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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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Meanwhile, back in Pine River in 1898, Amarilla was involved in some land transactions.

May 3, 1898 she is involved with a deed where she is buying land from an Erik Thunell.  George witnessed this deed for her.

Instrument No. 3928, Erick Thunell of the county of ___ (cut off), State of Minnesota to Ammarilla Barclay of the County of Cass State of Minnesota consideration of one hundred and sixty ($160.00) to him paid…the East 1/2 one half of the southwest quarter (E SW) (32) township one hundred thirty-eight (138) Range ______(cut off). Signed by Erick Thun___ (cut off). Witnessed by G.A. Barclay and Wm. Fuller. 

Written on the side: Affidavit See K of Misc. pg. 519. 

Source:  Erik Thunell to Ammarilla Barclay, Deed Book P, pg. 164, 3 May, 1898, Instrument #3928, Cass Co., Register of Deeds, Minnesota.  This deed was a form and some of the writing was cut off on the side of the page.

A couple of months later on August 23, 1898 at 4 pm Amarilla buys land from a E.W. Davis.  This time George is not a witness.  The amount of the transaction is $950.00, was this money George gave Amarilla or was it her own?  These are lots in Brainerd.

Deed between E. W. Davis and Amarilla

Portion of a Deed between E. W. Davis and Amarilla

E. W. Davis to Ammarilla Barclay. This Indenture made this 16th Day of August in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and ninety-eight between E. W. Davis, and Nellie G. Davis his wife of the County of Pipestone and State of Minnesota, parties of the first part and Ammarilla Barclay of the County of Cass and State of Minnesota, party of the second part. Witnessth that the said parties of the first part for and in consideration of the sum of nine hundred and fifty and no/100 dollars _____in hand part by the said party of the second part. The receipt whereof is hereby acknowledged do by these presents grants bargains sell [revise], release and convey unto the said party of the second part and her heirs in and assigns forever all the following described lot, piece or parcel of land situate in the County of Crow Wing and the State of Minnesota, and known as follows to wit: lots numbered nineteen (19 and Twenty (20) of block numbered one hundred (100) of the original Town (now city) of Brainerd of the recorded plat there of an filed in the office of the register of deeds for the County of Crow Wing in the State of Minnesota – To Have and to Hold the same together with all the hereditments and appurtenances thereunto belonging ______________unto the said party of the second part his heirs and assigns forever, and the said E. W. Davis and Nellie G. Davis, parties of the first part for and of themselves their heirs executors and administrators do covenent with the said party of the second part his heirs and assigns that they _____ not made, done ____________ or suffered any act of thing whatsoever, whereby the above described premises or any part thereof ____or at any time hereafter shall or may be ______________charges or encumbered in any manner whatsoever. and the _______ granted premises against all ______lawfully claiming the same _____through or under the said E. W. Davis the said party of the first part will forever warrant and defend. In testimoney whereof the said party of the first part have hereunto their hands and seals this day and year first above written. Signed, Sealed and delivered in the presence of Marion Hanna and S.E. Wharton. Signed by E. W. Davis and Nellie G. Davis.

State of Minnesota County of Pipestone
On this 16th day of August AD 1898 before me a Notary Public within the foresaid County personally appeared E. W. Davis and Nellie G. Davis husband and wife. ____known to be the Persons described in and who executed the foregoing and ____instrument, and acknowledged that they executed the same as their free act and deed. S.E. Wharton, Notary Public in and for Pipestone Co., Minnesota.

Source:  E. W. Davis to Ammarilla Barclay, Special Warranty Deed, Filed August 23, 1898 4 pm #10691, Vol. 9, pg. 129-130, Crown Wing Co., Minnesota.  This deed was a challenge to read and you can see I did not get quite a lot of the words. Sometimes I have to read a deed several times before I get all the words.  I think we can figure out what is happening.

So Amarilla is buying lots in Brainerd.  I wonder why?  Were George and Amarilla planning on retiring in Brainerd?  He was 54 years old and she was just about 40.  They had been working the land and businesses in Pine River for 25 years.  Oh there could be so many reasons, I guess I will never know.

On the City of Brainerd website there are maps and they have a 1892 Sanborn Map that features the blocks and lots for Brainerd. The one that Amarilla is focusing on is page #3.  Block 100 is between E. Ivy and E. Juniper and N. Broadway and N. 9th St.  Click on the image and scroll to the bottom.  Unfortunately I cannot find this block on a current map online.  Cities are known for changing street names over the years.  If anyone knows where this is located please let me know.

