Thursday, March 15, 2012

Case of the Missing North Creek Game Protector

This week’s story of murdered Schroon Lake Special Game Protector William Jackson sparked an inquiry from one of the Almanack‘s regular readers. TiSentinel had heard the story of longstanding rumors of foul play in the death of a game warden at Jabe Pond in Hague and wanted to know more.

The story he was referring to is that of 21-year-old Special Game Protector Paul J. DuCuennois of North Creek who disappeared on October 16, 1932 while patrolling Jabe Pond; his car was located at the end of the trail to the pond. He was reported drowned by Charles Foote and Wilson Putnam, who said they saw him go into the water from the other side of water. They told authorities they rowed to the spot of DuCuennois’s swamped and overturned canoe, but could not immediately locate his body. Nearby his jacket lay floating, the men said, and in its pocket, the key to the game warden’s car.

Because of DuCuennois’s youth (he was the youngest game warden in the state) and fitness (he was said to be a strong swimmer), rumors of foul play began almost immediately. There were reports that DuCuennois had been threatened, which were answered by a statement by Glens Falls Conservation Inspector Morgan B. Leland. “There is not a game protector in New York State who has not been threatened at some time or other,” he said, though he believed in this case the shock of the cold water led to the untimely death of his officer.

A search that was considered the largest in NYS Conservation Department history to that point was launched. State Police, a dozen Conservation officers, students and staff of Silver Bay, and local Hague residents all joined the search effort. A diver equipped with a specially designed underwater searchlight was employed, as was seven rowboats, a large raft built on the spot, two outboard motors (said to be the first time motors had been on Jabe Pond), grappling hooks, and ten charges dynamite – all to no avail. The failure to find DuCuennois body fed the rumors that he had not drowned, but was the victim of foul play.

After nearly a month of searching Charles Foote was again at the center of the story. While alone on the pond working a grapple he pulled up DuCuennois’s body. Additional searchers were at a camp on the shore of the pond some distance away.

Three Doctors signed the autopsy report which concluded there was no foul play. According to press reports, they found no evidence of violence, but also, no water in his lungs. [Somewhat typically for this period, I’m learning, this autopsy took place in North Creek.]

DuCuennois was replaced by James Bolton, 24, of Horicon. There is a plaque honoring his service in the Warrensburg DEC office.


John Warren

John Warren has been exploring the woods and waters of the Adirondacks for more than 45 years. After a career as a print journalist and documentary television producer he founded Adirondack Almanack in 2005 and co-founded Adirondack Atlas in 2015.

John’s Adirondack Outdoors Conditions Report can be heard Friday mornings across the region on North Country Public Radio and on WSLP Lake Placid.

He is also on the staff of the New York State Writers Institute and edits The New York History Blog. He is the author of two books of regional history.




4 Responses

  1. TiSentinel65 says:

    Good research John. I remember this story just as the article mentions it. My grandfather and his family donated time and boats in the search effort. After fruitless searching and big game season approaching they discontinued their efforts. Also, the names are correct of the suspected, however nothing could be proven. I recall how people of Hague talked of a very high unsolved murder rate in Warren County.

  2. Jennifer daughter to Linda DuCuennois says:

    WoW! Is all I know to say! John thank you for writing about this story. As I’m sure you figured out by now (by reading my name) Paul DuCuennios was a family member of mine. I just happend to come across this article while looking up info for my Grandmother on our name. This is the 1st I have heard of this. I am sad to hear of his demise. I always find it amazing when I come across anything regarding my family name as it is not a comman name by any means. This article is so well written and it gives some insight on what happend to Paul. Thank you for the time you spent writing this and for somehow paying homage to my family and our history. Although, it was a sad story it is part of my history and I really value you writing about it. I cannot wait to tell my Grandmother about this. She is still alive and well at 88 and would be very moved by your efforts… thank you again… sincerly, Jennifer DuCuennois. P.S to the person who left the 1st comment on behalf of my family to yours… thank your family for the efforts you made in trying to find him and for all you did.

  3. John Warren John Warren says:

    Hi Jennifer,

    Thank you for the kind words. I’m glad you found the piece, and found it helpful.

    John Warren

  4. My Great grandfather’s name was Charles Foote and I remember my father telling me this story. I pray my Great Grandfather had nothing to do with this young man’s death. My Great grandfather owned alot of land in northern Warrenn county and from what I was told he was very protective of his ownership of this. Something now are coming back to me now I think about this after reading this article. Any more information would be great! Thank you.