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Archive for the ‘George Angus Barclay’ Category

The Coroner’s Inquest regarding the murder of George A. Barclay took two days.  On the second day a verdict was issued and it was recorded in the Register of the Coroner, Cass County, Minnesota.  It appeared in the newspaper the next day.

Register of Coroner's Inquest

Register of Coroner’s Inquest

Source: The Register of Coroner’s Inquests, County of Cass, State of Minnesota, in the Matter of the Inquest held upon the body of George A. Barclay, by E.R. Sundberg, acting Coroner of said County.

Nov. 2, 1899: Oct 31, the following jury was impaneled J.B. Spencer, B. O’Connor, Peter Dennis, John A. Wilson. Jury sworn and examination opened.  Verdict of Jury: That the said George A. Barclay came to his death on Oct 29, 1898 between 7 & 8 P.M. O’clock while sitting in his Hotel office by a bullet passing through his neck from a gun or revolver in the hands of some person on the outside of the building and to this jury unknown.  In testimony whereof the said coroner and jurors of this inquest have hereunto set their hands the 2nd day of Nov. 1898.   John King, Foreman, R.D. Holden, P. Dennis, John A Wilson, J.B. Spencer, B. O’Connor.  E.R. Sundberg, Justice of the Peace, & Acting Coroner. 

The following appeared in the Cass County Pioneer on November 3, 1898

“The Coroner’s jury sitting over the remains of Geo. Barclay after a two day session brought a verdict as follows:  We find that deceased came to his death by a gun shot wound inflicted by some party unknown to the jury.” Particulars next week.”

The next week issue for November 10th was missing on the film at the Minnesota Historical Society.

There is no official death certificate for George A. Barclay at the Cass County Courthouse per my personal investigation. After George’s death,  Amarilla tried for his Civil War pension on several occasions and below is an affidavit that described the death of George A. Barclay several years later.

Bertha Michelson on February 25, 1901 made this statement, she knew George about 4 years.  It is interesting to me that she was not among the witnesses at the Coroner’s Inquest?

That she was well acquainted with George Barclay deceased for a period of 4 years before his death.  That in the evening of October 29th, 1898, about half passed seven o’clock said George Barclay was shot and killed by a person unknown at the time he was sitting in a chair in his own house.  I heard the report of the gun saw him fall and he expired on the floor where he fell. The ball passed through his neck.  The shot was fired from outside of building and was fired through a window.” 

It could be assumed that this would be the end of the investigation of George A. Barclay’s death, but it was not.  A Grand Jury would be called in May of 1899 and then in May of 1900 there would be a trial.  There was more events to come in this sad tale.

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Mr. Sundberg, Justice of the Peace and Acting Coroner, moved quickly to put into place the Coroner’s inquest which was held at the Barclay Hotel on November 1 and 2, 1898 after the shooting on October 29, 1898.

The testimony of all of the witnesses would be to extensive for me to present here.  What will be presented will be a transcript summary of some of the witnesses testimony.  The book: Murder and Mayhem, True Crime Accounts, Cass County 1897-1938, written by the Cass County Historical Society, has some excerpts of some of the testimonies.

Here are some of my selected excerpts of the testimonies.

1.  C. Fred Yllander “being sworn says: I knew Barclay.  He died at 7:10 P.M. on Saturday night, Oct. 29.  He sat about six feet from window.  I was in his employ, tending bar and was here when he died.  I stood about two feet from the end of the bar, inside, reading.  Mr. Barclay…he took a chair and sat down about six feet from the window.  He sat talking to a man who was standing in the doorway between the card room and bar.  Just then I heard a loud report of a gun.  I thought it was fired inside because I saw flame come through the window.  At first I thought it was an accident but afterwords saw the hole through the window.  I saw Barclay try to raise himself and then fall on the floor.  I went to him but two others were there first.  He tried to open his mouth to speak but couldn’t.  He died almost instantly.  While on the floor, we found the bullet had entered the left side of the neck and come out on the right side of the back of the head.  The bullet lodged in a post in the center of the room.  When the gun went off I saw no one on the porch or anyone near.  I saw no one with firearms on the inside.  I have no idea who shot Barclay.  I have worked for him since October 11th and have known him since January… He was universally like.  He was not a drinking man and was perfectly sober on the day of the shooting… A man named Clapp (Claff) was talking to Barclay when he was shot.  Mrs. Barclay was in the dining room and came out a few seconds after.  She was working in the dining room at the time the shooting which occurred, at 7:10… As near as I can judge, the person that did the shooting must have stood a few inches from the window.  I saw neither the gun nor the man.  There were six persons in the room at the time of the shooting, including Barclay. Barclay and the man were talking about national matters.  Fred Cotton was inside the card room. Clapp had been standing talking several minutes with Barclay when the shot was fired…”