Sanborn 1892 Brainerd

Sanborn 1892 Brainerd

UPDATE:  Thanks too two very nice persons who commented on this post (see comments), the other map titled Turner 1871 also shows the 100 block in Brainerd (Lots 19 and 20).  According to this map the land is not to far from the Courthouse in with the Barclay’s did a lot of business and the Episcopal Church, well if it is St. Paul’s then they have their marriage record.  I did seek out St. Paul’s church when I visited but can’t seem to find my picture.  I was so close.

 http://www.ci.brainerd.mn.us/docs/maps/historic/Turner1871.pdf  Be patient it does open but slowly.

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George tried again in April of 1897 for his Civil War Pension.  I refer you to the post I wrote on July 15, 2012 titled “George Barclay Seeks His Civil War Pension.”  In that post I did a list of the documents in the pension file that covered the time period of 1891 to 1895.  George’s first attempt at securing his Civil War pension.

1, On April 5, 1897 he again filled out the “Declaration for Invalid Pension” form

Soldier’s Application, George Barclay, I 9 Minn Inf. Pine River, Crown Wing Co., Minn.  Filed by H.D. Phillips Law Offices, (Stamped several times April 10, 1897, and April 20, 1897.)  Minnesota, Crow Wing, 5 April 1897 in the Dist. Court a record for George Barclay aged 52, resides at Pine River, County of Crow Wing, State of Minnesota, identical person who enrolled on the 15 Day of August 1862 in 1st Lt. M. Greenleaf’s Company I 9th Regiment, Minnesota, Infantry, as Wagoner in the war of the Rebellion and served at least ninety days and was honorably discharged at Fort Snelling Minn on the 24th of August 1865.  

That he is unable to earn a support by reason of Disease of Spine, partial Deafness, kidney trouble and weakness of lower limbs. Pension Application 1066560.  Signed in Pine River, Crow Wing Co., Minnesota by George Barclay and Attested by Louis [Zachering] and John F. [Frakes].  Louis [Doche] residing in Brainerd and John F. [Frater] also residing in Brainerd both knew claimant 14 years.  Signed by these men on 5th April 1897.  Prosecution of this claim by a Sam’l Parker, Clerk Dist. Crt, Crown Wing Co., Minn. 

2. On April 10, 1897 at the bottom another document has a big “ABANDONED” written across it.

NOTE:  Next in the file was the Timber Contract that I shared in the May 16, 2013 post, “Right of Way Brainerd & Northern RR October 1895 and the Timber Contract with NPRR in July 1897.” Why this Timber Contract was in the pension file I do not know.

3. A year later on April 28, 1898 a Department of Interior document was in the file.  Two of the same type of document.

1st form:  Western Div. Inv. Orig. No. 1066560 I 9 Reg’t Minn. Inf. April 28, 1898, Surgeons: 1st National Bank Block Sixth Str., Brainerd, Crow Wing Co., Minn. 10 o’clock am, every 1st and 2nd Wednesday of each month.  Signed by [H. Clay Evans] Commissioner.  Claimant:  George Barclay, Pine River, Crown Wing Co., Minn. Examined by [J.S. Camps], [Wemer Hemstead] and [A.F. Graves] 18 May 1898, signed by [Wemer Hemstead]. 

2nd form reads:  April 28, 1898 Mr. George Barclay, late a Wagoner Co. I, 9 Regt, Minn. Inf. Original #1066560, disease of spine, partial deafness, kidney troubles and weakness of lower limbs or any other disability.  Sign by W. Hemstead, Brainerd, Crown Wing Co. Minn. Claimant’s Post office:  Pine River, Crown Wing Co., Minn. 

George's Civil War Pension 2nd try 1897-98

George’s Civil War Pension 2nd try 1897-98

4. Followed by another larger document from the Department of the Interior asking questions of George.

Western Div. Inv Orig #1066560, George Barclay Co. I, 9th Reg’t. Minn Inf. Dated April 28, 1898. Mr. George Barclay, Pine River, MNN.  Signed by H. Clay Evans.  Are you a married man.  Answer: Amarilla Spracklen.  When, Where and by whom were you married:  Herbert Root. What record of marriage exists: married cerifect.  Were you previously married:  none.  Have you any children living:  Gracie A. Barclay Aprile 10, 1 o’clock 1882., Date of reply Af 6, 1898, signed by George Barclay.  

