Below are some newspaper accounts of the murder of George A. Barclay. They were published several days after the event.
November 3, 1898 – “Cold Blooded Murder, George A. Barclay, A Wealthy Lumberman of Pine River, Killed by the Hand of an Unknown Assassin.” Published in the Brainerd Journal. This is five days after the murder. They have R.S. McDonald as R.A. McDonald. I have broken up the very long paragraph to make it easier to read.
“Last Saturday night, while seated in the waiting room of his hotel at Pine River, Geo. A. Barclay was mysteriously murdered by some culprit who remains as yet undiscovered. Whether the deed of a madman or an enemy no one is certain.
About 7:30 o’clock he was seated in his hotel close by a window when suddenly from the outside a shot was fired whether from rifle or revolver is not known and crashing through the window it entered and passed thru his head near the back of the neck and embedded itself in a post not far distant.
A telegram was immediately sent to General Manager Hoar, of the B.& N. M. for a special train with medical assistance, but before this could be procured a second message was received saying that he had passed away.
A coroner’s jury yesterday was summoned and returned as their verdict, “that George A. Barclay came to his death by a gun shot from the hands of some person unknown to this jury.”
The remains were brought to this city today and were met at the train by friends and Pap Thomas Post No. 30, G.A.R. under who auspices the services were conducted, the murdered man being an old soldier and member of this post.
The funeral services were conducted at the Episcopal church, Rev. C. F Kite officiating. The remains were enterred in Evergreen Cemetery. The deceased leaves a widow and one married daughter to mourn his death.
Mr. Barclay was well know all over this section of the state and had not to any ones knowledge a single enemy. No definite clue has yet been obtained although several suspects are being watched. It is to be sincerely hoped that ere long the murder will be avenged and that the murderer will have that justice meted out to him which he so justly and richly deserves.”
November 5, 1898 – Cowardly Crime, Barclay Foully Murdered in Pine River, published in the Brainerd Tribune. This one is seven days after the crime was committed. (page 8, Col. 4,) This account gives more information about where the assailant stood and what type of gun may have been used and is nicely detailed.
Geo. Barclay Foully Murdered at Pine River, while sitting in his own house. The Victim an Old and Well Known Resident. The people of this city were shocked on Saturday evening last by the news that Geo. Barclay , the well known hotel keeper and trader at Pine River, had been foully murdered by some cowardly assassin while sitting in his house conversing with several acquaintances. The first news of the tragedy came over the B. & N. M. wires and the particulars were not known until Monday.
Mr. Barclay was shot and killed about 7:30 Saturday 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 the 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, as he bled profusely, and then imbedded itself in a pine post that supported the ceiling in the middle of the room. He lived only a few minutes.
The bullet was dug out, taken to Walker and carefully weighed by a jeweler. Its weight is exactly 210 grains which corresponds with either a 40-60 Winchester (an old model gun) or a Colt’s 44 caliber revolver.
The slug, which is mushroomed and much distorted, looks more like a 40 than a 44, and careful measurement of that part of the base that remains intact gives color to this theory. It was imbedded in the pillar to a depth of two inches. A rifle-ball should have gone somewhat deeper, but, on the other hand, a revolver slug would hardly pierce a heavy window pane and a man’s neck and go to that depth in seasoned wood.
The shot was fired, probably from a position about 15 feet outside the window as the hole in the post is about 10 inches higher than in the pane.
Although there were several men in the room at the time, the murderer was seen by no one so far as known. The night was very dark and the assassin no doubt sought the cover of the woods a few rods away and made good his escape.
There seems to be no doubt that it was a willful, premeditated murder, though there is absolutely no clue whatever to the perpetrator of the cowardly deed. Mr. Barclay had no trouble with anyone, and so far as known had no enemies who would be capable of committing such a crime.
Justice E. R. Sundberg, of Walker, in the absence of the coroner impaneled a jury and held an inquest which was not concluded until Wednesday morning. A searching investigation was made, but no light was thrown upon the mysterious crime, and a verdict was returned to the effect, that deceased had come to his death by shooting at the hands of some person unknown to the jury.
The remains were brought to Brainerd on Thursday morning for interment and the funeral took place at 11 a.m. from St. Paul’s Episcopal church, Rev. C. F. Kite conducting the services. The members of Pap Thomas Post, G.A.R. and the Women’s Relief Corps, met the funeral cortege at the station and marched with the procession to the church and thence to the cemetery.
Geo. Barclay was about fifty-four years old, and had been a resident of this section for about twenty-five years. For many years he has kept a hotel and store, and engaged in lumbering operations at Pine River. He was well known in Northern Minnesota, was generally well liked, and had the reputation of being honest and straight forward in his dealings with his fellow men. He was a member of the G.A.R., having entered the service as wagoner, in Co. I, Ninth Minnesota, in August, 1862, and serving until his discharge in August, 1865. He leaves a widow and one child, the latter being the wife of R.A. McDonald.”
The Brainerd Dispatch on 04 November 1898 printed an article on George A. Barclay’s murder. You can find a transcript at Find A Grave, Evergreen Cemetery, Brainerd.
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