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.

Stepping Back In Time: Amarilla’s Life In Iowa Before George!

In recent published posts I have talked about John Keller and Mary Anne Delano Keller who were Amarilla’s grandparents on her mother’s side. 

Amarilla was the daughter of Daniel D. Spracklin and Elizabeth Keller.  Daniel’s parents were John Andrews Spracklin and Lydia Goss.  Daniel and Elizabeth had 4 children.  By 1860 Elizabeth had passed.  She had died in 1859 just months after Amarilla’s birth.  

Elizabeth Spracklin's Tombstone , Titler Cemetery, Iowa

A thorough page by page search of the Iowa census was attempted but Daniel was not found.  Amarilla does appear in the 1860 Iowa census in Benton County, Iowa but she is not with her father Daniel? She is with her sister Mary and another family.

1860 U.S. Federal Census Family of Shelley/Spracklin Dwelling# 1175, Hse #1217, pg. 178, Roll #M635-325 Iowa & Jasper Co.,  Marengo Twp., Iowa Co., Iowa, National Archives, Alaska-Pacific Region, Seattle, WA. 1175/1217 – Joseph Shelley, 68 yrs. old, male, farmer, $1400 real estate, $100 personal, born in Tennessee. Sarah Shelley, age 48, born in Maryland, Martha Shelley, age 13, born in Indiana, Eliza, age 9, born in Indiana May Sprackling age 4, male?, born in Iowa, (A)melia age 1 yr., female, born in Iowa

It is my belief that this is Mary and Amarilla even though the spelling is different.  The ages are correct and the location is close.  As for the Shelley family, I do not know what their relationship to Daniel maybe.  The Spracklins and the Kellers are large families and this could easily be relatives that I do not have knowledge of.  They could also just be neighbors and friends helping out.  

The other interesting fact is that Henry, the older brother is also displaced and living with another family in 1860.  In this case it is his Aunt Olive a sister of Daniel’s.

 W. P. Merifield Family, 1860 U.S. Federal Census Leroy Twp., Benton County, Iowa, Reel No M653, # 311, Page 162. Merifield, W.P. 29 farmer 800, 300, born in Ohio, Olive 27 yrs. born in Ohio, Lydia 7 yrs. born in Iowa, Corista 2 yrs born in Iowa, Spracklin, Henry 7, born in Ohio.

There is no sign of Amarilla’s father.  I did a house by house search of the township and there were lots of houses that were empty.  I even searched in Ohio to see if Daniel had gone back to his home in Knox County, Ohio because his father John Andrews Spracklin had died in 1862.  I cannot find him. 

Benton County 1872

So the death of Elizabeth Keller Spracklin in 1859 really created a temporary scattering of the family of Daniel D. Spracklin at that time.  There does not appear to be any evidence that he joined the fight and enlisted in the Civil War.  

By 1870 Daniel is back in the census and he is remarried to Sarah.  He has Henry and Amarilla with him from his first marriage.  Emily is Sarah’s daughter from her first marriage. Sister Mary died on the 27th of September 1861.  This death must have affected Amarilla even though she was very young.   

By 1870, Sarah and Daniel have started to have a family of their own.  The other children: Lydia, Birdie H (Virda), Reed A. are of the 2nd family.

Daniel D. Spracklin Household, 1870 U.S. Federal Census LeRoy Twp., Benton Co., Iowa,  June 17, 1870, Post Office is Blairstown, Page 18. Line 34, 123, 122, Spracklin, Daniel, age 40, male, white, famer, $3300, $700, born in Ohio, father and mother of foreign birth, citizen of US.  Sarah,  34 yrs., female, white, keeping house, born in Indiana.  Henry F. 17 yrs., male, white, born in Ohio.  Emily,  13 yrs, female, white, born in Indiana.  Ammarilla, 11 yrs., female, white, born in Iowa.  Lydia M., 5 yrs., female, white, born in Iowa.  Birdie H., 4 yrs., male, white, born in Iowa. Continued page 19:  Reed A., 1 yrs., male, white, born in Iowa.  Henry, Emily, Ammarilla, Lydia attended school within the year. 

There are other names listed under the notation for Daniel in 1870.  Nelson, Peter 26, farmer with 600 value of personal estate from Denmark, Nelson, Hardie 26 keeping house, from Denmark, Nelson, Andrew 1 yr. born in Iowa, Nelson, Peter 5/12 yr. born in Iowa, all have parentage that are foreign birth, Frederickson, Ann 8, from Denmark, Anderson, Peter 23, laborer Denmark, both with parentage foreign.

Daniel remarried on 21 November 1863 to Sarah Blacketer Allgood in Marengo, Iowa Co., Iowa.  He is still living in LeRoy Twp. in Benton County, Iowa but that will change.  Amarilla was 5 years old when he marries Sarah.  She may be young but old enough to know that something has happened. 

Daniel's Land in Leroy Twp., Benton County, Iowa

In the closeup of the Benton Co. Atlas Daniel’s land is in two parts of 40 acres each.  There is a double line almost in the middle and Daniel’s land is on the left of the line under the School.  There is a dot showing this piece of land.  The other land is to the right on the other side of the double line with another dot next to a Case and below A. Justus.  Which piece of land Daniel had his house located on is not known.  This is why Amarilla’s great-granddaughter, the writer of this blog, believes she was born nearer to Blairstown.  Daniel did not move to Iowa County, Iowa 20 miles south till after 1872.  Amarilla was born in November of 1858.

If you go back to the 1856 Iowa State Census you will find interesting things going on.   Daniel is not mentioned in published indexes for this census but he is definitely there and he and Elizabeth and their son Henry are living next to Blacketers, and Daniel’s sister Olive Merrifield and her family.

1856 Iowa State Census

So Amarilla’s beginnings are a bit precarious.  She looses her mother at a very early age, a sister dies and she is separated from her brother and father for maybe a year or two?  Then her father returns to marry a stranger.  This is a lot for a 5-year-old to take in.

Miriam, Amarilla’s granddaughter writes:  “Amarilla (Ammarilla, sometimes she varied it) belonged to the first family, hated the second and left home.  Supported herself as a seamstress.  Married George Angus Barclay in Brainard, Minn.  He had land…”

Note:  Titler Cemetery is featured on my blog:  BJM’s Cemetery Discoveries scroll to the bottom of this list of posts and you will find the Spracklin stones for Titler as well as some Merifield and more: http://bjmcemeterydiscoveries.blogspot.com/search/label/Titler%20Cemetery

Amarilla’s Origins in Iowa!

Amarilla Spracklin Barclay was most likely born near Blairstown in Benton County in the state of Iowa on the 17 of November 1858.

Amarilla’s father was Daniel D. Spracklin and her mother was Elizabeth Keller.  Daniel and Elizabeth  married 1 January 1853 in Sparta, So. Bloomfield Twp., Morrow Co., Ohio.

Source:  Marriage Records, 1848-1951, Index 1848-1948, Morrow Co., Ohio.  General Index V1A-10, 1848-1948 #388779 Item 1, Marriages v. 1A #388779 Item 2 1848-1858. Keller, Elizabeth to Daniel Spracklin Vol. 1A, pg. 119. Pg. 60, Spracklin, Daniel D. to Keller, Elizabeth on Jan. 1, 1853 by Joel Abbott JP.

I believe Amarilla was born near Blairstown because her father Daniel had land in Leroy Twp., Benton County, Iowa which is where Blairstown is located.   He had migrated from Ohio to Iowa.  According to the 1856 Iowa State census they were in Iowa by 1855.  There are problems with the index of the 1856 census but Daniel is there along with other interesting discoveries.

