DEWITT DUSKEY'S TUMULTUOUS LIFE - A Molotov Cocktail, "Dust To Dust, Ashes To Ashes"

By Bob Weaver 2024

In the Calhoun backwoods we've always had our share of "Pecks bad boys," a notable during the 20th Century was Daniel Dewitt Duskey (1946-1998), the son of Daniel and Lena Carpenter Duskey who operated the Cremo store and post office on Rowels Run for many years. His father was a longtime Calhoun teacher with one leg missing, both descendants of Civil War renegade Daniel Duskey, a leader of the Moccasin Rangers.

Dewitt Duskey suffered from alcoholism and most likely Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome, fighting in the Vietnam War. Most would say he was a likable man.

My first recollections of Duskey was a tendency to break in Charley Starcher's General Store in the Village of Hur late at night, sometimes spotted.

An oft told tale about Dewitt, coming into the store and asking Charley to look at boots, after which Charley pulled them off the shelf. Charley was busy with other customers. Returning to ask Dewitt if he had made up his mind, Dewitt told the storekeeper he would be back with cash to make the purchase.

A few days later Charley was taking inventory of his boots. Opening a box was a gift of Dewitt's muddy boots, a not so fair trade.

The storekeeper was aware that I was into electronics and ask if I could install some kind of burglar alarm. I did, a simple knife-switch which would close attached to a back of the store window. Then running a long wire across the creek to Charley's house, attaching a bell next to Charley's bed.

It wasn't long before the alarm went off late at night. Charley got dressed and began walking toward the store shooting his shotgun into the air. Unfortunately he gunshots downed the electric line, and Dewitt got away one more time.

During the next few years Dewitt had a long list of scrapes with the cops, most notably in 1984 when he sought vengeance with the West Virginia State Police, placing a Molotov Cocktail in the Grantsville barracks. Fortunately it failed to explode but Dewitt was arrested.

About that time his sister called me at the Preston Addiction Treatment Center and ask if we could admit him for treatment. She said they didn't have any money, after which I advised her to send him over, we would treat him free.

Admitted to the detox ward, I went in to talk to him. He graciously expressed his kindness toward me. A few hours went by and I looked in the ward to discover his bed was empty. The nurse said he left AMA.

In 1998 his tumultuous life ended and his cremains returned to his Rowels Run home for a memorial service with military rites. I was invited to attend.

A flagpole was erected and a flag was raised with taps being played, after which a cardboard box with his dust was thrown into the air. At the same time a brisk wind swept through, blowing a dark cloud of his dust on those attending.

I was standing beside of Calhoun Sheriff Allen Parsons, both of us coughing and our eyes watering.

Sheriff Parsons turned to me and said, "Bob, I guess we'll take a little piece of Dewitt with us for the rest of our lives." Dust to dust, ashes to ashes.