NOTE:  I featured this documents when I posted about Grace and her birth on May 23, 2011, “A daughter is born: Grace Amarilla 1882.” Since I do not have a birth record for Grace, my grandmother, this document serves as the acknowledgement that Amarilla was his wife and Grace (Gracie) was his daughter.  The document was in George’s handwriting  and signed by him.

5. The next month on May 18, 1898 he once again had a medical examination and the information was written on the Surgeon’s Certificate.

Surgeon’s Certificate, I, 9th Reg’t., Minn. Inf. Applicant for Original #1066560, Date of Examination May 18, 1898 Signed by J.S. Camp, Pres., Wemer Hemstead, Sec., A. G. Groves, Treas. (Board), PO:  Brainerd, County: Crow Wing, State Minnesota.

Original #1066560, George Barclay, Wagoner, Co. I, 9th Reg’t, Minn. Inf., Brainerd, Minn, Pine River, Minn. May 18th, 1898.  Disability:  Disease of Spine, Deafness, Kidney trouble, and weakness of lower limbs.  

Here is my partial summary of what was written on the Surgeon’s Certificate:  height 5 feet 4 1/2 inches; weight 130 pounds, age 54 years.  

a.  Disease of spine, no objective symptoms, no disability

b.  Deafness: can hear with both ears ordinary conversation at six feet, no disability

c.  Kidney trouble, no objective symptoms, no disability

d.  Weakness of lower limbs:  exaggerated knee reflex, no difference in measurement of legs, walks with difficulty and stiffness Rate 6/18.

f.  Disease of Urinary organs and other body parts:  he was given a rate of 4/18 and 6/18 respectively.  He had some problems that I am not going to share here.

g.  No evidence of vicious habits. 

Signatures of the 3 physicians at the bottom. 

There are no more documents regarding this attempt to obtain the pension by George himself  till November 21, 1898 and that one is under Amarilla’s name and called a Power of Attorney.

There will be more posts on this Civil War pension process from November 1898 to 1939.  All Amarilla’s attempt at securing her husband’s pension.

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George Barclay’s Ranch was smack in a location that required that he have dealings with the railroads. We have seen this before in 1883 when he signed a deed for land.

The Logsleds to Snowmobile book about the history of Pine River mentions the Railroad and the right of way.

When the railroad actually arrived at Barclay’s in August, 1894, the right-of-way divided his buildings with the house and trading post west of the tracks and the hotel to the east.  The Barclay’s eventually donated to the B&NMRy 100 feet on either side of the track on condition that their buildings within the right-of-way be moved at railroad expense.” pg. 110 second column lower right.

There is a deed regarding this very thing dated 24, October 1895.

Right of Way

Right of Way

Source:  Right of way Deed, George A. Barclay and Wife vs. Brainerd & Northern Railroad, October 24, 1895 at 10 am. Book N, pg. #157 #3237, Cass County Courthouse, Register of Deeds, Walker, MN.

Know all [ ] by others presents that George Barclay and Amarilla Barclay, his wife of Cass County, State of Minnesota, for and in Consideration of one dollar with in Law paid by the Brainerd and Northern Minnesota Railway Company the receipt whereof is hereby acknowledged, do hereby grant, bargain, sell and convey unto the said Company this succession and assigns, a strip belt or piece of land, one hundred feet wide, extending across the following described tracts of land in Cass County, State of Minnesota, described as follows to wit:

Lot No. (6) of Section No. 8, the south east quarter of the northwest quarter (SE1/4 of NW1/4), and the North half of the Northwest quarter (N1/2 of NW1/4) of Section No. 6 – all in Township No. 137 of Range No. 29; and Lot No. Seven (7); of Section No. 21 in Township No. 138 of Range No. 29 hereby conveying a strip of land fifty feet wide on each side of the center line of said Company as now located and established. Including also a strip or piece of land fifty (50 Feet in with, situate and extending along an adjoining the west five of the above described right of way through and across the named tract in the Northwest quarter of Section No. 6 in Township No. 137 of Range No. 29. Said cash [ ] price being in addition of the 100 feet in width of the right of way above conveyed and with Right to said Company its succession and assigns to protect any cuts which may be made on said land by erecting on both sides thereof portable Snow Fences: provided however, that such…

Unfortunately, the 2nd page is missing so we don’t get the whole story.  This happens when you are doing research and having to move real fast.

Several years later, George on 19 July 1897, George entered into a contract with the Northern Pacific Railroad regarding timber.

