Fire – The Barclay Hotel Burns – December 1915

A major catastrophe occurred at the end of 1915 in Pine River, Minnesota. A fire of unknown origin started in the mercantile store and consumed both the store and the hotel before it could be brought under control. If I am correct it would have happened on the 27th of December 1915.

Immediately following the fire, Amarilla opened a temporary store at the south end of the Barclay block. The store was general in nature but still reflected her millinery interests. The hotel was not rebuilt. Amarilla continued to operate her store until her retirement in the 1930’s.  If you look up to the current header photo of this blog you will get an idea of the area involved in the fire.

The Barclay Hotel

The Barclay Hotel, from Logsleds to Snowmobiles, courtesy of the town of Pine River

Fire Threatened Entire Village…..

“Flames Discovered in R. Snell’s Store, Made Short Work of That and Leaped to Barclay, Bucket Brigade Saved Town, Heroic Work of Citizens Prevent the Destruction of the Entire Business Section. Monday evening at about 9:45 the fire alarm announced that fire was raging in the store building of Mrs. Dawes.

The chemical engine was promptly on hand, but the central part of the store was one mass of flame and it was apparent that nothing could be done, so attention was turned to the saving of the Barclay hotel which, on account of a slight south breeze, seemed to be in danger as soon as the store fire would get to its height. For awhile it looked as if the hotel would be saved, but the heat became terrific and the fire fighters were unable to stay on the job. The roof of the kitchen caught fire first and the old landmark, The Barclay, soon was in ashes.

When it seemed that the whole block would be destroyed, and people began moving out as far over as the post office, the wind shifted to the southwest and the greatest danger was over, for by excellent work in keeping the telephone building well soaked under difficult circumstances the flames were checked. Considerable dynamite was used in trying to wreck the burning hotel but with no effect. The wood shed at the rear of the Sentinel-Blaze office was torn down when it became imminent that the main building was in danger. This, however, as it proved, would have been unnecessary.

The land office of S.P. Hanson at the rear of Mrs. Dawes store had no chance of being saved, so after the contents, including the books and records of Treasurer Linden of the school board were safely removed, it also burned to the ground.

During the course of the fire at the hotel the hot water tank in the kitchen got up steam and tore loose from its moorings and shot up through the top of the building and soared high in the air coming down on the top of Day’s blacksmith shop a block away.

Everybody in the Leef building up as far as the post office were moving out, as were those between the hotel and the corner to the north. The telephone exchange was ripped out and looks as if a cyclone hit it, and aside from the actual fire loss is the only other loss of any amount. It will be several days before connections can again be made and the village given telephone service.

Unstinted praise is due a number of citizens for their work in checking the fire, as they did. Homer Andrews, perhaps more than any other one man, stuck to the blistering job of keeping the telephone building wet while others carried water from every available well. Elmer Raines also was among the conspicuous ones and both of these had their clothes scorched to a distinct brown. Without the bucket brigade there is no telling what would have happened, but chemical also did fine work.

Chief Cromett and his assistant, George Bell were right on the job, and against great odds proved to have been doing the best possible under the circumstances. While it was a great loss, it was as nothing compared to what might have been the result, and many there are who are now congratulating themselves on their good fortune.

The barn at the rear of the Barclay caught fire several times and if allowed to burn would have endangered the Spencer building and the Smith building adjoining in which Dr. Bremkin lives. An attempt was made to dynamite the barn, but it was impossible to give the explosive the required resistance to do any damage to the structure except to blow off the door.

Much of the bedding and furniture in the Barclay was saved, by getting it out, but the greater part of it went up in smoke. Mr. Cater who recently sold the furnishing to the new proprietors holds the insurance as security for the unpaid balance, and will be partly reimbursed for the loss. Mrs. Dawes had $3,000 insurance on the hotel building and $1,000 on the store buildings occupied by R.E. Snell who had insurance to the amount of $6,000 on the stock of goods. The loss to the telephone company will be about $100 with no insurance. The total loss to Mrs. Dawes is estimated at $15,000; Snell’s loss is placed at $8,000 each with insurance as stated above.”

Source:  December 31, 1915, Front Page, Pine River Sentinel, Pine River, Cass Co., MN.

