The Chronicle -

By Finn J.D. John
Chronicle columnist 

Offbeat Oregon History - Hillboro's 'Diamond Bill' Barrett: 'The Heiress Whisperer'


May 23, 2019

Image provided/UO Libraries

This photo spread ran in the Society section of the Portland Morning Oregonian on Nov. 29, 1921, shortly after Oregon's "Diamond Bill" Barrett scandalized New York society by eloping with its most eligible debutante, Alice Drexel - whose profile is shown at the left side of this montage.

Every now and then, one runs across a man who can sweet-talk absolutely anyone into anything.

Such a man was William "Diamond Bill" Barrett Jr., the black sheep of a solid, respectable family of Hillsboro pioneers.

As a character, Diamond Bill was like a 20th century version of George Wickham, the rakish Army officer in Jane Austen's novel, "Pride and Prejudice." Like Mr. Wickham, Diamond Bill was a dashing, handsome military man with a particular talent for persuading the daughters of wealthy families to elope with him.

Call him, if you will, "The Heiress Whisperer."

As a teenager growing...

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