Amarilla’s Final Resting Place…Evergreen Cemetery, Brainerd, MN

In 2000 and 2001, I visited Brainerd on my trips to Minnesota.  I was stunned to learn that there was no tombstone for my great-grandmother Amarilla. She was buried in the plot with George Angus Barclay, their son George Alexander Barclay, and the first baby of daughter Grace and husband R.S. McDonald.

The large tombstone, in the photo below, that I am standing by is for George Barclay. To the front left is the smaller Civil War foot stone.  The tombstone to the right is for little baby George Alexander.  It has the lamb on the top. There was no stone for Amarilla. I checked with the Evergreen Cemetery Office, who are very helpful, to confirm that she was buried there. They have a diary of the dead at their website:

Barclay Plot Evergreen Cemetery 2000.

Barclay Plot Evergreen Cemetery 2000.

I set about getting a tombstone for my great-grandmother and by the next visit in 2001 it was in place. Nothing fancy just a stone that gave her information. Her tombstone is in the forefront of the picture below. Much better, only problem is it reads as her birth year 1859, it should be 1858.  Darn!  I don’t understand how that happened but apparently it is not unusual for mistakes to be made on tombstones.  Sigh!  I do have my records and the paperwork asking me to check the information.  The form says 1859, but I did not make note of any changes so I could not go back and complain to the company who did the stone.  So my advice, if you create a stone for an ancestor keep careful notes.  It is not easy to do it from afar.

In the following picture you can see the new tombstone in the foreground.

George's, baby George and Amarilla 2001

George’s, baby George and Amarilla 2001


Amarilla should be 1858 for her birth year. Well it is only two months off.

Amarilla should read 1858 for her birth year. Well it is only two months off. Sigh!


Amarilla's new tombstone and her great granddaugher 2001

Amarilla’s new tombstone and her great granddaugher 2001

We visited again in 2007 before heading up to Pine River.  At least great grandma has recognition now.

Find A Grave has memorials to the Barclay’s with information, links, tombstones and more. The people who had created the memorials where kind to transfer the management to me and in some cases added new information. The memorials continue to evolve as I add links and information.

August 1942: The Death of Amarilla…pioneer of Pine River

Amarilla Grace Spracklin Barclay Dawes Urton passed away on 10 August, 1942, in Pine River, Minnesota. She was 84 years old. She arrived in Pine River in 1878 and she made Pine River her home for 64 years.  I will be adding notations in the sources below.

Here is a summary of her death record:

Amarilla Urton died on August 10, 1942 in Pine River. Her husband’s name was George Urton (Note: 3rd husband). She was widowed. She was born on Nov. 17, 1858. She died at 83 yrs 8 months 23 days. Her occupation at death was “housewife.” Her father’s name was Daniel Spracklin who was born in the U.S. (Note: born in Ohio) and her mother’s name was Mary Keller (Note: Her name was Elizabeth and her mother was Mary) also born in the U.S. (Note: born in Ohio). The death certificate was signed by Miriam McDonald of Yakima, WA. The funeral home was Northlund Funeral Home in Pine River, MN. signed on August 18, 1942.  (Note: Miriam noted in her family notes that it was Elizabeth and not Mary for the mother of Amarilla.)

Source:  Certificate of Death for Ammarilla Urton, #02159, Pine River, Cass County, Minnesota, Minnesota State Department of Health, Minnesota

Amarilla Urton

Amarilla Urton

First White Woman In Pine River Territory Buried This Week

at Age of Eighty Four

Cass County lost one of the most colorful figures in its history when death came to Mrs. Ammarilla Urton of Pine River, on Monday, August 19th (10th). The first white woman in Pine River and for approximately twenty years, the only white woman north of Gull Lake. (Note:  I spell her name Amarilla while a lot of times it has two “m’s.”)

Mrs. Urton helped plan the town of Pine River and donated much land to the village, including that which was used for the railway right of way (Note: actually George Barclay and Amarilla did this together), Pine Ridge Cemetery, the power house site, two parks–one the Brookside park and the other the land on which stands the Armory. The sites where the Methodist and Lutheran churches are located and ten lots for the first real school house were also donated by Mrs. Urton.

Mrs. Ammarilla Urton was born on November 17, 1858, in Blairstown, Iowa. She came to Brainerd in 1877. (Note: should read 1878.) On July 27 of the same year she married her first husband, George Barkley, resident of Brainerd, but who at that time was running a trading post at what is now Pine River. After their marriage they started for the territory which was to be her future home, driving by team the first day as far as Gull Lake. From there they took Tote teams to Pine River.

The Trading Post was located on the banks of the river near what is now Pine Ridge Cemetery. (Note: Not true). This post and been built by Barkley and McNannie in 1877. (Note: it was built much earlier.) The following year the store was moved to the site now occupied by the Urton residence. This store was the very first business place in this territory. Here the Indians brought in their furs and traded for supplies. The life was a lonely one, in complete isolation from her own sex, though this pioneer woman was never afraid. Although there were Indians all about them, they never caused any trouble. (Note: I don’t think it really bothered her being out their alone, she was raised on a farm in Iowa and used to isolation.) 

Mr. & Mrs. Barkley built the first frame building as well as the first building with shingles about 1880 (Note: more like 1895). This was the Barkley Hotel, a pretentious building for its time painted white. It was while, sitting in the lobby of that hotel that Mr. Barkley was shot in 1898. (Note: Too bad no building plans exist we could see its internal structure and then figure really where he was sitting.  Reports are varied about the actual death scene.)

Also built was the big store where the Fraser building now is. In 1900 (1902) Mrs. Barkley married J.G. Dawes. Mr. Dawes was a helper in plating the village of Pine River. Both Mr. and Mrs. Dawes used vision in plating the two wide streets and parks which all these years have been an asset of Pine River. Continued for many years was store business in the small building at the end of Fraser block.

In 1921 (Note: They married in 1919.) Mrs. Dawes married George Urton, later retiring from the store business.

In 1932 several of the Pine River clubs, Eradelphian, Men’s Business Club, Fancy Work Club and other groups of Pine River, paid honor to this grand old lady–who had the privilege of living a colorful life, vouched safe to few–in celebration of her 74th birthday. The event was held in the Lake Region Hotel in the form of a beautiful dinner party. Mrs. Urton told tales of many interesting happenings during her days sent in the wilderness. (Note: I wish they had recorded this or the stories.)

In 1939 a large group of friends sponsored by Mrs. Kate Silk and Mrs. Frank Shepherd again celebrated Mrs. Urton’s birthday. Mrs. Urton had one son (Note: George Alexander) and one daughter (Note: Grace A. Barclay McDonald), the son died at the age of 18 months and was buried in Brainerd.

Her daughter proceeded her in death several years ago (Note: Grace died December 23, 1911). Surviving are five grand children, Miss Marian McDonald, Yakima, Wash,; Mrs. H. M. McKanna, Green Acres, Wash,; Mrs. R.R. Davies, Boise, Idaho,; Gordon McDonald, Seattle, Wash,; Keith McDonald in the armed services (worked in Seattle).  (NOTE Edna McDonald another granddaughter was missed.)

Death came to this pioneer woman at the age of 84. Ailing for three years, the past several weeks she had experienced many sick spells. On Monday, the day of her death, however, she dressed and walked about with the aid of her companion Katie Silk.

At two o’clock in the afternoon they had tea and she was stricken with a heart attack about three passing away within a half hour. With her when she died were Katie Silk and Mrs. Smith, a tenant of the Urton apartments. Services will be held in the M.E. church on Monday at two p.m.”  Source: Walker Pilot Newspaper, August 14, 1942

Another obituary appeared in the Pine River Journal:

Pine River Jrl

Pine River Jrl

Mrs. Amarilla Urton, Founder of Pine River Passes Suddenly, 

“Mrs. Amarilla Urton Founder of Pine River Passes Suddenly – Mrs. Amarilla Urton, resident of Pine River for 64 years, passed away at her home Monday, following a short illness. She was 83 years of age at the time of her death. Funeral services will be held Monday afternoon at 2 p.m from the Methodist Church with Rev. Fish in charge. Interment will be made in the Brainerd cemetery beside her first husband.

Mrs. Urton was born in Iowa County, Iowa, November 17, 1858 (Note: She was born in Benton County where her father lived till he moved to Iowa County about 1872), coming to Brainerd in 1877, where she was engaged as a seamstress. Here she met and married George Barclay on July 27, 1878. The young couple drove as far as Gull Lake by team the first night and continued their trip the following day by tote-team to the territory known as Pine River, near the location now occupied by the cemetery.

The Trading-Post was built by Mr. Barclay and McNany (Note: McNannie) in 1877 (Note: too late much earlier). The following year the store was moved to the site now occupied by the Urton residence. This was the first business establishment in the territory in those days it was known as the Trading Post where the Indians brought their furs and exchanged them for supplies which was the only form of business conducted at that time as the lumber-jacks had not yet arrived. Mr. Barclay then purchased three forties from the federal government, the deed of which was signed by the President, received three years later which will give some idea of the rapidity of land deals in early days.

During all this time, Mrs. Urton was the only white woman in the territory. For the next fourteen years, the closest white people where at Gull Lake some distance away especially in those days. One can well imagine the pioneering courage needed by a young woman to carry on in the face of all these hardships. She spent many lonely years up there in the north country, planning with her husband, the future of a town, never complaining and always doing her part in the struggle.

The railroad came through here in 1892 and was known as the Brainerd Northern running from Brainerd as far north as Hackensack, then known as Laporte. The first post office was built previous to the advent of the railroad by Mr. Barclay (Note: George Barclay was post master for a time). Mail was delivered twice each week by stage, traveling from Brainerd to the Leech Lake Agency. Four days were necessary to make the round trip. The first shingled building in Pine River was the Barclay Hotel, operated by Mrs. Urton and her husband, the hotel was located on the lot across the street from the Farmers Supply Store and was destroyed by fire several years ago (Note: 1915). It was while engaged in this business that Mr. Barclay was killed while sitting in the lobby of the hotel in 1898. This was the first death recorded in Cass County. (Note:  There is no actual death certificate for George A. Barclay it is all noted in the Coroner’s Inquest file).

Mrs. Urton then married Mr. Dawes, and later Mr. George Urton, who both preceded her in death. Mr. and Mrs. Urton (Note: She did not marry or meet George till 1915 so it was J.G. Dawes that was involved with the following) took an active part in the building of the village, donating property now occupied by the railroad right-of-way (Note: George A. Barclay and her together), the Pine Ridge Cemetery, two parks, the power house site, the Lutheran and Methodist church properties and ten lots for the first school which was built in 1900. All in all this grand old lady had a colorful life, one that few have the privilege of experiencing.  

She spent 64 years of her life in Pine River and was well passed her allotted threescore and ten years when she passed away. It is only fitting and proper that the citizens of Pine River pay tribute to her as the founder and pioneer of this modern little city which developed far beyond her fondest dreams.” Source: Pine River Journal, Pine River, Cass Co., Minnesota, Friday, August 14, 1942.

Miriam McDonald, as far as I can tell, was the only family member who attended the funeral of grandmother Amarilla Urton in Pine River. The funeral took place on 12 August, 1942 at the Methodist Church with a Rev. Gerald Fish officiating. Interment would be in the plot in the Evergreen Cemetery in Brainerd next to her first husband George A. Barclay and their son George Alexander Barclay.

A Tragedy Occurs, the Loss of a Daughter…

Amarilla was no stranger to tragedy.  She had lost her mother when she was a little baby. Her son George Alexander died from an overdose of medicine at about 18 months old.  Her full brother Henry, the only other child that survived from the first family of Daniel Spracklin, was killed in a tragic accident in 1893 in Davenport, Iowa. Her half-brother Alfred died in 1899.  George Angus Barclay, her husband, was shot and murdered in their hotel in October of 1898.

These were all terrible and must have taken their toll on great-grandmother, but the death of her daughter Grace must have been the worst.

Amarilla lost her only daughter and child on December 25, 1911. Grace died at the hospital in International Falls.  She had given birth to a premature baby they named Grace Elizabeth and then succumbed to pneumonia. She is buried in the McDonald family plot in the St. Thomas Cemetery along with Archibald and Mary McDonell, the parents of Ronald, Grave’s husband. Grace is the writers grandmother.

Grace Barclay McDonald

Grace Barclay McDonald

Card of thanks from R.S. and Amarilla regarding Grace's death

Card of thanks from R.S. and Amarilla regarding Grace’s death, Pine River Journal

Grace’s story is featured in the blog:  The Man Who Lived Airplanes, see right side panel for link.

Evergreen Cemetery Final Resting Place for G.A. Barclay

George Angus Barclay is buried in the Evergreen Cemetery in Brainerd, Minnesota. There are several stones in this plot.  The very tall one to the left is George’s monument, the small one on the right is the son’s, George Alexander’s, tombstone and the one in front of the large monument is George’s Civil War stone.  The shiny flat stone in the foreground is Amarilla’s.

George's Tombstones in Evergreen

George’s Tombstones in Evergreen

Close up of George's Tombstone

Close up of George’s Tombstone

Father, George Angus Barclay, Born Aug. 18, 1844, Died Oct. 29, 1898 Aged 54 Yrs, 2 Mos & 11 Days.

A Good Man is Known by His Works. 

George's Civil War stone

George’s Civil War stone very hard to read

George and Amarilla’s first grandchild is also buried in this plot.  R.S. McDonald is listed as the father. There is no stone for this baby but it is noted in the cemetery records.

Evergreen has placed their Directory of the dead online and you can click on the ? mark and go to Find A Grave for this cemetery and there is some very interesting links at Find A Grave.  They are misspellings as well so be careful.  Do a search for Urton, Barclay, Dawes and more.  It is very interesting.

George Alexander the son

George Alexander the son

Warren Huffman had kind words for my great grandfather and stated in his own words in the 1973 Pine River Journal:

The first winter was a hard one for new settlers to get started. George Barclay had the one store in Pine River and without the credit that he extended it would have been impossible to stay. George Barclay had his detractors, but he was a kind-hearted man and generous. He was a small man with a high-pitched voice. I remember him well, and we all felt a genuine sorrow and loss when he was shot by an unknown person as he sat reading in the lobby of the Barclay Hotel.” By Warren Huffman in his own words “As I remember … 1894, Pine River Journal (Newspaper), Cass County, MN. 1973.

Amarilla is also buried there and upon my first visit she did not have a tombstone. There is one there now. More on her death in future posts.

George's Tombstone and his great granddaughter

George’s Tombstone and his great-granddaughter 2001

George A. Barclay, son George Alexander and Bonnie 2001.

George A. Barclay, son George Alexander and Bonnie 2001.

This is probably where the funeral ceremony for George A. Barclay took place.  I can picture Amarilla, Grace, R.S. McDonald and Alexander gathered there by the grave. How did they bring the casket in an open wagon or in a funeral wagon?  Who else was there? Did the G.A.R. perform a military ceremony for this Civil War veteran?  So many questions…

The 1880’s: Starting a Family, Land more or less, A Mortgage Deed, and a Robbery!

The 1880’s were drawing to a close and events were unfolding in Minnesota that would make for lots of change in the state.  The next decade the 1890’s was going to be very busy and very eventful in Pine River and more.

Let’s take a quick review of the 1880’s. 
Starting a Family:
George and Amarilla started the decade with the birth of their son, George Alexander, who died  suddenly of an accident at 18 months in June 1881 .  The following year they found happeniness in the birth of their daughter Grace born in April  1882. 

Land More or Less:
They sold some land in a quit claim deed to a [Fred] Hitter/Hilter of Wright County on 25 October 1881.  This deed was recorded 8 May 1882 in the Crow Wing County Courthouse for Cass County, Deed Book E, pg. 247. 

Description:  $175.00 – The southeast quarter (SE1/4) of the northeast quarter (NE1/4) of section ten (10) and the north half of the northeast quarter of section twelve (12) all in township one hundred thirty-seven (137) north range twenty nine (29) west.  The total amount of acreage was not indicated in this deed? 

They added to their land holdings by  buying land from the Northern Pacific Railroad in 1883 (82 3/4). In 1884 they received another patent #11834 (40 plus acres), and expanded by adding a storage building sometime around the early part of the decade.*  The little settlement was growing with a total population of 29 people in 1885 per the Minnesota State Census.  Another land patent came through in April of 1888 #16446 (160 acres). 

