The Disappearance of Willis Skiff, Union County, Oregon

    It was shortly after the railroad was put through North Powder that there occurred one of one of the most baffling mysteries in all Union County history. On the night of 24 July 1886. Willis Skiff a well-to-do resident of Union and ex-official of Union County, was sitting no the veranda of the North Powder Hotel awaiting the arrival of the midnight train to take him to his home. That was the last ever seen of him. It was known that he carried a large sum of money on his person having come to North Powder to buy wheat for the mills at Union. There being no banking facilities in North Powder at the time he had taken the cash for his purchases with him. Because of Skiff's prominence his disappearance became a major mystery of the west coast. The Pinkerton detective agency was called in and huge sums were spent in tracing down every clue which might furnish an explanation for his disappearance, but to no avail.

     In September of 1886 the proprietor of the hotel where he had been staying, Mr. and Mrs. Bobier, a hostler named Godfrey and a Dr Tibbetts were arrested for his murşder. However, they were all acquitted at the trial held in December of that year no evidence having been introduced which could connect them with the disappearance of Skiff. Even after the passage of over sixty years the Skiff case is intriguing and it remains one of Oregon's greatest unsolved mysteries.

Contributed by: Jim Reavis

Union County

 

 

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