Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Brainerd’ Category

George Angus Barclay operated a “half-way house” or stopping place in the area of Pine River.  He was not the only one who had such a place along the Leech Lake Road.   He was situated 30 miles north of Brainerd and so his location was a good place to stop, rest, refresh and then continue your journey on to Leech Lake or some other destination.  

“When the Cloughs’ outfit finished logging that area, they sold the ranch to Jenkins; and by that time there was so much commotion and traveling along the Leech Lake Road — and the abilities of Ma Jenkins in the kitchen had become so widely noised about — that they had no insurmountable problems continuing the place as a “Halfway House” or traveler’s rest station.  Next north was George Barclay’s at Pine River; to the south was John Bishop’s at the Gull-Round thoroughfare; and now the Web Hill Ranch helped split the distance between the latter two.” 

Source:  Old Timers, by Carl Zapffe, of Historic Heartland. Association, Echo Publishing & Printing, Volume I, pages 6-7, 1988 1st Edition, 1998 2nd Edition.  Mr. Zapffe passed in 1994 and his Association is no more.  The photographs in his collection and maybe more were given to the Nisswa Historic Society, Nisswa, MN, unfortuantely they do not have a website. 

See my post dated January 17, 2011 “Wedding Photos of George and Amarilla,” for more information about Mr. Zapffe.  

I tried to use the maps of the Leech Lake Road in Mr. Zapffe’s Vol. II that apparently came from the National Archives, but it was very hard and since I do not live in Minnesota I decided to abandon the effort but what I did create on my map was almost a direct line between Bishop, Jenkins and Barclay pretty much following Hwy 371. 

The Pine River Centennial newspaper of 1973 had some very interesting articles and mentions George and Amarilla:

“…The history of Pine River really starts with Mr. and Mrs. Barclay (Mrs. Urton).  Mr. Barclay came here in 1876, and with a partner by the name of McNannie, starting a trading post about a mile south of what is now the village site, a few rods this side of the river where the remains of the old cellar may still be seen.  This location was abandoned after a little over a year, in favor of the present location of the village where Mr. Barclay built a log building and conducted a little store and Indian trading post, about where the Anderson Lumber Company yard is now located. 

 Mrs.  Barclay, or you will remember her as Mrs. Urton, came her in July 1878.  At that time there were only three log buildings where the village of Pine River now stands, one being the store formerly mentioned, one used as sort of half-way house for Tote-Teamsters on the trip to and from Brainerd to Leech Lake (now Walker), and a very  large log barn where several of those large loads of supplies could be driven in for over night. 

 Logging had not been started at this point at that time and there were very few white settlers in the territory.  Mrs. Urton once related that while the inhabitants were practically all Indians, she never had any fear of them and they never gave them the least bit of trouble of any kind until after the white man came with his firewater. 

 About this time the Episcopal and Catholic societies started to try educating some of the Indian children and used to come up here to gather up a group of them, taking them away for a four-year course.  They were taught some kind of trade and it was some of those boys who, on their return from the school, built an addition on the old log store and that was where the first school was started.  It would indeed be interesting to trace the evolution of this school through to our present modern high school but time will not permit.”

Source:  Pine River Journal, Pine River, Cass County, Minnesota, 1873 to 1973 Centennial, Vol. 37, Number 22, pg. 2, “Early History of Pine River,” by Frances M. Allen.  

Ever since I heard the term “tote road” I became interested in what it looked like.  I have seen pictures of them as dirt roads or roads with logs laid across them.  You can use Google Images and search for photographs.  People are taking wonderful photos and writing blogs about tote roads.   This is as close as I could get to the area in question.  Can you image driving a wagon with ox or horses along a muddy road.  Hmmm…?

http://www.panoramio.com/photo/61191318

Notes of Interest:  My copy of this issue was given to me by the Pine River Journal Newspaper.   They have a wonderful collection of newspapers at their office in Pine River.  The Minnesota Historical Society also has a great newspaper collection but they are missing some issues of the Pine River newspaper in the 1930′s.
There are actually two volumes of Mr. Zapffe’s “Old Timers” booklets.  They are oversized measuring 16 inches long by 11 inches wide and they contain approximate 188 pages with an index.  I obtained my copies at the Crow Wing Historical Society in Brainerd.   They are amazing, with lots of photographs, great stories of the families in the area, maps and more covering the Cass and Crow Wing Lake Region.  He does indicate where he obtained the information in some cases.

Read Full Post »

There is a book titled: “Down the Mississippi” or “Down the Great River: Embracing An Account of the Discovery of the Mississippi” by Captain Willard Glazier that gives an interesting account of the ranch of George Barclay about 1881.

