Fire – The Barclay Hotel Burns – December 1915

A major catastrophe occurred at the end of 1915 in Pine River, Minnesota. A fire of unknown origin started in the mercantile store and consumed both the store and the hotel before it could be brought under control. If I am correct it would have happened on the 27th of December 1915.

Immediately following the fire, Amarilla opened a temporary store at the south end of the Barclay block. The store was general in nature but still reflected her millinery interests. The hotel was not rebuilt. Amarilla continued to operate her store until her retirement in the 1930’s.  If you look up to the current header photo of this blog you will get an idea of the area involved in the fire.

The Barclay Hotel

The Barclay Hotel, from Logsleds to Snowmobiles, courtesy of the town of Pine River

Fire Threatened Entire Village…..

“Flames Discovered in R. Snell’s Store, Made Short Work of That and Leaped to Barclay, Bucket Brigade Saved Town, Heroic Work of Citizens Prevent the Destruction of the Entire Business Section. Monday evening at about 9:45 the fire alarm announced that fire was raging in the store building of Mrs. Dawes.

The chemical engine was promptly on hand, but the central part of the store was one mass of flame and it was apparent that nothing could be done, so attention was turned to the saving of the Barclay hotel which, on account of a slight south breeze, seemed to be in danger as soon as the store fire would get to its height. For awhile it looked as if the hotel would be saved, but the heat became terrific and the fire fighters were unable to stay on the job. The roof of the kitchen caught fire first and the old landmark, The Barclay, soon was in ashes.

When it seemed that the whole block would be destroyed, and people began moving out as far over as the post office, the wind shifted to the southwest and the greatest danger was over, for by excellent work in keeping the telephone building well soaked under difficult circumstances the flames were checked. Considerable dynamite was used in trying to wreck the burning hotel but with no effect. The wood shed at the rear of the Sentinel-Blaze office was torn down when it became imminent that the main building was in danger. This, however, as it proved, would have been unnecessary.

The land office of S.P. Hanson at the rear of Mrs. Dawes store had no chance of being saved, so after the contents, including the books and records of Treasurer Linden of the school board were safely removed, it also burned to the ground.

During the course of the fire at the hotel the hot water tank in the kitchen got up steam and tore loose from its moorings and shot up through the top of the building and soared high in the air coming down on the top of Day’s blacksmith shop a block away.

Everybody in the Leef building up as far as the post office were moving out, as were those between the hotel and the corner to the north. The telephone exchange was ripped out and looks as if a cyclone hit it, and aside from the actual fire loss is the only other loss of any amount. It will be several days before connections can again be made and the village given telephone service.

Unstinted praise is due a number of citizens for their work in checking the fire, as they did. Homer Andrews, perhaps more than any other one man, stuck to the blistering job of keeping the telephone building wet while others carried water from every available well. Elmer Raines also was among the conspicuous ones and both of these had their clothes scorched to a distinct brown. Without the bucket brigade there is no telling what would have happened, but chemical also did fine work.

Chief Cromett and his assistant, George Bell were right on the job, and against great odds proved to have been doing the best possible under the circumstances. While it was a great loss, it was as nothing compared to what might have been the result, and many there are who are now congratulating themselves on their good fortune.

The barn at the rear of the Barclay caught fire several times and if allowed to burn would have endangered the Spencer building and the Smith building adjoining in which Dr. Bremkin lives. An attempt was made to dynamite the barn, but it was impossible to give the explosive the required resistance to do any damage to the structure except to blow off the door.

Much of the bedding and furniture in the Barclay was saved, by getting it out, but the greater part of it went up in smoke. Mr. Cater who recently sold the furnishing to the new proprietors holds the insurance as security for the unpaid balance, and will be partly reimbursed for the loss. Mrs. Dawes had $3,000 insurance on the hotel building and $1,000 on the store buildings occupied by R.E. Snell who had insurance to the amount of $6,000 on the stock of goods. The loss to the telephone company will be about $100 with no insurance. The total loss to Mrs. Dawes is estimated at $15,000; Snell’s loss is placed at $8,000 each with insurance as stated above.”

Source:  December 31, 1915, Front Page, Pine River Sentinel, Pine River, Cass Co., MN.

This was a pretty good description of the fire, I believe. The newspaper survived to write about the fire. Things in Pine River are so different now then back in 1915, there has been lots of change since that time. I would have liked to have seen the Barclay Hotel on my visits to Pine River, that would that have been a kick. It probably would not have survived anyway but I am still looking for building plans?

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.

G.A.R. Records Lost for Pap Thomas Post…1911

George Angus Barclay was an old soldier and he participated in the GAR – Grand Army of the Republic.

Much to my disappointment, the records for his local GAR post were lost in a fire. I did find his brother Alexander’s which survived.  There was some information but not as much as I had hoped.  Apparently the GAR gave George a big funeral and it would be great to have that information in more detail.

There was an article in the newspaper for Brainerd Dispatch May 26, 1911, page 1 column 6 titled:

Roster of Heroes Dead – List as Compiled for Dispatch by Pro. J.A. Wilson,

A Veteran of the Civil War.

Old Soldiers GAR

Old Soldiers GAR

There are over 80 names mentioned in the article.  It goes on to state that the Old Grand Army Records Were Destroyed in Odd Fellow Hall Fire of Last year. George appears about 23 names down: Geo. Barclay, 9th Minn. Inf.

There is a book titled: “Brainerd’s Half Century,” by Ingolf Dillan, published in 1923 by the General Print Co., in Minneapolis.  On page 138 there is a listing of the members of the Pap Thomas Post No. 30 with “Not Here” as the title?  George Angus Barclay is listed as sixth person down on the list.

There are muster rolls for the Pap Thomas post 30, located at Brainerd, County of Crow Wing, Minnesota.

Age: 48 years old and born in Connecticut

Residence was Pine River

Occupation Lumber

Entry into service August 18, 1862

Rank Wagoner, company [J or I] 9 Minnesota

Final discharge August 24, 1865, rank Wagoner, Co. [J or I] 9 Minnesota

Length of serve 36 months to end of war.

At the very least there is the newspaper account of the condition of the GAR Records for Pap Thomas Post No. 30 so we at least know the state of those documents.

George Angus Barclay is buried in the Evergreen Cemetery in Brainerd.

Amarilla and J.G. Dawes go their Separate Ways! 1910

About the time of George A. Barclay’s murder in 1898, J.G. Dawes entered into Amarilla’s life. He became her second husband.  He join her in business activities.  He became mayor of the town of Pine River and helped to plat the town.  J.G. Dawes also built her a house in Pine River.  About 1905 he started building a hotel in Longville and expanding his business interests.

Part of the Divorce Decree of Amarilla and J.G. Dawes

Part of the Divorce Decree of Amarilla and J.G. Dawes

After 1905, J.G. Dawes and Amarilla started to go their separate ways.  I do not know exactly when J.G. made the break and left Pine River for good.

In 1909 Amarilla filed for divorce. There were three documents.  The divorce was not friendly and both made unkind statements towards the other. Here is a summary of the contents and I have chosen not to include some of the language. You will note that her name is spelled in the documents with the two “m’s.”

J.G. called her “Rilla.”

The first is a Serving of the Complaint to Jefferson G. Dawes by the Sheriff of Hennepin Co., Minnesota, Otto S. Langum on 10 December 1909.

The next is a two page document called a Complaint between the two parties, stating that Ammarilla is 51 years old and J.G. is 57 years old. That they were married on the 2nd day of September in 1902 in the city of Minneapolis, MN. That the plaintiff, Ammarilla, has been living in the state of Minnesota for more than one year. That the plaintiff was treated in a cruel and inhuman manner….. There are no children issued from this marriage. That the plaintiff has real and personal property valued at $7000. That the plaintiff demands Judgment to dissolve the marriage between the two parties.

On the second page of the document, Ammarilla is sworn to truth and the document is notarized on the 8th day of December 1909. Below is a summons to J.G. Dawes to answer the complaint and if he does not do so in 30 days, judgment will be rendered.

The third and final document is the Divorce Decree itself. Apparently J.G. Dawes did not appear or contest the divorce and it was granted to Ammarilla on 1 February, 1910 in Cass County, Minnesota.

The Court, by virtue of the power and authority therein vested and in pursuance of the Statute in such cases made and provided, does order, adjudge and decree the marriage between the said plaintiff Mrs. Ammarilla Dawes and the Defendant Jefferson G. Dawes be dissolved and the same he hereby dissolved according, and the said parties are and each of them is freed and absolutely released from the Bonds of matrimony and all the obligations.”

I don’t know why this makes me sad. I like J.G. Dawes even though he may have been a big talker and told a good tale. He was still a very interesting person and I wish I knew more about him and where he came from so I could judge his character.  Some articles that appeared in the newspaper about him, that I have posted in past posts on this blog,  suggest he was a little arrogant.

The story of what happened to Jefferson G. Dawes is not yet over and he will appear in future posts.  His time with Amarilla had ended and they both moved on.  Amarilla would be on her own for nine years before she decided to remarry for the third time.

The Death of Sarah, Amarilla’s Step-mother – 1907!

Amarilla’s father Daniel Spracklin had remarried after the death of his first wife Elizabeth Keller. Elizabeth was Amarilla’s mother. He married Sarah Blacketeer Allgood a widow in 1863.

Sara Spracklin

Sarah Spracklin

Amarilla and Sarah didn’t get along according to family stories, the particulars of their relationship are not clear.  By 1875 or 1876 Amarilla left home and headed to Minnesota. Amarilla would meet and marry George A. Barclay in 1878 and reside in Pine River till her death.  I have shared about their lives together in past posts on this blog.

It is unclear as to how the death of her step-mother affected Amarilla. Sarah died 22 August, 1907 in Dayton Twp., Iowa Co., Iowa. Her tombstone is on Find A Grave and she shares it with Daniel.

“Sarah Spracklin, died April 22, 1907, wife, mother and step mother to parties named in said record.”

“Obituary for Sarah Spracklin
Mrs. Sarah Spracklin was born Sept. 28, 1836, in Park County, Indiana and died at her home near Deep River, IA, April 22, 1907. She had been a citizen of the neighborhood for over thirty years. She had been in poor health since last October and was a patient sufferer. In her early life she united with the M.E. Church and had ever been a faithful member. Funeral services were held at the Deep River M.E. church Thursday afternoon, conducted by Rev. Keopple of Millersburg. A large concourse of friends were present to pay a last tribute of respect. The children of the Bunker Hill school were present in a body at the home Thursday morning to pay respects to their dear old friend. By her kindly acts and comforting words she had endeared herself to every child and young person in the neighborhood. She was a loving wife and devoted mother. Those left to mourn their loss are an aged widower and seven children together with grand children and other relatives and friends. The children are Verd, of Dakota; Mrs. Gilchrist and Dan and Ed, of What Cheer; George and Reed, of this vicinity. The procession of teams that went from the home to the church from the neighborhood was represented. Internment was in the U.B. Cemetery (Community Cemetery 5-7 miles west of Millersburg).”

The Deep River Journal – 5/3/1907 pg. 2 – Sarah Spracklin. 

Finding this obituary of Sarah Spracklin was a challenge. As you can see Daniel and Sarah lived very close to Deep River which is in Poweshiek County, Iowa and not Iowa County, Iowa, where they actually resided on their land in Dayton Twp. The obituaries of both Daniel and Sara Spracklin were found in the Deep River newspaper. Daniel’s will be shared in a future post.

Alexander Barclay’s Estate and Final Settlement, A Summary!

Alexander Barclay died on 9 December, 1905 in Olmsted Co., Minnesota and his body was laid to rest in Farmington at the Corinthian Cemetery in Dakota County. Alexander’s tombstone is featured at Find A Grave.

 Alexander Barclay's Tombstone, Me and Storm

Alexander Barclay’s Tombstone, Me and A Storm

In recent past posts I have written about the heirs of Alexander.  These siblings, nieces and nephews were found as a result of his death and the information found in his estate papers from Dakota County, Minnesota.

Here is summary of the posts written about Alexander’s heirs.  You can find these posts by using the archive box on the right side of this blog, or the search box.

  1. The Death of George’s Brother Alexander Barclay!, November 24, 2014
  2. Grace Barclay McDonald as Administrator of Alexander’s estate, December 1, 2014.
  3. Alexander Barclay’s Final Resting Place, December 8, 2014
  4. Alexander Barclay’s Heirs in 1906, December 15, 2014
  5. George and Alexander Barclay’s older brother John Barclay, December 26, 2014
  6. What happened to the Oldest Brother John Barclay? January 2, 2015
  7. Heirs of Alexander Barclay:  John Avery Barclay, January 18, 2015
  8. Heirs of Alexander Barclay:  Helen (Sarah Ellen) Barclay Sears, January 23, 2015
  9. Minerva Parks Barclay Remarries, January 20, 2015
  10. Heirs of Alexander Barclay: James Barclay, a brother, February 6, 2015
  11. Heirs of Alexander Barclay:  Sarah Agnes Barclay Blinn, February 13, 2015
  12. The Heirs of Alexander Barclay:  Mary Jane Barclay Ford, February 21, 2015
  13. Mary J. Barclay Ford and Jerome’s deaths…, February 27, 2015
  14. Final Resting Place of Mary and Jerome Ford, Forestville, March 6, 2015
  15. Probate of Mary J. Ford, 1917, Mach 13, 2015
  16. Alexander Barclay’s Heirs: Martha M. Barclay Ford, March 20, 2015
  17. Alexander Barclay’s Heirs, the 2nd Family: Charles Barclay, March 27, 2015
  18. Alexander Barclay’s Heirs, the 2nd Family:  William Barclay 1863-1937, April 3, 2015
  19. Alexander Barclay’s Heirs – the 2nd family:  Mary E. Barclay Clark, April 11, 2015
  20. Alexander Barclay’s Heirs – the 2nd family:  Anna Elizabeth Barclay Carter, April 17, 2015
  21. Alexander Barclay’s Estate and Final Settlement, A Summary, April 24, 2015

A Summary of Alexander’s Estate

Alexander Barclay’s probate took from December 1906 to April of 1907.

My grandmother Grace A. McDonald petitioned the court to start the process of the probate but she was unable to continue because she was pregnant at the time. A Dr. Rogers was assigned to be administrator of Alexander’s estate process. There was no will so the estate had to be probated.  I refer you to the 2nd post in the list above for a review.

Here is a brief listing of the process in Alexander Barclay’s probate process:

1.  Petition for Administration of the estate and submitting of the heirs-at-law document.

Petition for Administration

Petition for Administration

2.  Setting of a Bond and granting of Administration to H.N. Rogers.

3.  Warrant to Appraisers and oath of the Appraisers.

4. Taking Inventory of the Estate which includes the personal possessions, land and other financials like stocks.

5.  Petition for License to Sell Real Estate.

Selling of Real Estate

Selling of Real Estate

6.  Publication of announcements in the local paper for the Creditors and hearing for claims against the estate and payment of those debts.  Printer’s Affidavit.

For Creditors

For Creditors

7.  In this case, affidavits from the children of the older brother John Barclay who was believed to be deceased were obtained, along with affidavits from other family members.

8.  Distribution of the stocks and transferring title to heirs.

9.  Final accounting and Petition for Settlement of the Estate.

Final Account

Final Account

10.  Order discharging the Representative and releasing of the surety bond.

H. N. Rogers put an ad in the local newspaper in order to sell Alexander’s farm titled:

“Farm for Sale Cheap”

The Sale of Alexander's Farm

The Sale of Alexander’s Farm

In the final account for Alexander Barclay’s estate eleven Receipt forms were filled out for each of the 11 heirs and signed by each one, so this means they had to be mailed, signed and returned. The siblings received approximately $548 plus 1/10 interest in the mining stocks.  Grace Barclay McDonald also received the larger sum.  For John Avery Barclay and Sarah Ellen Barclay they received about $273 plus 1/20 interest in the mining stocks.

Grace's Receipt - Estate of Alexander Barclay

Grace’s Receipt – Estate of Alexander Barclay

The probate of Alexander Barclay has been extremely helpful in identifying the two families of John Barclay.  Unfortunately, it has not provided information about the origins of the Barclay family nor the mother Margaret of the first 7 children.

Studying the siblings has created more questions and an uncertainty of the actual ages of the children and their birth order.  John Barclay states he came to the United States in 1833 per his naturalization. After having studied the children of this man and learning of their viewpoints about the origins of the family, I think that a new approach is in order in searching for John Barclay’s origins.

This brings to a close the postings on Alexander Barclay’s estate. It is not the close of research which will continue.

In my opinion Alexander left a lasting legacy to his family.  I do know that George Barclay, his brother and my great grandfather, along with Grace, his niece and my grandmother, held him in esteem.