Made on the 19th Day of July, 1897 between Edwin H. McHenry, Frank G. Bigelow as Receivers of the NPRR and Geo. A. Barclay of Pine River, MN, $50.00 to cut and remove pine timber suitable for saw logs on the following lands:  Twp 137, Range 30 etc. Not to include the cutting of Tamarac, Oak or Jack Pine.  Does not prevent the sale of other timber.  Signed by Barclay, Whitesides, Frank Vogel, and the Federal Land agent.

Timber Contract Northern Pacific RR

Portion of the Timber Contract Northern Pacific RR

A copy of this contact was in his Civil War pension file.

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The organization of Cass County and the establishment of Walker as the county seat was taking place but at the same time George Barclay was also involved with business, local events, and family happenings.  I return to the gossip columns in the newspaper and learn that Grace and Amarilla were both mentioned as well.

January 2, 1897: “Mr. Barclay made a flying trip to Brainerd and returned with his wife and daughter.  The later came up to spend vacation.” Grace was sixteen years old at this time.

“Mr. Barclay is still buying ties and is very busy, but his health is not good, as he is lame in his left shoulder. “

January 2, 1897 George is on the move.

January 2, 1897 George is on the move.

Source:  Local News – Pine River, The Cass County Pioneer Newspaper, 1/2/1897 to 6/2/1898,  January 2, 1897

July 1: “Geo Barclay has been down to Minneapolis ever since the 14th of this month. He was down on a lawsuit, which is now over. He returned on the 28th.”

“Andrew Whitesides, Mrs. Mickleson, Phil Reeler, Billy Pickler and The Moose were all down to the city as witnesses for Mr. Barclay.  Miss Barclay was down also.  She returned last Monday.”

“Mrs. Barclay is not feeling very well, but she is still working.”

Mr. Barclay and party including his daughter stopped in Minneapolis about a week.  Miss Barclay took down a couple of her father’s witnesses.”

Source:  Local News-Pine River, July 1, 1897, Thurs, Cass County Pioneer Newspaper. 1/1/1897-6/2/1898.

July 15: “Mr. George Barclay was down to Brainerd Saturday last and reports the washouts as bad.”

Source:  Cass County Pioneer, Jan. 2, 1897 to Jan 2, 1898 – July 15, 1897 Front page, 3rd column at the top. 

Note:  I do not know what lawsuit the gossip column was referring to? I am a bit curious but have not had time to research it.  It would require looking at court documents and that could get tricky depending on which court it was in, state, federal or county? The fact that my grandmother Grace was involved is very intriguing.  If I was to speculate it might have had something to do with the railroad or his past partner?

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The railroad had come to Pine River about 1894-95 and George Barclay’s Ranch was right in the middle of the RR’s plans to build.

Clipart from ABKL Designs

Clipart from ABKL Designs

http://abkldesigns.com

On October 24, 1895 a Right of Way Deed was filed in Cass County regarding the land that would be affected by this great event.

Source:  Right of Way Deed George A. Barclay & wife to Brd & Nor Minn Ry Co., Cass County, Deed Book N, pg. 157, #3237

Right of way Deed Filed Oct. 24, 1895 @ 10 am
George A. Barclay & wife to Brd & Nor Minn Ry Co.

Know all [ ] by others presents that George Barclay and Amarilla Barclay, his wife of Cass County, State of Minnesota, for and in Consideration of one dollar with in Law paid by the Brainerd and Northern Minnesota Railway Company the receipt whereof is hereby acknowledged, do hereby grant, bargain, sell and convey unto the said Company this succession and assigns, a strip belt or piece of land, one hundred feet wide, extending across the following described tracts of land in Cass County, State of Minnesota, described as follows to wit: Lot No. (6) of Section No. 8, the south east quarter of the northwest quarter (SE1/4 of NW1/4), and the North half of the Northwest quarter (N1/2 of NW1/4) of Section NO. 6 – all in Township No. 137 of Range No. 29; and Lot No. Seven (7); of Section No. 21 in Township No. 138 of Range No. 29 hereby conveying a strip of land fifty feet wide on each side of the center line of said Company as now located and established. Including also a strip or piece of land fifty (50 Feet in with, situate and extending along an adjoining the west five of the above described right of way through and across the named tract in the Northwest quart of Section No. 6 in Township No. 137 of Range No. 29. Said cash [ ] price being in addition of the 100 feet in width of the right of way above conveyed and with Right to said Company its succession and assigns to protect any cuts which may be made on said land by erecting on both sides thereof portable Snow Fences: provided however, that such…

George & The B&N Ry Co.

George & The B&N Ry Co.