Headwaters of the Mississippi River - Lake Itasca

In July 2001, I followed up further at the MHS on the reference to Captain Glazier and “Down the Mississippi, (page 35).”  (#F354.655 1841-1905)    This book is not very large about 5 inches by 4 in size and it is bound in a leather cover and it is becoming quite fragile. 

In the table of contents under Chapter II “Through the Chippewa Country” he lists George Barclay …it reads:  “…Ride to Pine River.–Huge Logs and Boulders.–George Barclay.–Characteristics of Indians…….etc.”

Copies were made of pages 35, 36 and 37.  It does not give an exact date.  It does not mention Mrs. Barclay or any children just describes the ranch and accommodations.  The Table of Contents features a really good description of the chapters. 

Page 35-37: 

“After dinner we resumed our journey, with Pine River as the evening destination.  Sometimes in the road, sometimes out of it; now driving along the shore of a lake, and again over huge logs and boulders, it was voted that our ride to Pine River was unlike anything we had ever elsewhere experienced.  The ranch of George Barclay, the only white habitation between Gull Lake and Leech Lake, was reached at five o’clock in the evening.  Here we were most agreeably surprised to find very good accommodations for both man and beast.  Barclay is a decided favorite with the Indians, and his prosperity in this isolated corner of Minnesota is largely due to his friendly relations with them.  He is always supplied with guns, knives, beads, tobacco, and such other goods as are in demand by his dusky neighbors for which he receives in exchange furs, game, snake-root and such other products of the forest as find a ready market at Brainerd or Saint Paul.  Much valuable information was obtained at Pine River concerning our route to Leech Lake and beyond, the peculiar traits and characteristics of the Indians whom we were likely to encounter, and those persons at the Agency who could be of most service to us.  An excellent breakfast on the following morning, with the prospect of reaching Leech Lake, put my little party in the most exuberant spirits for the day……”

Page 148

“…several of my hearers showed their interest by coming large distances to the lecture, and one, George Barclay, a pioneer, told me he had brought his family thirty-seven miles with an ox-team to hear what I had to say about the old explorers.”  Private home in Brainerd, Minnesota August Eighteenth”

In trying to pin down the date or approximate time that Capt. Glazier visited G. Barclay, I found on page. 31 that Glazier headed for Brainerd on July 7, 1881.  He has included his description of George’s ranch in Chapter II – Through the Chippewa Country.  They headed for what is called the Government Road on July 12th to Leech Lake.  He stopped at Reuben Gray’s house who had a hotel/pioneer half-way house between Brainerd and Leech Lake at Gull Lake.  

The interesting thing is that there is no mention of the death of baby George just a little before the visit by Capt. Glazier?

This book is currently available for viewing at Google Books and is well worth reading.

Note:  The photograph above was taken at the headwaters site in the park at Lake Itasca.  They had to clean up the lake from the logging and fix this area with cement so that is why it looks so orderly.  Here is a link to the State Park website:  http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/state_parks/itasca/index.html  I think I saw a red fox in the trees when we were there.

Read Full Post »

For many years I did not know how little baby George died.  I had been to the cemetery and viewed his tombstone next to his father but I didn’t understand why he had died so young?

On my last trip to Minnesota in 2007, I found a brief article in the Brainerd newspaper that described the whole ordeal.

George Alexander was only 18 months old.  He died on the 19th of June 1881 on the way to Brainerd from Pine River.  Apparently he drank  some German Cough balsam that was filled with probably codeine and his little body could not handle the amount of narcotic and he died en route probably in his mother’s arms as George tried desperately to get them to Brainerd and get help.  They were too late.

There is no mention of the death of the baby in the Whipple papers at the Minnesota Historical Society (Methodist Episcopal).  The papers are very difficult to read and I have actually looked at them twice to see if I could make out anything else. 

The article appears in the Brainerd Tribune, Saturday, June 25, 1881 under Local News – Death of Baby George A. Barclay.

1) Mr. and Mrs. G.A. Barclay desire to express their heartfelt thanks to the citizens of this place for their kind sympathy and attentions manifested during their recent bereavement, and for the assistance rendered during the last solemn rites at the funeral of their lamented child.

2) A sad occurrence transpired in the family of Mr. George Barclay, postmaster at Pine River, last Saturday.  Their infant child, about seventeen months old, had in some manner got hold of a bottle of German cough balsam , and drank the whole of it.  No physician being nearer Pine River than Brainerd, Mr. and Mrs. Barclay immediately started with the child for this place. But the effects of the potion were to speedy, as just upon arriving in town the child expired.  This is a very severe blow to the bereaved parents, and the sympathies of the community are heartily enlisted in their behalf.  The remains were interred in the Brainerd cemetery on Monday.

