The Disappearance of Edith Wolfskill, Empress of the World

The questionable 1929 disappearance and lonely death of one of California’s wealthiest women

Heather Monroe


The San Francisco Examiner
San Francisco, California
29 Aug 1903, Sat • Page 4

Edith Irene Wolfskill was born in California in May of 1872. Her parents were well respected, and wealthy California pioneers named John and Susanne Wolfskill (Nee Moore). Edith, the youngest Woflskill child, was an only daughter. She had two brothers named Nay and Matt.

John Wolfskill came to California in 1849 to join his father and brother, where the Wolfskills hit the motherload of Mexican land grants. They received over 17,000 acres surrounding the Putah Creek in Yolo County.

When John arrived, his father, Mathus, already cleared the land for farming and for his sons to build homes. They called land Rancho Rio de Los Putos. Yes, really.

At first, The Wolfskills made their fortune in agriculture on their ranch, which eventually became the town of Winters, California. Then, in 1874, the Wolfskills purchased nearly 4,000 acres in Los Angeles.

The new land, called Rancho San Jose de Buenos Ayres, would someday become the neighborhoods of Holmby Hills, Westwood, and Bel Air. In 1903, Susanne and John Wolfskill resided here with Edith at least part of the time.

Edith enjoyed a life of privilege and luxury. Her parents dressed her in fine clothes and sent her on exotic cruises. As the only girl, Edith’s family adored her and bestowed upon her many fine gifts. But, most importantly, they afforded Edith an education in Europe.

Edith’s schooling took place in Europe. She left for school as a child but returned as a beautiful young lady. The Philidelphia Inquirer offered the following description:

“We see her as one of California’s prize beauties. Her delicate pink-white skin and wide eyes…her long, rich brown hair and fascinating form made her the darling of the state’s aristocracy. And everyone knew that her father was a millionaire.”


With so much wealth, wisdom, and beauty, Edith should have had a lifetime of suitors wishing to marry into the illustrious Wolfskill dynasty. Unfortunately, this was not the case. Edith’s interests were purely…



Heather Monroe

Welcome readers! Heather Monroe is a genealogist and writer who resides in California with her partner and their nine children. •True Crime• History• Memoir•