Bio: DuMarsh, Paul (1930)

Contact: Crystal Wendt 

Surnames: DuMarsh, Gates, Kountz, Brooks, Carhart, Hubbard, O’Neill, Pollnow, Brule, Garvin

----Source: Neillsville Press (Neillsville, Clark County, Wis.) Aug. 7, 1930

UNSOLVED MURDER OF 1881 STILL INTERESTS OLD TIME RESIDENTS

On the night of Oct. 9, 1881, James Gates gave a dance in his new store on the site about where the Dairy Exchange bank now stands to celebrate the completion of the building.

A new blinding and mysterious light gleamed within the structure and case it brilliance into the faces of curious spectators who line the wooden sidewalk and noisily jostled each other about in the deep dust of the street. The light hissed, sputtered and blinked like a thing possession of life, as the crowd marveled it the contrast between the yellow dim kerosene lamps that burned in the widows of adjacent buildings and the saloon across the street.

They were looking at an arc Lamp, the first electric light in Neillsville, and one of the first in the state. A new era in illumination had dawned and the amazement created by that tremendous forward step of science was not less then the incredibility of the present age is it stood and listened for the first time to words and music coming from radios that gathered it up from the nothingness of space.

But the night of that dance, old timers say it was Saturday, was not to be remembered alone for the arc lamp. On that night a French Canadian by the name of Paul DuMarsh, who was a foreman in the logging camps, vanished with a supposedly large sum of money and was never heard of again until five years later when his bones were found near the rifle range west of the city. A bullet hole in the back of his skull showed how he had met death. Whenever early settlers assemble to talk of old times the conversation invariably includes the name of Paul DuMarsh and speculation on the murderer who was never caught or identified.

Among the residents who recall the dance that night are R. F. Kountz, then a young attorney and justice of the peace. Mr. Kountz remembers seeing DuMarsh at the celebration and stated he last saw the Canadian about 10 p.m. DuMarsh, according to Mr. Kountz, was decidedly handsome and a tower of physical strength. His eyes were dark brown and sparkling, set off by heavy black eyebrows. A conspicuous streak of white hair marked one side of his black mustache and the typical French whiskers adorned his chin. In disposition he was kind and generous unless antagonized. When pressed he knew no fear and few men were willing to match their strength against his 190 pounds of brawn and muscle. He was about 5 feet, 10 inches tall.

Like many other men of the logging period, DuMarsh, played hard at the game of life, spending much time in the saloons or mingling with the women of questionable reputation that preyed upon the free and easy spenders of the camps.

One night a bully tried for sometime to draw DuMarsh into an argument, while they were in the old O’Neill house saloon. After several remarks by the bully DuMarsh walked up to the scrapper and said "You can roar like ze bull, but you are nothing more zan ze noise you make." To prove his statement DuMarsh stuck his fist into the noisy individual’s face and he woke up a few moments later in the sawdust on the floor.

DuMarsh is also remembered by Herb Brooks, then clerking in the O’Neill house for John Carhart. DuMarsh often stayed at the O’Neill house when in town and on such occasions left large sums of money with Mr. Brooks for safe keeping in the hotel vault. Mr. Brooks states that he did not see DuMarsh after the spring of 1881. At that time the Canadian announced he was going back to Canada and was driven by Bill Pierce, bus drier, to the depot west of town nest to what is now the Ed. Hubbard farm. Either DuMarsh did not go to Canada or returned a short time later, because he was here early in October.

It was learned that DuMarsh had been seen earlier that night of Oct. 9 at Ike Field’s place west of Black River, a notorious dive of those days. It was presumed that he came back to town, and attended the dance at Gates’ store and then made a second trip to Field’s place, being waylaid on the way over or way back. Sometime previous to his disappearance a man had been shot in Field’s hangout, but miraculously recovered, although the bullet pierced his abdomen.

No significance was attached to the fact that DuMarsh was not seen after that night until his skeleton was found. A shoemaker who had repaired his boots identified the shoes as belonging to DuMarsh. Investigations were made, but time had obliterated any chance of clues and closed chapter in the city’s history. It is said that one man who was strongly suspected of doing the killing finally left town.

For a time, so the story goes, a part of the skeleton of DuMarsh was used in the study of physiology and anatomy in the Neillsville high school, and the few remaining bones are believed still somewhere in the high school attic.

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----Source: Neillsville Press (Neillsville, Clark County, Wis.) Aug. 14, 1930

CARL POLLNOW DISAGREES WITH STORY ON DUMARSH

The story in last week’s Press reviewing the murder of Paul DuMarsh in 1881 was wrong as to the year, according to Carl Pollnow, who says that he knew the Canadian woodsman and worked in a camp near the one of which DuMarsh was boss. According to Mr. Pollnow DuMarsh worked in a camp on Wedges Creek the "cold winter: of 1883 and that he was not murdered until after his wife had died in the winter of that year at the home of John Brule in Hewettville. Mr. Pollnow states that he worked for Tom Garvin in a camp a half mile from where DuMarsh was employed. A man by the name of Simon was cooking for DuMarsh according to Mr. Pollnow.

Mr. Pollnow further states that DuMarsh owned 80 acres of land in Hewettville which "he got for tend Rest cut off.

 

 


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