2.  Frank Breese Deputy Sheriff from Cass County:

“I helped to dig the bullet out of the post.  Indications show that the bullet came through the window from the outside.  We took the bullet out about 3 o’clock P.M. Oct. 31. Advised by county attorney not to take it out sooner.  I have weighed the bullet. It weighs 210 grains.  I have a scientific table showing the size and weight of bullet’s published by Wm. R. Burkhard & Co. dealers in guns and sporting goods.  A bullet weighing 150 grains is a 38 Smith and Weston;  210 grains Colt center fire pistol; 255 grains, 38.56 Winchester; 210 grains, 44 Colts Revolver; 205 grains, 44 Smith & Weston American; 255 grains 44 Smith & Weston Russian; 115 grains, 44 Smith & Weston Russian Gallery; 210 grains, 40-60 Winchester rifle.  At the time the bullet was weighed nothing adhered to make it heavier.  A 38-56 Winchester rifle bullet weighs 255 grains.”

3.  Eugene McMahon worked for Barclay taking care of stock.  He had been there 5 years.  He was referred to as choreboy.  He was outside at the upper barn when he heard the shot. He observed Bebo and a young man before and after the report of the gun. He talked about   Hank Taylor a driver for Cook who was a gambler and crook. Taylor had shown interest in Grace which caused trouble with George, Amarilla and Grace.

4.  E. Coyle telegraph operator and station agent was on the railroad track on a hand car when stopped and told about Barclay being shot. He witnessed George’s body on the floor.  He described Bebo’s gun as a 38-56 Winchester and Deperold’s had a 45-90 Winchester.  He mentions Hayford.  He also talked about Hank Taylor and the trouble between him and Barclay.

5. The hunters were R.C. Workman Sr., Charles Workman, Thomas Nelson, R.C. Workman Jr. and R.B. Dunsmore. They came from Wright County to hunt and were at the Depot/Express office when Barclay was killed.  The younger Workman made the claim that he saw a short man in dark clothes running across the railroad tracks about 5 minutes are the shot was fired.  He also said that Bebo came into the Depot office with a gun in a blanket about two minutes after the shot.   The older Workman also saw a man running across the tracks. Nelson he talked about Bebo coming in and out of the Depot and the Winchester in the corner but didn’t see it wrapped in a blanket. Dunsmore observed Bebo coming and goings with the blankets but didn’t remember any guns.

6.  Joseph Deperold (Deperrold)  was a nephew of Louis Bebo.  He was with Bebo at the barn first and then at the depot. He will be examined in later transcripts.

7. Mrs. George Barclay wife to the deceased.  She was in the kitchen at the time of the gun shot.

“I am the wife of George Barclay.  I was in the kitchen when I heard that he had been shot.  I heard the shot and the fall of Mr. Barclay.  I have no idea or suspicion as to who killed him. Mr. Barclay was a passionate man and had words with a good many men but not enough to warrant suspicion.  He had words in July with Hank Taylor, Mickey Burns, and Tom Twohy.  Mr. Barclay was not a man who would hold spite…. Mr. Barclay didn’t like Taylor and ordered him away… Taylor was not a respectable character…. Taylor wanted to take Gracie for a boat ride one day.  She wanted to go…I sat in the stern of the boat, Gracie in the center, and Taylor in the bow rowing.  Just as we landed on our return, Mr. Barclay came down.  He was very angry…  I never heard Taylor make any threats.  Taylor left soon after.  Possibly two days.  He has never been back.  I had no reason to believe that anybody would do Mr. Barclay any harm.  I have no idea as to who fired the shot.  

8.  Mrs. Grace McDonald, daughter of George A. Barclay and Amarilla, was absent at the time of the shooting in Cloquet, MN.  She describes the events with Hank Taylor and her recent marriage to R.S. McDonald.  This testimony of Grace’s gave me the information I needed to find the marriage record of my grandparents which was elusive up to this time.

“I am the daughter of George Barclay and was married the 8th of September.  Prior to that time I lived at home during vacations.  Papa often lost his temper and had trouble with several people and some of the quarrels were on account of credit in the store.  I have heard threats of violence but not from people I would think meant it. Taylor came here on June 28.  He was here until about the 5 or the 6 of August.  He came here to board on the 13 of July, but had been here before.  He told me that he had been married…. I went for a boat ride with him….He is a man who would hold revenge.  He had been a prize-fighter and bouncer.  Father and I had words and we didn’t speak for a week or so.  After that we were on good terms. He was angry when I got married and he threatened to disinherit me, but since that time he has become reconciled to me.  Mrs. Grace Barclay recalled says: I was married the 8 of September in Hudson, Wis., I was at home immediately prior to the marriage…. My husband is superintendent for Backus in the Willow River country.  We were near Cloquet when we hear of the murder of my Father.  Mr. McDonald told me.  I left Mr. McDonald at Cloquet.  He went to the woods and I came home.  I said he would drive across country and will be here tonight, Wednesday.  Father was afraid of Taylor.”

