The story began in 1906, when the Brittan family went on a holiday outing to the Blue Mountains. Their son Cecil Brittan, age 4 at the time, strayed from the camp and was never found.
As it turned out, Cecil had been kidnapped by a family named the Lenighens. They were, he said, extremely cruel to him, whipping him frequently.
When he was 12, he ran away from them and made his way to California. He continued to use the name Cecil Lenighen, since it was the only name he remembered.
In 1922, he made his way to Spokane and was hired as a pantry boy at the Davenport Hotel. Another Davenport employee, G.W. Stark, was familiar with the Brittain kidnapping case. He was struck by Cecil’s resemblance to the missing boy, and by the identical first names. A relative of the Brittans, who operated a barbershop in Spokane, also was struck by the resemblance.
There was only one way to be certain. The two men took Cecil to Soap Lake to see Mrs. Brittan, who ran the general store.
“Mrs. Brittan paused in her work, looked long and intently at Cecil, then with a cry of joy, held out her arms,” said a correspondent. “For several minutes, while onlookers turned away, mother and son remained in a close embrace. When she held him off at arm’s length and looked into her son’s face again, tears stood in Mrs. Brittan’s eyes and her voice choked when she tried to speak. ‘You’re my boy, I’m sure of it,’ Mrs. Brittan exclaimed between sobs.”
She said the resemblance was perfect, and remembered scars were in the correct locations. Her husband had passed away, but Cecil met his younger brother Robert for the first time.
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