George Alexander is buried in the Evergreen Cemetery in Brainerd, MN location:  Center N 1/2 Lot 17 Block 7.  He is next to his father and mother, George and Amarilla Barclay.

George Alexander Barclay

Written on the tombstone for baby George is the following: 

Sacred to the memory George A. infant son of G.A. & A. Barclay died June 19, 1881 1 yr. 5 mo. 9 days.  Underneath this stone do lie as much virtue as could die which when alive did vigor give to us much beauty as could live. 

There is a little lamb on the top of the tombstone.  This tombstone is to the right of the father, George A. Barclay in Evergreen Cemetery in Brainered, MN.

Read Full Post »

These photos were given to me by my Aunt Miriam, the granddaughter of George and Amarilla.  She said they were their wedding photos. 

The first one is my great-grandfather George Angus Barclay as a young man. 

George A. Barclay ca. 1878

On the back Aunt Miriam wrote:  “George Angus Barclay, Born _____ Died 1898.  1878 Wedding picture.  Enlisted Aug. 15, 1862, at Fort Snelling (Not correct it was Fort Ridgely) as wagoner, Co., I, 9th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry. Honorable Discharge 1865. Marched with Sherman. (George probably didn’t march with Sherman as indicated in a past posts dated June 15 and June 25, 2010.) ” 

In dark pen and in another person’s handwriting it reads:  “Print from Screened neg. ,Z3668, Historic Heartland Assoc.”

This photo is supposedly of Amarilla as a young girl.  Miriam indicates that it is her wedding photograph.

Amarilla Spracklin Barclay

On the back in Aunt Miriam’s handwriting:  “Amarilla Spracklin Barclay, Nov. 17, 1858 – Aug. 10, 1942. Born near Marengo, Iowa, died in Pine River, Minn.  1878. Wedding picture age 20.”

Again the same black pen and different handwriting:  “Print from Screened neg., Z3666 , Historic Heartland Assoc.”

Carl Zapffe was the founder of Historic Heartland Association.  His photo collection is housed with the Nisswa Historical Society as far as I know.  I talked personally to the president of the Nisswa society in 2007 about these two photographs and later sent copies and wrote to them.  They eventually wrote me back and told me they were unable to identify or give me any further information on these two photographs.  In exchange he referenced an article about George that I will discuss in a later post.

When I visited Pine River in 2000, I shared these two photographs with the Editor and they were printed in the Pine River newspaper in an article about my visit.  See my March 15, 2010 post – An Appointment – Pine River Journal for more information.  

Mr. Zapffe wrote several oversized historical booklets about “Oldtimers” in Minnesota that I purchased and will feature later on in my posts.   The Crow Wing Historical Society in Brainerd may still have copies.  You can Google his writings which are still out there?  He died sometime in the 1990′s, I believe?

Mr. Zapffe actually corresponded with my Aunt Miriam at some point.  I found a brochure that had family photographs in color in her possession.  There is a photograph of a bride – Christina Ethel Zapffee and groom Thomas Richard Anderson, Jr. dated 1973.  A family group photo with all the names of the children but just Mom and Pop listed and I suspect that Pop refers to Mr. Zapffe.  Other family groupings photos are included in the brochure.  The brochure/pamphlet is 4 pages long.  On the back is a discussion of the Mystical Window featured on the front page and a Merry Christmas at the bottom.  The envelope has a Baltimore, Maryland address and is stamped with Dec. 1973.   The brochure is a real treasure of family photographs for both Anderson and Zapffee who are not my family. 

Would I be interested in the story behind this and how my Aunt Miriam obtained copies of these photographs of Amarilla and George, my great grandparents?  Just another mystery in my family!

Read Full Post »

As we have seen, George’s was busy with his life.  He had established a trading post on the south fork of the Pine River, then moved it to higher land, and obtained several patents for land in the area.  In July of 1878 he went to Brainerd for some reason, probably to get supplies or do business, and took time to go a courting.  He met and married Amarilla Grace Spracklin at a friend’s house.

Amarilla had left her home near Blairstown, Iowa and migrated to Brainerd, Minnesota sometime after the 1870 U.S. Census.  Her granddaughter Miriam said Amarilla arrived there about 1877.  Amarilla had been living with her father, step-mother and  half siblings since about 1863 in Iowa. 

If you look at Iowa in reference to Minnesota you would see that Iowa is just straight south of Minnesota. 

