John William O'Donnell

John William O'Donnell

Rock Springs, Sweetwater County, Wyoming, USA
Death 27 Aug 1920 (aged 40)
Portland, Multnomah County, Oregon, USA
Burial Rock Springs, Sweetwater County, Wyoming, USA
Plot PARK_112_7_4
Memorial ID 76771196 · View Source
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Rock Springs Rocket no. 42 September 10, 1920

The facts concerning the mysterious disappearance of W.J. (Billy) O’Donnell indicate that he met with foul play and that his body was thrown into the river.

Mr. O’Donnell with his wife and children went to Portland, Oregon, about three weeks ago to visit relatives and were staying at the home of his sister, Mrs. Louis Andrews. On Friday, August 28th, he left the house and nothing was heard of him until his body was recovered from the Columbia river about thirty miles distant from Portland on the following Friday.

The events relating to his disappearance are as follows:

On the night previous and on the morning of his disappearance he was in the best of spirits. He had purchased several new songs and was singing them to his niece’s accompaniment on the piano. On Thursday he had consulted a physician in regard to throat trouble which had been bothering him for some time to ascertain if he was in good enough health to have his tonsils removed and was assured that he was in perfect health and the operation was to have been performed on the following day. He arranged with his wife that they would leave Portland for home on the following Monday and would stop over in Idaho Falls to visit a sister, Mrs. Whipperman.

On the day of his disappearance he left the house with the intention of returning in a short time. He called on his brother-in-law, Louis Andrews and borrowed an umbrella. From that time, as related above, nothing was heard of him. When the time began to pass and Mr. O’Donnell failed to appear his relatives became alarmed and notified the mayor, who in turn gave instructions to the city detectives to make a thorough search. The Burns detective agency was also engaged and the fullest publicity was given in the Portland newspapers. Mr. Andrews gave the detectives a description of his umbrella, which bore his initials. On inquiry it was found that the umbrella had been handed in at the police station, the man who found it stating that he had picked it up on a bridge which crosses the Columbia river at a busy part of town. A life guard is constantly on watch at that particular point and he assured the detectives that no one could fall into the river there without being seen, but to satisfy the relatives he dragged the river without result.

Early in the week his brother, C.F. O’Donnell went from here to assist in the search, and everything was done that was possible to locate the missing man.

On Friday morning word was received that a body had been recovered from the river at St. Helens, a town between 32 and 35 miles below Portland. Fred O’Donnell and Mr. Andrews immediately motored to the place and identified the body as that of the missing man. Mr. O’Donnell had $100 in his possession but the money had disappeared but his watch was still on the body. The watch bore an inscription from his father and mother and had been given him on the occasion of his twenty-fifth birthday. It would have been difficult to dispose of and the detectives are of the opinion that Mr. O’Donnell met with foul play and that the umbrella was planted on the bridge as a blind. Both the city detectives and the Burns agency assure the relatives that they will not let up on case until they have traced it to the end.

Rock Springs Rocket no. 42 September 10, 1920

Funeral services for the late J.W. O’Donnell were held at the South Side Catholic church on Monday morning at 11:00 o’clock, the Rev. Father Welsh conducting the impressive burial services of that church, and presenting a beautiful address carrying consolation to the sorrowing relatives and friends of the deceased.

Mr. O’Donnell was one of the partners of the firm of O’Donnell Bros., proprietors of the Crystal Meat Market, and one of the best known and respected business men of the town and his untimely demise has cast a shadow of gloom over the city. Born and reared, and being engaged in business here since his accession to manhood he was known by and was regarded as a personal friend by practically every man, woman and child in the city. Honest, sincere and upright in all his dealings, he won and retained the respect and admiration of all with whom he came in contact. In time of need he was always first to extend a helping hand. The tragic circumstances of his untimely death intensified the sorrow in the heart of his friends.

The esteem in which he was held was evidenced by the multitude of sorrowing friends who packed the church and brought beautiful floral tokens to express their sentiments, and who accompanied the body to its final resting place.

All of the business places in the city closed during the services as a mark of respect to his memory.

J.W. O’Donnell was born in Rock Springs on December 25th, 1879. He grew to manhood here and received his education in the schools of the city. After leaving school he engaged in the meat business, being manager of the Crystal Market for many years.

He was a member of the L.O.O.M. and of the A.F. of M., members of both organizations marching in the funeral procession.

He is survived by his wife, three children, Alice, Mary and Billy, his mother, Mrs. Wm. O’Donnell; five sisters, Miss Nettie O’Donnell, Mrs. Chris Juel and Mrs. Sam Kellogg, all of this place; Mrs. Whipperman of Idaho Falls, Idaho, and Mrs. Louis Andrews of Portland, Oregon, who have the sincere sympathy of many friends in their sad bereavement.

The Oregon Daily Journal (Portland Oregon), 3 Sep 1920
J. W. O'Donnell's Body Found Floating in Columbia Slough

The body of J. W. O'Donnell, businessman of Rock Springs, Wyo., who jumped from the street railway trestle over Columbia slough August 27, while suffering from a nervous ailment, was found Friday afternoon floating in the Columbia River near St. Helens.

Identification is believed to have been positive, the police were told, the body being clothed in a blue serge suite and on the feet were rubbers. Louis Enderud, 631 Siskiyou Street, O'Donnell's brother-in-law, was notified of the finding of the body by Detective Inspector Craddock.

O'Donnell was 39 years old. Accompanied by his wife and son, he came to Portland a month ago to receive treatment for a nervous ailment.

Last Saturday morning he left the Enderud home to go to a physician's office. Afterward he was to meet Enderud. At 1 o'clock the same afternoon he was reported to the police as missing. A trackwalker found O'Donnell's umbrella on the bridge over the slough.


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  • Maintained by: Angela Cable
  • Originally Created by: rocksprings
  • Added: 19 Sep 2011
  • Find a Grave Memorial 76771196
  • Find a Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for John William O'Donnell (25 Dec 1879–27 Aug 1920), Find a Grave Memorial no. 76771196, citing Rock Springs Cemetery, Rock Springs, Sweetwater County, Wyoming, USA ; Maintained by Angela Cable (contributor 47277708) .