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Opinion >  Column

100 years ago in Spokane: An actress from the city had disappeared from a ship off the California coast

 (Spokane Daily Chronicle archives)
(Spokane Daily Chronicle archives)

One-time Spokane actress Betty Montgomery disappeared mysteriously from the steamer Yale following a New Year’s Eve celebration off the coast of California.

She was discovered to be missing while the ship was en route to San Francisco from Los Angeles. Authorities believed she “had leaped into the ocean” and died by suicide, but no one was certain.

Her parents, contacted in Portland, told the Spokane Daily Chronicle that her real name was Bertha McNown, and that while living in Spokane, she was hired by a theatrical company when it visited the city 17 years earlier.

“When the show left Spokane, she went with it, and since that time, she has been traveling over the country as a chorus girl with road shows,” the Chronicle said.

Her parents said they had scarcely heard a word from her in 17 years, except for one postcard two years ago.

“We don’t know what kind of work she did on the stage,” her mother said. “I guess she was one of the chorus girls and later she was in the movies, but we never heard from her there.”

From the booze beat: William Whessels of Spangle told police the following story after they raided his room at the Idaho Hotel:

He got out of bed that morning, and to his utter surprise, found a strange suitcase sitting in his room. He opened it up and found two quarts, plus seven pints, of whiskey. He counted them twice, then went to breakfast.

When he returned, he had an even bigger surprise. There were now two additional pints of moonshine in the suitcase, placed there “by someone who had entered the room in his absence.”

As he was counting again to make sure, the police dry squad burst into the room and arrested him for liquor possession.

He claimed he had been prepared to call police anyway if the supply got any bigger, because “it’s the first time in my life I ever saw the supply increase that way.”

He was now in jail, “racking his brain in an effort to solve the mystery.”

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