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.
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 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.
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.