Feeds:
Posts
Comments

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?

The time had come for Cass County, Minnesota to organize and become a real county.

Cass County was created on September 1, 1851 by the legislature of the Minnesota Territory. It was not formally organized until 1897. Cass County was formed from portions of Dakota, Mahkatah, Pembina and Wahnata Counties. The county was named in honor of Lewis Cass.[4] In turn, before formal organization, land from Cass County was split off to form other of the surrounding counties.

Source:  Online at Wikipedia – Cass County, Minnesota

Cass Counties timeline

Cass County’s timeline

The Cass County Government website has a nice history of Cass County Government.  It didn’t have officers till 1872 and the boundaries where sliced off over the years by other counties – see the above timeline.

http://www.co.cass.mn.us/index.html

http://www.co.cass.mn.us/government/gov_home.html

The book:  “Cass County Heritage,” by the Cass County Historical Society, 1999 has several pages of the history of the county, Chapter III, page 15 to 23, and goes into more depth. This book can be located by using WorldCat to find it in several libraries.  I tried to find it at the Minnesota Historical Society but was not getting a hit.  They usually have these types of books in their reading room.

In Chapter III, they describe the organization of Cass County and Crow Wing County’s maneuvering to take more land from Cass before it did finally become a county.

Cass remained part of Crow Wing until the re-organization in 1897.  In 1897 Walker was made the county seat but before that it was West Brainerd where you went to do business.

Like all political events the organization of Cass County, Minnesota in 1897 was of great interest to the inhabitants, businessmen and more. My great-grandfather George Angus Barclay was against the organization of the county and wrote several articles for the newspaper which I will feature in the next post.  Here the Weekly Journal makes a comment about the 2nd letter.

Weekly Journal News Feb 1895.

Weekly Journal News Feb 1895.

George, Amarilla and their daughter Grace are featured in the 1895 census for Minnesota.  The 1880 U.S. Federal Census was rather vague and the 1885 spelled names wrong so this 1895 census was the only one that showed them together as a family.  I have posted about George the census in past posts.

A portion of that 1895 Minnesota State Census for Pine River

A portion of that 1895 Minnesota State Census for Pine River

Here is the 1895 Minnesota census:

Line 13, Barclay Geo. A, age 51, born in Conn., occupation [Lumberman], 12, sold, no, no, no. Barclay, Ammarilla, 37 years born in Iowa. Barclay, Grace A., 13 years born in Minn. 

 Source:  Geo. Barclay Family, 1895 Minnesota State Census, Twp. 137 Range 29W, Cass Co., Minnesota, Schedule 13 pg. 1,  FHL #0565765.  

When I went to source this census, I had a bit of a fright because the actual page looks like Twp. 127 rather than Twp. 137.  I therefore went to Family Search and double checked the film number to make sure I was not wrong.  I am happy to report that I am now correct with both FHL and Ancestry.   When I first started doing genealogy I was not very good at sourcing so a lot of the older research needs updating.  I do remember looking at the film for this particular census and probably doing that research at the Minnesota Historical Society at that time using film.

George’s brother Alexander Barclay was living in Dakota County.  Let’s see what was happening with Alex

6th line down: Barklay, Alexander A. 52 years, Male, White, born Conn. 40 years in area, 4 years?, farmer, 12, sold, yes, yes, yes.

Below him is Giles, Fannie B. 73 years old, female, white, born Mass, housekeepr, 12, no, no, no.

Source:  1895 Minnesota State Census, page 3, Lakeville Twp., Dakota Co., Minnesota, P.O. Farmington.

His father John Barclay was still living in Scott County with his wife Ellen/Helen and son Charlie

Family #54:  Barclay, John, age 94, male, white, born in Scotland, Resident of state 45 years, 45 years in enumeration district, occupation none, mother and father both of foreign birth.  Barclay, Ellen, age 65, female, white, born in Norway, both parents of foreign birth.  Barclay Charlie, age 35, male, white, born in Minnesota.  In state and enumeration district 35 years, a farmer, employed 12 mos of the year.  Both parents of foreign birth.

Source: 1895 Minnesota State Census, Eagle Creek, Scott Co., Minnesota, pg. 2, schedule #5, enumerated on 10 June 1895, FHL#565810.

This will be the last census that George (died 1898), Alexander (died 1905)  and John Barclay (died 1897) all appear in.  Even though Alexander lives till 1905 I have not been able to find him in the 1900 census nor the Minnesota state census of 1905.

