuel Koerl, Treasurer; a paper purporting that Mrs. Graves had received some relief, under the belief that she was worthy, dated Washington, Feb. 17, 1829, and signed ‘Truman Bardy S. D.’ a paper dated Washington, March 3, 1829 directed at the top to Mr. Valentine Geney, that Mrs. Graves the bearer, states that she is the widow of a brother mason, and that in consequence of that statement they have given their mite, and hope he will aid her homeward, signed John B. Griffith, John Dragg; a paper dated Lewisten Nov. 9, 1823, signed T. B. Moore and directed to Wm. Hughes, Lockport. This paper is not entire, but seems to purport that the bearer had been in search of a little girl stolen from her two years before with all her property, from a steam boat; that having found her child she was then on her return home to Sackets Harbor, that her fare was paid to Rochester and recommending her to charity; four or five tracts of the American Tract Society; newspapers of various places; several linen sheets marked “Nazareth Hall,” with indelible ink; several sheets and pillow cases marked in like manner, M. W. Wilson, No. 13, Walter Wills No. 41, D. Saint, No. 8 and 12; some marked H. H. &c.
[“Stolen Child,” Norwalk Reporter (Oh.) (originally published in Buffalo Journal, Oct. 20), Oct. 31, 1829, p. 2]
FULL TEXT: “Kidnapping. – A child, a girl of seven years of age, was stolen from its parents at Covington, Ky., on Tuesday evening last, between four and five o’clock. The father of the child, Mr. Remington, offered a reward of one thousand dollars for its recovery and the apprehension of the person who stole it. A gentleman passing Sixth-street, near the Fly Market, observing a child crying, questioned it as to the cause. He was informed of the fact of its being the girl abducted from its parents and returned it to them in a very short time, having met the mother on Main street, in search of it. Parker, the name of the kidnapper, was apprehended and lodged in the Newport jail. He confessed taking the child. The object is supposed to have been to obtain a reward.”
[“Kidnapping.” Western Christian Advocate (Cincinnati, Oh.), Oct. 2, 1835, p. 91; (reprinted from Cincinnati Gazette, Sep. 24)]
FULL TEXT: A lady of our acquaintance living in Cincinnati who was for a long time a constant reader of the (Nashville) Cumberland Presbyterean, gives us the following account as read by her in that journal about eighteen months ago: –
As Mr. Bullock, residing in or near Nashville, and counted among the more wealthy and fashionable of the community, had a sweet little daughter, named Caroline, of about four years old. Her early education had been so well attended to, that she had already learned to read with tolerable facility. She was kidnapped from the premises of her parents, and, after being discolored so as to pass for a mulatto, sold at a distance of only forty miles from her father’s house as a SLAVE. The distracted father offered a reward of Five Hundred dollars for the discovery of his little darling – but for four months every search was unavailing. Meantime,, the discoloration of the child’s skin had disappeared, and the fraud that was practiced on the buyer (to whom no participation in it was imputed) clearly revealed, and she restored to the arms of her rejoicing parents.
Reader, have you a little Caroline to dandle on your knee or have their little arms entwined around your neck, when you come home at evening from your daily toil? Can you describe the keenness of your anguish should you be called to suffer as Mr. Bullock was? Can you, when you fancy the case yours, think without horror and detestation of a system that robs then thousand fathers and mothers as affectionate as you are of their Carolines? Go and think well of little Caroline.
[“Kidnapping of Caroline, A White Child,” The Philanthropist (Cincinnati, Ohio), Mar. 24, 1837, p. 2]
FULL TEXT: KIDNAPPING CHILDREN. – The Philadelphia Ledger states that there is a band of miscreants in that city, who kidnap children and detain them to secure a reward for their restoration. They await their opportunity, and when the child is seen for a moment alone, they seduce it away, and keep it until a sufficient sum is offered, when, affecting a previous ignorance of its residence, they return the infant to its parents and claim the reward of their benevolence. It is unnecessary to comment on the cruelty, the villainy of an act like this. The wretch who could be guilty of it, is beyond the influence of conscience as reproof, and would cut a throat with as little remorse as he would divide an apple.
[“Kidnapping Children,” The Baltimore Sun (Md.), Apr. 3, 1839. p. 2]
FULL TEXT: The Boston Bee publishes the particulars of a most bold and outrageous case of kidnapping in Steep Falls, Standish, Me. Last Friday noon, as the son of Dr. J. P. Weeks, a bright, handsome little boy, four years old, was going to school, a horse and chaise passed through the village, and just as it reached the place where were several children, two women got out and seized Dr. Weeks’ boy, and taking him into the chaise, drove off – Dr. W. did not hear of the circumstances till near dark when he went in pursuit of the kidnappers.
It appeared that the woman drove to Gorham, 15 miles, where they took a steamboat to St. Lawrence, and arrived in Boston Saturday morning, and took the afternoon train for Springfield. From thence they proceeded to Dalton, in Berkshire Co. From this they traveled six miles on foot, and in the night, the boy in the mean time suffering extreme physical agony. Dr. weeks traced them in company with an officer, and found the kidnappers with the kidnapped boy, in a house two miles from any neighbors, in a wild and mountainous region, over the New York line.
The women refused to surrender the boy, and resisted the officer most pertinaciously. In fact they fought like desperadoes, and in the encounter the officer was much injured, and the clothes of the women were nearly torn from their bodies in the melee. They were finally taken into custody, and conveyed to the county jail, where they will remain till a requisition is forwarded from the Governor of Maine to the Governor of New York. The kidnappers carried their charge over six hundred miles. One of the women is about 50 years old, and the other is about 25. The six miles they travelled on foot was over a range of Green Mountains. Their names are suppressed at the request of Dr. Weeks. The mother of the child was nearly insane from the loss which ere this has been changed to joy. – This is one of the most novel cases of kidnapping that has occurred of late years.
[“Outrageous Case of Kidnapping,” State Gazette (Trenton, N. J.), Jul. 1, 1852, p. 2]
FULL TEXT: A daughter of Mr. John Charlton of Louisville, Ky., was abducted by two abandoned women [euphemism for “prostitute”], who have since been arrested, tried and sentenced to the penitentiary for five years. No traces of the child have been received.
[“Abduction.” Daily Evening Transcript (Boston, Ma.), Mar. 6, 1848, p. 2]
FULL TEXT: CHILD STEALING, the New York papers say, is practiced to a great extent in that city. Probably, on the average, two children a week are abducted from their homes while playing on the sidewalk, and are detained until the afflicted parents offer a reward for them, when the kidnappers bring their little victims to light and receive the money.
