Re: William M Mosher - New York, 1822 - 1874
It is entirely possible that we may never be able to fully link William Mosher to our own families. He did not stay in one place, and he had many aliases.
I began researching him to try to link him into my own family and have had no success. I tried census records, and newspaper articles, and I even read both the book Christian Ross wrote in 1878 about his son's kidnapping, and the non-fiction "We Is Got Him" that came out in 2011, written by Carrie Hagen.
This is what I was able to determine:
1. One of two things is true: either William Mosher was not 53 years old when he was killed by the police in 1874, or he was not born in 1822. If he was born on Christmas Day, as you stated, he could not have been born in 1822. He was killed in December 1874 before that date.
2. At the time of Charley Ross' kidnapping, William Mosher was living in Philadelphia with his wife and 3 sons under the name 'Henderson'. He had also used the name 'Johnson', and those are just the aliases that were known to the police.
3. He was raised in Brooklyn.
4. In his book, Christian Ross stated that Mosher had been born in Connecticut, but raised in Brooklyn.
5. His father was a fairly successful ship captain.
6. Mosher was a career criminal, and had been disowned by his parents due to his criminal activity. They had already passed away before the kidnapping of Charley Ross occurred in 1874.
7. Mosher also was referred to by a sister-in-law as 'Will', and as 'Bill' by his wife.
8. He was 1 of 15 children: 14 boys and 1 girl. At the time of the kidnapping, only 3 boys were still living: William M., Clinton Gilbert 'Gil', and Alfred or Albert. Carrie Hagen's book referred to the third brother as both Albert and Alfred at different times in her book.
9. Gil was also a career criminal, and was a well-known horse thief. He had a wife called Liz. He was 57 in 1874. Gil was the one who told the police that William had participated in the kidnapping, because Gil thought he would be able to cash in on the $20,000 reward money.
10. Alfred/Albert had a wife, whose name was not mentioned, and 5 children. The wife claimed they did not speak to 'Will' or his family, but somehow knew that they had recently had another child, and knew the children's names.
11. Mosher's wife was the former Martha Westervelt. She had a brother named William. William Westervelt was an associate of William Mosher, and had a wife named Mary.
12. Apparently the Westervelt and Mosher families had lived near each other. In her interview with the police, Martha professed profound devotion to her husband. She told the police that they married when she was 15 & Mosher was 40.
13. William and Martha had 4 known children. Some accounts say they had 5 children. They had:
William (who was called Willie)
Charley (who was called Lovie)
George (who was called Georgie)
Mary (baby girl born in 1874)
Interviews with different people connected to the kidnapping disagreed on the ages of the children. One said Willie was 7, Charley was 4, and Georgie was under 4, but either Liz or Albert/Alfred's wife claimed that Charley was the older child and Willie was 4. One of the children had allegedly died, but it is unclear whether it was Georgie or Charley. It is possible that Charley Ross was integrated into the family and when he was either killed or sent away to someone else, they told neighbors and friends that the child had died. They also had 2 children that had already passed away.
14. Martha was confident that her husband would not hurt a child. But the question remains, what happened to Charley Ross? He was never found.
15. Mosher & his family were using an alias because he had been arrested for a prior robbery in Red Bank, New Jersey, and had escaped from prison by cutting through the prison wall.
16. Mosher had a deformed nose. The cartilage between his nostrils was missing. The coroner advised this was from a disease - he speculated either cancer or syphilis. Mosher also had a damaged pointer finger on his left hand from a prior injury, and the fingernail grew like a claw, as the flesh around it appeared withered.
17. Mosher had been a member of the Daybreak Boys gang in the Five Points area of New York City while in his 20s.
18. Benjamin Franklin's office was sent a picture of Charley Ross, and they tried to help track down Mosher.
19. William had gone to school as a child, and according to his brother Gil, he liked to read, and had tried to write a novel 'some 10 years before.'
20. He got married and his wife had a baby (it is unclear whether this was Martha or if he had been married before, although nothing I have read indicated that there had ever been another wife). The little boy died, and they didn't have enough money for a funeral, so they buried his bones in the wall of the saloon that they owned at the time in New York City.
21. Mosher had briefly obtained a job as a deputy marshall with Douglas, his accomplice in the kidnapping, but they were relieved of their duties after shooting a man 'unlawfully'.
22. There is an entry for his gravestone on FindAGrave.com. It includes what appears to be the excerpt of a newspaper article, and states that he was 53 at the time of his death on December 14, 1874.
23. He was married in 1848. I was not able to determine if this was his marriage to Martha, or a previous marriage.
24. I was not able to find his parents' names.
Please let me know if you have been able to find any additional information that I do not have since you posted this original thread.