9.  Louis Bebo a local farmer living 34 miles west from Pine River. He knew Barclay about 15 years.  He heard the shots when he was at the depot.

I live about three miles west of Pine River.  I will have lived here three years next March.  I have been acquainted with Barclay fifteen years.  I lived near here all that time.  I have had some difficulty with him here at the house twice…The trouble with Barclay originated twice while I was drinking.  I have never had any trouble with him about shooting at the house.  He accused me of shooting at the house but after wards knew that it was not me.  I was in the operator’s house when it was done.  I had no part in it.  I was here when Barclay was killed….  I came back Saturday evening.  I hitched my team at the corncrib and it stood there about a half an hour.  From there I think I came into the saloon and took a drink with Mr. Coyle.  I don’t remember the time.  At that time I was sober.  I had two or three drinks before I went out.  The second time I took a drink was out of a bottle belonging to Coyle…  After drinking with him I went and unhitched the team…I took the blankets out of the wagon after the horses were unhitched after putting the horses in the barn… My gun was not wrapped up.  I put it in a corner of the depot. I don’t think anybody looked at it.  It was a 38-56 Winchester…. When I heard the shot fired I was just going into the depot with the blankets.  My nephew was with me at the time… I came from the depot to the hotel and saw Barclay and went back to the depot and said that Barclay was shot.  I came right over after hearing the shot and saw him.  There were quite a number in the room.  Lyman Preston, the choreboy, bartender, Whitesides.  I can’t remember any others.  Barclay was dead then.  I saw Mrs. Barclay there…  After I came and saw that Barclay was dead I went directly back to the depot.  I was in the bar about ten minutes.  I saw Coyle at the depot after that.  I saw four men on a hand-car…. I made one or two trips between the depot and the hotel after Barclay was killed.  It was at the depot the first time that I went over that I said that Barclay was killed.  Then they all turned out and came over here.  I came with them.  That was the second time I came over here….He talks about meeting up with his wife, making arrangements with the hunters and that he buys his own shells and load some.

10.  Mrs. Mary Bebo was Louis Bebo’s Indian common law wife.  She claims that she has been married eleven years and has five children.  She was near Walker when she heard of Barclay’s death.  She said that her husband didn’t know who killed Barclay.

11.  Mary Aitkin was a friend of Bebo and Mrs. Bebo.  She heard of the killing of Barclay and testified that Mrs. Bebo told her that her husband killed Barclay because he was jealous of their relationship.

12.  George A. Weaver knew Barclay since 1861 and he knew Bebo and that Bebo and Barclay had trouble with money.

13.  Eber Smith owned a summer resort on Woman Lake. He knew Hank Taylor in the past and talked about Taylor and felt he was treacherous.

14. Andrew Whitesides worked for Barclay in the store and had been there 4 years.

I have been working for Mr. Barclay since 1894…I have had charge of the store since the fall of 1894.  I was here when Mr. Barclay was shot…As far as I can judge about one and a half or two minutes after the report of the gun I came into the bar room.  I didn’t see Bebo in the room, he was not there.  He came in later.  No one was with him, I went to the Telegraph office while I was there.  I heard him say nothing about Mr. Barclay being shot.  I was in the Telegraph office 15 or 20 minutes.  I don’t remember seeing Bebo at the Depot when I came out.  I saw him again after I came back kneeling by the body listening to the pulsation.  I can’t say which time that was. I observed nothing particularly suspicious about him that day…Bebo and Barclay have had considerable trouble about settlement for hay in the Spring, but I thought it was settled to Bebo’s satisfaction…The trouble about shooting at the house was later.  Mr. Hayford and Mr. Barclay had a good deal of trouble and Mr. Barclay succeeded in having Hayford discharged.  Barclay and Hayford were never friendly.  Hayford was here at one time with a gun and I thought he wanted to shoot Barclay.  This trouble continued until Hayford moved away and started a store at Jenkins.  He has often abused Mr. Barclay while he lived here he and Bebo were together a good deal.  The trouble between Barclay and Hayford was about freight.  Hayford was very careful to add-on as much to Barclay’s freight as he could and Barclay thought he was overcharging.  He drank a good deal.  I thought Hayford had told Bebo that Barclay had a good deal to do with his squaw and thereby caused enmity.  I never saw anything unusual between Barclay and the squaw.  The general impression was that there were grounds for suspicion that they were intimate.  The general relations between Barclay and his wife were not entirely smooth and they have had some trouble.  One instance in particular a man named Taylor staffed here and went boat riding with Mrs. Barclay and her daughter.  Barclay found them and abused her a good deal in the bar room…I never thought there was much affection between Barclay and Mrs. Barclay….she [Mrs. Barclay] has been an inmate of a variety theater.  The relations between Barclay and his daughter have been about the same as between Barclay and Mrs. Barclay.  Barclay was much opposed to his daughter’s marriage.  I heard the girl say Barclay had threatened to disinherit her.  The marriage was a secret one.  McDonald and Barclay were friendly…”