State Map of US

Miriam writes in another part of her notes, that Amarilla was not happy in her situation:

“Her father, Daniel Dare Spracklin had two families. Amarilla (Ammarilla , sometimes varied it) belonged to the first family, hated the second and left home.  Supported herself as a seamstress. ” 

“Came to Brainerd, Minn., in 1877 and earned her living as a dressmaker and milliner.” Miriam McDonald Notes circa 1980′s.

There is no state census in Iowa for 1875 so we cannot be sure if Amarilla was still at home at that time.  Miriam makes a further comment:  “Born near Marengo, Iowa, Nov. 17, 1858.”  It was probably closer to Blairstown which is north of Marengo.  In 1878 Amarilla would have been 20 years old.  

The Logsleds to Snowmobile book  makes the following statement:

“On July 27, 1878, in St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Brainerd, with the Reverend Herbert Root officiating.  George Angus Barclay married Ammarilla Spracklin.  Barclay’s new bride was the first permanent white woman settler on the Pine River.  She continued to hold the distinction for 15 years.” pg. 105 

This reference implies that George and Amarilla were married in the St. Paul Episcopal Church in Brainerd, however the evidence shows that the record of the marriage from the St. Paul Episcopal Church hint that it was at the residence of a C. H. Mayo.  Click on the photo to make it larger.  

St. Paul Episcopal Church Register

Here is a copy of their marriage license.  It is one of several that were in the Civil War Pension file of George A. Barclay’s.

1902 Copy of Marriage License

A brief article found in the Brainerd Tribune dated Saturday, August 3, 1878 on page 2 on the left at the bottom also repeats this information of a marriage at a friend’s house, the home of a C. H. Mayo. 

Barclay & Sprecklin Marriage

How George and Amarilla met is  a mystery.  Miriam said that Amarilla was a milliner, a person who makes hats.  

An article in the Brainerd Daily Dispatch taken from the Centennial Edition (1871-1971) on the history of Brainerd and the Crossing states that their were 21 stores,  and 1 tailor shop.  So it might be possible that George spotted Amarilla in the town at one of these locations? 

“After a brief courtship they were married on July 27, 1878.  Following the ceremony, the new bride of 19 and her husband drove as far as Gull Lake, probably to John Bishop’s half-way house on Bishop’s Creek, where they stayed overnight.  The next day they continued on with their “tote” to George Barclay’s Ranch on the Pine River.” 

Logsleds to Snowmobiles, pg. 112

The Coroner’s Inquest file regarding the murder of George Barclay from Cass County Records had a testimony by a Andrew Whitesides, an employee of George A. Barclay since 1894.  He testified at the coroner’s inquest about George’s murder but in addition he made an interesting comment  about Amarilla – that she was “an inmate of a variety theater?” 

Now the same article I mentioned from the Brainerd Daily Disptach does indicate there were 15 saloons, and 2 billiards halls but it does not mention a theatre in Brainerd?

Read Full Post »

Apparently my great-grandfather George Angus Barclay was not a farmer because after 1870 he is no longer listed on the census with his brother Alexander.  George left his brother Alexander in Eureka and he must have headed west and north.  Minnesota has state census but George does not seem to appear in the 1875 version which is missing Cass and Crow Wing Counties online at Ancestry.com.  

I often ponder what drove him to this remote area and why? It was the frontier back then. I think that his experiences as a wagoner in the Civil War taught him about requisitioning supplies, driving teams, using wagons, creating supply lines and more.  Spending time like he did in the Quartermaster Department gave him the skills he needed to be a trader of goods.  George’s granddaughter Miriam said he was “ambitious.”  Well he would need it where he was going!  

George was about 28-29 years old when he arrived on that south fork of the Pine River in central Minnesota.  He was old enough to be on his own and find his own way in the world.   

Trails.com – Pine River Topo Map (You will have to move the map around to find the South Fork of the Pine River.  

Crossing the South Fork of the Pine River

The photo is about where they would cross the Pine River and George’s trading post was not far from this site. The actual site where George’s first trading post is situated on private land.   

The book Logsleds to Snowmobiles, by the town of Pine River makes this comment on page 104:  

“In 1873, George Angus Barclay, according to The Northwest Magazine of February, 1895, purchased 840 acres of land along the Pine River.”  The purchase was made under the “cash entry system” which meant that Barclay paid $1.25 per acre under an 1820 federal law designed to encourage the settlement of farmers on forest lands.  At the same time, Dennis, McNannie, believe to be an Ojibway mixed blood, settled on 80 acres near Barclay.    

