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An 18-month-old mystery solved 75 years ago when deer hunter finds skull of missing woman at Gray's prairie

CENTRAL OREGONIAN FILE PHOTO
 - Oct. 21, 1993: Three local children try out some of the projects Prineville-area kids will be able to make as holiday gifts for family and friends at a workshop Nov. 20. From left, the girls are: Cici Bristow, 4, Yaro Bristow, 7, and Stephanie Rawlings, 6. Santa's Workshop is being sponsored by Crook County Parks and Recreation District.

100 years ago

October 24, 1918

A Ford car driven by Mrs. R.N. Doty of Redmond plunged off the bridge at the old river bed near Powell Butte Station Sunday morning. A party consisted of Mrs. Doty and two children and Mr. and Mrs. A.J. Stanford and two children had started on a picnic and just as they were going down the grade west of the bridge, the steering gear caught and Mrs. Doty was unable to stop the car. It went through the railing and fell to the rocks20 feet below. The car seemed to hang on the edge of the bridge for an instant and spilled the occupants out, with the exception of Mrs. Doty. As the car fell it missed hitting them by a short distance. Mrs. Doty was held in the car by the steering gear and received a few cuts and bruises. All of the occupants were bruised and cut but none seriously.

District Attorney Willard H. Wirtz has been informed by the attorney general that the Morris case was affirmed on Tuesday. S.N. Morris was tried in this county last March for horse stealing and convicted. He took an appeal to the supreme court at once, but must now soon begin to serve the term of from one to 10 years in the penitentiary imposed by Judge Duffy.

The road around the big Ochoco reservoir has been completed and accepted by the county court. Work on the road was completed by the district, and while the expense of the new road is much more than was first estimated, the county court paid the amount specified in the contract with the district, and requests for further payment were not granted.

75 years ago

October 21, 1943

The 18-months-old mystery surrounding the fate of Mrs. William Wesserling, 67, who disappeared from the Blue Ridge mercury mine May 9, 1942, seems to have been solved by a bleached skull. The skull was found last week near Gray's prairie, about 35 miles from Prineville, by JK.F. Witcraft of Sweet Home, who was hunting deer in that area.

Indications are that the skull is that of Mrs. Wesserling, although definite proof may be difficult to produce, officers report. The skull was only a short distance from the spot where Mrs. Wesserling's purse was found May 24, 1942, about six miles airline from the place she was last seen. The purse, found by Harley Sprouls of Prineville while he was fishing on the prairie, contained Mrs. Wesserling's driving license and other papers, and it was positively identified as hers.

Intensive search of the area near the mines, and on and around Gray's prairie, was made after the purse was found. Some tracks were found on the prairie, but wild horses had trampled the trail until it was impossible to follow the tracks more than a few hundred yards. No more evidence as to Mrs. Wesserling's fate was found until last week when Mr. Witcraft found the skull in a tiny clearing in the timber at the head of the prairie.

50 years ago

October 24, 1968

Nancy Bushnell, country folk singer, will represent Prineville in the first annual Central Oregon Talent Show to be held in Bend, Saturday, October 26. The varied program will be presented at 7:30 p.m. at the Thompson School Auditorium on Wall Street.

Young Tommy Jay, 13-year-old son of Mr. and Mrs. Ron Jay, LaMonta Road, Prineville was accidently struck in the face and chest by bird-shot while hunting Sunday afternoon on the McCabe Ranch near Prineville with five companions. According to State Police, the pellets were fired by a companion as he attempted to shoot a bird. The boy was reported in good condition at Pioneer Memorial Hospital after the accident.

Two hunters from Oregon City, Richard Kenneth Fairbrother and Jack Crawford Joyner Jr., were called into Crook County Justice Court Monday to answer to charges to "spotlighting deer." Both men were fined $350 and given a 30-day jail sentence with 20 days suspended on payment of fine. The men were arrested Sunday in Prineville by game officers.

25 years ago

October 21, 1993

Two privately held companies based in Prineville – Les Schwab Tire Centers and Ochoco Lumber Co. – moved up on the 1993 Oregon Private 100 list. The Oregon Private 100 lists the state's largest companies based on 1992 revenues provided by each company. Les Schwab Tires moved up from seventh to sixth and Ochoco Lumber moved from 74th to 63rd.

Sally Wilson of Prineville was one of 16 Central Oregon businesses and individuals who were honored as Recyclers of the Year at a news conference Oct. 7 held at the Central Oregon Environmental Center in Bend. Wilson received a Special Recognition Award designated for "Start-up" Recycling Programs for her Tree-Cycle paper recycling program in Prineville.

Five Central Oregon irrigation districts, including Ochoco Irrigation District, have agreed to pay for the operation and maintenance of the new AgriMet weather station recently located near Powell Butte. Water management has become a critical issue in the arid Western states, and agricultural water users are increasingly being asked to optimize their use of the value able resource.

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