It was in September more than 105 years ago when Israel Dukett, a woodsman and resident of the Forest Home Road, went missing and the Enterprise headline declared, "Abandon Hope of Finding Israel Dukett."
Since a search party was made of Louis Dukett and Fred Dukett and Frank Gilmet [I thought maybe a relative of Jerry Gillmett but a different spelling of the name] there could be relatives of the missing man still around or at least know more about the tale I am about to tell. Others in the search party included Ed Swinyer, Alex Lashaway, P. Marshall, Peter Gowett, D. Marshall, Jr., and C. F. Holdridge.
Under the headline are subheads or drop heads and a lead-in and this story had plenty of both:
Mrs. Dukett and Children
"Long Search of the Forest Fails to Reveal Any Trace of the Missing Man" "If Body is in Woods, it is Buried or Sunken in Water" "Was Well Acquainted with the Locality and an Experienced Woodsman" "Did Not Desire to Leave the Country or Make Way with Himself" "Mrs. Dukett Tells an Interesting Story, including an Experience with Alex Lashaway, Dukett's Own Cousin and Last Companion" "Lashaway Describes the Parting and His Movements on the Fateful Day."
The Enterprise story:
"Israel Dukett, the resident of Forest Home who has been missing 17 days, has not returned to his home; he has not been seen in any other part of the country, and his body has not been found. The forest has been searched carefully day in and day out until the searchers have abandoned hope of ever finding his remains. It is believed that Dukett is dead beyond a doubt. No reason appears that he should wish to die. He may have met death with the accidental discharge of his gun, but in this event his remains would have been found.
"In the story of Elizabeth Dukett, wife of Israel Dukett, there is an interesting sidelight upon the mystery which surrounds the whereabouts of Dukett.
"Sitting in that room of the Dukett home which serves both as dining room and kitchen, with her three barefoot children playing about her, Mrs. Dukett on Sunday told a representative of The Adirondack Enterprise her story of the disappearance of her husband."
Mrs. Dukett's Story
"We have bee married seven years, said Mrs. Dukett. I was born in Altona and my name was Miller. Lashaway was born in Altona, too, but I never knew him there. Mr. Dukett has always lived here; he is the son of Louis Dukett and 33 years of age. There are five acres in our plot here; my man looked after this, worked out among the neighbors and did some hunting and fishing. Every week we got the washing from the guide house at the Inn, which we did here.
"There was a small mortgage on the place and my husband saved $50 which he was keeping to pay on the place. He was afraid to leave it at home on account of the danger of fire and he had this with him when he went fishing with Lashaway.
"On the Sunday morning, the day he went away, he was around the house and seemed to feel lonesome. Alex Lashaway, his cousin, came along and coaxed him to go into the woods. My man wore his old clothes and said he would be back early in the afternoon in order to go to Saranac Inn for the washing.
"They started out about 9 o'clock. Each had a gun when they started. Lashaway says he left my husband at 10 o'clock, but Lashaway never came home until 7:30 at night.
"My husband was never lost in the woods. He has been here 15 years in these woods and never lost himself. My man did not kill himself; he is too afraid to die."
Lashaway tries to enter house
"Lashaway came at 7:30 in the evening, I had the door locked and he knocked on it. I asked who was there and he replied, me. Is my husband there, I asked? No, he said, he's lost. Good God, no, I said. He is not lost.
"Lashaway wanted to come in and eat and stay all night. I was scared and told him no. I am hungry and all tired out, he said, but I would not let him in. I had all the doors and windows locked. I did not like him. I did not think he was all right. I always told my man he was not right.
"I had a pie and cut it into four pieces and out one through the window to him. He went to the barn but soon came back. He was awful nervous and said he could not sleep. He asked me to let him in; he said he wanted a quilt to cover himself; but I would not let him in and threw a quilt out the upper window for him."
She fears Lashaway
"I was scared and did not sleep any and was afraid he might come to the door. I was afraid of him. He did not talk good to me and once I told him not to come to the house unless my man was there.
"He did not stay in the barn all night. Hr got his brother early and they came back to the house and asked if my man was home. I said no, and they said they would go and hunt for him. I wanted them to wait until I could get men to go with them, but they would not and they got into the woods ahead of any one else.
"Mrs. Dukett has also told this story to her father-in-law, Louis Dukett, and others. Throughout its recital she spoke in a dull broken way; without enthusiasm, without any display of any temper or animosity. Fear and nervous shock alone swayed her. She did not give way to her grief. All the time she fingered her rosary; it was never out of her hands, and to it she pinned her faith and hope."