Benton County was organized as a separate county in 1846 with the town of Vinton as the county seat.  Blairstown was established in 1862.  The town of Marengo was incorporated in 1859 and was more established as a town at the time.  Marengo is the county seat for Iowa County, Iowa and has been since 1845 according to this website which gives a little history of Marengo, Iowa:  http://www.marengo150.com/default.htm  

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marengo,_Iowa

The two towns are about 9 miles from each other with Blairstown being directly north of Marengo.  I drove the highway between the two towns and it is a nice drive through a canyon and over a hilly area.  Blairstown and Marengo are situated in flat land areas between these rolling hills.

Between Blairstown & Marengo

Blairstown, Iowa

In the photograph above you see Blairstown in the distance and the water tower to the left.

Source:  Blairstown, 1862 to 1987, History – Town History.  I obtained a copy of this history book from the Blairstown Public Library which has  a genealogical collection.  At that time they were in a temporary building in 2003 so researching was a challenge.  The librarian was very helpful.  The genealogical collection is in the care of another individual through the Benton County Genealogical Society and that information is listed at the library website.  Apparently they are in their new building now, so it would be a much better experience to do research there.

Here is the link:  http://www.blairstown.lib.ia.us/use-the-library/genealogy2

Benton Co. 1872 Atlas

Daniel’s land in Leroy Twp. is in two 40 acre sections straddling the double line that runs the entire page above, north to south.  He is slightly to the right of the middle of this picture.  If you click on the photo it will enlarge and look for two smudgy dots on each side of that long line.  The township page above is  from the 1872 Iowa County Atlas – Benton County, Leroy Twp. which I found at the Iowa County Genealogical Society.  Blairstown is in the upper right corner of the photograph.

Be advised that the Iowa County Genealogical Society was in the basement of the Marengo Public Library but they did some renovations a few years ago and the society is now in North English.  See the links to the right on this blog.

Daniel moved to Dayton Twp., Iowa County, Iowa after this 1872 date and he appears in the 1874 Atlas of Iowa County, Iowa published by Harrison & Warner.  Daniel purchased the land in Dayton Twp.  at the end of 1872.  The land in Dayton Township is in the northeast corner of section 19 which is right next to the Poweshiek County line southwest of Millersburg and close to Keokuk County.  Marengo is twenty miles north of Millersburg.  So Daniel put some distance between his original land purchases in Benton County and moved south to Iowa County and obtained a lot more land, all in one large piece.

To get a better idea of the distance from Blairstown I have below a copy of an atlas page of Iowa County showing Dayton Twp. and if you focus on the white square you can see about where the land was situated.  I am using Millersburg as a reference point.

Historical Atlas 1875 of Iowa County, Iowa

I found this atlas at the Iowa Digital Library website for The University of Iowa and I chose the page for Iowa County.  http://digital.lib.uiowa.edu/cdm4/browse.php?CISOROOT=/atlases  There are more counties listed at this website.

I have deeds and more information regarding Daniel’s land holdings in Iowa and copies of atlas pages for Iowa County and Benton County.

I did check newspapers around the time of Amarilla’s birth to see if I could find an announcement or discover her mother Elizabeth’s obituary for March 10, 1859 but I was not successful.  I did see obituaries but mostly news about the farming industry.  I also checked the bible records at the Iowa Historical Society in Des Moines and did not find anything to confirm my theory.

Amarilla’s mother Elizabeth died four months after her birth. Daniel her father remarried in 1863 to Sarah Blacketer Allgood.  They had seven more children as I have mentioned in a past post.

Amarilla was born in Iowa and was not unfamiliar with living on a farm and that lifestyle.  So in my opinion this made her adapt well to life on the frontier in Pine River, Minnesota in 1878 after her marriage to George Angus Barclay.

Amarilla’s family the Spracklins is a very large family and I have been researching them for many years.  There are many others who have done a great deal of work on this family line.  There is Mayflower and DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution) connections in Amarilla’s ancestry through both her father and her mother sides and it spans the early history of our country and if I shared all of the research that I have on her family it would take a blog all by itself and it would be a major undertaking.

The scope and focus of this blog about the Barclay’s is about George and Amarilla’s life together.  In future posts Amarilla will be touched by her Spracklin and Keller families as events unfold in her life.