Charles Griffith Ross was born in Independence, Missouri, the only son and third of the nine children of James Bruce Ross and Ella (Thomas) Ross. His Scottish forebears had come to America in colonial times. Charles's grandfather, Griffith Ross, who owned a prosperous cotton plantation in Henderson, Tenn. , served as a captain in the army of the Confederacy as well as in its congress. His son, "J. B. " Ross, who prospected in Colorado, married into a Campbellite Virginia family on a stop in Independence, settled there, and became Jackson County marshal. Prospecting remained in his blood and at intervals he was lured west by visions of silver and gold.