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Posts Tagged ‘Barclay Hotel’

Coroner's Court

Coroner’s Court

I was interested in the actual proceedings of a Coroner’s inquest and found some information at the County of Adams, Illinois website, here is a summary:

1.  A Coroner’s Inquest is an inquiry into the manner and cause of an individual’s death, conducted by the Coroner or Deputy Coroner with a court reporter and six jurors present. The jurors are citizens of the county in which the death took place. 

2. The jury is to determine the cause and manner of a death whether Suicide, Homicide, Accident, Natural or Undetermined.  

3. Witnesses are summoned who have pertinent information concerning the incident such as the person who found the deceased, witnesses to the incident, a direct relative.

4.  When the jury has concluded their deliberations, they will issue a verdict. The Corner’s verdict has no civil or criminal trial significance. The verdict and inquest proceedings are fact-finding in nature and statistical in purpose.

5.  If a person is implicated as the unlawful slayer of the deceased or accessory thereto, an arrest may be affected. 

6.  The testimony presented at the inquest is sworn and under oath and properly documented and/or recorded. 

Based on the above description, it looked like Mr. E. R. Sundberg, Justice of the Peace and Acting Coroner took the necessary steps to preside over the inquest into the death of George A. Barclay.  He took several actions:

  1. October 31, 1898 subpoenas for Louis Bebout (?), Joseph DeJerrold, R.C. Workman, R.B. Dunsmore, Eugene McMahon and John Doe.  (by E.R. Sundberg).
  2. October 31, 1898 – Listing the names of jurors to appear at the Barclay Hotel  for service on November 1, 1898 – (by E.R. Sundberg) The jurors for the coroner’s inquest were R.D. Holden, John King, J.B. Spencer, B. O’Connor, Peter Dennis and John A. Wilson.
  3. November 1, 1898 subpoenas for Mary Aitkin and Mrs. Louis Bebo.  They are being asked to appear on November 2, 1898. (E.R. Sundberg).
  4. November 1, 1898 – Sundberg requests the Sheriff to attach the body of Louis Bebo and bring him to the inquest. (by E.R. Sundberg).

The inquest took place on November 1-2, 1898 at the Barclay Hotel.  This was about 2 full days after the shooting that took place on Saturday, October 29, 1898 at about 7:10 to 7:30 pm.

October 1898

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
1
2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23 24 25 26 27 28 29
30 31  1  2  3    

Here is a transcript of one of the subpoenas listed above.

Pine River Hotel

Pine River Hotel

State of Minnesota, County of Cass:

The State of Minnesota to R.D. H[olden], Peter Dennis, John Wilson, J.B. Spence, John King, & B. O’Connor you and each of you are hereby summoned to be and appear before the undersigned and to constitute a coroner’s jury for the purpose of holding and inquest upon the dead body of George Barclay, which inquest will be held at Barclays Hotel, Pine River, in said county, on the First day of November, A.D. 1898, at 9 o’clock in the forenoon.  Hereof fail not at your peril. Given under my hand this 31st day of October A.D. 1898, E.R. Sundberg, Justice of the Peace and Acting Coroner. 

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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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George's Ranch 1895 NW Magazine

George’s Ranch 1895 NW Magazine

The mist was beginning to form, evening was coming.  It had rained on and off throughout the day. The leaves were falling and a nip was felt in the air.  It was late October 1898.  The train had come in that day.   It always came on Saturdays.  The crowd of passengers it discharged was unusually large that day.  By now, most of them had gone on their way.  Heading home to their farms in the tall pines or out to a logging camp to prepare for the winter logging drive.  The chore boy, McMahon was at the upper barn helping Bebo and his nephew, Deperrold, bed down their horses for the night.  All that remained was to close up the barn and lock the feed box.  A group of hunters had come in that day and were settling in at the station depot.  The smell of dinner coming from Amarilla’s kitchen was on the breeze.  The lights from the Barclay Hotel glowed brightly.  Darkness was settling upon Pine River.

The Barclay Hotel

The Barclay Hotel

George Angus Barclay settled himself in a chair, from this vantage point he could keep an eye on what was happening in his establishment.  He had been tending bar in the saloon while Yllander, the bartender had been on dinner break.  Yllander had returned to his duties.  Good thing, he thought, it would be such a relief to sit down and rest his aching muscles.  He was pleased there was a substantial crowd in the saloon this evening.  The liquor was moving and the profit would be good.  Several of the men were buying drinks for others. Talk filled the air.  He settled back with a good cigar and the smoke from it circled upwards. The evening was going along pretty much like any other Saturday night at the Barclay Ranch.

The Barclay Hotel had three floors.  In addition to the saloon and the kitchen, there was a dining room, a store,  and living quarters for the Barclays.  You could rent a room for the night or as long as you needed.  The gabled roof was black  with shingles – advanced technology for the day. The porch roof extended out and wrapped itself around two sides of the building. The front of the building had a facade with a small portion of gable roof and on each side it protruded out in a straight line creating a wing on both sides.  This gave the building a little more flair otherwise it would have ended up looking like a big huge box.  There was a balcony on the front side and from it hung a big bold sign “Hotel Barclay.”  On the first floor there were two large picture windows in the front flanking a door.  Around the corner and down the side was another door. White sideboards ran all around and it was affectionately called the “White Elephant  This was definitely a big step up from the log cabin George Angus Barclay had built on the South Fork of the Pine River back in 1873.  The Brainerd Dispatch called the structure “as fine a building (as) would be expected in a town of 500 people.”

ColdBloodedMurder - Copy

Clapp was arguing with Barclay about some national political issue and Amarilla, Mrs. Barclay, was in the kitchen going about her dinner chores when the report of the gun echoed out across the night.   Amarilla’s head jerked up from her task and then she heard the commotion in the bar.  Her long dress swished as she swiftly made her way to the saloon where she spotted her husband.  He was crumpled there on the floor.  Something was dreadfully wrong. Someone was yelling “Barclay has been shot!” The men in the bar were running here and there. The tension in the air was sharp.  Pandemonium reigned. Amarilla heard someone screaming and realized it was herself.  Running over to George she knelt down, blood was coming from his neck.

George Angus Barclay tried to raise himself but couldn’t.  The pain was intense, he couldn’t get his breath, consciousness was fading.  He tried to speak “Co…l” came from his lips.  Time had run out for George Angus Barclay.

This man had survived the bloodiest years in United States history – the Civil War.  As a fresh young recruit he an enlisted at Fort Ridgely, Minnesota at the time of the 1862 Dakota Indian uprising. Later he had traveled up and down the Mississippi as a wagoner with the 9th Regiment, Company I of the Minnesota Volunteers.  He had received an honorable discharge and returned to Minnesota to establish a trading post at Pine River.  He farmed with his brother Alexander for a while, but it was not what he dreamed of doing for his life’s work.  He married Amarilla in 1878 in Brainerd. They lost their son George Alexander at 18 months of age in 1881 and the following year 1882, he held his daughter, Grace, in his arms.

Now he lay dying at age 54 and at the top of his life, successful in all he had done since the war.  The Minnesota frontier had only challenged him and pushed him on and he had come to this end on the floor of his hotel on October 29, 1898 at about 7:30 p.m.  Within 30 minutes or less, he was dead.   As he lay dying, Amarilla applied a cold towel to his head, giving him the last few minutes of comfort he would have in his life.

Written by his great-granddaughter, the person writing this blog, in 2005 from court records, newspaper accounts and more.

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