The above has a lot of opinions, conjecture, gossip and it is difficult to know what is really of significance.  Unfortunately, the jury did not come to any conclusion.

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Coroner's Court

Coroner’s Court

I was interested in the actual proceedings of a Coroner’s inquest and found some information at the County of Adams, Illinois website, here is a summary:

1.  A Coroner’s Inquest is an inquiry into the manner and cause of an individual’s death, conducted by the Coroner or Deputy Coroner with a court reporter and six jurors present. The jurors are citizens of the county in which the death took place. 

2. The jury is to determine the cause and manner of a death whether Suicide, Homicide, Accident, Natural or Undetermined.  

3. Witnesses are summoned who have pertinent information concerning the incident such as the person who found the deceased, witnesses to the incident, a direct relative.

4.  When the jury has concluded their deliberations, they will issue a verdict. The Corner’s verdict has no civil or criminal trial significance. The verdict and inquest proceedings are fact-finding in nature and statistical in purpose.

5.  If a person is implicated as the unlawful slayer of the deceased or accessory thereto, an arrest may be affected. 

6.  The testimony presented at the inquest is sworn and under oath and properly documented and/or recorded. 

Based on the above description, it looked like Mr. E. R. Sundberg, Justice of the Peace and Acting Coroner took the necessary steps to preside over the inquest into the death of George A. Barclay.  He took several actions:

  1. October 31, 1898 subpoenas for Louis Bebout (?), Joseph DeJerrold, R.C. Workman, R.B. Dunsmore, Eugene McMahon and John Doe.  (by E.R. Sundberg).
  2. October 31, 1898 – Listing the names of jurors to appear at the Barclay Hotel  for service on November 1, 1898 – (by E.R. Sundberg) The jurors for the coroner’s inquest were R.D. Holden, John King, J.B. Spencer, B. O’Connor, Peter Dennis and John A. Wilson.
  3. November 1, 1898 subpoenas for Mary Aitkin and Mrs. Louis Bebo.  They are being asked to appear on November 2, 1898. (E.R. Sundberg).
  4. November 1, 1898 – Sundberg requests the Sheriff to attach the body of Louis Bebo and bring him to the inquest. (by E.R. Sundberg).

The inquest took place on November 1-2, 1898 at the Barclay Hotel.  This was about 2 full days after the shooting that took place on Saturday, October 29, 1898 at about 7:10 to 7:30 pm.

October 1898

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
1
2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23 24 25 26 27 28 29
30 31  1  2  3    

Here is a transcript of one of the subpoenas listed above.

Pine River Hotel

Pine River Hotel

State of Minnesota, County of Cass:

The State of Minnesota to R.D. H[olden], Peter Dennis, John Wilson, J.B. Spence, John King, & B. O’Connor you and each of you are hereby summoned to be and appear before the undersigned and to constitute a coroner’s jury for the purpose of holding and inquest upon the dead body of George Barclay, which inquest will be held at Barclays Hotel, Pine River, in said county, on the First day of November, A.D. 1898, at 9 o’clock in the forenoon.  Hereof fail not at your peril. Given under my hand this 31st day of October A.D. 1898, E.R. Sundberg, Justice of the Peace and Acting Coroner. 

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We must remember that back in 1898 in a local area like Pine River it was not easy to investigate a crime or a death.

The steps are very complicated in murder investigations today.

Here is a much more detailed explanation of a murder investigation, I am sure there are better websites to consult but it will do.

http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-involved-in-criminal-murder-investigations.htm

A familiar figure of the times!

A familiar figure of the times!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sherlock_Holmes

So if we take and compare the murder of my great-grandfather George A. Barclay to the standards of today’s murder investigations we see that there are a lot of discrepancies. I confess that I am a big crime scene fan (CSI), but drama is not reality.  I am going to jump in and take some of the steps in the above link and share my thoughts below regarding George’s murder based on the documentation that I have found.  If only Sherlock Holmes could help?

