July 1894 – George A. Barclay Builds a Hotel…

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. 


12 thoughts on “July 1894 – George A. Barclay Builds a Hotel…

  1. I just found your blog–very interesting! You asked about I.U. White who built Barclay’s hotel. I.U. White was my great grandfather. His father, Edward White, came to Brainerd in 1870. The White family was in the hardware and building business.

    • Christy: Amazing! You would not happen to have any blueprints left over. I would love to get the blueprints for the Barclay Hotel. I did do a little looking around but it was difficult to tell if I had the right I.U. White. Thanks for stopping by and sharing. Bonnie

      • I don’t recall seeing anything like building drawings, but I do have three large boxes of things to go through yet. If I find anything pertaining to the Barclays, I will let you know! Thanks for your interesting blog. Christy

      • Christy: I think if there were plans they probably burned in the Barclay hotel fire in 1915. Sigh. Have fun looking through the boxes and even if you don’t find anything on the Barclays let me know what treasures you do find. Enjoy the process.

      • I am also researching the old stagecoach road that went from Pine River to Woman Lake (I live by Woman Lake). George Barclay was one of the stage drivers. I you find anything on that, I’d be interested.

      • Christy: Sorry I didn’t get back, been dealing with computer issues and stuff. HA! My great grandfather George Barclay was a small man about 5 ft. 4 inches and he weighed around 125 lbs. by 1892. He was a wagoneer in the Civil War years before 1892 but life had kind of wore him down. I have no knowledge that he was a stagecoach driver, although with his wagoneer experience in the civil war he did know how to drive a wagon. If I every see anything I will let you know. When I first started to research George I was interested in the Leech Lake Military Trail but it was very difficult to find a good map of that route.

      • I’m sorry, I may have been mistaken about his being a driver. I’m an academic, so I should know to keep better track of my sources! But I found two items in the Brainerd Tribune, June 16, that you might not have: “Last Week George Barclay located some farmers from Todd County who are hunting homesteads in Cass county. Emigration to Pine River will soon commence.” and “George Barclay returned from a cruising trip last Sunday and says the country is all on fire over toward Woman Lake. He had a narrow escape from being killed by a falling tree whilst coming home.” And, I believe you have this one on a trip to Chicago. June 14, 1894, Brainerd Tribune, “George Barclay left last Tuesday for the twin cities and Chicago. He will be gone about two weeks.” The owner of Kabakona Camp (at the terminus of the stagecoach trail from Pine River) lived in Chicago. It would be highly likely that they knew each other. Maybe some wheeling and dealing?

        Now that I think on it, you probably have already scoured the Brainerd Tribune records. I haven’t done that thoroughly yet. Where did you access them–at MHS?

        As for the plaque at Pine River, I will stop by the depot sometime and see if it is there.

        The Leech Lake Military Trail followed a previous trail that was probably established in precontact times by Native Americans. Much of it is now Highway 371. You could still see portions of it here and there, but it has been rapidly disappearing. There is an early map of the trail–I saw a copy once at the Forest Service. I need to add that to my list of “copies of things I need”.
        Happy looking!

      • Christy: I know how you feel. I have so much on my family that keeping it straight is a constant challenge. Yes, aren’t they great, the over the back fence gossip sections of the newspaper. I tried to find more on that fire at Woman Lake but it kept getting overshadowed by the one in September. Why he headed to Chicago I don’t know and would love to learn. It was a big trip. Who knows what great grandfather was up to. I went to the Minnesota Historical Society and had an Excell spreadsheet of dates and events I wanted to try to locate in the paper. Slogging work but that spreadsheet helped because I could target the local newspapers and just keep moving. Say if you get a really good map of that Leech Lake Trail I would be very interested. I will be happy to help with the cost. This is fun Christy, thanks for your comments. Bonnie

    • Christy: Thanks for the link but I do believe I have seen this application. This particular train depot was younger than the one George was familiar with. He died in 1898. I did a plaque honoring the family and George and Amarilla several years ago right before they moved it. Hopefully it is hanging in the depot now? Bonnie

  2. Hi again. Please delete the above comments where I send you information you already have! Sorry about that. My trips through the papers need to be better organized. I also appreciate your comments on setting out a spreadsheet to organize data. I guess that should be my next thing to do. I also plan to read completely through your blog!

    • Christy, No I like your comments even if I have seen the information. I do believe I have posted on these tidbits from the newspapers of the time. You just might find something I didn’t because newspaper research is very time consuming. Don’t apologize, the fact that you have commented and shared is very much appreciated. A descendant of I.U. White who built the Barclay Hotel is pretty cool. Bonnie

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