A Resting Place for this blog about the lives of George and Amarilla Barclay of Pine River…

This blog was started in March of 2010.  It has now been six years of postings about the lives, ancestors and families of George Angus Barclay and Amarilla Spracklin, founders of Pine River, Minnesota.

George A. Barclay ca. 1878

George A. Barclay ca. 1878

I have covered George Angus Barclay’s early years, his siblings, his life in Minnesota, his service in the Civil War and his settling in the Pine River area.  There is always more you can do in genealogical research and I still have questions but I think I have covered quite a bit on this blog.  They were truly two very colorful and complicated people.

Unfortunately, I have not yet determined if George was born in Enfield, Connecticut.  There is no birth record for him at the Enfield Courthouse.  I was actually there at the courthouse on two separate occasions searching for his birth and anything on the Barclays. I have studied George’s siblings to try to find out if they knew anything.  They all have their own version of their origins in the USA but not much about Scotland so far.

The last name of George’s mother Margaret was found on his sister Mary Jane Barclay Ford’s death certificate but it is unreadable.  I have asked many genealogists to try to help me decipher it but they have failed as well. It is something like Margaret “Davison or Davidson.”  If I could find another source it might reveal the name in a more readable manner.

George’s father,  John Barclay, was supposedly born in Edinburgh, but I am not so sure about that. We all know the great city of Edinburgh and he might have just used that city because it was known.  If he had a Scottish brogue it might have been difficult to understand his actual birth location. I have experience with a mispronunciation and spelling of a birth location in Scotland on my mother’s side. However, Edinburgh is a very big city and he could have come from some area in or around that city. What this means is I need to learn about Scottish genealogical research and I started that process with the course I took several years ago at the British Institute in Salt Lake City.

Evergreen Cemetery - Barclay plot

Evergreen Cemetery – Barclay plot

John Barclay stated that he came to the United States in 1833.  This is what he testified to in his naturalization papers that I found in Scott County, Minnesota records. So far I have not found any evidence of a John Barclay coming to the United States in that year of 1833 online. I am told by accomplished genealogists who have studied immigration that people often forget the year of their immigration.

John’s age is also in question, it changes from census to census. It is said that he was born in 1801 and died in 1897 which makes him 96 years old at his death.  His obituary notice is also vague about his origins, immigration and his first wife.

George and Alexander, brothers, indicate they were born in Connecticut but so far I have not found any birth records for the children of John and Margaret Barclay in that state and I have been to several of their archives in person on several occasions and local courthouses.  I have conducted a cemetery search in the Enfield area for Margaret but have had no luck on a burial location. It is possible that she is buried near the Bristol area based on her daughter Mary Jane’s information. So the origins of the Barclay’s are still shrouded in mystery.  We will see, and if I do find out anything I will of course share it on this blog.

Amarilla about 1911 in Pine River, MN.

Amarilla about 1911 in Pine River, MN.

Amarilla’s connection have been a little easier to find and search. I have covered Amarilla’s life in Iowa and Minnesota on this blog.  Her father Daniel D. Spracklin was born in Knox Co., Ohio and he migrated to Iowa by 1856 with his first family.  That family consisted of mother Elizabeth Keller Spracklin, and her siblings Henry, Oliver, and Mary with Amarilla following in 1858.

Because there was a lot to share I decided to divide up the story of Amarilla’s origins between Ohio and Iowa/Minnesota. So you will find the origins of the Spracklin’s on another blog titled “Solomon Goss of Fearing Twp., in Ohio.”  This blog will take you back into the history of Amarilla’s father and mother’s origins in Ohio focusing on the counties of Washington, Knox and Morrow.  It covers Daniel D. Spracklin’s family origins through his parents John A. and Lydia (Goss) Spracklin, his siblings and what happened to them.

Amarilla’s lineage goes to DAR and the Revolutionary War and to Mayflower through her grandmother Lydia Goss Spracklin. I have yet to share about that side of the family but will be doing so on the Solomon Goss blog after I complete the Spracklin’s history.

Amarilla’s also has lineage to DAR and Mayflower through her mother’s side of the family Elizabeth Keller Spracklin’s mother Mary Anne Delano Keller and her father Stephen Delano.  This lineage has been covered in the Solomon Goss blog.

I need to join DAR and Mayflower and in the next year hopefully that will go well and I will let you know the outcome.  I also might give information to other organizations in order to preserve my and our family history.

I have taken DNA tests and some family members have done so as well.  I have a PAGE at the top of this blog describing that process.  I encourage anyone who is a Barclay or a cousin to take a test and let me know so I can seek you out in the database and see how you compare with myself.  I have tested with all the major companies – Ancestry, Family Tree DNA and 23&Me.

So I come to a stopping place on this blog and will not be posting unless I have something of merit to share with you. The blog will remain online and active and I might make some changes adding material or updating and do a little maintenance on occasion so check back once in a while to see if anything new occurs.  Check the right side at the top of the blog for any updates and announcements.

This does not mean that I am finished.  I want to clean up my research binders for the Barclays and when that is to my satisfaction, I will start working on more research into the origins of the Barclays.

I will be putting my time and energy into the Solomon Goss blog and going further back into the past to cover the Goss family history. It will be a great challenge and will take a great deal of care.  It will be harder because the further back you go the harder the research gets.

To help you find things, I have created PAGES at the top of this blog on various topics and as table of contents for the different surnames making it easier to find the posts that cover the information you seek. There are tips on how to search this blog.

Please feel free to comment, just make sure you have the correct blog before you click send for I have several blogs.  You can also contact me at my other email  bjmcdonell@gmail.com.

Happy hunting Bonnie

Heir Mail article honoring George A. Barclay, Civil War Soldier…

In 1998, The Crow Wing County Genealogical Society Newsletter in Brainerd, Minnesota published an article about George Angus Barclay.  This article appeared in their Heir Mail newsletter. The editor kindly sent me a copy and I thought it was well done considering he was not her ancestor.

Heir Mail Newsletter excerpt

Heir Mail Newsletter, a portion

  • George A. Barclay
  • 1844 to 1898
  • Wagner, Company, I, 9th MN Infantry
  • Enlisted 15 Aug. 1862,
  • Discharged 24 Aug, 1865
  • Resident about 25 years.
George A. Barclay Article

George A. Barclay Article a portion of…

George Barclay operated a hotel and store in Pine River for a number of years. He was also engaged in lumber operations in the areas.

The following quotation is taken from Down the Mississippi written by Captain Glazier in 1881. Capt. Glazier describes his trip to Pine River and his pleasant surprise in finding George Barclay’s place. “Sometimes in the road and sometimes out of it; now driving along the shore of a lake and again over huge logs and boulders, it was voted that our ride to Pine River was unlike anything we had ever else where experienced. The ranch of George Barclay, the only white habitation between Gull and Leech Lakes, was reached at five o’clock in the evening. Here we were most agreeably surprised to find very good accommodations for both man and beast. Barclay is a decided favorite with the Indians, and his prosperity in this isolated corner of Minnesota is largely due to his friendly relations with them.  He is always supplied with guns, knives, beads, tobacco and such other goods as are in demand by his dusky neighbors, for which he received in exchange furs, game, snake-root, and such other products of the forest as find a ready market at Brainerd or St. Paul.”

Later Brainerd historian, Sarah Thorp Herald added, “In 1894 Barclay’s establishment had lost all resemblance to a trading-post and had become a lumberman’s hotel of some pretensions. It was a two-storied structure with the inevitable “false front” of frontier towns, and stood in a grove of jack pines near the newly-laid Brainerd and Northern Railroad tracks. 

Newspaper accounts of 3 Nov. 1898 describe Mr. Barclay’s death: “Mr. Barclay was shot about seven-thirty on Sat. evening. When the fatal shot was fired, he was sitting in a chair, smoking a cigar, and talking to four or five men, about five feet away from a window in the barroom of the hotel. The assassin fired through the glass, the ball passing through Mr. Barclay’s neck from side to side, probably cutting the carotid artery of the jugular vein.”

After authorities were notified the remains were brought to Brainerd for burial. The Pap Thomas Post of the BAR handled the arrangements. The funeral services were conducted from the Episcopal Church with Rev. C.F. Kite officiating. Burial was in Evergreen Cemetery (Current records do not list his burial.) (Note:  There is not death certificate for George only the Coroners records.) He was survived by his wife and a married daughter, Mrs. R.A. McDonald.  (Note: Should be R.S.) 

From what I’ve been able to determine from my research, no one was ever convicted of shooting George Barclay. Those on the scene saw no one, the killer apparently was able to escape into the darkness of the nearby forest and escape being brought to justice. Her Mail, Fall. 1998. (Note: There are several posts on this blog describing the murder, coroner’s report, grand jury and trial regarding the murder of George A. Barclay.)

I have visited the Crow Wing Genealogical Society in Brainerd located in the Family History Center near the Church.  http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~mncrowwi/gs/  Researching George Barclay and Amarilla required extending my search beyond Cass County.  I thank them for this nicely done article on my great-grandfather.

I wrote a post on this blog about George’s service as a Wagoner in the Civil War.  It is really difficult to find information about men who served in the support part of the Civil War. The focus is the battles and the officers.  It has turned out to be one of the most popular posts on this blog.  A quick Google search reveals a little more information about this valuable service to the war effort now appearing online.

Centennial of Pine River, 1973 looking forward to 150+ years!

The city of Pine River has been good to me.  On my first visit they gave me my own copy of their book: Logsleds to Snowmobiles and I am happy to say that it has fallen apart because I used it so much.  I have it safely cared for in a binder.

I celebrate Pine River, Cass County, Minnesota.  I thank them for honoring my great-grandfather George Angus Barclay and great grandmother Amarilla Spracklin Barclay as the founders of the town. In honor of the preservation of the Train Depot, I had a plaque created, dedicated to the memory of my great grandparents and their descendants.  Hopefully it is on the wall of the museum there or the Visitor Center.

Family History Library has this book in its library in Salt Lake City.

Logsleds to Snowmobiles

Logsleds to Snowmobiles

I was also given a copy of the Pine River Journal Newspaper 1873 to 1973 Centennial Vol. 37, Number 22.  The newspaper has received a bit of wear but is still in pretty good shape.

Pine River Journal - Centennial 1873 to 1973

Pine River Journal – Centennial 1873 to 1973

Both of these historical items have been of immense help to me in my research on my family.  They have given me a base from which to build my research on my great grandparents George and Amarilla Barclay.

Thank you Pine River, and I look forward to 150 years more.

August 1947: A little Church Business!

Mr. Don D. Lundrigan wrote to my father Keith McDonald on August 26, 1947 about the First English Evangelical Lutheran Church.  Here is a link to a very lovely church in Pine River that may be the one in question: http://www.1stluth.org/

It was a letter and court documents regarding the title of the land for the church. Apparently when the deed was first written up by my great-grandmother Amarilla it was done slightly wrong and they wanted to “quiet the title,” on the land the church is situated. 

Land Issue in Pine River the plaintiffs and defendants a portion of the legal papers

Land Issue in Pine River the plaintiffs and defendants a portion of the legal papers

Unfortunately he does not reference the Book and Volume of the deed in question. He goes on and comment that “The church has occupied this property for well over the period required for them to obtain the property by adverse possession.”  He does assure that there will be no injury to any interests the family may have?

Reading through the documents it looks very complicated and involves other people and a bank.  There were approximately eight pages of various motions.

Mr. Lundrigan went on to be in the state legislature. Here is a link to information and photo of Mr. Lundrigan:


Amarillla’s Legacy and Estate 1942…

Amarilla passed on 10 August, 1942 and it took a good two years to probate her estate.

Her granddaughter, Miriam, filed a petition with the court for the probate of the will of Amarilla Dawes Urton and Oscar Dahl was appointed the executor.  Claims would be heard on January 4, 1943 at 10 o’clock at the Probate Court in Walker.

Pine River Journal - Portion of the Petition by Miriam

Pine River Journal – Portion of the Petition by Miriam

Back in 1939, Gordon became Amarilla’s guardian based on notices I have found in the newspaper.  On July 25, 1939 Gordon (R.G. McDonald) Filed a Citation for Hearing on Petition to Mortgage Land and Guardianship of Amarilla Urton in Probate Court.

So on August 31, 1939 he filed for record in the Probate Court and Order of License to Mortgage Land, in the matter of the estate of Amarilla Urton – Incompetent. Petition of R.G. McDonald for license to mortgage land to be published in the Pine River Journal.

The mortgage was necessary to pay the debts of the said Amarilla Urton and taxes against her property, costs of administration, medical, nursing expenses and maintenance of said ward. Remember the Civil War Pension of George had been denied to her.

What follows is a detailed description of the land to be mortgaged.

Mortgage of the land 1939

Mortgage of the land 1939

The  Judge rules that the mortgage was not to exceed $500.00

The Petition of R.G. McDonald as guardian of the above named guardianship, being duly filed in this court representing that it is necessary and for the best interest of said estate and of all interested therein that certain lands of said ward described therein be mortgaged and praying that a license be granted to mortgage the same. They were to appear on 21 day of August, 1939 to show cause if necessary.

Returning to her estate process, an auction was to be held in Pine River for household goods of the estate on October 17, 1942 at the Urton Residence.  Well, I can just see them throwing out history and memorabilia and I now know why there is nothing left of my great-grandmother’s estate. Sigh!

Auction to sell household goods for the Urton Estate

Auction to sell household goods for the Urton Estate

July 10, 1943 Citation for Hearing on Petition to Sell, Mortgage or Lease Land, Estate of Amarilla Urton in Probate Court.  The heirs are listed and told they are to show cause if any at the Probate on the 9th day of August, 1943.

On the May 31st, 1943 at Walker, MN an Order to Sell Land by Private Sale was filed with the court.

Lots Nine (9), Ten (10, Eleven (11) Twelve (12) and Sixteen (16) of Block Two (2) of the Original Plat of the Village of Pine River. Block A of the Dawes Fifth Addition to Pine River, Minn.

Pine River Journal sale of Real estate 1942

Pine River Journal sale of Real estate 1942

Urton Estate Sale of Lands and Lots

Urton Estate Sale of Lands and Lots

On the same day the 24 of May, 1944 Order of Confirmation of Sale of Land Under License at Private Sale. On the 9th of October 1943 to George E. Durkee and Rachel M. Durkee, husband and wife etc. at Pine River, Minnesota for $3500.00.

Durkee Purchase 1944

Durkee Purchase 1944

Also sold on 1 July, 1944 to a Virginia Ingraham Lot No. Sixteen (16) Block Two (2) Original Plate of Pine River, Minn.

On the 14 of June, 1943 the representative sold to the Pine Ridge Cemetery Association Block A Dawes 5th Addition to Pine River, Minn for $25.00.

Rausel Miller on the 24 May, 1944 was sold Lots Nine (9), Ten (10), Eleven (11) and Twelve (12) of Block Two (2), Original Plat of Pine River, Minn.

Final Account

On November 30, 1944 Miriam received a letter from Oscar Dahl, on Pine River State Bank stationary, about the Final Account and Petition for Hearing and Allowance was filed on 27th of October 1944 and saying that checks were sent to the heirs. The heirs listed on the formal papers were Vivian McKanna, granddaughter, Gordon McDonald, grandson, Miriam McDonald, granddaughter, Edna McDonald, granddaughter, Keith McDonald (my father), grandson and Jean Davis, granddaughter.

This would not be the end of great grandmother’s estate, there would be several more communications to my father’s family regarding the Lutheran church (1945), and land by the park in Pine River for the hospital (1949).

I was curious about Mr. Dahl and learned the following, Oscar Dahl was born 20, December 1875 and he died 29, August 1966 in Pine River. He knew my great grandmother and I missed the opportunity to talk to him. He was a banker and president of Farmer’s and Pine River State Banks and more. There is a memorial at Find A Grave, with photo, tombstone photo and links. He is buried in the Prosper Cemetery in Fillmore Co., Minnesota.


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: http://www.brainerd.net/~evergreencem/dotd.html

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.