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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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100 years ago in Spokane: Newlywed ‘Duke of Dunsmuir Downes’ appears to be a fraud

It all sounded like such a beautiful, romantic story.

Several weeks earlier in Coeur d’Alene, Ethel Haller of Spokane married Captain W.W. MacKenzie, the Duke of Dunsmuir Downes in Scotland. The duke also modestly admitted that he was an injured British war hero and a well-known author who wrote under the pseudonym Cameron MacKenzie. The happy couple then embarked on a honeymoon to San Francisco.

Unfortunately, while they were still in San Francisco, an investigation revealed that there was no such title as the Duke of Dunsmuir Downes and he was not a famous author. MacKenzie had most recently been employed “beating carpets” in the Kuhn Building, washing dishes at a Post Street restaurant, and occasionally working as a “beauty massage doctor.”

Now, word came from Seattle that a stenographer named Frances Driver MacKenzie had filed for divorce against W.W. MacKenzie, whom she had married about a year ago. Five days after the wedding, he struck her in the face and choked her. She said she was afraid MacKenzie would kill her. He had led her to believe he was a duke with a castle and 35,000 acres in Scotland, yet he compelled her to pay for their support.

A divorce trial was to be held in Seattle two weeks hence.

Meanwhile, Frances Driver MacKenzie was shown a picture of the “duke” who married Ethel Haller of Spokane. She “positively identified” him as the same W.W. MacKenzie.

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