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Archive for the ‘McDONALD/MacDONALD SURNAME’ Category

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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Grace and Ronald's Marriage picture

Grace and Ronald’s Marriage picture

The family lore is that Grace was not strong, but I don’t agree.  She was her father’s daughter and also a little of her mother.  You can see what I mean as you read the following account of the events of the marriage.

Mrs. Grace Barclay recalled says:

I was married the 8th of September in Hudson, Wis., I was at home immediately prior to the marriage.  Came back Oct. 1.  I stayed in Minneapolis from the four to the fourteenth of October. From there I went to Grand Rapids, Minn.  I stayed there a while and went out to a camp for a week, but kept rooms at the hotel all the time.  My husband is superintendent for Backus in the Willow River country.  We were near Cloquet when we heard 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.  He said he would drive across country and will be here tonight,…

My grandmother Grace was 16 years old when she married my grandfather Ronald. Grandfather Ronald was 32 years old at the time. I pondered this 16 year difference in their age when I saw the birth records at the Koochiching County Courthouse in International Falls, Minnesota.  I was looking for my Dad’s birth record and his siblings. I remember saying out loud incredulously:   “Grandpa what were you thinking?”

Grace and Ronald did marry on September 8, 1898 in Hudson, St. Croix County, Wisconsin.  Hudson is just across the state line between Minnesota and Wisconsin and not that far from Minneapolis/St. Paul.  The distance is 29 miles by our freeway standards.  The marriage record is quite odd and very plain.  It has no identifying publication marks stating it is from Wisconsin.  It almost looks like a scrap of paper.  I do have the Wisconsin Vital records application and the envelope this Marriage record was returned to me in.  You will have to take my word that the marriage was performed in Wisconsin.

In reviewing their marriage record we find the following information:

Ronald S. McDonald is the husband, his father is Archibald, his mother is Mary.  Ronald’s occupation is lumberman and his residence is given as Duluth. He was born in Canada.  Grace’s name is written “Gray A. Barclay.” Her parents are George A. Barclay and Amarilla Spracklen.  She was born in Pine River, MN.  They married on Sept. 8, 1898 in Hudson, St. Croix Co.  (I wrote in the state).  They are white. The ceremony was Presbyterian.  The witnesses were Mike Dorgan and Grace & Charles Burnley.  The witnesses were from Hudson, St. Croix Co.  The marriage was registered September 26, 1898 and the parties were sworn.

What do I think about this information?  Well there are a few pieces of information that are very interesting.   The first is that Ronald’s place of residence is Duluth.  I have suspected that he did live there.  The other piece of information is the marriage ceremony was Presbyterian.  Ronald was Catholic.  Grace her religion was unknown.  He basically married outside his faith.  The witnesses are also intriguing because their names are unfamiliar to me.  Their residence is given as Hudson?

My Aunt Miriam, didn’t know when and where her parent’s marriage took place, it has been solved.  The lesson learned is that if you can’t find it in the state they are residing in then try the neighboring states.

I mentioned that the marriages was in secret.  This is true.  Grace’s father George Angus Barclay was not happy about it and threatened to disinherit her.  He said and unkind comment about grandfather Ronald which I will not repeat here. Apparently, father and daughter made up in time.

For more information about this marriage see the blog:  The Man Who Lived Airplanes.  Go to the right side of this blog and you will find it listed under BJ’s Family History Blogs.   This other blog goes into detail about the Mac/McDonald side of the family.  The marriage of my grandparents, Grace A. Barclay and Ronald S. McDonald united these two families.  Their youngest son Keith would be my father.

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Grace, daughter of Amarilla and George Barclay was growing up and in the spring she turned sixteen on April 10th, 1898.

Grace circa 1895

Grace circa 1895

If you would like to learn more about my grandmother Grace Amarilla Barclay McDonald you can go to the blog “The Man Who Lived Airplanes” where I talk about Grace.  This other blog is about her son Keith, my father and his life and the heritage of the McDonald/McDonell side of the family.

http://macdonellfamily.wordpress.com/

Here are some posts about Grace and her children.  On the right of the above blog is an Archive and you can find the months involved.

  • Grace Barclay McDonald dated May 29, 2010
  • Ronald and Grace: Family Life! dated April 10, 2010
  • Ronald and Grace’s Children dated February 27, 2010
  • Keith’s Parents:  Ronald and Grace’s Marriage! dated January 20, 2010

As a young girl she went to Minneapolis/St. Paul to attended school there.  I have not been able to determine what the name of the school was and I have tried.  All I have found are vague references to Grace being at school or home from school and more.

While going to school Grace wrote in her composition book and titled her work:  Words of a Wasted Moment.  It was filled with poems, stories, home work and tall tales.

Grace's Words of A Wasted Moment - Table of Contents

Grace’s Words of A Wasted Moment – Table of Contents

I had hoped that it would be more autobiographical but it was not.  It was more a musing of a young girl and school lessons.  There is one comment she makes in which she references Ronald (R.S.), her future husband. Here is what she writes.

Words of a Wasted Moment -

All Day Long

I have fussed and fumed and fretted

All the long day through

I have worried puzzled and stormed

And thought of you (Ronald dearest)

 

I am tired now the evening is here

I am glad though all is well

With you my dear whom I’ve

Learned to love so well (better than life)

6 pm  Jan 20, 1897

How my grandparents met is one of great speculation. Pine River was a stopping place and George an Amarilla’s hotel probably brought a lot of traffic.  The train depot was right there so people were coming and going. The travelers were salesmen, hunters, fishermen, farmers, gamblers, railroad men, settlers, agents, government officials and lumbermen.  My grandfather Ronald’s profession was lumberman and actually Superintendent so he may have been looking for lumber sales and places to cut timber or on his way to another location.

Did they met on the train to Minneapolis and St. Paul?  It is possible because Grace was used to traveling the railroads with her parents and maybe on her own.  Or did Ronald come to Pine River to do business with George or other lumbermen?

My grandfather Ronald (R.S. McDonald) was not the only one that noticed Grace.

Hank Taylor came to Pine River about June 28th and was there till around the 5th an 6th of August 1898.  He paid attentions to Grace and she went for a boat ride with him accompanied by her mother, Amarilla.

Can you picture a boat ride?

Can you picture a boat ride?

Mr. Taylor was generally credited with a bad character by many persons and had words with George Barclay.   He had been a prize-fighter and bouncer and possibly a thief.  It was believed he stole a watch. The situation was not good and Grace and her father George had words.  George didn’t like Taylor and ordered him away.  I gave it a try in the 1895 Minnesota state census and then the 1900 U.S. Federal to see if I could find Mr. Taylor but no luck.

Oh my, events are getting very interesting in Pine River!

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My great-grandfather George did apply for his Civil War pension.  I will be writing about that in future posts but at this time I am taking a break from this blog to focus on other lines of my family. 

Ontario and Quebec

Ronald S. McDonald married Grace Barclay, the daughter of George and Amarilla.  These two individuals are my grandparents. I have not posted about this marriage on this blog for I am trying to be chronological about George and Amarilla’s lives and events.   Ronald and Grace married in 1898 in Wisconsin, in secret!

I did share about my grandparents in another blog about my dad’s McDonald side where I will share about my trip:   

The Man Who Lived Airplanes: http://macdonellfamily.wordpress.com/

Ronald’s family came from Quebec and probably originally settled in Ontario.  I have long wanted to visit Ontario and Quebec and will be doing so soon. 

The other blog involved is the blog about my mother’s family and I will share other parts of the trips on that blog: 

 Boardmans and Browns of Winnipeg blog: http://boardmanbrown.wordpress.com/

Don’t worry, I will let you know what is happening as I travel along.  The Man Who Lived Airplanes will be the main focus of the trip to Ontario and Quebec.  The Boardman and Browns will cover the visit to Hastings County and British Columbia.  I am trying to keep the research specific to the theme of the blog. 

Come and join me!

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There are actually “Barkley’s” and Kellers Canada.  I wonder?

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Most of the stories I heard growing up were dominated by my McDonald side through my father Keith.  His full name was Keith Barclay MacDonald.  I heard stories about the family through his siblings. My father really didn’t talk that much about his family.  He was close to his father and siblings.  I knew a little about my father’s mother Grace, my grandmother, but the stories were mostly about her death and it was all very sad.   

Miriam, my aunt, had provided my first introduction to my great grandparents on the Barclay side by sending me a page of typed notes about 1986 that had two paragraphs describing each one of these two individuals with the surname of Barclay. 

As I read the two paragraphs that described by great-grandfather and grandmother I tried to reach my mind behind the words.  I was astounded! Who were these two people?  Reading about these two individuals for the first time sparked a great curiosity in me.  I will start with George’s paragraph  

George A. Barclay Notes

 

In reviewing these notes here are a few thoughts based on what I have learned.  I will go into more detail in future posts.    

His name was George Angus Barclay and this is correct. 

The date of birth of 1846 is not correct. He was born August 18, 1844 per his Civil War Pension file.  

The death of date of 1898 is correct.  He died October 28, 1898.  

He enlisted August 15, 1862 as a wagoner Co. I, 9th Minn. Vol. Inf.  This is all correct according to his Civil War Pension file and Civil War Service file.  The enlistment at Fort Snelling is not correct.  He enlisted at Fort Ridgely at the time of the Dakota Indian uprising.  

He homesteaded in what is called Pine River.  Yes he bought land in the Pine River area and settled there by about 1873.   

He operated a half-way house.  I didn’t know what this term “half-way house” meant.  Answers.com defines this as:   

“A stopping place, such as an inn, that marks the midpoint of a journey.” 

True, he first had a trading post on the south fork of the Pine River and later he moved up to the present area of Pine River about where the visitor’s center is located.  He built a house, barn, a store, later a hotel.  It was situated by a train depot after about 1896 and was a place were a lot of hunters, loggers, businessmen, settlers and travelers would stop for the night.  

He financed “gyppo loggers.”  Again I did not know what this term “gyppo” meant.  Dictionary.dot com defines this term as: 

 “a logger who operates on a small budget and typically gleans the timberlands already cut by larger companies.” 

“someone willing to do piecework, usually a non-union worker…” 

George did have logging interests.  I have a timber contract he had signed.  To what extent and who he employed is not known.  

He was shot while reading the paper on October 28, 1898.  This is true my great-grandfather was shot and killed.  The bullet traveled through the front window of his hotel. It caused quite an up roar and resulted in a Coroner’s Inquest and later a trial.  

It is not known whether he was born in Scotland or New Jersey.  George’s birth is still shrouded in mystery.  I have tracked him back to 1850 where he was living in Enfield, Connecticut.  He is six years old.  He is not with his father or mother.  He is with a completely different family.   

His father was John Barclay.  This is true.  I have been researching John Barclay and have quite a bit of information on him.   

His mother was “Margaret.”  George’s mother is a mystery.  Miriam knew very little about her and so far I have not been able to identify her.   

George was indeed a small man as described in his Civil War Pension file medical records.  He came in at 5 feet 4 inches tall.  In 1892 he weight 125 lbs.  If you compared my great-grandfather with me, we would be about the same size.  He was a wagoner in the Civil War which means he handled those huge wagons and mules?  

I was able to target each one of these comments written by my Aunt Miriam and it started me on a great adventure in researching the life of my great-grandfather.

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Miriam McDonald

Before I go any further on this blog, I want to stop and take the time to acknowledge the work done by my Aunt Miriam.  Miriam is the granddaughter of Amarilla and George Barclay.   

George and Amarilla had a daughter named Grace.  Miriam was Grace’s daughter and older sister of my father, Keith.  She provided me with  family history notes on my great-grandfather and mother George Angus Barclay and Amarilla Spracklin Barclay. In 1986 I wrote to my Aunt Miriam and in response she sent to me approximately six pages of Family History notes, photos, charts and other memorabilia.  From those six pages which later grew to about 10, I was able to find information about my family and go well beyond what Miriam started by sharing this information.   I will be sharing her notes with you. 

Miriam probably did this research prior to 1980.  She had no internet or options for research like we do today.  On the whole the notes are accurate if not vague.  There are slight mistakes but mostly she was right on.  I am so grateful.

Miriam was an English teacher at Franklin Junior High School in Yakima, Washington from about 1935 to 1972.  She never married and did not have any children.  After her retirement Miriam traveled the world.  She visited Scotland where the Barclay’s and McDonald’s came from many years ago. 

She died before most of this research was done (1997), so she never knew that her notes would lead to many wonderful discoveries regarding the Barclays and other surnames in our family such as McDonald, Spracklin, Goss, Delano, Keller, Cooley, Wolcott, Bliss, White, Vassall and more. — Thank you, Miriam.

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