My family has not always been easy to trace and doesn’t show up in published works as much as I would like.  Once in a while I get lucky.  George A. Barclay appears in the article “Homes for Settlers in Northern Minnesota,” in February of 1895 of the Northwest Magazine on pages 34 and 35.

As an example of prosperous pioneer life in this region, George A. Barclay settled there in 1873, at Pine River, thirty miles north of Brainerd and in the heart of the region. He entered 6.0 (640?) acres of Government land under the old and now repealed cash-entry system, at $1.25 an acre. He had $50 left and all his other worldly goods he carried in a pack on his back. He hired a Chippewa Indian to help him build a log house the first in that region. It is still standing in good condition. The Brainerd & Northern Minnesota track runs between his old home and the log barn on the left. Mr. Barclay has now ninety acres under successful cultivation; he has a good store, doing a business, as shown by his books, of $3,000 a month, and he has just completed a new hotel and store building. His property is now worth $18,000 or $20,000.”

A portion of the article about George Barclay's Ranch

A portion of the article about George Barclay’s Ranch

Of course, this article was written to attract other settlers to the area.  I am guessing the Chippewa Indian was McNanny/Nannie.  The article included a picture of George’s Ranch.

George's Ranch 1895 NW Magazine

George’s Ranch 1895 NW Magazine

Source:  “Home for Settlers in Northern Minnesota,” Northwest Magazine, Feb. 1895, Vol. 13 #2, St. Paul, MN

Compare the above picture with this photograph of George’s Ranch in the Logsleds to Snowmobiles book.  Permission given by the town of Pine River.

This is where my grandmother Grace grew up.  Do you see a little girl with pigtails running around and possibly a dirty face?

Barclay's Ranch in Logsleds Book

Barclay’s Ranch in Logsleds Book

When I was traveling in Minnesota in 2001, my goals was to seek out museums that might show me a little of what life might have been like for my great grandparents, George and Amarilla, and their daughter Grace.   So I took out a Minnesota Historical Society membership and it gave me access to several of their historic sites such as the Harkin Store in New Ulm:  http://sites.mnhs.org/historic-sites/harkin-store  This store is a living museum set in 1870 which is close to the time frame of George’s first trading post but I lean toward his later store.

This store seemed very well stocked, with a stove in the center and some chairs.  It also had a mail center (George was postmaster for a time) and a bulletin board.  Did great grandfather’s store look like this or was it totally different?  Somehow I think that his very early store was probably a little cruder and there was the smell of liquor and cigars? He did have to bring goods from Brainerd or trade with the Indians.  When Amarilla joined him in 1878 things might have gotten a little more organized and cleaner, maybe?

Harkin Store

Harkin Store

Warm yourself by the stove

Warm yourself by the stove

I was also curious about their living quarters what would it have been like.   My travels took me to the Cross Lake Historical Society and Pioneer Village:  http://www.crosslakehistoricalsociety.org/  It was wonderful and I highly recommend it.

Cabin at Cross Lake Historical Society 2001

Cabin at Cross Lake Historical Society 2001

If you compare the two photos above of George’s ranch you see the outside of the buildings and these cabins look similar.  Below are two photos which show a little of the interior of the cabin.  In this cabin they had everything.  The kitchen, dining area, laundry area and sleeping area.  Did my great grandfather’s cabin look like this one?  With the addition of the Barclay Hotel, things might have changed a lot.

The Interior with a bed, dishes, rugs and more.

The Interior with a bed, dishes, rugs and more.

More of the interior with a stove and a wash area.

More of the interior with a stove and a wash area.

Life in Pine River in the Summer of 1894 was filled with many activities  such as the coming of the railroad, George Barclay’s travels to Brainerd and beyond, the GAR celebrations, and the 4th of July celebration in Pine River.

While all this was going on, George A. Barclay had time to plan and recruit a contractor to build his new hotel, store  and saloon.

George Barclay has let the contract for the building of a new saloon to White & White of Brainerd. It promises to be a fine structure, having a glass front and being two stories high. Guess George intends starting the boom himself.  

Source: The Brainerd Tribune Local Pine River news, July 7, 1894, Minnesota Historical Society Newspaper Collection.

Another source gives this detail about the contract for the hotel:

On June 29, 1894, George Barclay contracts with I.U. White of Brainerd to build a hotel, store and saloon all in the same building. The Hotel Barclay or Barclay House was also known as the “White Elephant.” It burned in December, 1915, in a fire that threatened all of Pine River.

