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We were on a mission back in 2000 to get to our appointment at the Pine River Journal newspaper office in Pine River.  

I had written to the Pine River City Hall and apparently my letter had been read in a Pine River Chamber of Commerce meeting.  The editor at the time emailed me and informed me that they had bound editions of the newspaper going back to the 1920’s (some years missing) and that I was welcome to come in and look through them.  I made an appointment. 

Pine River Journal Office

We arrived at the newspaper office in the early afternoon and were greeted and escorted into the editor’s office.  The editor asked me questions and I loaned her photos which she took to make copies.  The result was a full-page article that went something like this… 

 “Climbing Through the Branches of the Family Tree,” 

“It started 16 years ago, with the death of her mother, Bonnie Jean MacDonald, a resident and native of Seattle, Washington, began wondering about her family history.  She gathered bits and pieces of information from an aunt — but the business of life soon took over and she set the project aside…then a year and a half ago, her aunt passed away. 

It was about my quest to learn about my family history and my great grandparents George and Amarilla Barclay of Pine River. The article appeared on page 16 of the Pine River Journal on Thursday, May 11, 2000.  For purposes of copyright, I cannot reproduce this article here but only point you to it.  The Minnesota Historical Society in St. Paul has a state newspaper collection and the Pine River newspapers are available in that collection.  

The article was very well done.  I had my 15 minutes of fame.  I do have to point out a slight error. One comment in particular needs to be addressed for it is just not true.  Under the caption for the old picture of Amarilla’s house, that I provided, it states that Grace grew up in that house.  The house that was Amarilla Barclay Dawes Urton’s and later the Durkee’s home wasn’t built till 1904.  My grandmother Grace was born in 1882 in probably Pine River.  She didn’t grow up in that house she grew up in the pioneer house(s) that her father George built.  

We spent some time looking through those old bound editions of the Pine River newspaper.  I made copies of course. There is just something about the feel of old documents.  

The article mentions that we toured Amarilla’s home. This is true.  This was one of the happiest days of my life.  I was very grateful to the current owners for indulging me.  There are very few things left of a personal nature that are part of my great grandmother’s legacy so knowing that this home is still standing is so very comforting to me.  They are tenderly caring for this old historic home.  

The article states that I received a copy of the Pine River history book and this is also true:  

BOOK:  “Logsleds to Snowmobiles 1873 to 1973” written by the town of Pine River.  This is celebration of the 1st 100 years of Pine River’s history. 

Don Moser did indeed hand me a copy and I remember him saying it was the last copy.  I am grateful. I was so excited!  The book has been well-loved and falling apart because of it.  What is in that book has been enormously helpful.  I have learned that there is a copy at the Family History Library (FHL) in Salt Lake City but it has not been filmed yet.  

I am very grateful to the Pine River Journal newspaper they have been very kind to me and helpful over the years. We will be revisiting this newspaper in the future for it has opened many doors to my research.

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We were five minutes outside of Pine River, Minnesota. The date was April 2000. I had picked up a travel brochure in Walker with the title of “Pine River, Minnesota – A Visitors Guide to the Pine and Lakes Region.” In the upper right corner is said “Free Take One!”

As we were driving along I was turning the pages and came to page 10, “A History of Pine River.”  I started to read out loud to my hubby.   

Visitor Guide

 “Pine River owes much of its history to the pine, particularly the white pine. The pine forest stretching across the state from the shores of the “big sea water” to the plains of the “American desert” contained thousands of square miles of the finest virgin timber east of the Pacific Northwest.  

Found near the center of this mammoth forest preserve, located in the giant forest-fertile crescent formed by the headwaters of the Mississippi River and flowing through what many termed “the richest stand of timber in the Old Northwest,” is a river memorialized by early explorers as “The Pine.”

 And at the place where its two major tributaries, the South Fork and Norway Brook merge to form this majestic stream a peppery Scotsman founded a trading post in 1873, then a ranch followed by a hotel.  Later came a railroad, then a town – and finally a prosperous city.

 Within two years after the Northern Pacific Railway had bridged the Mississippi River at “The Crossing” (now Brainerd), George Angus Barclay established the first permanent trading post on the Pine River. From this site grew the village, which eventually took the name of the river and became “Pine River.”

– from “Logsleds to Snowmobiles”

Little did I know that a door had opened and my genealogical life would never be the same. 

Welcome to the Barclay’s of Pine River, Cass County, Minnesota.

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