This was a pretty good description of the fire, I believe. The newspaper survived to write about the fire. Things in Pine River are so different now then back in 1915, there has been lots of change since that time. I would have liked to have seen the Barclay Hotel on my visits to Pine River, that would that have been a kick. It probably would not have survived anyway but I am still looking for building plans?

G.A.R. Records Lost for Pap Thomas Post…1911

George Angus Barclay was an old soldier and he participated in the GAR – Grand Army of the Republic.

Much to my disappointment, the records for his local GAR post were lost in a fire. I did find his brother Alexander’s which survived.  There was some information but not as much as I had hoped.  Apparently the GAR gave George a big funeral and it would be great to have that information in more detail.

There was an article in the newspaper for Brainerd Dispatch May 26, 1911, page 1 column 6 titled:

Roster of Heroes Dead – List as Compiled for Dispatch by Pro. J.A. Wilson,

A Veteran of the Civil War.

Old Soldiers GAR

Old Soldiers GAR

There are over 80 names mentioned in the article.  It goes on to state that the Old Grand Army Records Were Destroyed in Odd Fellow Hall Fire of Last year. George appears about 23 names down: Geo. Barclay, 9th Minn. Inf.

There is a book titled: “Brainerd’s Half Century,” by Ingolf Dillan, published in 1923 by the General Print Co., in Minneapolis.  On page 138 there is a listing of the members of the Pap Thomas Post No. 30 with “Not Here” as the title?  George Angus Barclay is listed as sixth person down on the list.

There are muster rolls for the Pap Thomas post 30, located at Brainerd, County of Crow Wing, Minnesota.

Age: 48 years old and born in Connecticut

Residence was Pine River

Occupation Lumber

Entry into service August 18, 1862

Rank Wagoner, company [J or I] 9 Minnesota

Final discharge August 24, 1865, rank Wagoner, Co. [J or I] 9 Minnesota

Length of serve 36 months to end of war.

At the very least there is the newspaper account of the condition of the GAR Records for Pap Thomas Post No. 30 so we at least know the state of those documents.

George Angus Barclay is buried in the Evergreen Cemetery in Brainerd.

The 1910 U.S. Census and Pine River…

Ammarilla in 1911

Amarilla in 1911 – Grandma Dawes

The above photograph of Amarilla was among her grandson possessions.  It is dated 1911 but I think it gives us an idea of what she looked like at that time.

Amarilla is living in Pine River, Minnesota in 1910.  She is alone and divorced.  She states her father was born in England but that is not true, her grandfather John A. Spracklin was born in Somserset, England.  Daniel, Amarilla’s father, was born in Ohio, although I don’t have confirmation of that with a bible record.

Street 33?, Visitation# 113, Family #115, Dawes, Ammarilla, Head, female, white, age 51, divorced, born in Iowa, father born in England, mother born in Ohio, trade/profession is milliner, millinery store, self-employed, able to read and write, owns her home, mortgage free, owns a house.

Source:  1910 U.S. Federal Census, Pine River Village, Cass Co., Minnesota, SD 6, ED 23, Sheet 6A, 3085, T624, Roll 693. 

Pine River was now a city with names like Hauge, Grover, Gillespie, Holmquist, Benjamen, Hill, Fosburgh, Holman, Rohr, Huffman, McCallister, Kline, Crossman, Stanley, Larson, Robideau, Shaub, Glover, Lincoln, Kinler, Smith, Feakes, Russ, Sherwood, Hemness, Westfall, Edwards, Ruscor, Stingley, Johnson, Thorpe, Oliver, Jones, Kline, Sleepas, Socks, Strawsell, Eastvold, Townsend, Rice, Ames, Batchelder, Anderson, Blackburn, Stutson, Casper, Lancaster, James, Thornton, Francis, Leef, Heninger, Emery, Bowman, Coleman, Harmon, Vaughan, Westcott, Horkey, Waughan, Porter, Brown, Matteney, Olson, Finsaas, Berge, Mitchell, Greenwalt, Peabody, Graham, Parker, Weaver, Jones, Shuman, Marcott, Peabody, Behler, Wideman, Perigrine, Geary, Allen, Hill, Hussick, Ellwood, LaDu, Kulla, Cromett, Conrad, Nash, Westgren, Soper, Gilbert, Fox, Green, Luidberg, Jackson, Shill, Thompson, Pike, Brower, Ager, Lonis, Barker, Saxton, Wood, Peters, Henry, Jewel, Carver, Halvorsen, Forbes, Zigmund, Moulster, Spencer, Hardy, Loomis, Sandall, Rounds, Eidam, Dawes, Boode, Linden, Curtis, Senechal, Woesner, Dahl, Southwick, Bell, Williams, Waggner, Wagoner, Staples, Husel, Krukow, Linden, Henry, Becker, Erickson, Davis, Ritche, Ingraham, Silk, Andrews, Miller, Wehrman, Levoy, Andrews, Snell, Chyrklund, Lillstrom, Hanson, Haugen, Clarke, Lalone, Arnold, Hall, Kierstine, Ralya, Austin, Bickford, Rovik, Christen, Patterson, Brewer, Stewart, Moberg, Mattson, Bark, Webber, Parson, Kennedy, Rice, Modok, Kenney, Rugg, Petti, Fritzner, Peterson, Loper, Butler, Ritzler, Lindell, and Palmo.