1.  The murder is reported by someone who comes across the victim.  That person is asked to remain on site.  

In this murder case there are many people who witnessed the actual event and were nearby who heard the gunshot.

The news of the crime occurred when the railroad office was contacted requesting medical help for George Barclay.  This was described in the “Cold Blooded Murder,” article which I featured in my post dated November 28, 2013 titled:  Cold Blood Murder and Cowardly Crime, November 1898.   I will be referring to those two articles a great deal so you might want to go and read them.

“A telegram was immediately sent to General Manager Hear, of the B.& N. M. for a special train with  medical assistance, but before this could be procured a second message was received saying that he had passed away.”

2.  Verification of death of the victim by paramedics or coroner

Someone apparently knew how to determine if an individual had died.  It was not made apparent who that was in the records.  The nature of the wound and the number of witnesses was probably sufficient. Although each witness had their version of the actual death.  Some indicated that George died quickly and others said he lingered for up to 30 minutes.  The time of death was given as 7:10 pm and I have seen 7:30 pm given.  I have also seen the day mixed up.

I am going for this:  Time of death was given at 7:10 to 7:30 pm, October 29, 1898.

3. The scene is turned over to law enforcement. 

It is not clear that the scene was turned over to law enforcement.  A newspaper tidbit reported that:

On November 3, 1898 in the Cass County Pioneer  (Vol. 5, #42, p. 8, col.)

“B.F. Hartshorn and Geo. Hardy went to Pine River to look into the facts concerning the murder of Mr. Geo. Barclay.

B.F. Hartshorn was the Cass County Attorney and Public Prosecutor  (1897 to 1903 Cass County History).  Geo. Hardy was the sherif at the time (1897 to 1905 Cass County History).  Both of these men will be involved up till the trial.

3.  An officer is put in charge of the investigation

Again this is not made clear in the transcripts as to what law enforcement officer was conducting an investigation. Frank Breese, Deputy-Sheriff was at the Coroner’s inquest to give testimony regarding the bullet that killed George.

4.  The scene is secured to prevent contamination of the evidence.  

With all the witnesses and people coming and going that night at Barclay’s I doubt that the scene was secured at all.  As for contamination that happened immediately.  In the testimony at the Coroner’s Inquest several people were reported as touching the body.  I am sure in the confusion, chairs were moved around.

5.  The murder scene is observed and documents with photographs taken.

Photography was not like we have today with digital cameras and instant recording of events.  It is not clear to me who observed the crime scene.  I am assuming Mr. Sundberg the Justice of the Peace and Acting Coroner did a walk through along with the jury members, maybe Hartshorn and Hardy were there?

6.  Evidence is collected and bagged and sent to the crime lab. 

In the next post I  In a future post, I will review the evidence that was collected.  In this case we have the body as evidence and the area around it, the bullet, the post where it logged, the scene of the crime, the hole in the window and glass on the floor, the location from where the gun was fired, witness accounts and their guns, and more.

7.  The body is first removed and taken to the coroner’s office for autopsy.  

This was not done until the inquest was over and even then I do not see any evidence of an autopsy performed. George’s body remained where it had crumpled till the Coroner’s inquest was completed. A Mr. E. F. Lynch who resided at Brainerd, Crow Wing County, Minnesota was an undertaker for D.M. Clark & Co.  He was called upon to prepare the body of Mr. Barclay for burial.  He testifies in what appears to be the Grand Jury proceedings.

7.  People are interviewed who were involved with the murder or nearby when the murder occurred.  

There are many witnesses that gave testimony at the Coroner’s Inquest.  I cannot tell if anyone else did any interviewing of the witnesses other than at the Coroner’s Inquest.

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The Cass County Historical Society published a book in 2010 titled:

Murder and Mayhem, True Crime Accounts Cass County 1897-1938

The authors collected documentation from many sources and they feature right at the very beginning the George Barclay Murder in Pine River in 1898, pages 1 to 24.  There are many other names and cases discussed in this book.  A copy may be obtained from the Cass County Historical Society for about $25.00.   http://www.casscountymuseum.org/publications.html

In this book you will find a pretty good coverage of the sources that were generated regarding the murder of George Angus Barclay.  Since they probably had a space issue they were unable to publish all of the information so you have to keep in mind that it is not totally complete.  I have most of what they share in this publication and they have other items I do not have which add to the story.