A Mortgage Deed
Things must have been going well for the Barclays in 1888 when George and Amarilla executed a mortgage deed with Michael Hagberg on September 25, 1888 for $2077.38.*  It was filed for record January 11, 1889.   George would pay two promissory notes due one year after the date, each for $1038.69 and interest.  This mortgage was satisfied and on record in Book J, pg. 566 in the Crow Wing County Records. 

On October 2, 1914, 25 years later this same mortgage satisfaction appears in Book W, pg. 372 in a typed form, not handwritten.  It referred to M. Hagberg and Matilda Hagberg, his wife.  It is also attested to for accuracy by the Register of Deeds. We think the court was updating its books. 

Now it was suggested that “this deed was for equipment.”* Well, I do not think so.  Instead it was for the purchase of about 5 pieces of land in T137 R 29 (Wilson); two pieces in T138 R29 (Barclay); and one piece in T130 R30 (Walden).  Several lots were mentioned. 

There is a Michael Hagberg buried in the Evergreen Cemetery in Brainerd a link to his him is at FindAGrave.  There is an article with the tombstone information stating he was a blacksmith in early Brainerd?  If this is the same man he lived in the Brainerd area for a long time.

Boy do I love a mystery?  What was George A. Barclay up to?

Well at some point I will do a summary of his land holdings and we will see what we come up with. 

A Robbery:
Unfortunately they ended the decade of the 1880’s with a robbery at the Ranch.  George Barclay reported a long list of items stolen in Pine River on April 20, 1889.  Among the items taken were 2 Winchester rifles and 6 boxes of cartridges, lots of clothing, lots of yardage, 400 ratskins and 5 linx skins for a total of $512.30 ? * 

I have often wondered what my great grandfather’s store might have looked like?  I visited the Harkin Store in 2001 (eight miles northwest of New Ulm, MN).  This museum is a period store set about 1870:  It is part of the Minnesota Historical Society historical sites. 

Do you think George and Amarilla’s was this neat and tidy?  The Harkin Store had a mail center, candy area, women’s items, flour bins, a place to sit by the pot belly stove and more.  Depending on the clientele at George’s store there might be a difference in the inventory?

Harkins Store

*Some of these events mentioned above were inspired by the book:  “Logsleds to Snowmobiles, A Centennial History of Pine River, Minnesota 1873-1973,” written by the Citizens of Pine River, edited by Norman F. Clarke, Pine River Centennial Committee 1979.   Chapter:  The Barclays, 102-129.   Page 106 for the Robbery or the Brainerd Dispatch April 21, 1889 pg. 1.  There is a copy of this book in the Family History Library in Salt Lake City. A quick seach of WordCat and you will get 18 hits in various libraries across the country.

A daughter is born: Grace Amarilla 1882

Grace Amarilla Barclay was born on April 10, 1882 to George Angus and Amarilla Barclay.  There is no record that completely confirms where Grace was born but most of the records point to Pine River as her place of birth. 

There is a brief reference to a baby being born in the records of the Methodist Episcopal church but nothing specific. Grace’s entry into this world was not as dramatic as her baby brother. 

In 1882-3 Rev. J. A. Gilfillan reports the baptism of one infant at Pine River, crossing of that stream by the Leech Lake and Brainerd road.  Monday Sept 24, 1888 the Bishop confirmed one person.  

Pg. 82-83  Register of the Diocese of Duluth – almost in pieces.

I, Grace’s granddaughter have thoroughly studied the Register of Baptisms & Marriages by Rev. Whipple 142.F.15.3B 1859-1895 MHS and did not find any mention of Grace except for the above possible reference.  No deaths or burials either.

No actual birth record has been found about the birth of Grace.  Her death certificate from the Minnesota Historical Society (MHS) gives this date as her birth date. 

See the blog:  The Man Who Lived Airplanes  posted dated July 18, 2010, July 26, 2010 on the death of Grace. 

In Grace’s father, George’s Civil War Pension file there is an affidavit that he signs and in that record he says that “Gracie” is his daughter and Amarilla is his wife.

Affidavit of Grace's Birth

I have no baby pictures of Grace but I do have a picture of her that I think was taken when she was very young. 

Grace Amarilla Barclay