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.

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.


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.

Amarilla is blessed with a second grandson in 1910!

In the year 1910, Amarilla Dawes was doing well, on her own, and gifted with another grandson by the name of Keith.

Keith Barclay John McDonald was born 13 March, 1910 in International Falls, Minnesota to Ronald S. McDonald and Grace A. Barclay McDonald.  His grandparents were George Barclay and Amarilla Spracklin, so that was his middle name.  The “John” was his baptismal name.

You will find more information about Keith at the blog:  The Man Who Lived Airplanes, where I share about his ancestors and their origins. See the link on the right side of this blog under BJ’s Family History blogs.

Keith B. McDonald about 1911

Keith B. McDonald about 1911. I think he wants the camera…

He would graduate from Gonzaga High School in 1929 in Spokane and enter the military during the 1930’s.  He would attend airplane mechanics school at Chanute Field in Illinois and later became an inspector of airplanes for the U.S. Air Force at Boeing in Seattle.  He knew how to repair airplane engines, automobiles engines, and boat engines. He was an expert engine mechanic.  He was also an inventor. He built several campers of his own design which were like forerunners of the tent trailers only he used aluminum.  He built his own boat and put hydroplanes on it.  He obtained a patent for his fishing oar design.  He was very curious and loved anything that had an airplane engine in it including hydroplane racing boats.  He married in 1941 to Marjorie Boardman and they have descendants living today, including the writer of this blog.

Grace gives Amarilla another granddaughter: Edna Lorraine in 1907

Amarilla was not involved with Alexander’s estate but she was kept busy with grandchildren. During Alexander’s probate process Grace gave birth to Miriam in January of 1906 and the following year she gave birth to another granddaughter.

The new baby was Edna Lorraine McDonald born on the 28th day of March, 1907. Grace and Ronald were living in International Falls at the time.

Edna was better known to all as Eddie. I do not have any baby pictures of Eddie.  This is the earliest photo that I have.

Eddie as a little girl

Eddie as a little girl

Eddie about 1926

Eddie about 1926

You can find out more about Eddie by going to the blog: The Man Who Lived Airplanes.  You will find the link on the right side of this blog. There are a lot of fun items shared from Eddie’s “Collection of Junk,” scrapbook on that blog.

Eddie was destined to become a nurse.  She graduated in 1928 from Sacred Heart School of Nursing in Spokane. She worked her whole life as a nurse.  Eddie loved the water so she headed to Seattle after 1930 and settled there on what is called Alki Beach and it would be her home for the remainder of her life.

She liked bright colors and prints so it is too bad we don’t know the colors of her dress in the picture below.  She might have made the dress herself.  Here she is preparing our Christmas Eve dinner a tradition in the family.

Eddie on Xmas Eve preparing our dinner in her tiny kitchen

Eddie on Christmas Eve preparing our dinner in her tiny kitchen