According to several newspaper accounts, George Angus Barclay was accused of selling liquor in violation of state law. Here is one article that makes this accusation.
The article appeared in the Brainerd Dispatch on July 17, 1891 (Vol. 10, #35) on the front page about a murder near George’s Ranch. The article spans two columns and goes the length of the front page. Here is a small portion of it.
Stabbed in the Stomach, Pat Ryan is Murdered near
George Barclay’s Ranch with a Butcher Knife.
Squaw-Man, White Men and Red Men All take a Hand in The Fiendish Bloody Tragedy.
The unlawful selling of Liquor at the Bottom of the Murderous Mess.
“Patrick Ryan was murdered at Barclay’s lumber ranch on Saturday morning last by being stabbed in the stomach three times with a butcher knife, and his body lay bleeding in the hot rays of the sun until the authorities arrived from Brainerd on Sunday.
On Saturday afternoon a Frenchman names Philip Provo, came to this city and notified Coroner Bain that the murder had been committed, who immediately procured assistance in the person of J. McNaughton, and started for the scene, which is 89 miles from Brainerd, in the vicinity of White Fish Lake and Pine River. They arrived there the next morning and found a sickening sight. Ryan’s body lay some 300 yards from Barclay’s ranch at the Indian camps in a pool of clotted blood. The butcher knife which did the bloody work lay beside the man’s inanimate form which was cut and slashed in many pieces. In his stomach were three cuts, any one of which would have caused death. The back of both hands were cut and also his arms, and on the back of his head was a bruise as if made with a gun, and the supposition of many is that he was knocked down and then finished with the knife. Coroner Bain called a jury together and during that day and the next they labored studiously to get at the facts in the case, swearing witnesses, taking testimony, and going over the ground. The result of their deliberations was that Patrick Ryan met his death at the hands of Fred Ellis, a squaw-man, Wabash-can-we-gut, or White Cloud, a Leech Lake Indian, Waugh-bugh-chek, a White Oak Point Indian, and Cang-gee-geeluc, chief of the Cass Lake tribe.
Just as the jury had reached this decision Sheriff Spalding arrived, he not having been notified until Sunday of the occurrence, and then only by rumor. The parties charged with the murder were all there and he put them under arrest and started for Brainerd that night, going as far as Jenkins.’ Here the party put up for the night, at being late and very dark. In the middle of the night Cang-gee-geeluc complained of being very ill, and his hand-cuffs were loosened, and as he seemed to get worse Coroner Bain gave him an emetic, the red man almost throwing up his moccasins–in the absence of boots. In a short time he began rubbing his stomach and moaning again, and said he was “heep sick,” so the dose was again given him with a similar result, and as he had emptied the pail the first time he did so the second time, but as he stepped to the door he gave a jump into the darkness and was gone. The Indian had played a very sharp trick. It was useless to follow him, and the party came on to Brainerd the next morning and landed the three prisoners in the county jail. They were brought up before the court for hearing on Wednesday, but Ellis said there were some witnesses he desired at Barclay’s, in the persons of two squaws who he claims saw the whole transaction, the hearing was postponed until Monday at 10 o’clock.
As near as can be ascertained from the parties who went up from Brainerd and the testimony given at the coroner’s inquest, the murder was the outcome of a drunken brawl, which was participated in by white man and Indians, and to judge from the scarred countenances of the witnesses and prisoners it must have been a terrible encounter. It seems that at Barclay’s whisky and beer is sold as freely as in any saloon in Brainerd, and has been for some length of time in violation of the state law, and on this particular day “the boys” were having a high old-time. Fred Ellis, who lives with a squaw at that place, came to Barclay’s in the evening, after having had a fight with his dusky wife, in which the red men at the wigwams interfered and gave him the worst of it. He obtained some court-plaster, washed his wounds, and in company with Patrick Ryan stepped up to the bar and drank for thirty minutes, according to his sworn statement. Ryan volunteered to go with him and “fix the Indians plenty,” and they started. Ryan never came back alive, and his body was found next morning with a butcher knife lying beside it which belonged to Ellis, who accounts for it by saying that in the fight in the fore part of the evening the Indians took his knife and revolver. Ellis says an Indian chased him and he ran leaving Ryan at the camp, and he finally came back and went to bed with the other fellows, and that in the morning Billy Burnet came and told them Ryan had been killed. The case is a complicated one The Indian who escaped was covered with blood and said he got it by holding Ryan in his arms when he died, he, and the Indians had been attracted to the spot by groans, and upon arriving found the man in a dying condition. It is more than probable that the Indian will be recaptured and every effort is being made in that direction. No one is to blame for losing him ____ the cunning known to people of his tribe was brought into play. Philip Provo was arrested on Tuesday and is being held, but from what we can learn the evidence is not very strong against him. Ryan’s body was brought to the city on Monday night and buried in Evergreen Cemetery. A gentlemen who lives at Faribault, telegraphed to have it sent to him, then after they had prepared it for shipment he telegraphed back that they had found their son in Denver, alive and well, and that the murdered man was no relation of theirs. The following is the testimony of the important witnesses at the coroner’s inquest…”
The article continues with more testimony from Charles Ashland, Ellis’ Statement, Mamie Vagwin, Philip Provo, and White Cloud which doesn’t really tell much but actually gets more confusing.
I tried to locate this Coroner file but did not find one in the Crow Wing records which go back to 1887. It might be in another location? Cass County records start in 1898 at the Minnesota Historical Society in St. Paul on one of my trips. I have not check state law at the time.
Articles like this give an idea of what life might have been like for George, Amarilla and my grandmother Grace in Pine River.