[“Child Stealing,” The Daily Ohio Statesman (Columbus, Oh.), Feb. 27, 1857, p. 4]
FULL TEXT: It will be remembered that a few days since a child eight months old, belonging to Mr. George Rhode, of No. 15 Avenue A, was stolen from it sister’s lap by some unknown woman, and taken away to parts unknown. Mr. Rhode’s daughter, aged about 9 years, was sitting on the stoop of her residence on the afternoon in question, with her little brother in her lap. A woman came along, and fondling with the baby a moment, required the little nurse to step into a baker’s shop, next door, and buying some crackers, offering a 25 cent piece with which to pay. The little girl at first declined to go, because she had to hold the baby. The strange woman said: “O, I will take care of the baby,” taking the child in her arms at the same time. The little girl then went into the baker’s and purchased the cakes. On coming out again, her baby was missing, as was also the woman in whose charge she had left him. She ran wildly about the street, returned and informed her mother, who renewed the search. The neighbors and the Police were notified, but all inquiries failed to reveal the whereabouts of the stolen child or the kidnapper.
Yesterday Alburtis Fritz, a constable at Strattonford, L. I., appeared at the Seventeeth Ward Stationhouse, with the kidnapped child, who looked well and hearty and not at all discontented at his forced absence from home. Constable Fritz had with him, also, a young woman of 16 years of age, whom he introduced as the person who had stolen the child of Mr. Rhode. Mr. Fritz stated that he found the young woman and child in the vicinity of Flushing under circumstances that convinced him something was wrong, and that on instituting inquiry to become convinced that the child was none other than that stolen by Mr. Rhode, in Avenue C, New-York – an account of which he had seen in the newspapers.
The young woman, on being questioned, did not deny her guilt. She gave her name as Bertha Burkrekeil, and that her age was 16 years. She stated that she had been seduced on Long Island, by a man in good circumstances, by whom she had a child, which she immediately made away with [murdered?]. Seeing her seducer a few weeks since, she asked him for aid, stating that she had given birth to a child of which he was the father. Her story was treated as doubtful. She was asked, “Where is the child ten?” She replied, “I have it at nurse in New York.” Then show it to me,” said the father, “and I will give you the money you ask for.” Here the interview ended. Bertha, wishing to obtain possession of the money, promised to come straightaway to New-York, resolved to either beg, borrow, or steal a child, to shew to and convince her seducer. She looked a long while, and in many streets, before she found an opportunity to procure one of suitable age. At length, while in Avenue C, she managed to kidnap the child of Mr. Rhode, in the manner above described.
The child was restored to its overjoyed mother, and Bertha was locked up to await an examination before one of the magistrates.
[“Police Intelligence. – The Late Curious Case of Child-Kidnapping – The Child Restored to Its Parents – Arrest of the Kidnapper – A Strange Avowal.” New York Times (N.Y.), Jun. 15, 1857, p. 5]
FULL TEXT: A girl about fourteen years old is now residing in the family of Peter Dean, at Jeromeville, Ashland County, Ohio, who was abducted about five years ago by a band of gypsies at Fort Wayne, Ind., and escaped from them a few weeks ago. She says her father’s name is Samuel Grimes, and she is anxious to obtain some information concerning his whereabouts.
[“Items,” Dubuque Herald (Io.), Oct. 10, 1866, p. 1]
FULL TEXT: A little girl belonging to J. Roach, of Albany, was stolen by a band of gypsies who pitched their tents near that city, some two years ago. All attempts to recover her at that time were fruitless. A few days since the same band took up their residence near Tivoli Hollow [near Albany] , where a boy who knew the lost child, saw and recognized her. He at once gave information, and the child was recovered and restored to its parents.
[Untitled, New-Hampshire Sentinel (Keene, N.H.), Aug. 8, 1867, p. 1]
FULL TEXT: On last Sunday evening, while a lad about 12 years of age (for the sake of the parents the name is suppressed.) was returning from church with his people, who reside on Halsted-street, near the South Branch bridge, ne ran ahead of the rest a considerable distance. When out of sight of his parents, a man in a light wagon called him into the road, and when the boy had come within an arm’s length of the vehicle, he was grasped by the collar of his jacket by the man and placed in the vehicle, which then rapidly proceeded on its way. They drove until daylight, when the wagon came to a halt before a double house, and subsequently transferred to the basement, where to his astonishment he found fifteen or sixteen boys of nearly his own age already congregated.
There were, besides, a colored woman and child, the former apparently serving in the capacity of servant. The moment the boy was taken into the basement a plaster over his mouth, which was only removed at meal times, and by means of the application of warm water.
The boy remained there in the condition described until Thursday morning, when, at an early hour, before daylight, he effected his escaped his escape by breaking through the window. As soon as he reached the outside he climbed the nearest tree. The noise he made by the breaking of the window awoke those in the in the house, and the most determined search was instantly instituted. Meanwhile the lad kept perfectly quiet, and while search was made afar he remained hear the house. While the search was yet going on, a freight train came in sight (the track passing near the house,) and the moment it was observed by the boy he left his perch, succeeded in reaching the train, was taken on board, and by this means reached the city. When the boy reached the train, the plaster was still on his mouth, and he was relieved from his uncomfortable situation by his rescuers. Yesterday morning Sgt. BRISCOE, of the Twelfth-street Police Station, was informed of the affair, and the Police are now engaged in ferreting out the mystery. Two officers, accompanied by the boy, left by the railroad by which the boy returned to the city, yesterday afternoon, and it is probable that ere this the parties guilty of this outrage are in the hands of the law. It is feared, however, that the premises will be found deserted. The lad, whose statement of the adventure has just been recorded, is extremely bright and intelligent, and the Police place great reliance on his story. As early as Monday morning the Police were notified of the lad’s disappearance, and the case was receiving their attention when the lost one returned. In the opinion of the Police, the fifteen or sixteen lads congregated in the house were there as subjects for doctors. This is almost too horrible to be true, and yet no other reasonable version can be readily discovered.
In London, England, at one time, a great number of boys were sacrificed in the interest of science, and in Cincinnati, a number of years ago, great excitement was occasioned from a similar cause. It is devoutly to be hoped that this mystery, when brought to light, will not realize the worst fears now entertained.
[“One of Chicago’s Horrible Mysteries – Kidnapping of Children.” The New York Times (N.Y.), Aug. 19, 1868, p. 5]
FULL TEXT: Our criminal calendars very rarely reveal charges of kidnapping, and most of such cases are the abduction of wealthy parents, with the view to obtaining rewards for the restoration of the lost children. A case came before Judge Dowling yesterday, at the Tombs, which the presence of every reasonable motive for the alleged kidnapping envelopes in a veil of mystery, as well as makes more than ordinarily interesting. The circumstances of the case as brought to light in the proceedings before the court are as follows: --
Mrs. Eliza Kelve is a widow, living at No. 129 Washington street: she is a German woman, about twenty-five years old and quite handsome, and has two fine-looking children, the oldest being five years and the youngest eleven months old. Her husband died about eighteen months ago, and having left her destitute she has been compelled she has been compelled to go out and wash and scrub and do other menial work for the support of herself and children. On Tuesday morning she went out to do a day’s work, leaving the two children at home. Shortly after noon Mary Ann Crowley, living in the same house, came where she was at work and told her that an old woman had taken her child away. Mrs. Kelve at once returned to her room and found, sure enough, the baby, her “little dove” as she called him – and he was as bright-looking as he was little – was gone. Her five year old child, the custodian of the baby, was nearly as tearful as the mother, and could give no other explanation than that an old woman took away the baby. Everybody knows how mothers will hurry from station house to station house in quest of their lost children. Mrs. Kelve hurried to all the station houses in the vicinity and at once reported the stealing of her child, and having been assured by every policeman she met that he would keep a sharp look out for old women in quest of the missing infant. They went through street after street and lane after lane, and up stairs and down stairs, and into dwellings and saloons and stores and shops and all sorts of places. At length she came upon the object of her search at the corner of Washington and Rector streets. She called officer Gorman, of the Twenty-seventh precinct, who at once arrested the woman and returned to Mrs. Kelve her child. The prisoner also had another child, a boy about two years old, with her. On being brought into court the prisoner gave her name as Margaret Barry.
“How came you by this woman’s child?” Judge Dowling asked her.
“I found it in the street,” she answered.
“She took the child from my room, so my little girl says,” interposed the mother, which statement was confirmed by the child.
“What were you going to do with the child” pursued the judge.
“Take care of it.”
“At No. 10 Washington street, where I live.”
“Have you a husband?”
“No; I am a poor widow.”
“Didn’t you steal that little boy, too, you have got with you?”
“No; he is my boy.”
“He don’t look at all like you.”
“He is my child, any way.”
“I am not so sure about that: a woman that will steal another.”
“I didn’t steal him.”
“We’ll see about that by and by,” pursued the Judge. “How long after your child was stolen before you recovered it?” replied Mrs. Kelve.
“It is rarely my sympathies and indignation are so aroused as in a case like this,” said Judge. “I will commit this woman for trial for kidnapping your child, and meantime will find out whether the other child belongs to her.”
“This is my child, this is my child,” pleaded the prisoner, “don’t take him from me,” and she clasped the child with a fixed determination that nothing should separate them.
The prisoner was committed in default of $500 bail. She was sent into a cell inside, the little boy being also sent with her.
[“Charge of Kidnapping. – An Alleged Kidnapper Charged with Stealing a Child Eleven Months Old – Two Children Found with Her – Scene at the Police Court.” The New York Herald (N.Y.), Jun. 10, 1869, p. 5]
FULL TEXT: The Kansas City Times gives an interesting account of the recent recovery of a little girl who was supposed to have been drowned in 1857, by falling into Ohio river, near Louisville. The child, then about two years old, had wandered away from her home, and the only trace of her that ever be discovered was her bonnet, found lying on the river bank. Eight years afterwards the parents removed to St. Louis and other children were added to the family. Quite recently, however, the father received an anonymous letter from Kansas City, urging him to come to that place immediately wished to find her daughter whom he had supposed was drowned thirteen years ago. On reaching the place designated in the letter the father was received by a woman apparently on her death-bed, and the little girl of fifteen, who was pointed out to him as his “drowned child.” The woman had stolen the little girl to revenge herself for some fancied wrong and then removed in Cincinnati, where she had remained until within the last six months. Finding that she had not long to live, the woman resolved to make reparation and restore the child, who, however, had always been treated kindly. The little girl begged her father not to separate her from her supposed mother, and the three returned to St. Louis in company.
[“A Lost Child.” Daily State Gazette (Trenton, N.J.), Aug. 5, 1870, p. 1]
FULL TEXT: Yesterday afternoon a case of child-stealing occurred in New Jersey, which caused considerable excitement in the northern part of the city. A little girl, three years age, the daughter of Mr. John Harper, who resides in Prspect-Street, was carried away while at play with other children by a stranger, who came suddenly upon the group and seized the brightest one among them. The screams of the child and of its frightened playmates attracted the attention of Mr. Harper, who was in the back-yard. He started in pursuit of the kidnapper, and was living in the neighborhood. Officer Doyne led the party and chased the robber out on the meadows of the city. Finally, the latter dropped the child near the Tobacco Inspection, and ran northward to Hoboken. The child was returned to its parents, but the kidnapper escaped arrest.
[“A Child Kidnapped in New Jersey City – A Chase After the Thief.” The New-York Times (N.Y.), May 8, 1870, p. 8]
FULL TEXT: Wednesday night a bold attempt was made to kidnap a nine-year old son of Mr. S. Wolf, a wealthy citizen of New York, by some unknown party who threw a cloak over the child to prevent his screams from being heard. By a hard struggle the boy escaped. It was, doubtless, another attempt to extort money for a child’s recovery, which is getting common in New York.
[Untitled, Alton Weekly Telegraph (Il.), Jan. 13, 1871, p. 1]
FULL TEXT: There is a rough suspicion growing up that an organized gang exists in the city, the object of which is to entice away or abduct young girls for vile purposes. Within the past month, at least three girls, about 14 and fifteen years of age, have left their homes, and although two of them have returned, the third is still absent, and supposed to be in Cincinnati. In the instance spoken of, the parents are in very humble circumstances, and this, coupled with the natural desire on their part to cover up the missteps of their children, has prevented the details from being generally known.
On Friday afternoon last, the daughter of a gentleman residing on Indiana avenue, about 16 years old, suddenly disappeared, the last trace of her being lost at the depot or. the evening of that clay. From the company in which she was seen at that time it is surmised that she has gone to St. Louis.
Yesterday, the 15-year old daughter of a man doing business on South Illinois street returned voluntarily from Chicago, whither she went three weeks ago in company with a noted cyprian of this city. There are well authenticated reports of at least two more instances of a somewhat similar character, but for obvious reasons the names of the parties in these dreadful affairs cannot be made public.
Chief Paul was down to Shelbyville yesterday to learn something about the woman who induced Louise Weighorst to leave home on last Tuesday. The station agent informed him that he first noticed them in the depot about 7 o'clock at night. She sent them to the Morriston house, but they were refused admittance and returned to the depot. When the agent returned on Wednesday morning the woman had gone, and Louise, fearing to stay alone, walked all the way home. Paul says he is certain the woman is Rosa Rote, who was lately in jail for stealing.
Tue missing school girl, whose books were discovered in a lumber-yard, an account of which was published in the Journal, was found yesterday afternoon, and taken to the Orphan home by Mrs. Hadley.
The police are investigating all these cases, and some startling developments may be looked for.
[“The Infamous Supply Trade.- Enticing Young Girls from their Homes. A Raid on Indianapolis Families.” (From the Indianapolis Journal, April 13.), The Janesville Gazette (Wi.), Apr. 24, 1871, p. 2]
FULL TEXT: A pretty little Italian girl, aged about five years, and named Rea Taliata, was kid-napped Saturday afternoon under peculiar circumstances. Her mother, a poor blind woman, who earns a precarious living by selling matches and other minor articles, was sitting with her daughter in front of the Centre Market plying her vocation, when some unknown woman passing by.
[“The City” (section), Untitled, Daily Critic (Washington, D.C.), , Dec. 2, 1872, p. 4]
NOTE: This article establishes the context for the police dragnet of 1874 for the kidnapped Charley Ross, in which numerous Gypsy camps were searched
FULL TEXT: Some people would be greatly astonished if told that in the present year of grace, and within half a day’s journey from New York, the kidnapping of children has been frequently practiced by a band of Gypsies, who, with their headquarters in Lehigh Valley [50 miles from Philadelphia], have been scouring its surrounding country, picking up stray children or stray horses as the opportunity offered. Such, however, is the fact, only within the past month a case having occurred near Easton [60 miles from Philadelphia]. The child stolen was of very tender years, and, in company of its nurse, had been out among the hills with which Easton is surrounded. While here a swarthy Gypsy woman approached the nurse and asked permission to tell the latter her fortune. The Gypsy poured out a string of meaningless nonsense, mingled with the usual allusions to dark men and light men, marriage and death. The servant girl listened entranced while the woman was speaking, and when she had concluded, turning round to look for the child, she was horrified to find it gone. She had seen no one approach while the Gypsy was taking round to look for the child, she was horrified to find it gone. She had seen no one approach while the Gypsy was talking, but as the road suddenly turned near where her fortune was told, it would have been easy for one to have crept cautiously along without having been perceived. She returned to Easton, and her tale plunged the household into deepest distress. Rewards were offered, the police act to work, the Gypsy camps searched, but for some days without avail. The child was eventually recovered, but not until a large sum of money had been expended and hope almost lost.
Your correspondent, hearing of the circumstances, on last Thursday determined to visit the Gypsy camp.
I inquired of various people whom I met about the Gypsies, but could obtain no authentic information about them further than that they were quartered in some woods about fifteen miles from Allentown, in a southeasterly direction. After some trouble a Pennsylvania Dutchman was induced to accompany me, and about eight o’clock we started for the camp. The morning was beautiful after the storm of the preceding night, the grass smelt sweetly, the birds were gaily singing, and I had opportunity to study the camp and the persons it contained. There were thirteen in all – six men, four woman and three children. Two of the women were old, toothless and repulsive-looking; the other two were young and quite good-looking. The men were swarthy and powerful fellows, with bronzed countenances and bright cunning eyes. I learned from a man who seemed to be a leader among them a great many particulars of their mode of life. The band had Wintered in Philadelphia, and at first opening of Summer had started out on their annual tour. They remain away until the severity of the weather drives them to take refuge in the cities again, and so their lives are spent from year to year.
They are very fond of trading in horses, and when they cannot procure animals in any other way, they have no hesitation in stealing them. Sometimes the farmers retaliate, and if a Gypsy’s horse strays away from the enclosure, it is very rarely allowed to return again. The band were greatly excited over the loss of a pony which had broke loose a night or two before, and of which no trace could be found. While I was in the woods the chief of police in Allentown, in company of a gentleman from Baltimore, came to the camp. The latter had previously sent on the following telegram:
“Are any of the Gypsies in camp in your vicinity? If so, would you see if they have a boy – blue eyes, light, curly hair, about five feet four? If he is there detain him. His name is Frank Brooks.
“Wm. D. Brooks.”
The Gypsies disclaimed all knowledge of the boy, but from their manner I was convinced that they knew more than they cared to tell. Mr. Brooks, who resides on Lombard street, Baltimore, says, that his son left home some weeks ago, and has not since been heard of.
From his habits, Mrs. Brooks supposed that he had gone with a band of Gypsies, as he had a predilection for their wandering mode of life. From information received the afflicted father believed that the young fellow was with the identical band of Gypsies who treated your correspondent so hospitably; but he was disappointed in the hope of finding him, and left very disconsolate. Two of the children who were with the Gypsies looked very unlike the persons who claimed to be their parents, and, in all probability, they have been stolen.
[ “Child Stealers, - The Zingari – A Visit to Their Camp in the Lehigh Valley.” Daily Critic (Washington, D.C.), Jun. 26, 1873, p. 3]
Paula Fass makes an effort in her book to promote the false idea that Gypsy kidnapping of children is merely a “myth.” The actual myth is this: the politically correct doctrine that gypsies gained a reputation as child kidnappers for any reason other than the fact that over a long period of time, in many geographical regions, gypsy bands kidnapped children were frequently recovered from the gypsies who had kidnapped them.
“Indeed, the theft of children by those assumed to be less than fully human [no evidence is offered that Gypsies were considered by anyone to be so”], even without the supposed torture or sacrifice of blood [referring to beliefs in Satanic sacrifice cults, but not referring to historically factual animist child sacrifice customs] remained an important residue in beliefs about gypsies. All over modern Europe (and to a lesser degree in the United States), the belief that gypsies stole children as they passed through towns and villages on their endless wandering was part of this process of ejection since gypsies were defined [by the Gypsies themselves, the author fails to mention] as utterly apart from and outside of the community.” [p. 13-14, Fass, Paula, Kidnapped: Child Abduction in America, 1997, Oxford University Press]
In reference to the 1874 Charley Ross case:
“Knowing only that Charley had been taken but not why, the police acted on customary assumptions and tried to find Charley and his abductors by making inquiries at such places as ferry stops, taverns, livery stables. As word of mouth spread, the news about Charley began to generate an assortment of rumors. In one of the first of these, a child had been spotted in a gypsy wagon ‘crying bitterly’ who it was ‘suspected did not belong to them.’ In all, the police in Philadelphia and elsewhere reportedly searched 200 gypsy caravans within a year and one-half after Charley disappeared.” [p. 27, Fass, Paula, Kidnapped: Child Abduction in America, 1997, Oxford University Press]
“Among the thousands of letters the Patzes [Etan Patz, 7-years-old: kidnapped May 25, 1979, New York, N.Y.] received, one urged them to “look for gypsies (gitanos), a reminder that, more than one hundred years after the first widely publicized abduction [referring to Ross 1874. The author is incorrect. The first widely publicized abduction was the Pool case, 1819], some myths still persisted.” [p. 215, Fass, Paula, Kidnapped: Child Abduction in America, 1997, Oxford University Press]
The Lehigh Valley, also known as the Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton, PA-NJ metropolitan area and referred to locally as The Valley, is an official metropolitan region consisting of Lehigh, Northampton and Carbon counties in eastern Pennsylvania and Warren county on the western edge of New Jersey. [Wikipedia]
Following is a samall selection of cases of the sort we are taught to believe never occurred.
FULL TEXT: GIPSIES ABOUT. – A tribe of these wandering, straggling, homeless creatures have picked their tents in the neighborhood of Green Lawn, and it behooves citizens and the police to keep a sharp watch on them, for they have a peculiar habit of appropriating everything “laying around loose” to themselves. Esquire LILLY yesterday informed us that one of the females of the camp was detected in an attempt to steal a little girl of his about three years of age. The woman had induced the nurse of the child to follow her into the country, promising her presents, &c., but a member of the family discovered the little girl having the babe in charge a great distance from home, and under the guidance of the Gipsy woman, succeeded in baffling the child stealer. The predatory habits of these wandering vagabonds render them objects of suspicion and dread.
[“Gipsies About.” The Daily Ohio Statesman (Columbus, Oh.), Sep. 19, 1858, p. 3]
FULL TEXT: On the 28th of February last a little girl, whose parents reside at No. 61 James-street, was very mysteriously taken from them. Mr. MICHAEL GREENAN, the father of their child, made every effort in his power to ascertain the whereabouts of his daughter, but all to no purpose. The police were notified, the telegraph brought into requisition, and the office for the temporary detention of lost children was visited day after day by the anxious relatives, but no clue could be obtained. The last seen [sic] of the child was on the sidewalk in front of the parents’ residence, on the day above named. Recently Detective WILSON and officer GOLDEN, of the Sixth Precinct, undertook to ferret out the mystery, and after much labor and time spent in the search, they have at last succeeded in restoring the lost child to its parents. The found the girl in the company of gipsies, near Sing Sing, on the Hudson River. A young woman, named ANN McCLUSKEY, was arrested and brought to this City with the child. ANN states that she took the little girl as she was playing on the sidewalk in from of its parents’ house. The accused is 19 years of age, and appears quite intelligent for a gipsy. Justice CONNOLLY, before whom she was taken yesterday, committed her to await a further examination. The child is about 2 years of age, and through naturally bright and interesting, it has become rather wayward and forbidding in appearance during its ten months sojourn among the gipsies.
[Indexed as: (Greenan case), “Recovery of a Child Stolen By Gypsies,” The New York Times (N.Y.), Jan. 5, 1862]
EVANSVILLE, IND., July 10.—Mr. Carson, of Columbus, Ohio, arrived here yesterday morning from Memphis. He had with him his son and daughter, aged nine and thirteen respectively. In February, 1884, the two children were sent to a butcher’s some distance from their home and never returned. A gang of gypsies that left Columbus that morning were suspected of the kidnapping, and the father and a detective started in pursuit. Time and again they were hot on the trail, only to lose it again. July 1st, while at Memphis, the father learned that the gang had divided, one party being encamped at Lagrange, Tenn., and the other at Covinston, Ky. He immediately started to Covington, and on July 2d found his boy, and after another day's journey the Lagrange camp was reached, and the little girl recovered. The gypsies had darkened her skin and dyed her hair, letting it fall loose. A scar had also been branded on her neck. In fact, everything possible had been done to destroy her identity. The father left last evening with his children for home.
[“Stolen Children Recovered. “ The Decatur Daily Republican (Il.), Jul. 10, 1885, p. 2]
FULL TEXT: Decatur, Ill., Aug. 12. – Excitement was caused here this afternoon by the discovery that Frank Wise, stepson of S. M. Davis, had been kidnapped by a band of gypsies. Several hours after the disappearance the child was found at the gypsy camp strung up to the branch of a tree by the thumbs and in great torture. The gypsies fled on the appearance of the father and officers and the boy was cut down, with both thumbs badly lacerated. The lad was punished was punished because he refused to remain with the gang. A force of constables and a posse of citizens have been in the timber for hours in search of the gypsies, who fled on horseback, leaving their camp outfit behind. If caught the band will summarily dealt with. Davis threatens to shoot the gypsies on sight.
[“Kidnaped By Gypsies. – A Lad Stolen and Tortured by a Roving Band Near Decatur.” The Chicago Tribune (Il.), Aug. 13, 1887, p. 5]
FULL TEXT: Chattanooga, Tenn., Feb. 17.—Wednesday morning at 11 o’clock a band of gypsies, camped at Lookout Mountain, were riding along Boyce street, this city, when one of them threw a lasso and caught James Williams, an eleven-year-old boy, around the neck. He was hauled into the wagon, and notwithstanding his cries he was compelled to surrender. The capture was made in the resident portion of the city. The boy was taken to the mountain, when he again began crying and wanted to return home. He was tied with ropes and brutally beaten, so that his body is covered with stripes from head to foot. After the terrible beating had been administered he was taken out and tied to a tree and left there for a few hours, until the gipsies could get ready to move on.
The little fellow watched his chance, and at 3 o’clock managed to untied the rope, and, while the gypsies had their backs turned, made his escape and ran all the wav to the city, arriving at his home a little before 5 o’clock. The circumstances were reported at police headquarters, and Deputy Sheriff Spencer, arrived with a warrant and summoning a posse of men, started in pursuit of the gypsies, who are hiding in the mountains. The injured boy is badly hurt, and is in a serious condition.
[“Kidnaped By Gypsies. - A Chattanooga Lad Carried to Lookout and Brutally Treated.” Newark Daily Advocate (Oh.), Feb. 17, 1888, p. 1]
FULL TEXT: Bartlett, Neb., Jan 12 -- Charles Reynolds has recovered his only child whom he had given up for lost John Mayfield a wealthy man the proprietor of the extensive Mayfield ranch near Hyannis is as happy as the overjoyed parents to have been able to bring this about.
Wilhelmina Reynolds who is restored to her parents is three years old. Early last September she disappeared from her home Mrs. Reynolds became distracted and could only remember that she had seen the little one playing in front of the house as late as 4 o’clock in the afternoon. Kidnapping was the generally accepted theory as Mr. Reynolds is a merchant of means and as the day passed the parents hoped for the demand for ransom Months went by and no trace of the missing girl was discovered.
John Mayfield brought a load of cattle to Omaha and while dining with a member of the South Omaha Exchange told the story of the adoption into his home of a little girl who called herself Willie. At the mention of the name a Mrs. Jameson who was a guest listened with the closest attention.
~ Traded a Dog for Her. ~
Mr. Mayfield’s story was that in September while roaming over his ranch with two of his hunting dogs he had come upon some gypsies camped upon his property. They had camping wagons and Mr. Mayfield noticed a black haired little girl playing around who it was evident did not belong to the dusky band. The rancher was pleased with the little girls appearance and upon asking her name the tot lisped Willie in such a pathetic manner that the man’s heart was touched.
A longing came over him to take the little one into his childless home and Mr. Mayfield asked what they wanted for the girl. The band had admired Mr. May fields beautiful hunting dogs and after the leaders had talked the matter over among themselves a trade was made, the rancher parting with one of his dogs and taking the child home with him leaving the gypsies entirely satisfied that they had the best of the bargain. The little one was immediately adopted by the Mayfields as their own child.
~ Was the Long-Lost Baby. ~
When the rancher had finished his story Mrs. Jameson explained that her sister Mrs. Reynolds of Bartlett had lost her baby daughter in the fall and from Mr. Mayfleld’s description of the child and the fact that the little one called herself Willie, it was at once decided that the rancher adopted daughter was the lost Wilhelmina Reynolds.
Mrs. Mayfield was immediately sent for to meet Mr. Mayfield with the little girl.
[“Lucky Trade Of A Dog For A Child Parents And Baby - Little Three-Tear-Old Wilhelmina Reynolds Disappeared Last September Accidentally Found In Gypsy Camp.” The Washington Times, Jan. 13, 1902, p. 2]
FULL TEXT: Marion, Ind., Aug. 2. – Several members of a band of gypsies are imprisoned in the county jail here, charged with child stealing. The 3-year-old daughter of Henry Herman, a glaa manufacturer, was stolen yesterday from the home of her grandparents, where her parents had left her while they were enjoying an outing. Gypsies driving past the house kidnapped the child and drove south with her. In South Marion they stopped at the saloon, where the little girl was recognized by Mr. Wilson, a friend of her parents. Mr. Wilson, a friend of her parents. Mr. Wilson rescued the child from her captors and took her to his own home. Later the gypsies were pursued and arrested.
[“Gypsies Held For Kidnapping – The Child of a Wealthy Marion, Ind., Glass Manufacturer Stolen.” The Kansas City Star (Mo.), Aug. 2, 1902, p. 3]
FULL TEXT: St. Petersburg,
Jan 15 – That a father who had mourned for seven years a kidnapped child should find her through picking up, in a city where he was visiting, a pocketbook belonging to the man whose hands his daughter had passed, would be descried as impossible were it used as a plot in a piece of fiction.
Yet in that very incident lies the restoration to her father and mother of little Helen Koveleff, daughter of a Russian army officer. All Russia is excited over the case.
Seven years ago Col. Koveleff, a wealthy landowner was living with his wife and 4-year-old daughter Helen on his estate at Kamentz, in the province of Pskoff. One day one of his estate at Kamentz, in the province at Pskoff. One day one of the colonel’s servants became involved in a violent quarrel with his wife, a domestic in the colonel’s household, and terminated a dispute by throwing a dagger at her. The wife dodged the weapon, which missed her, but struck Helen, who happened to be running past. The dagger wounded the child’s ear, inflicting a permanent scar.
A few months later the little girl disappeared, and it was believed that she had been kidnapped by a band of gypsies who had passed through Kamenetz. All the efforts of the parents to recover the child were unsuccessful.
In 1897 a shopkeeper in Odessa, named Breitmann, who kept a small fruit store, saw a little girl crying bitterly in front of his house. He took her to his wife and between them they ascertained, after much questioning, that the little girl had been sent out to beg and had been sent out to beg and had lost her way. The child was unable to give them much information about herself but they understood that she had formerly lived in a beautiful home, and that latterly she had been wandering up and down the country with a troop of gypsies, whom she had helped to support by begging.
As Breitmann and its wife had no children of their own, they took the little girl and brought her up as though she had been their daughter. She was happy in the humble home of the Odesso fruit dealer.
A week or two ago Col. Koveloff, with his wife, happened to be visiting Odessa and picked up a pocketbook in the street. He informed the police of his discovery and kept the pocketbook. In the course of the day, Breitmann, the fruit dealer, modified the police that he had lost a pocketbook and the police gave him the address of Col. Koveloff. As the pocketbook contained no money and was of no particular value, Breitmann did not go himself to fetch it, but sent his adopted daughter.
Madame Koveleff took a strange fancy to the little girl and asked her all sorts of questions about herself and her relatives. The girl related that she did not know her own father and mother, and that she was being brought up by adopted parents. She had been kidnapped and taken away from home, she said, by a wicked woman who had been given her the name of Mary. Madame Koveleff was greatly agitated by the little girl’s story. She sprang up, ran toward her and lifter the hair which covered the left ear. After the glance the woman shrieked and fainted, for she had seen on the ear the scar which told her that she had found her lost daughter. Apart from this scar, the girl wore a little locket round her neck in which the date of her birth was engraved. Helen Koveloff was taken home in triumph, and happiness now reigns in a reunited family.
Col. Koveloff gave Brietmann $5000, besides a house on his estate and a farm of several hundred acres, which he can occupy free of rent during his lifetime.
[“Found a Pocketbook and His Lost Daughter – Little Girl Who Was Kidnaped by Gypsies Restored to Her Parents by What Seemed a Miracle – Foster Parent Given Rich Reward,” The Evening Telegram (Fort Worth, Tx.), Jan. 16, 1905, p. 5]
PHOTO CAPTION: John and Mrs. Adam, and Rosie Adam, parents and kidnapped daughter, in year-long chase, which ended yesterday. Photograph made before John Croix’s camp at Salem, where girl was found yesterday.
~ Kidnapped From Chicago. ~
Early in October a year ago little Rosie was walking on Michigan avenue, Chicago, where her father conducted a prosperous store. She was finely dressed, and in appearance is a handsome brunette. She was 13 years old and exceedingly intelligent. A woman approached and asked her to carry a parcel to the railroad station, offering her half a dollar for the task. She did it, and whom arriving at the Union station she was pushed into a car and informer in a quiet voice that if she made any outcry she would be murdered before she could make her escape.
Night came and the peaceful home of the quiet Russian family, Mrs. Adam there was weeping and heart-broken. The husband and father, when he returned from the store at supper time was told that his little girl had not been since early in the afternoon. He checked his wife with encouraging words, but with a sinking heart, fearing something he could not tell, but could only fret, he returned to his store. He was restless, and could not attend to business, so he finally closed the doors a number of hours before the usual time and hastened home to learn whether or not ant tidings had been received from the absent girl.
~ Finds Wife in Tears. ~
He found his wife weeping, she also telling the fear that was burning in his own breast. The long hours passed and Rosie did not appear. She at that time was on a train bound for New York, and speeding at express speed eastward, many hundreds of miles away.
They know not that, however, and it was not until morning that the heartbroken father and mother had the courage to tell their neighbors instantly there was a hue and cry and after much searching over the big city it was learned that Rosie had carried bundle to the Union Station and that she accompanied by a strange woman. This was learned from another girl who had passed the path on Halstead street.
~ Revelation From Heaven. ~
In a moment Mr. Adam declared yesterday, it was as if he had received a revelation from heaven. Something seemed to tell the bereaved parent that his little girl, whose kiss he had missed the night before for the first time in many years would be found among the gipsies. He told his wife. She agreed, and selling the stake in Chicago a proposition that required some weeks, the hunt began.
A gipsy band was traced from Chicago to Jackson, Mich. Rose was not there, but the trip was not fruitless for Mr. Adam made the acquaintance of a Russian gipsy who since that time has been of the greatest assistance to him in his search. He was told that another gipsy band was encamped on the outskirts of Detroit.
Thither started Mr. Adams with his faithful wife who never faltered in her devotion to her child, and who even when misfortune assailed them never lost faith that eventually they would recover their little darling.
~ Quest Grows Harder. ~
From Detroit the way became harder still for there they learned that numerous gipsy bands had been about the city of La Croix in the weeks since their little Rosie had been torn from her home. To pick out one and say that that was the one in which Rosie would be found would be useless so, hand in hand the grieving father and mother walked to the railroad station determined to visit every camp no matter where the journey took them.
The money secured from the Chicago store was being eaten up woefully fast in those days of travel and economies soon became necessary as they had not the slightest idea of the length of time their search would continue. For that reason the cold ground was sought for a couch until the weather became such that they were obliged to seek shelter in the night.
~ Gipsies Sell Girl. ~
During these days it was learned that Rosie was with the gipsies and that she had been sold from one tribe into another that was headed for the East. It was the first tangible clue that they had received of the whereabouts of their child and satisfied now that they were on the right track xxx began, in a matter of economy to practice the life of gipsies themselves insensibly at first with no thought that they ever themselves would become the members of a gipsy camp they made preparations for the life which they were compelled to lead before their search had ended.
To Buffalo they trailed the camp in which their child was being harbored, there they learned that their trip had been useless and that the tribe was on its way to Syracuse. At DeWitt just east of that city they found the band. Quietly searching but without making known their errand they discovered that only two days before their little Rosie had been sold into the tribe of Big Chieftan John Croix, one of the dreaded men in Romany life and on whose fame spread to Hungary, Canada and even into Egypt.
~ Card Reader and Shark. ~
They also learned that Rosie had been initiated into the mystical card reading and other methods of defrauding gullible persons. They also discovered that so proficient had she become at the art that she was counted a treasured possession of the gipsy camps and that she was likely to be sold to other camps when the price was placed highly enough. The last time she was sold and changed hands as a result although the only remuneration that Rosie herself received from the work she was doing was a percentage of the money received. The remainder went into the tribal fund and to one whom they all called the Great Mother to whom Rosie was assigned in New York immediately after she was kidnapped and who taught the art of card and palm reading.
~ Lose Track of Child. ~
With the John Croix tribe, Rosie finally came to Worchester but at that time her devoted father and mother lost track of her for several days. They were then at DeWitt, that being early last summer. Slowly they journeyed making careful inquiry, and at Albany they were again put on a false scent that delayed them a number of weeks. A gipsy camp at Newton at the time served again to put them on the wrong scent but they finally heard of the Croix camp at Worchester and back to that city they journeyed.
There they learned that Croix and his band had gone further east. Word was received of a camp at Somerville. They came to Boston and being out of funds they walked to the Somerville camp. It was the tribe of John Stanley and there with no money to go further Mr. Adams proposed to the big chief that he and his wife be taken into the tribe.
[“Parents Clasp Kidnapped Child In Arms After Twenty Years Search For Gipsy Captors,” The Boston Journal (Ma.), Nov. 8, 1906]
FULL TEXT: Chicago, Feb. 26. – After a search of nearly a year, in which almost every gypsy camp in the South and Northwest has been visited. Cecilia Demetro, twelve years old, daughter of a wealthy Greek in Little Rock, Ark., who had been kidnapped March 1, 1906, was found yesterday in a camp near Thornton, Ill. She was given shelter at a police station last night.
Trace of the girl was obtained by Leo Demetro, her father, who had, searched for her eight months in vain. Then he met a gypsy in Salt Lake City who gave him a clew. Accompanied by four deputy sheriffs, Demetro went to Thornton yesterday. Just beyond the outskirts of a camp of more than 100 tents. There Cecilia was held prisoner. When the Greek coppersmith and his companions arrived, the girl was playing on the prairie with several other youngsters.
Before he could reach his daughter, he was thrust aside by John Joe, king of the camp, who is said to have kidnapped the child. Joe burst from a tent and seized Cecilia as she was about to spring into her father’s arms. In an instant hundreds of gypsies were swarming out of their homes. Demetro seized Gypsy Joe by the throat.
Scores of Joe’s followers threatened to interfere, but the sheriffs drew their revolvers and seized the little girl. An instant later Demetro regained his feet, and, taking his daughter, stood with the officers. Awed by the display of weapons, the gypsies retreated, and the rescuing party, with the child, hurried to Thornton, where they boarded a train for Chicago.
[“Finds Child In Gypsy Camp – Father Is Rewarded After Year’s Search for Kidnappers. – Twelve-year-old girl Stolen from Little Rock, Ark., Is Rescued by Armed Men.” Washington Post (D.C.), Feb. 27, 1907, p. 11]
FULL TEXT: OAKLAND. Feb. 15—Two year old Henry Dietz, con of Dr. Henry L. Dietz and winner of a prize as the handsomest child of his age west of the Rocky mountains, had a narrow escape from being kidnaped by a gypsy woman in front of his home at 1630 Eighth street, according to a report made to the police this morning.
The little chap was playing on the sidewalk with two small companions when the gypsy, who had been lingering in the vicinity for some time, picked from up in her arms and started down the street.
She had proceeded only a few steps when Mrs. Steams, a neighbor of the Dietz family, living at 1626 Eighth street, who was watching the woman, raised her window and called to her to stop. Terrified at her discovery the woman dropped the child and hastened away down the street. Before any attempt was made to follow her she had disappeared.
~ OLDER BOY SENT AWAY ~
Little Henry Dietz is a child of exceptional beauty, with heavy golden hair and big blue eyes. He was playing with a 7 year old boy who lives nearby and had charge of a baby. The gypsy woman passed the group of children, glancing intently at the handsome boy as she went by. Half way up the block she stopped and looked back enviously. Then, peering cautiously .about to make sure she was not observed, she started back in the direction of the children and told the older boy to take the baby into the house. He obeyed her, and she then attempted to kidnap his companion.
~ GYPSIES ABOUT TO MOVE ~
There is a large encampment of gypsies at the corner or Sixteenth and Peralta streets, where they have been living for several months. The band is row preparing to migrate to St. Louis, where a king of all the tribes will be elected, and the police believe that the kidnaper had planned to hold the child for a ransom in the hope of securing money enough to defray the traveling expenses of the tribe across, the continent.
Henry Dietz was awarded a prize by a New York fashion publication last year in a children's beauty contest. Dr. Dietz reported the attempted kidnapping of his son to the police and an investigation is being made.
[“Handsome Child's Abductor Balked - Neighbor Compels Gypsy to Drop 2 Year Old Son of Oakland Physician - Boy Awarded Prize for Beauty in Contest Attracts Attention of Wanderer.” The Call (San Francisco, Ca.), Feb. 19, 1909, p. 8]
FULL TEXT: Potsdam, Aug. 23-—Kidnaped when but 8 years of age, searched- for in vain ail over northern New York mourned as dead by his parents, carried into foreign countries by a band of gypsies, beaten and misused, delivered from them in a daring escape about two weeks ago, shielded in Canadian monastery, and finally restored to his family—these are some of the dramatic chapters in the life of Frederick Brosseau, a son of Mr. and Mrs. John Brosseau of this village, who was kidnaped on October 14th, 1890, and who was identified beyond doubt by his father and mother in Montreal last week.
On the fall afternoon seventeen years aero the boy went to meet his father who was employed in the mills of the A. Sherman Lumber company at Sisponville. It was but a short distance from the home of the family to the rapids below. Suspicion was also directed toward two rough appearing strangers who were seen about the mill during the day, but who disappeared about the time the boy was missed.
Two weeks ago last Monday a young man applied for aid to a Catholic father on a boat on the river Ottawa. He had escaped from gypsies, he said, and had a tale to tell of cruelty and inhuman treatment well nigh past belief. He could recall that he came from Northern New York and that his name was Frederick. He knew that he had been kidnaped, for an old woman of the tribe, mortally ill, had called him to her and told him that he was not one of them. She lapsed into unconsciousness before he had an opportunity to learn more. He was anxious to find his parents, but was penniless! and without friends. Would the father help him? The father would.
~ Taken to Monastery. ~
The young man was taken to the Trappist monastery at Oka, near Lachine. The Montreal police were notified and publicity given the affair in the Montreal newspapers, who also printed the young man’s picture. The affair aroused considerable comment in the Canadian city. Mrs. Katherine Perry, a sister of Mrs. Brosseau is living in Montreal, and her attention was called to the boy whose escape was attracting so much notice. Knowing well the story of her nephew’s disappearance, she thought she saw a family resemblance in the picture, and communicated with the family here. Father Marron of St. Mary’s parish also received clippings from the Montreal papers, together with a description of the young man., and at his solicitation Mr. and Mrs. Brosseau left last week for the monestary.
The parents were easily able to pick their son out of a crowd in the court yard, and by a birth mark on his forehead the identification was almost complete. The resemblance of Frederick to his brother Frank strengthened the proof. And above all the filial instinct which had never died through all the years seemed to draw the mother and son irresistibly together.
~ Visited Four Countries. ~
The story of Brousseau’s wanderings since he was stolen seventeen years ago is a remarkable one. In this time he has been taken through four foreign countries, Spain, France, Italy and Bohemia, remaining long enough in each to learn to speak the language fluently. His first journey abroad was thirteen years ago. Since that time the band has spent each winter in foreign lands.
The caravan in which the lad found himself engaged extensively in kidnapping operations, the stolen boys being kept as laborers in the camp, the girls being invariably being sold for cash. Young Brosseau, stealing up behind the head man of the tribe one night, saw $500 in cash paid for a handsome young girl. There were, up to a short time ago, three stolen children in the camp with Brosseau. He aided a young boy to escape several weeks ago. The other child, a girl, is still with them. The Canadian police are hot on their trail, however, and hope to overhaul the band soon.
~ Story of Cruelty. ~
Brousseau’s story of the torture in which he and the other captives were subjected is horrible in the extreme. Beaten with poisoned whips for the slightest offence, their bodies rubbed with poisonous oil to make the flesh swell, pounded with clubs till their skin was a mass of bruises, it is remarkable that they survived. The young man at Oka shows plainly the effects of his inhuman treatment.
At the present time Brosseau is detained as a witness by the Montreal police. It will probably be from three to four weeks before he can return here. As the trial of the kidnapers will last that long if they are caught. Should they evade the vigilance of the police he may be home sooner.
[“Potsdam Boy's Life Since He Was Stolen by Gypsies in 1896 Reads Like a Fairy Tale.” Syracuse Herald (N.Y.), Aug. 24, 1913, p. 15]
FULL TEXT: Detroit, Mich., Feb. 3. – Luba Jace, the fourteen-year-old daughter of Paul Jace of New York City, was rescued from a band of gypsies here to-night after a battle in which a squad of police were forced to use their revolvers in order to subdue the band.
The girl was kidnapped from her parents in Youngstown, Ohio, nine months ago. A brother and sister have trailed her all over the United States since then. Last Friday they located the band in Detroit and to-day went to the gypsy colony and demanded the child. The gypsies refused to give her up, and a fight started in which the sister’s hair was almost all pulled out, and her clothing torn from her.
At this point the police arrived and the entire band attacked them. After using their clubs, the police drew their revolvers and cowed the gypsies with a few shots.
The rescued girl and her brother and sister were taken to Central Station, where they asked to be protected until the next train left for New York. The girl stated that she had been forced to wed a gypsy boy of her own age.
[“Rescued From Gypsies. – Girl Traced by Brother and Sister and Recovered After Fierce Fight." The New York Times (N.Y.), Feb. 4, 1914, p. 4]
PHOTO CAPTION: “Andy Smith,” wanderer with a gypsy troupe since he was kidnaped at the age of 8, is back home in Steubenville, O., after 20 years, because Tony Mahfood had a vision that the young man was his son, after seeing him and noting a striking resemblance to his lost boy, James. Blood tests gave support to the kindred belief and a scar added to the identification. So “Smith” now is James Mahfood, shown here, center, with the parent who never gave up hope for his return [“Boy Stolen by Gypsies 20 Years Ago is Returned to His Parents,” nationally syndicated (NEA), The Coshocton Tribune (Oh.), Mar. 21, 1935, p. 2]