Unfortunately, I did not get all of this deed and am missing page 2 which would give us the date it was written, who signed it and anymore information that may have been included like moving buildings.  The date given above is the date of recording.  We do get a description of what land was involved in this “Right of Way.”

There is a really nice pictures of the Brainerd and Northern Minnesota Railway engines at this website:

http://www.northerntrackersrrclub.com/history.shtml

Maybe there is someone out there that knows more about this particular railroad.  I find railroad history to be very confusing with all the buying and selling, building of lines and removal of tracks and merging of railroads.  I am not that familiar with Minnesota geography to really understand what they describe in some books etc. So I will defer to those with more knowledge than me.

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About 1895 to 1897 in Cass County the subject of organization of the county of Cass came up.  It was a political hot potato and my great-grandfather. George, joined the fight!

Cass County had gone through a great many changes over the years and now the real fight was taking place.

Photograph on the wall of the Pine River Visitor Center in Pine River, MN

Photograph on the wall of the Pine River Visitor Center in Pine River, MN

The photograph above is of George A. Barclay.  It was given to the Pine River Visitor Center by the Silbaugh’s who own a store there and I bought some T-Shirts and a hoodie.  It is also featured in the Logsleds to Snowmobile book written by Pine River that has given me a starting point for my research.  The picture was taken sometime in the mid 1890’s.

This particular photo of the picture hanging on the wall of the visitor center, was taken by me his great-granddaughter when visiting in 2001.  The visitor center was not open the first trip to Minnesota in 2000.  If you get a chance stop by the Pine River Visitor Center which is out on the highway #371 and take quick tour inside there are lots of treasures there and this photo on the wall. Say “Hello” to John, the man at the counter.  He is a good friend.  If the Train Depot museum is open stop in and look for the plaque I prepared as a tribute to George and Amarilla and their descendants.

Meanwhile, back in 1895 George wrote two letters to the Weekly Journal in Brainerd, MN.  They were featured on the front page of the newspaper.

Jan 24, 1895, Weekly Journal, Front Page, column 3, Brainerd, MN

“Cass County Organization” “A number of people in Cass county are again agitating the question of organization that counts in George A. Barclay one of the oldest residents and largest property owners of that county, is not in favor of organization which would benefit only a few office holders and other beneficiaries. He writes to the Journal as follows:

Pine River, Mnn. Jan 21, 1895
Editor of the Journal
“I notice there is a sober agitation over the question. “Shall Cass County Organize!” and I would like to venture a few remarks. “Silks and satins, scarlet and velvets, put out the kitchen fire.” I say “No Cass needs no organization.” We have all the liberty and protection guaranteed to us by the Constitution of the United States. What more do we need, unless it be for show? I have lived in Cass county since 18___ (big black mark covers the date) and my experience proves that we are far better off today than when the county was organized, as it was at one time. My tax receipts show that taxes were at least ten times as high proportionally when we were organized as they are today. Have we any guarantee that organization will not restore the same rates formerly? It is true we are greatly in need of a poor fund, but do we have to organize the county to get it? Do we have to buy all the luxuries of modern life in order that we may get the necessaries? If so, I fear the poor fund will suffer while we are spending our money for a court house and jail, and paying a horde of officers to look after our business, and when we get through there will be nothing left for the poor. We get just as fair assessments as when the county was organized. I have property in both Crow Wing and Cass, and my taxes are only a very small fraction higher than in organized Cass, and in one instance, when the assessor was from the southwestern part of the county they were even higher here than in Crow Wing. What would they be if we should organize? If the western portion of the county wants organization, we will readily grant it, but we will struggle just as hard to join ourselves to Crow Wing as they do to organize Cass. As I said before, we have all the government we need. Our commissioners have always treated one in a gentlemanly manner when I have had business before them. In what way will we be better by organization. We have not the population to maintain a separate organization, even if we do have plenty of pride and manly independence to induce us to do so. There would a court house and jail to build, and a multitude of officers to pay, and the result would be enormous taxation and a heavy bonded indebtedness at a high rate of interest, and we would have no better government than we have now. The men holding office would be benefited, and property in the immediate vicinity of the county seat would be enhanced in value, but all the rest of the county would suffer for it. What we want is a thrifty population , a development of our agricultural resources, and more wealth to support a county government, and we may be assured that organization will naturally follow. Let us not fly until we have few feathers on our wings. We should not jump out of the nest for a hundred foot fall, as we did a few years ago. Respectfully, G.A. Barclay.”

