JUMP TO PAGE   100  >  200  >  300  >  400  >  500  >  600

Women factory workers

Women factory workers

Mrs. Ruth Van Fleet (named in the photo) lived with my grandmother until Van Fleet's death in 1943. The exact date of this image is unknown, but it looks like the women could be working in a munitions factory. So I'd guess it was probably the early '40s. View full size.

On Shorpy:
Today’s Top 5

Searching for Charley Ross

I am researching the involvement of my family, descendants of Rinear Miller, in the 1874 kidnapping of Charley Ross. My great uncle, Nelson Miller, aka Gustave Blair, was adjudicated to be in fact the same kidnapped child, Charley Ross, when he sued the Ross family in an Arizona court in 1939, 65 years after the kidnapping. He won in a jury trial. He died in 1943. His death certificate and his grave marker says "Charles Brewster Ross." We have significant doubts about his story and the answer may lie with Joseph Van Fleet. If anyone has any information about Joseph, and or his family, please reply to Thank you.

Charlie and the Van Fleets

JoAnn: Email sent!

Pelagius: It would be interesting (and probably impossible) to find out if any connection existed between Joseph Van Fleet (as I've recently learned his name to be) and Joe Douglas. Thanks for the New Yorker info!

Janet: The timing does seem a bit off. Joseph Van Fleet was married to Ruth in 1882 (another recent discovery of mine). In order to have killed Charlie in 1874, he would have probably have to have married late (for the times) or murdered young.

Grace & Ruth Van Fleet

It's got to be the same family - Ruth's daughter was named Grace, and the only child we know she had.

So you actually have pictures of Ruth and Grace if I understood correctly? Would it be possible for you to scan them to me?

Ruth was one of 12 children and she and her twin were #5&6. My grGF was #11, and I've been in touch with descendents of #12. Together we've been trying to figure out where the rest of the kids went.

How awful about Charley Ross!


Another Deathbed Confession

In The New Yorker of November 23, 1946, pp. 36-54 there is an article (the first of a four-part Profile) about the lawyers Howe & Hummel, who were famous defense lawyers in New York City in the latter part of of the nineteenth century. One of their clients, Joe Douglas, is described on p. 36 as "the professional thief who confessed, as he lay dying, that he was one of the kidnappers of Charlie Ross." (Note that Douglas did not confess to the murder.)


Yeah, I guess that would have been more interesting if I'd have explained who Charlie Ross was. Janet is correct in that he was the child victim of a kidnapping in the Philadelphia, PA area. Here's the Wikipedia link I meant to include:

I'll have to look into the time-line, based on the small amount of info I have, but I assume if the guy was confessing to being involved, he had to be alive when it happened. It wouldn't make much sense for me to confess to my involvement in the killing of President Lincoln.

Oh, and I agree, Janet. It was a very famous case, and exactly the kind of thing kooks confessed to for the fame/infamy. But what good would confessing on your deathbed do? Even if people believe you (or your surviving family members who share the story), you're already dead and unable to enjoy your new "fame."

Charley Ross

There was a kidnapping case in Philadelphia in 1874 of a little boy named Charley Ross. Links:

Time magazine archive
University of Pennsylvania libraries

The timing seems a bit off (when exactly did this man die that he was the right age to have kidnapped somebody in 1874?)

Also it sounds like it was a famous case in its day and the sort of thing people tended to confess to, if they were the sort of person who went around making false confessions.

Grace Van Fleet

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"). I have no idea if the story is true or not. ---

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 burial.

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.

[Fascinating, in a soap-opera kind of way. Who was Charlie Ross? (Cue organ music.) - Dave]

Lancaster PA

Hi JoAnne! (How's that for a delayed response? Hope you're still tuning in every now and then!).

I'm not sure where that photo was taken originally, but my family is from Hazleton PA, which is in Luzerne County. It looks like we're about 70 miles north of Chester County, so it could well be the same family/woman!

Anon advertiser: If you're still interested in using the photo, email me and we'll talk. gmr2048 at yahoo dot com.

Ruth Van Fleet

I have a great-great aunt who was Ruth Glenn VanFleet (born in 1860, so age looks about right for a 1918 picture). Is this in the general area of Chester County, PA?

Photo Usage

I work for a small advertising agency in Minneapolis - how might I obtain permission to use this image in a trade ad for a company that makes historic windows?

Maybe . . .

But we were thinking of hiring legions of 9-year-olds to resize all of the images with slide rules and twine.

good point!

Dave: Good point about the style of clothing. I hadn't thought of that.

Ken: Thanks for resizing the photo. I wasn't sure what resolution you guys wanted. You may want to specify that somewhere so we don't waste your bandwidth (and time) uploading huge images that you have to edit.

Thanks for the photo

By the way, I reduced the size of the original on our end. This is a great image, thanks for sharing. It's amazing to think that's how shells were prepared.

Mrs. Van Fleet

Looks more like circa 1918 to me. Those are not 1940s clothes.


Beware, the "original" is gigantic. Sorry about that.


Syndicate content is a vintage photography site featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1950s. The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago. Contact us | Privacy policy | Site © 2023 Shorpy Inc.