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.

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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.  

17 November, 1939 – Founder of Pine River Celebrates her Birthday

A group of Amarilla’s friends put together a birthday celebration for her on her 81st Birthday.  The picture below was in the possession of her grandson Keith B. MacDonald and also appeared in the newspaper article which was on the front page of the local paper.

Amarilla a little older

Amarilla in older years…

Mrs. Amarilla Urton Founder of Pine R., Celebrates Birthday 

A birthday has been arranged honoring Mrs. Amarilla Urton, founder of Pine River, on her eighty-first birthday to be held at her home Friday afternoon (today). A group of friends and old time acquaintances will gather on the memorable occasion and partake of a turkey dinner, which is being prepared by Mrs. Frank Shepard and Mrs. Katie Silk. The group will also present her with a purse of sliver in memory of her anniversary. As a fitting gesture to such a distinguished old lady, a short history of her colorful years during the early days of Pine River are related in the following paragraphs. The dates and facts were obtained by the editor thru the courtesy of a number of her friends.

Mrs. Amarilla Urton was born in Iowa County, Iowa on November 17, 1858, 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 by team the first night and continued their trip the following day by tote-team to the territory now known as Pine River, where Mr. Barclay operated a trading-post on the river, here the property now used as a cemetery. The trading-post was built by Mr. Barclay and McNany in 1877. The following year, the store was moved to the site now occupied by the Round residence, this was really the first business place in the territory. In those days it was known as the trading-post as this was where the Indians brought their furs and exchanged them for supplies, this being the only business conducted at this time as the lumber-jacks had not yet arrived. Mr. Barclay then purchased three 40’s from the federal government, the deed of which was signed by the President, received three years later which will give you some idea of the rapidity in which land deals were made in those days. Additional land was purchased by Mr. Barclay in this vicinity a short time later.

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

The second white woman to make her home here was Mrs. John Leef who arrived in 1895. Shortly after this time several pioneering settlers arrived and lumbering and timber work was in full swing. The railroad came through here in 1892, and was known as the “Brainerd Northern” running from Brainerd as far north as Hackensack which was then known as Laporte. Their main source of revenue being in hauling lumber.

The first post office was built previous to the advent of the railroad, by Mr. Barclay. Mail was delivered twice a week by stages, which traveled from Brained to the Leech Lake Agency. Four days were necessary to make one roundtrip.

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. 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 the records of Cass county. Mrs. Urton later married the late George Urton.

Mrs. Urton took an active part in the building of the village donating the property now occupied by the railroad right-of-way, the Pine Ridge Cemetery, power-house site, two parks, the Lutheran and Methodist church sites and ten lots for the first school which was built in 1897. The first school teacher was Mrs. Peck. Abe White has the distinction of being the second station-agent in Pine River, coming here in 1900, and continuing in that capacity until two years ago when he retired.

The Urton residence was built in 1905 by Mr. Zigmund, father of Harris and Arthur Zigmund.

All in All, this grand old lady has had a colorful life, one that few have the privilege of experiencing. She has spent 61 years of her life here and is well past her allotted three score and ten, still has a keen mind and enjoys keeping posted on world affairs and the progress of Pine River, to which she gave the best years of her life.

It is only fitting and proper that the citizens of this community salute her as the founder and pioneer of this modern city which has developed far beyond her fondest dreams.

Friday, November 17, 1939, will no doubt be one of the most memorable days in her life as her friends gather to honor her on her 81st anniversary, bringing her the well-wishes of everyone, and the making a happy event by her already eventful life.

Source: The Pine River Journal, Pine River, Minnesota, Friday, Nov. 7, 1939, page 1 col. 4, with Picture.

The article is by far one of the best and pretty accurate regarding the life of Amarilla. It is my belief that she was probably born in Benton County, Iowa near Blairstown because that is where her father Daniel had his land at that time.  He would move to Iowa County but that was not till after 1870.

I think it is very interesting that no mention is made of her children George Alexander Barclay and Grace Amarilla Barclay McDonald. Both children had died well before 1939, but there were descendants still living.  They also don’t mention Jefferson Dawes her 2nd husband, nor much about George Urton.  I am sure they didn’t have the room to really cover all the history.

It is too bad great-grandmother never wrote down her life story or her memories, it would have been wonderful to know her life in her own words.

Delano Kindred Reunion 2015

Handlery Hotel in San Diego 2015

Handlery Hotel in San Diego 2015

I have returned from my trip to southern California and have written an overview post on my blog:  Solomon Goss in Fearing Twp. in Ohio.  You can access it by going to the right side of this blog and finding the link.

The Delano Kindred Reunion was a lot of fun.  The Kindred people are fun, friendly and very proud of their Delano heritage. The weekend was started out by a genealogy session on Friday at 2 pm and then dinner about 6 pm at the Handlery Hotel in San Diego.  The next day was the business meeting, a tour of the U.S.S. Midway and then another dinner that evening at the hotel in their garden area.  It was fun.

https://sgossfamily.wordpress.com/

Delano Kindred Reunion 2015

Delano Kindred Reunion 2015

My dad, Keith’s mother’s line reaches back to the marriage of a John Keller to a Mary Anne Delano in 1830 in Knox Co., Ohio.  This is our family’s connection to the Delano Family.  On the Solomon Goss blog I discuss this in-depth.

The Death of Amarilla’s father, Daniel D. Spracklin – March 1915

Amarilla was not going to have a great 1915. There was a lot of changes.

With Grace’s death in 1911, there was nothing compelling R.S. McDonald, husband of daughter Grace, to stay in International Falls.  He sold the house and left taking the children with him to Canada in 1915. Ronald’s story is better featured on the blog: The Man Who Lived Airplanes, see right of this blog for the link.

In addition at the end of 1915, the Barclay Hotel and the store burned down and Amarilla took a big financial hit.

Backing up a little, at the beginning of 1915, Amarilla lost her father.

Daniel D. Spracklin or D.D.

Daniel D. Spracklin or D.D.

On 9 March, 1915 Amarilla’s father Daniel D. Spracklin died.

I do not know how this affected her, she had left Iowa after 1875.  I have never found any articles suggesting that she visited them in Iowa.

Daniel was a quiet and simple man and it has been difficult to learn about him. He usually referred to himself as D.D. I have yet to find anywhere where he wrote out his full name including his middle name. There is a bit of controversy in the family about his middle name and its spelling. There are those that spell it “Dair” but I have reason to believe it is “Dare” which is the family name of his great-grandmother Mary Dare who was the mother of Elizabeth Andrews Spracklin, Daniel’s grandmother.

Unfortunately, the Deep River newspaper has made it even more confusing as to what was Daniel’s middle name. They have titled his obituary “Daniel Dave Spracklin.”

Obituary for Daniel Dave Spracklin
“Daniel Dave Spracklin was born February 16, 1830 and died March 9, 1915, at his home, southeast of town. He was married to Elizabeth Keller in February 1853, and removed to Iowa County, near Marengo, in 1856, where his wife died March 9, 1859. He was married again to Mrs. Sarah Algood in 1863 and moved to Benton county, near Blairstown, living there until 1884, when he came to Dayton Township, Iowa county, where he has since resided. From his first marriage were four children, of whom but one, Mrs. Ammarilla Dawes, survives. Of the second marriage there were seven children, of whom six survive. Mrs. Lydia Ross, Vida, Reed, Daniel, George and Edmund. All the children were present except Mrs. Daws, who was prevented by ill health. He had been a great sufferer, but had been kind and patient through all. He was a good father, loving and kind, self sacrificing and always thinking of others.”

 Source: The Deep River Journal 3-19-1915 pg. 3, Iowa State Archives, Des Moines.

Daniel’s Death certificate still doesn’t give his middle name clearly and is also a problem in that the names of his parents are unclear.  The informant was Reed Spracklin, a son, and I think he was confused when he filled the death certificate out putting his own parentage in the spaces rather than his father’s. We know his father to be John Andrews Spracklin, who was born in England, and Lydia Goss, who was born in Ohio, from documents shared on the blog: Solomon Goss of Fearing Twp., in Ohio – see right side panel.

Certificate of Vital Records – State of Iowa, Dayton Twp., for Daniel Dair Spracklin, male, white, born Feb. 16, 1830, age 85 yrs. 21 days, widowed, birthplace Ohio, father’s name is Daniel Spracklin, born in England, mother is Gauge, birthplace Penn, occupation farmer. Signed by R.A. Spracklin, of Deep River. Date of death Mar 9, 1916, died at 9 am of lobar pneumonia, senility. R. E. Guner of Deep River, UB Cemetery, March 13, 1915, by Connell of Deep River – funeral director.

Daniel’s tombstone which he shares with his second wife Sarah is in the Community Cemetery near Millersburg, Iowa and is featured on Find A Grave.  See BJM Cemetery Discoveries blog for more information.

DD Spracklin tombstone

Daniel did not leave a will but he did have land so there was a probate of his estate. Reed Andrews Spracklin was the Administrator of the estate.

From the sources above we see that Amarilla was unable to attend the funeral of her father because of ill health.  It is unclear or unknown as to how close she was to the family and if she kept in touch. Charles Edward who is probably the Edmund mentioned above is her brother from the second family. He had migrated to Cass County by 1912 and maybe have been a contact for Amarilla.

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.