Opal Whiteley
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While many agree that this part of the story is a tragedy, Hoff says it's a crime. "At best, her 'exposers' were guilty of inexcusable bungling. At worst, they were guilty of deliberate falsification of evidence," he writes. "Whatever their motives, whatever the extent of their awareness, they were responsible for the defamation of a highly sensitive woman who was incapable of defending herself, and for the encouragement and intensification of a tragedy."

"The person I would really like to have talked to was Sadie McKibben," says Steve Williamson. "I'm just certain that she was the real-life model for Angel Mother, because she does everything with Opal that Angel Mother was supposed to have done." Sadie McKibben taught Opal about reading, he says. She went on walks with Opal, taught her songs and told her to name the animals. "If I could just prove that the McKibben family had a library, or even just a handful of the right books -- of classical myths and history books -- that would pretty well prove that a lot of that knowledge did come when she was a child," he says. "But I don't know for sure what kind of library they had."

With the help of Cottage Grove historian John Wilson, Williamson has made some progress. They recently located Sadie McKibben's unmarked grave in the Fir Grove Cemetary, and supporters and friends have placed proper identification on the graves of both Sadie and her husband, Frank, as described in Williamson's article, "The Lost Grave of Sadie McKibben."

Opal, meanwhile, hadn't lost her ability to charm and delight the monied set. She was sponsored for a trip to Europe, and spent some time with the mother of Henri d'Orleans in France. She then secured funds to follow her claimed father's footsteps through India, and lived in that country for a time as a royal guest of the Maharana of Udaipur. But after the early 1930s, she disappeared. And to this day there is no known record of what happened....

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