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.