At the beginning of the section on George Barclay there is in introduction taken from the book Logsleds to Snowmobiles: A Centennial History of Pine River, Minnesota (1873-1973), Pine River Centennial Committee, 1979.  I would like to caution you that there are mistakes in this introduction.  The purpose of this blog was to correct those errors.  They state he was killed in the lobby, well there seems to be other information stating it was the saloon area of the hotel. Since there is no floor plan available it is difficult to be clear. First, George was more likely born in Enfield, CT not New Jersey, although I have not yet proved it.  I have shared in past posts about George’s earlier years and the census places George and his siblings scattered in the Connecticut area around Enfield and Hartford. Alexander and a sister Mary, older siblings, state they were born in Hartford and Enfield respectively.  This sort of  places a damper on being born in Scotland.  His father John Barclay in his Naturalization papers says he came to the United States in 1833.  I have posted about this event. However, George and his brother Alexander did not enlist together in the Civil War.  George waited a full year before he enlisted.  Alexander was older by two years.  I have all of their Civil War Service Records and pensions and I have thoroughly shared them in this blog.  Again, George did not march with Sherman to the sea, his brother Alexander was the one who did. No where in George’s Civil War Service or Pension record which I have shared on this blog does it say that he was with Sherman.  However, Alexander’s Civil War documents do state this fact. I mapped out their company records so you can see from those maps that they were going in separate directions.  Now granted those company records may only cover the main events.  Individual soldiers could be sent where ever they were needed.  I have shared the article from the Northwest Magazine and the mention that George had 840 acres but I am not convinced.  I will tally it someday in the future and see if it matches.   Oh and on page 23 Amarilla married George Urton in 1922 and this is not correct she married him in 1919 but I will get to posting on their marriage later.

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The death of her father must have been a great shock to my grandmother Grace.  She was only a little over 16 years old at the time of his murder.  I wonder what she might have been thinking.  I have wondered what the news of her father’s death would be like for her.  Things had been tense between them because of Hank Taylor’s interest and then her marriage to my grandfather R.S. McDonald.  George had not been happy and told her so.

Here is a possible scenario:

            R.S. entered the hotel room.  Grace was just finishing tucking her hair into place.  She turned to greet him and stopped short.  R.S. looked at her intently.  “What’s wrong?” she said.  Ronald Sandfield McDonald searched carefully for the words that would tell his lovely new wife of the tragedy that had occurred.  “Well, Mr. McDonald, what on earth is wrong.” She demanded.  R.S. could see no other way but to say the words.  “Your father has been shot.”  Grace looked at him and blinked standing there with a puzzled look at her face.  “Papa, shot? Is he all right?”  R.S. took a deep breath and said:  “No, I am afraid to tell you this, but he died very quickly and suffered little.”  Grace began to sway and R.S. rushed to catch her and gently helped her to the bed.  “This can’t be. Are you sure?”  Grace said.  “Yes, here is the telegram that came just now.”  He handed it to her.  Grace took it into her hands and read it slowly and carefully.  It was from her mother, Amarilla and it asked her to come home immediately.  She held it tightly in her hand and the room was filled with silence. R.S. sat next to her gently comforting her. The last several months since their marriage had been hard but this was totally unexpected and unbelievable. R.S. was the first to break the silence and said “I have made arrangements to get you to Pine River as quickly as possible.  He rose from the bed and went to her suitcase and started packing her things.  Grace sat quietly on the bed, reading the telegram again and again.  Clutching it in her hand.  “Papa, dead?”

            Grace and R.S. said their goodbyes at the Cloquet train station.  “I have some business to finish up and will be going off to the camp.  I will come down to Pine River in a couple of days and be with you.  I am so sorry, Grace.  I wish I could be with you now but Backus has me running.”  Grace smiled gently at her husband. His job as Superintendent for Backus was not an easy one.  Grasping the railing she climbed abroad the train. Feeling a tug at his heart, R.S. watched the train starting its journey.  Leaving her behind was always hard but this was worse.  He turned on his heels and dashed up the street.

            Grace somehow found a seat on the train next to the window.  The train began to pick up speed.  Can’t this train go faster, she thought.  Wanting to get home and find out what had really happened to her father and yet on the other hand a tremendous dread of what was to come engulfed her.  Papa, dead……no it can’t be.  He was just yelling at Yllander a few weeks ago.  Papa always yelled! …

Written by her granddaughter in 2005.  My grandmother had her written compilation “Words of Wasted Moment.” I hope I have done her proud to write this scenario.  See the posted dated September 19, 2013 “1898: Sweet Sixteen – Grace Barclay is growing up. “

How Grace managed to get from Cloquet, Minnesota to Pine River by November 2, 1898 for the Coroner’s Inquest on the death of her father George, is only speculation on my part.  I am convinced she used the railroads to do it. Getting around as a passenger in Minnesota had not been easy but progress was being made by 1898.  She either went to St. Paul and headed for Brainerd where she took the train to Pine River; however, if the railroad was in place from Duluth to Brainerd then she could have gone to Duluth from Cloquet and transferred to get into Brainerd and then headed north to Pine River. Fun to speculate on her route.

The Historical Maps website has a railroad map for Minnesota dated 1900.  Grace was no stranger to traveling the trains.  She had been riding them for years going to school in St. Paul and traveling with her parents.

http://alabamamaps.ua.edu/historicalmaps/us_states/minnesota/index2_1891-1900.htm

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Below are some newspaper accounts of the murder of George A. Barclay.  They were published several days after the event.

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November 3, 1898 – Cold Blooded Murder, George A. Barclay, A Wealthy Lumberman of Pine River, Killed by the Hand of an Unknown Assassin.”  Published in the Brainerd Journal. This is five days after the murder.  They have R.S. McDonald as R.A. McDonald.  I have broken up the very long paragraph to make it easier to read.

“Last Saturday night, while seated in the waiting room of his hotel at Pine River, Geo. A. Barclay was mysteriously murdered by some culprit who remains as yet undiscovered.  Whether the deed of a madman or an enemy no one is certain.

About 7:30 o’clock he was seated in his hotel close by a window when suddenly from the outside a shot was fired whether from rifle or revolver is not known and crashing through the window it entered and passed thru his head near the back of the neck and embedded itself in a post not far distant.

A telegram was immediately sent to General Manager Hoar, of the B.& N. M. for a special train with  medical assistance, but before this could be procured a second message was received saying that he had passed away.  

A coroner’s jury yesterday was summoned and returned as their verdict, “that George A. Barclay came to his death by a gun shot from the hands of some person unknown to this jury.”

The remains were brought to this city today and were met at the train by friends and Pap Thomas Post No. 30, G.A.R. under who auspices the services were conducted, the murdered man being an old soldier and member of this post.  

The funeral services were conducted at the Episcopal church, Rev. C. F Kite officiating. The remains were enterred in Evergreen Cemetery.  The deceased leaves a widow and one married daughter to mourn his death.  

Mr. Barclay was well know all over this section of the state and had not to any ones knowledge a single enemy.  No definite clue has yet been obtained although several suspects are being watched.  It is to be sincerely hoped that ere long the murder will be avenged and that the murderer will have that justice meted out to him which he so justly and richly deserves.”

November 5, 1898 – Cowardly Crime, Barclay Foully Murdered in Pine River, published in the Brainerd Tribune.   This one is seven days after the crime was committed. (page 8, Col. 4,)   This account gives more information about where the assailant stood and what type of gun may have been used and is nicely detailed.

Geo. Barclay Foully Murdered at Pine River, while sitting in his own house.  The Victim an Old and Well Known Resident.  The people of this city were shocked on Saturday evening last by the news that Geo. Barclay , the well known hotel keeper and trader at Pine River, had been foully murdered by some cowardly assassin while sitting in his house conversing with several acquaintances.  The first news of the tragedy came over the B. & N. M. wires and the particulars were not known until Monday.  

Mr. Barclay was shot and killed about 7:30 Saturday evening.  When the fatal shot was fired he was sitting in a chair, smoking a cigar, and talking to four or five men, about five feet away from the window in the barroom of the hotel.  The assassin fired through the glass, the ball passing through Mr. Barclay’s neck from side to side, probably cutting the carotid artery of the jugular vein, as he bled profusely, and then imbedded itself in a pine post that supported the ceiling in the middle of the room.  He lived only a few minutes.  

The bullet was dug out, taken to Walker and carefully weighed by a jeweler.  Its weight is exactly 210 grains which corresponds with either a 40-60 Winchester (an old model gun) or a Colt’s 44 caliber revolver.  

The slug, which is mushroomed and much distorted, looks more like a 40 than a 44, and careful measurement of that part of the base that remains intact gives color to this theory.  It was imbedded in the pillar to a depth of two inches.  A rifle-ball should have gone somewhat deeper, but, on the other hand, a revolver slug would hardly pierce a heavy window pane and a man’s neck and go to that depth in seasoned wood.

The shot was fired, probably from a position about 15 feet outside the window as the hole in the post is about 10 inches higher than in the pane.  

Although there were several men in the room at the time, the murderer was seen by no one so far as known.  The night was very dark and the assassin no doubt sought the cover of the woods a few rods away and made good his escape.  

There seems to be no doubt that it was a willful, premeditated murder, though there is absolutely no clue whatever to the perpetrator of the cowardly deed.  Mr. Barclay had no trouble with anyone, and so far as known had no enemies who would be capable of committing such a crime.  