Portion of George A. Barclay's first letter on Cass Co. organization

Portion of George A. Barclay’s first letter on Cass Co. organization

On February 5, 1895 the Cass County Pioneer has an article refuting George’s first letter, pg. 108 2nd column Logsleds to Snowmobiles:

“An article in the Brainerd Journal signed by Mr. Barclay of Pine River would lead one to think that Cass County had not improved any since the time of that “premature organization.” And Mr. Barclay also seems to think that if a county is organized it naturally follows she must follow in the footsteps of Crow Wing County and bond herself for four times what she is worth to build elaborate buildings for which they have but little use.  Now we have a great deal of respect for Mr. Barclay and consider him one of the shrewdest businessmen within our borders, one whose farsightedness has gained for himself much wealth as well as much notoriety whose attendance to business is akin to self-slavery and a lumberman.  This last is sufficient to explain why he desired Cass County to remain unorganized.  It is to his business interests to oppose any such measure and we do not doubt but what he will be a formidable foe to the movement.” 

George’s Letter No. #2

Thursday, March 7, 1895, A Letter from Geo. A. Barclay, PINE RIVER, Minn., Feb 28, 1805

Editor of Journal:  We notice our organization friends are still having their say, one of them intimating that I do not believe what I say, but am simply trying to deceive others.  I suspect it is the deceiver that is throwing stones, but don’t intend to enter into a personal wrangle, and will leave it to the people to decide who is trying to mislead them.

Of course, I am working for my “business interests,” and I believe for the business interests of every man in the county who does not seek office, or expect to live at the county seat.  Increased taxation means increased burdens on the people, and very man should ask himself the questions, “How much will I and my family be benefitted by organization.  What are you going to give me for the increase in my expenses.”  Will it make my farm more fertile, or the rain more sure, or me more economical.  My prosperity depends on these.”

Of course there is good argument in favor of organization.  A home market is a great advantage to farmers.  Judges, lawyers and county officials are proverbial eaters. If we should organize, the judge, half a dozen lawyers and a few county officers with one editor would require an enormous quantity of food, probably as much as 13 cabbages and a bushel of potatoes every day more than are used at present.  Just think of it! 4.745 cabbages every year, one more on leap years, or one for every person in the county!  Farmers near Brainerd and other markets would not be benefitted, however, because very few of them are foolish enough to walk twenty-five miles with a cabbage when they could step out of their doors and sell it for a better price.

And those cheap(?) county buildings?  Every one knows it costs something to build a court house and jail, even if it is a log shack, as our friends propose.  Add to this the little (*) more that our officials would cost thousand costs to have our business done in Brainerd, and the $12,000 that Cass already owes, and then  the on that “sinking fund” and it would sink Cass so deep that it would be several generations before the neighboring counties could inspect our worthy editor’s tombstone.

What the people of the county want is not to bond themselves for these luxuries, but to be a little patient, and our natural advantages are such that we will have neighbors to help share the expense and build something that we can be proud of without having to tag ourselves with a sinking fund. 

In conclusion, let the people watch the way one of our fellow citizens striketh right and left at other editors and county officials, and ceaselessly hunteth for county advertising, and they will call to mind a warning from Scriptures, “The devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.”

G.A. Barclay. 

The book about the history of Pine River gives quite an account of this process of the organization of Cass County starting on about page 108 and going through to page 110.  On page 109 this paragraph appears:

“Under this act, in the fall of 1895, petitions were circulated in the lower half of Cass County for the annexation to Crow Wing County of the 16 townships west of Crow Wing County.  The Brainerd Dispatch reported that “the idea originated with citizens of Cass County.  Fully two-thirds of the actual bona fide citizens have already (by October 1) signed the petition.” 

George Barclay apparently at first was not actively involved in the petition movement as he was opposed to any form of organization of Cass County. ”  

On page 110:

Meanwhile on February 23, 1897, Cass County was officially organized and in the organization the disputed portion annexed to Crow Wing County was, by design, included as part of Cass County.  The lumber interests as well as George Barclay by this time were concerned over the possibility that the 1895 annexation law might be employed to divide up Cass County altogether (Hubbard County already had annexed part of Cass County).  Pat McGarry, an anti-lumbering “progressive” who was just beginning what was to be a long and colorful political career, lead the fight against the organization plan calling it “A trick of the Walker-Pillsbury forces.”  

This fight was carried to the state legislature and was finally resolved. A person could spend a great deal of time learning about the organization of Cass County, Minnesota but I really don’t have time and there are those who are more informed than myself.

However, the next fight was where would the county seat be?

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