My family has not always been easy to trace and doesn’t show up in published works as much as I would like. Once in a while I get lucky. George A. Barclay appears in the article “Homes for Settlers in Northern Minnesota,” in February of 1895 of the Northwest Magazine on pages 34 and 35.
As an example of prosperous pioneer life in this region, George A. Barclay settled there in 1873, at Pine River, thirty miles north of Brainerd and in the heart of the region. He entered 6.0 (640?) acres of Government land under the old and now repealed cash-entry system, at $1.25 an acre. He had $50 left and all his other worldly goods he carried in a pack on his back. He hired a Chippewa Indian to help him build a log house the first in that region. It is still standing in good condition. The Brainerd & Northern Minnesota track runs between his old home and the log barn on the left. Mr. Barclay has now ninety acres under successful cultivation; he has a good store, doing a business, as shown by his books, of $3,000 a month, and he has just completed a new hotel and store building. His property is now worth $18,000 or $20,000.”
Of course, this article was written to attract other settlers to the area. I am guessing the Chippewa Indian was McNanny/Nannie. The article included a picture of George’s Ranch.
Source: “Home for Settlers in Northern Minnesota,” Northwest Magazine, Feb. 1895, Vol. 13 #2, St. Paul, MN
Compare the above picture with this photograph of George’s Ranch in the Logsleds to Snowmobiles book. Permission given by the town of Pine River.
This is where my grandmother Grace grew up. Do you see a little girl with pigtails running around and possibly a dirty face?
When I was traveling in Minnesota in 2001, my goals was to seek out museums that might show me a little of what life might have been like for my great grandparents, George and Amarilla, and their daughter Grace. So I took out a Minnesota Historical Society membership and it gave me access to several of their historic sites such as the Harkin Store in New Ulm: http://sites.mnhs.org/historic-sites/harkin-store This store is a living museum set in 1870 which is close to the time frame of George’s first trading post but I lean toward his later store.
This store seemed very well stocked, with a stove in the center and some chairs. It also had a mail center (George was postmaster for a time) and a bulletin board. Did great grandfather’s store look like this or was it totally different? Somehow I think that his very early store was probably a little cruder and there was the smell of liquor and cigars? He did have to bring goods from Brainerd or trade with the Indians. When Amarilla joined him in 1878 things might have gotten a little more organized and cleaner, maybe?
I was also curious about their living quarters what would it have been like. My travels took me to the Cross Lake Historical Society and Pioneer Village: http://www.crosslakehistoricalsociety.org/ It was wonderful and I highly recommend it.
If you compare the two photos above of George’s ranch you see the outside of the buildings and these cabins look similar. Below are two photos which show a little of the interior of the cabin. In this cabin they had everything. The kitchen, dining area, laundry area and sleeping area. Did my great grandfather’s cabin look like this one? With the addition of the Barclay Hotel, things might have changed a lot.