Justice E. R. Sundberg, of Walker, in the absence of the coroner impaneled a jury and held an inquest which was not concluded until Wednesday morning.  A searching investigation was made, but no light was thrown upon the mysterious crime, and a verdict was returned to the effect, that deceased had come to his death by shooting at the hands of some person unknown to the jury.

The remains were brought to Brainerd on Thursday morning for interment and the funeral took place at 11 a.m. from St. Paul’s Episcopal church, Rev. C. F. Kite conducting the services.  The members of Pap Thomas Post, G.A.R. and the Women’s Relief Corps, met the funeral cortege at the station and marched with the procession to the church and thence to the cemetery.

Geo. Barclay was about fifty-four years old, and had been a resident of this section for about twenty-five years.  For many years he has kept a hotel and store, and engaged in lumbering operations at Pine River.  He was well known in Northern Minnesota, was generally well liked, and had the reputation of being honest and straight forward in his dealings with his fellow men.  He was a member of the G.A.R., having entered the service as wagoner, in Co. I, Ninth Minnesota, in August, 1862, and serving until his discharge in August, 1865.  He leaves a widow and one child, the latter being the wife of R.A. McDonald.”

The Brainerd Dispatch on 04 November 1898 printed an article on George A. Barclay’s murder.  You can find a transcript at Find A Grave, Evergreen Cemetery, Brainerd.

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Pandemonium rained on the night of my great-grandfather George’s murder, October 29, 1898.  People were running here and there, shouting and yelling and there was a great deal of confusion.  There were many witnesses that had their own take on the actual happenings of the event.

In my last post I wrote a possible scenario of what may have happened that night taken from these eye-witness accounts.

Cowardly Murder

Someone had been standing out in front of the Barclay Hotel in the dark with a gun and aimed through the window.  The bullet went through the front window of the hotel and through George Barclay’s neck and into the post behind/or near him.  Nothing could have been done for him even though they tried to wire for medical aid which would come by train from Brainerd to Pine River.  He was gone!

Whatever aspirations that George had left to realize, they would not happen now and he would not be there for the births of his grandchildren.

Some people have been a little mean and unfeeling about George’s death.  He did have a married daughter, Grace, and she would have children. George’s grandchildren were my dad’s family and from them would come great-grandchildren.  Yes, descendants are living today of this man George Angus Barclay and his wife Amarilla.

My family knew of the murder of George but there was not much detail about the events of that night and what happened after. All we knew was that he was murdered and he “yelled a lot,” and may have had enemies?

The notes of my Aunt Miriam did little to explain the murder. She has the 28th not the 29th.

George's Death

Upon finding the court documents in 2001 and reading them, I will have to say that it was indeed emotional.  The murder was 103 years old back in 2001 when I read about it.  Here I was grieving over the rather sad way that my great grandpa died.

I have studied and read every line of the court documents looking for clues.  Frankly, I was surprised to find anything in the court records on this event.  After looking at the court documents that have survived, I feel a lot of documentation is missing and possibly removed from the files, which is probably not surprising, after all it was at that time 103 years old.

It would be difficult to solve this murder, why.

1.  The crime scene is gone:  The Barclay hotel burned in 1915 (a subject for a future post).  I have not been able to find any blue prints for the hotel which could be of help by telling us where things were inside.

2.  Evidence is long since gone.  The bullet was dug out of the post and removed by Deputy Sheriff Frank Breese with permission from the court.  It was examined and weighed.  What happened to it and where it has gone is unknown.   How long does a county keep evidence?

3.  Witnesses and suspects are gone:  Those individuals present at the scene of the crime are long since dead.  So witnesses and suspects who one would talk too are gone.

4. George himself has been gone a very long time and the condition of his body would be unknown.

5.  The only items left are the court records which to me are not complete and newspaper accounts.

It has long been a dream of mine to hire a forensic expert or CSI but it might be a little expensive.  Just having them review what information I have collected might be of great interest.  I was hoping Cold Justice the TV show would take it on but after having watched their first season I have learned that it is very difficult to work a case that is 25-30 years old because the evidence is lost imagine a hundred years ago. The Cold Justice website would only accept cases referred to them by a law enforcement officer.  I can just imagine the laughter from the county police regarding this 115 year old murder (2013) when they have more urgent cases to solve.

I know, I am dreamer or either I have watched too many crime shows. HA!

Oh, this murder case may be 115 years old but it is still an open case but inactive for there is no statute of limitations on murder in the USA.

 http://wiki.answers.com/Q/What_is_the_statute_of_limitation_on_murder_in_the_US_and_other_countries

So what did happen that night of October 29, 1898. Well, let’s start with a few newspaper accounts.

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