Source:  Cass County Heritage 1897-1997, pg. 55, Cass County Historical Society, Walker, MN

George Barclay is shipping up lumber to build his new saloon and store.  

George Barclay went to Brainerd last Monday night.  

Source: Brainerd Tribune, Local Pine River news July 14, 1894.  (Monday in 1894 is the 9th of July)

George Barclay returned from Brainerd last Monday night accompanied by Miss Barclay. 

George Barclay intends to commence building his new building next Monday.

Source: The Brainerd Tribune, Local Pine River news,  July 21, 1894.  (Monday in 1894 would be the 23rd).

If I have calculated this correctly, George started building his new hotel about July 23, 1894.  On a visit in 2007 to Pine River, I went to the town hall and inquired if they might have old Barclay Hotel building plans but was told “no.”  The hotel did burn down in 1915 and I will post about that in the future.  I am sure a lot documentation was destroyed when the hotel burned.  I also tried to find I.U. White of White & White who was the contractor but so far I have not been successful.

The Barclay Hotel

The Barclay Hotel

NOTE:  I obtained permission of the town of Pine River to post this photo of the Barclay Hotel as found in their book about the history of Pine River:  “Logsleds to Snowmobiles 1973.”

“The years 1893 and 1894 saw the building of the railroad through here, at that time called the “Brainerd Northern.” The same year brought the first frame building of any importance, the Barclay Hotel. This was a large building, painted white and by some with less vision than Mr. Barclay, it was known as the “White Elephant.” However, the years following proved that his judgment was good as this stopping place enjoyed a wonderful patronage for many years.

Mr. Barclay also built a large store building on the corner where the Fraser building or Locker Plant now stands, where they conducted a general store until he was shot and killed while sitting in his office smoking a cigar in October 1898.”

Source:  Early History of Pine River, pg. 2-3, 1973, Bicentennial Issue, Pine River Journal, Pine River, Cass Co., MN. 

4th of July

4th of July

4th of July Celebrations

“The glorious fourth will be celebrated as it never was before at Pine River. There are to be horse races, pitching the weight and climbing the greasy pole and a match game of baseball between Pine River nine and the Big Bend nine in the afternoon. The day’s pleasure will wind up with a grand dance in the bowery kindly lent by G. A. Barclay. The Pine River Cornet band, under the leadership of Prof. Sam McConnell will be in attendance all day. The chief orator of the day will be George Barclay.

The glorious Fourth passed off at Pine River in fine shape.  It commenced at sunrise with a salute of one hundred guns.  At ten o’clock a grand street parade took place, headed by the city band under the leadership of Prof. Sam McConnell.  All the various trades of our city were well represented and the mayor and city council rode in carriages.  After parading the principal streets the procession made it s way to the city park, where all kinds of games were indulged in and a patriotic speech was delivered by the mayor.  In the evening the  day’s fun wound up by a grand bowery dance in the park.”

Source:  The Brainerd Tribune, Local News, Pine River, July 7 and 14th, 1894, from the newspaper collection at the Minnesota Historical Society.

It is too bad that George’s speech was not published in the newspaper!  It does sound like it was a wonderful celebration.

Image courtesy of Vintage Holiday Crafts - http://vintageholidaycrafts.com/

George apparently took Amarilla and Grace with him on his trip to the East.  The Brainerd Tribune of June 30, 1894 gives these accounts in the Pine River section of the Local News.   There was a lot going on for the Barclays at this time.

The banner of the newspaper in Brainerd

The banner of the newspaper in Brainerd

1. George Barclay returned from the east last Sunday, accompanied by Mrs. and Miss Barclay, who will spend the summer vacation here and watch our city grow.

2. George Barclay while away visited Minneapolis, Chicago and New York City and says things are very dull.

3. George Barclay will commence building in a few days on the new town site.

4. Last week our neighbor correspondent said that George Barclay was as tickled as a boy with a new pair of shoes,  as the road passed through his place, etc. But George Barclay was in Chicago at the time and knew nothing of the line and when he came home last Sunday the shoes did not fit at all.  When a man has to tear down four buildings and dig a new well for thirty feet, and have his gardens torn up, I don’t think there is anything to be tickled about. Do you?

Source:   The Brainerd Tribune film 1/6-12/29/1894, article dated June 30, 1894 under Local news “Pine River.”   Below is the actual article.

Pine River News June 30, 1894

Pine River News June 30, 1894

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

%d bloggers like this: