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:

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.

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.

Pine River in 1940…

Amarilla was alone again in 1940. Her husband George Urton had passed in 1939. She was 82 years old.

The Pine River newspaper’s gossip column had a little piece about Amarilla suffering a stroke in 1936.  So I think that her health was failing in the latter part of the 1930’s.

Amarilla is found in the 1940 census for Pine River.  At this time she is neighbor to a Leonard Johnson, Adolph Leseman, Grace Boyer, Evelyn Thompson, George Mahood, Katherine M. Silk.  My Aunt Miriam mentions Mrs. Silk in her family history notes.

Line 67, 20, 0, 2400, No, Urton, Amarilla, Head, F, W, 81, wd, No., 8, 9, Iowa, R, yes, no no no no U, 0 0 , yes, 2.

Source: Amarilla Urton Family, 1940 U.S. Federal Census, Pine River, Cass Co., Minnesota. SD#10, ED #11-41, Enumerated on April 5, 1940, Gerhard R. Rognlie, Sht#1B.

Again we find some news in the Pine River Journal Newspaper, Local News Items, Mrs. Amarilla Urton, Friday, April 26, 1940. This is a fun piece to read about:

Loss of Prize Chickens

Loss of Prize Chickens

Mrs. Amarilla Urton, Pine River’s oldest lady, had the misfortune of losing almost her entire flock of chickens Monday. She decided to turn her hens out for a bit of sunshine and when she returned an hour later dogs had killed 15 of her 16 prize layers.

It is nice to know that Gordon McDonald, my uncle and her grandson, visited Amarilla and looked out for her a little in April of 1939. Gordon was the son of Grace, Amarilla’s daughter. It also appears that he became her guardian at this time.

Gordon 1930's

Gordon 1930’s from Eddie’s High School Annual.

The gossip column mentioned another visit in on 25, October, 1940 Gordon McDonald returned to Minneapolis Saturday, after spending a few days with his grandmother, Mrs. Amarilla Urton.  

Amarilla welcomes her grandson in May 1904…

He was formally named Ronald Gordon McDonald which gets him confused with his father Ronald Sandfield McDonald. He was known as Gordon and affectionately as “Uncle Gordy.” Grace gave birth on 3 May 1904. The place of Gordon’s birth has been stated as Grand Rapids, Minnesota but I am not totally convinced.

You will find more information and pictures about the life of Gordon McDonald at my other blog “The Man Who Lived Airplanes,” here is one particular post about him:

In the search box of the other blog mentioned above try, searching on “Gordon,” or “Ronald Gordon.”  We will meet up again with Gordon when he comes to visit his grandmother Amarilla in 1939.

Gordon as a little baby

Gordon as a little baby

This photo below is one of my favorites of my uncle.  It was taken in International Falls probably about 1909 or 1910?