In the same year, Barclay and McNannie constructed a trading post, the site of which today is marked by a hole 19 feet square and five feet deep, 140 yards north of the old Elwell Road bridge over the South Branch of the Pine River south of the village.  The post was adjacent to the Leech Lake Military Trail.  McNannie continued as Barclay’s partner or employee until December, 1875….” 

The remains of the 1st Trading Post

My hubbie is being very helpful after I teased him about his pit.  He is of Norwegian descent and his Lokensgard family came to the Minnesota in 1857 and settle near Northfield, Minnesota.  We attended a reunion several years back and they chartered a bus that took all the Lokensgards from Stillwater to Northfield and out to the farm land where they had settled.  The land is on private land as well.  There the family walked about 10-15 minutes to a forested area and when they found the depression where the location of the house had been they gathered to remember the first Lokensgards to come to America.  It was very moving.  I do not have all the memorabilia and stories that my hubbie’s family has so I was estatic to learn I also had a pit in my family history!!!!  It is amazing to me how quickly nature takes over and obscures what came before.  

The “Logsleds” book has been like a guide to me.  Trying to identify exactly when my great-grandfather came to the area of the Pine River is rather difficult.  Believe me I have tried looking at census, deeds, documents, history books and newspapers to see if I could pin it down.  They all seem to think he was there by 1873.  

Brainerd the next biggest town in the area was just becoming a town of significance in 1873.  Brainerd would play a big role in the life of the Barclay’s.  There is an article reproduced from the Centennial Edition of the Brainerd Daily Dispatch (1871-1971) “Choice of Crossing from Three Sites Meant Birth to Brainerd, Death to Crow Wing.”  This article was Web posted Friday March 5, 2004 and recently removed from the web.  Fortunately I took this quote from the article before that time. The town of Brainerd seemed to have all that is necessary to establish a trading post north of the city.  

“As of February 22, 1873, Brainerd had 21 stores, 18 hotels and public boarding houses, 15 saloons, 2 billiard halls, 1 livery stable, 1 tailor shop, 3 barber shops, 2 blacksmith shops, 1 brewery, 2 photographers, 1 newspaper, 5 churches, 4 lawyers, 3 lodges.” 

The header photo of this blog is taken at the Crow Wing State Park.  Crow Wing was the town established before Brainerd but because of the railroad Brainerd took the lead and what you see is a large grassy area.

Read Full Post »

Amarilla was my great-grandmother and wife of George Angus Barclay.  On the same page of Miriam’s Notes, below George’s paragraph, was a similar one about Amarilla.  As I read for the first time about my great-grandmother I pondered what her life might have been like.   

Here is what my Aunt Miriam shared with me in 1986:  

Amarilla Spracklin Barclay Notes

 

Some thoughts on these notes:   

Her name was Amarilla Spracklin and she was born in 1858 and died in 1942.  It is true that she would change the spelling of her name adding an extra “m” so it could be “Ammarilla.” 

Was she born near Marengo, Iowa, well I think she was born closer to Blairstown which is north of Marengo about 10 minutes by car.  I know this because I traveled there to Iowa in April 0f 2003.  Her father, Daniel D. Spracklin, owned land first in Benton County, then later in Iowa County, Iowa. 

Amarilla was the 4th child of Daniel D. Spracklin and Elizabeth Keller, this is true.     

Elizabeth Keller died March 10, 1859.  Amarilla was born November 17, 1858.  Amarilla really never knew her mother.  She was a baby when Elizabeth died just months later. 

Her father Daniel D. Spracklin remarried in 1863 and proceeded to have 7 more children.  This is true. 

She did migrate to Brainerd and later in life had a store.  I have not found anything that really states she was a milliner.  She did own a store and helped George run his many enterprises. 

She did marry George on July 27, 1878 but not in the St. Paul Episcopal church.  It was at a friend’s home in Brainerd according to the Brainerd newspaper.  Rev. Root did officiate. 

They had a son George Alexander who was born January 10, 1880 and died a year later on January 19, 1881.  The circumstances of his death were a mystery that unfolded much later. 

Their daughter Grace was born on April 10, 1882 in Pine River and she married and had eight children, six of which lived long happy lives.  

Amarilla was the daughter of Elizabeth Keller who was the daughter of John Keller and Mary Delano.  This is true.  

George and Amarilla are buried in the Evergreen Cemetery in Brainerd.  I have visited their graves several times.  

With this information from these two paragraphs I was ready to dig in and learn as much as I could about the life and times of my great grandparents Amarilla and George Barclay.

Read Full Post »

« Newer Posts

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

%d bloggers like this: