In June 1869 Henry Clay Ross (1844-1904) was arrested on a charge of arson in connection with a fire at the Briggs Brothers Livery Stable located at 117 W. 23rd St. Ross was foreman at the stable owned by John U. Briggs and Robert L. Briggs. A witness claimed that on the night of 30 Dec. 1868 he saw one of the Briggs brothers leave the stable in the company of Ross. Both men made comments about lighting a fire. In a subsequent newspaper report (New York Times, 8 June 1869, p. 1) the accused denied the charges. Shortly after, the case was dismissed: "In the Court of General Sessions, at the instance of District Attorney Hutchings, the complaint against John H. Briggs, Robert L. Briggs, and Henry C. Ross, charged with setting fire to Briggs Brothers' stables in Twenty-third street in December last, was dismissed, the witness against them having made an affidavit before the Recorder that his statement against the Messrs. Briggs was untrue and made while he was laboring under a fit of insanity, to which he is subject." (New York Times, 26 June 1869, p. 6)
By 1873 Henry C. Ross had his own livery stable and continued in the business with a series of stables on 23rd, 24th and 26th streets from that date until his death in 1904.
Interestingly, this one on 32nd street was a Henry C. Ross stable only between 1902 and 1907 (the business continued a few years after his death). Still, the sign with a date of 1902-7 is one of the oldest I am able to show on this site.
Ross was born in Ontario county, New York, and appears in the 1850 U. S Census, age 6, living in Farmington, NY with his parents, Malcomb and Emeline Ross. Malcolm Ross gives his occupation as laborer. By 1870 Ross was 26 and living in New York City with his wife and young son, Charles Ross, age 3. The Ross family share housing with John Briggs and his family. John Briggs's brother Robert L. Briggs is also living at this address.
As of Feb. 2003, the stable was still there (converted to a town house) but the sign long gone...
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