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.
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.
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.
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.
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?