Mr. Sundberg, Justice of the Peace and Acting Coroner, moved quickly to put into place the Coroner’s inquest which was held at the Barclay Hotel on November 1 and 2, 1898 after the shooting on October 29, 1898.
The testimony of all of the witnesses would be to extensive for me to present here. What will be presented will be a transcript summary of some of the witnesses testimony. The book: Murder and Mayhem, True Crime Accounts, Cass County 1897-1938, written by the Cass County Historical Society, has some excerpts of some of the testimonies.
Here are some of my selected excerpts of the testimonies.
1. C. Fred Yllander “being sworn says: I knew Barclay. He died at 7:10 P.M. on Saturday night, Oct. 29. He sat about six feet from window. I was in his employ, tending bar and was here when he died. I stood about two feet from the end of the bar, inside, reading. Mr. Barclay…he took a chair and sat down about six feet from the window. He sat talking to a man who was standing in the doorway between the card room and bar. Just then I heard a loud report of a gun. I thought it was fired inside because I saw flame come through the window. At first I thought it was an accident but afterwords saw the hole through the window. I saw Barclay try to raise himself and then fall on the floor. I went to him but two others were there first. He tried to open his mouth to speak but couldn’t. He died almost instantly. While on the floor, we found the bullet had entered the left side of the neck and come out on the right side of the back of the head. The bullet lodged in a post in the center of the room. When the gun went off I saw no one on the porch or anyone near. I saw no one with firearms on the inside. I have no idea who shot Barclay. I have worked for him since October 11th and have known him since January… He was universally like. He was not a drinking man and was perfectly sober on the day of the shooting… A man named Clapp (Claff) was talking to Barclay when he was shot. Mrs. Barclay was in the dining room and came out a few seconds after. She was working in the dining room at the time the shooting which occurred, at 7:10… As near as I can judge, the person that did the shooting must have stood a few inches from the window. I saw neither the gun nor the man. There were six persons in the room at the time of the shooting, including Barclay. Barclay and the man were talking about national matters. Fred Cotton was inside the card room. Clapp had been standing talking several minutes with Barclay when the shot was fired…”
2. Frank Breese Deputy Sheriff from Cass County:
“I helped to dig the bullet out of the post. Indications show that the bullet came through the window from the outside. We took the bullet out about 3 o’clock P.M. Oct. 31. Advised by county attorney not to take it out sooner. I have weighed the bullet. It weighs 210 grains. I have a scientific table showing the size and weight of bullet’s published by Wm. R. Burkhard & Co. dealers in guns and sporting goods. A bullet weighing 150 grains is a 38 Smith and Weston; 210 grains Colt center fire pistol; 255 grains, 38.56 Winchester; 210 grains, 44 Colts Revolver; 205 grains, 44 Smith & Weston American; 255 grains 44 Smith & Weston Russian; 115 grains, 44 Smith & Weston Russian Gallery; 210 grains, 40-60 Winchester rifle. At the time the bullet was weighed nothing adhered to make it heavier. A 38-56 Winchester rifle bullet weighs 255 grains.”
3. Eugene McMahon worked for Barclay taking care of stock. He had been there 5 years. He was referred to as choreboy. He was outside at the upper barn when he heard the shot. He observed Bebo and a young man before and after the report of the gun. He talked about Hank Taylor a driver for Cook who was a gambler and crook. Taylor had shown interest in Grace which caused trouble with George, Amarilla and Grace.
4. E. Coyle telegraph operator and station agent was on the railroad track on a hand car when stopped and told about Barclay being shot. He witnessed George’s body on the floor. He described Bebo’s gun as a 38-56 Winchester and Deperold’s had a 45-90 Winchester. He mentions Hayford. He also talked about Hank Taylor and the trouble between him and Barclay.
