Cornelius C. Duson
Cornelius C. Duson, (aka CC Duson or Curley, born August 31, 1846) was a legendary Louisiana lawman. He was the sheriff of St. Landry Parish, Louisiana from 1874 to 1888. During his career, he was known for his dogged determination.
In one case, he single-handedly chased two fugitives from Opelousas to the Red River. There he killed one of them in a hand-to-hand fight. He wounded the other man and brought him back to Opelousas to face justice.
His most famous case was his capture of Louis Rousseau. Rousseau had fled the state after allegedly committing a murder in the town of Ville Platte. Duson tracked Rousseau for months, and found him in the Indian Territory of Oklahoma. Louis Rousseau was captured and brought to trial. Louis Rousseau was hanged on June 8, 1877 in what was the first execution of a white man in St. Landry parish in 30 years.
In another well known case, a John Sonnier eluded capture for nine years after being indicted on two counts of murder in 1871. Several years after his indictment, Sonnier returned to St. Landry Parish. He narrowly escaped Sheriff Duson and disappeared. After some determined questioning, Duson located Sonnier in Brazoria County, Texas where he was working as a prison guard. Sheriff Duson enlisted the help of two Texas officers to capture Sonnier. John Sonnier was captured and sentenced to life in prison.
CC Duson was the son of Cornelius Duson McNaughton, an Irish Scotch Canadian infamous for rebelling against the English in Canada. At age 21, he started work as a deputy sheriff in 1867, under Sheriff James G. Hayes. Hayes and Duson had been friends since the Civil War when they met as POWs in a POW camp in Washington, Louisiana. James Hayes was assassinated, and the job of sheriff went to his younger brother Egbert Hayes. As sheriff, Egbert appointed Curley as his executive assistant. Curley Duson held this job until 1872, when he campaigned for the office of sheriff in 1872. During his career Duson was known as a crack shot with a pistol. In 1882, an Opelousas newspaper reported that Sheriff Duson has killed 96 alligators with 96 shots from a boat near Morgan City, Louisiana. The same article mentioned "Duson got his man in Texas, for murder north of Chicot." The wording and placement of the news implied that his capture of the wanted man was commonplace.
- Fontenot and Freeland, Acadia Parish, p212
- Information and material from an article by Mary Alice Fontenot "Sheriff Curley Duson always got his man" in Acadiana Profile Vol. 5 No.5, November/December 1976
- Biographical and Historical Memoires of Louisiana, (vol. 2), pp. 478-479. Published by the Goodspeed Publishing Company, Chicago, 1892
- The Opelousas courier. (Opelousas, La.) 1852-1910, April 20, 1872
We are authorized to announce EGBERT O.HAYES, the present incumbent. as a candidate for the ollbe of Sheriff of St. Landry at the election in November next.I am a candidate for the office of Sheriff of the Parish of St. Landry at the election to be lholdenin November next. For what the people of St.Landry may axpect of me in that official capacity in the future. I refer to my past services as the executive Deputy of the present Sheriff.C. C. DUSON
- Proceedings Of the Board of Police of the Town of Opelousas On Monday, April 8th. 1872, the new Board met pursuant to law, the members thereof having qualified as required by the Charter and the law.Were present: Messrs. L. Hadden. W. R. Meginley. Louis Lejeune, J. Peferkorn, Geo. Pulford, H.Iatour and C. C. Dunson.
- library.louisiana.edu "Guide to Collections in the University Archives"