5. The hunters were R.C. Workman Sr., Charles Workman, Thomas Nelson, R.C. Workman Jr. and R.B. Dunsmore. They came from Wright County to hunt and were at the Depot/Express office when Barclay was killed. The younger Workman made the claim that he saw a short man in dark clothes running across the railroad tracks about 5 minutes are the shot was fired. He also said that Bebo came into the Depot office with a gun in a blanket about two minutes after the shot. The older Workman also saw a man running across the tracks. Nelson he talked about Bebo coming in and out of the Depot and the Winchester in the corner but didn’t see it wrapped in a blanket. Dunsmore observed Bebo coming and goings with the blankets but didn’t remember any guns.
6. Joseph Deperold (Deperrold) was a nephew of Louis Bebo. He was with Bebo at the barn first and then at the depot. He will be examined in later transcripts.
7. Mrs. George Barclay wife to the deceased. She was in the kitchen at the time of the gun shot.
“I am the wife of George Barclay. I was in the kitchen when I heard that he had been shot. I heard the shot and the fall of Mr. Barclay. I have no idea or suspicion as to who killed him. Mr. Barclay was a passionate man and had words with a good many men but not enough to warrant suspicion. He had words in July with Hank Taylor, Mickey Burns, and Tom Twohy. Mr. Barclay was not a man who would hold spite…. Mr. Barclay didn’t like Taylor and ordered him away… Taylor was not a respectable character…. Taylor wanted to take Gracie for a boat ride one day. She wanted to go…I sat in the stern of the boat, Gracie in the center, and Taylor in the bow rowing. Just as we landed on our return, Mr. Barclay came down. He was very angry… I never heard Taylor make any threats. Taylor left soon after. Possibly two days. He has never been back. I had no reason to believe that anybody would do Mr. Barclay any harm. I have no idea as to who fired the shot.
8. Mrs. Grace McDonald, daughter of George A. Barclay and Amarilla, was absent at the time of the shooting in Cloquet, MN. She describes the events with Hank Taylor and her recent marriage to R.S. McDonald. This testimony of Grace’s gave me the information I needed to find the marriage record of my grandparents which was elusive up to this time.
“I am the daughter of George Barclay and was married the 8th of September. Prior to that time I lived at home during vacations. Papa often lost his temper and had trouble with several people and some of the quarrels were on account of credit in the store. I have heard threats of violence but not from people I would think meant it. Taylor came here on June 28. He was here until about the 5 or the 6 of August. He came here to board on the 13 of July, but had been here before. He told me that he had been married…. I went for a boat ride with him….He is a man who would hold revenge. He had been a prize-fighter and bouncer. Father and I had words and we didn’t speak for a week or so. After that we were on good terms. He was angry when I got married and he threatened to disinherit me, but since that time he has become reconciled to me. Mrs. Grace Barclay recalled says: I was married the 8 of September in Hudson, Wis., I was at home immediately prior to the marriage…. My husband is superintendent for Backus in the Willow River country. We were near Cloquet when we hear of the murder of my Father. Mr. McDonald told me. I left Mr. McDonald at Cloquet. He went to the woods and I came home. I said he would drive across country and will be here tonight, Wednesday. Father was afraid of Taylor.”
9. Louis Bebo a local farmer living 34 miles west from Pine River. He knew Barclay about 15 years. He heard the shots when he was at the depot.
“I live about three miles west of Pine River. I will have lived here three years next March. I have been acquainted with Barclay fifteen years. I lived near here all that time. I have had some difficulty with him here at the house twice…The trouble with Barclay originated twice while I was drinking. I have never had any trouble with him about shooting at the house. He accused me of shooting at the house but after wards knew that it was not me. I was in the operator’s house when it was done. I had no part in it. I was here when Barclay was killed…. I came back Saturday evening. I hitched my team at the corncrib and it stood there about a half an hour. From there I think I came into the saloon and took a drink with Mr. Coyle. I don’t remember the time. At that time I was sober. I had two or three drinks before I went out. The second time I took a drink was out of a bottle belonging to Coyle… After drinking with him I went and unhitched the team…I took the blankets out of the wagon after the horses were unhitched after putting the horses in the barn… My gun was not wrapped up. I put it in a corner of the depot. I don’t think anybody looked at it. It was a 38-56 Winchester…. When I heard the shot fired I was just going into the depot with the blankets. My nephew was with me at the time… I came from the depot to the hotel and saw Barclay and went back to the depot and said that Barclay was shot. I came right over after hearing the shot and saw him. There were quite a number in the room. Lyman Preston, the choreboy, bartender, Whitesides. I can’t remember any others. Barclay was dead then. I saw Mrs. Barclay there… After I came and saw that Barclay was dead I went directly back to the depot. I was in the bar about ten minutes. I saw Coyle at the depot after that. I saw four men on a hand-car…. I made one or two trips between the depot and the hotel after Barclay was killed. It was at the depot the first time that I went over that I said that Barclay was killed. Then they all turned out and came over here. I came with them. That was the second time I came over here….He talks about meeting up with his wife, making arrangements with the hunters and that he buys his own shells and load some.
10. Mrs. Mary Bebo was Louis Bebo’s Indian common law wife. She claims that she has been married eleven years and has five children. She was near Walker when she heard of Barclay’s death. She said that her husband didn’t know who killed Barclay.
11. Mary Aitkin was a friend of Bebo and Mrs. Bebo. She heard of the killing of Barclay and testified that Mrs. Bebo told her that her husband killed Barclay because he was jealous of their relationship.
12. George A. Weaver knew Barclay since 1861 and he knew Bebo and that Bebo and Barclay had trouble with money.
13. Eber Smith owned a summer resort on Woman Lake. He knew Hank Taylor in the past and talked about Taylor and felt he was treacherous.
14. Andrew Whitesides worked for Barclay in the store and had been there 4 years.
“I have been working for Mr. Barclay since 1894…I have had charge of the store since the fall of 1894. I was here when Mr. Barclay was shot…As far as I can judge about one and a half or two minutes after the report of the gun I came into the bar room. I didn’t see Bebo in the room, he was not there. He came in later. No one was with him, I went to the Telegraph office while I was there. I heard him say nothing about Mr. Barclay being shot. I was in the Telegraph office 15 or 20 minutes. I don’t remember seeing Bebo at the Depot when I came out. I saw him again after I came back kneeling by the body listening to the pulsation. I can’t say which time that was. I observed nothing particularly suspicious about him that day…Bebo and Barclay have had considerable trouble about settlement for hay in the Spring, but I thought it was settled to Bebo’s satisfaction…The trouble about shooting at the house was later. Mr. Hayford and Mr. Barclay had a good deal of trouble and Mr. Barclay succeeded in having Hayford discharged. Barclay and Hayford were never friendly. Hayford was here at one time with a gun and I thought he wanted to shoot Barclay. This trouble continued until Hayford moved away and started a store at Jenkins. He has often abused Mr. Barclay while he lived here he and Bebo were together a good deal. The trouble between Barclay and Hayford was about freight. Hayford was very careful to add-on as much to Barclay’s freight as he could and Barclay thought he was overcharging. He drank a good deal. I thought Hayford had told Bebo that Barclay had a good deal to do with his squaw and thereby caused enmity. I never saw anything unusual between Barclay and the squaw. The general impression was that there were grounds for suspicion that they were intimate. The general relations between Barclay and his wife were not entirely smooth and they have had some trouble. One instance in particular a man named Taylor staffed here and went boat riding with Mrs. Barclay and her daughter. Barclay found them and abused her a good deal in the bar room…I never thought there was much affection between Barclay and Mrs. Barclay….she [Mrs. Barclay] has been an inmate of a variety theater. The relations between Barclay and his daughter have been about the same as between Barclay and Mrs. Barclay. Barclay was much opposed to his daughter’s marriage. I heard the girl say Barclay had threatened to disinherit her. The marriage was a secret one. McDonald and Barclay were friendly…”
The above has a lot of opinions, conjecture, gossip and it is difficult to know what is really of significance. Unfortunately, the jury did not come to any conclusion.