Many were families with the same last name, I only listed once, I hope, and many were lodger’s which means they may be on the move.  This is not a complete listing of the population for Pine River.  I do recognize names other than Dawes.  Pine River has grown up.

Amarilla and J.G. Dawes go their Separate Ways! 1910

About the time of George A. Barclay’s murder in 1898, J.G. Dawes entered into Amarilla’s life. He became her second husband.  He join her in business activities.  He became mayor of the town of Pine River and helped to plat the town.  J.G. Dawes also built her a house in Pine River.  About 1905 he started building a hotel in Longville and expanding his business interests.

Part of the Divorce Decree of Amarilla and J.G. Dawes

Part of the Divorce Decree of Amarilla and J.G. Dawes

After 1905, J.G. Dawes and Amarilla started to go their separate ways.  I do not know exactly when J.G. made the break and left Pine River for good.

In 1909 Amarilla filed for divorce. There were three documents.  The divorce was not friendly and both made unkind statements towards the other. Here is a summary of the contents and I have chosen not to include some of the language. You will note that her name is spelled in the documents with the two “m’s.”

J.G. called her “Rilla.”

The first is a Serving of the Complaint to Jefferson G. Dawes by the Sheriff of Hennepin Co., Minnesota, Otto S. Langum on 10 December 1909.

The next is a two page document called a Complaint between the two parties, stating that Ammarilla is 51 years old and J.G. is 57 years old. That they were married on the 2nd day of September in 1902 in the city of Minneapolis, MN. That the plaintiff, Ammarilla, has been living in the state of Minnesota for more than one year. That the plaintiff was treated in a cruel and inhuman manner….. There are no children issued from this marriage. That the plaintiff has real and personal property valued at $7000. That the plaintiff demands Judgment to dissolve the marriage between the two parties.

On the second page of the document, Ammarilla is sworn to truth and the document is notarized on the 8th day of December 1909. Below is a summons to J.G. Dawes to answer the complaint and if he does not do so in 30 days, judgment will be rendered.

The third and final document is the Divorce Decree itself. Apparently J.G. Dawes did not appear or contest the divorce and it was granted to Ammarilla on 1 February, 1910 in Cass County, Minnesota.

The Court, by virtue of the power and authority therein vested and in pursuance of the Statute in such cases made and provided, does order, adjudge and decree the marriage between the said plaintiff Mrs. Ammarilla Dawes and the Defendant Jefferson G. Dawes be dissolved and the same he hereby dissolved according, and the said parties are and each of them is freed and absolutely released from the Bonds of matrimony and all the obligations.”

I don’t know why this makes me sad. I like J.G. Dawes even though he may have been a big talker and told a good tale. He was still a very interesting person and I wish I knew more about him and where he came from so I could judge his character.  Some articles that appeared in the newspaper about him, that I have posted in past posts on this blog,  suggest he was a little arrogant.

The story of what happened to Jefferson G. Dawes is not yet over and he will appear in future posts.  His time with Amarilla had ended and they both moved on.  Amarilla would be on her own for nine years before she decided to remarry for the third time.

Amarilla Participates in Pine River Festivities…circa 1908

Amarilla participating in the festivies

Amarilla participating in the festivities – Photo Courtesy of the City of Pine River, Logsleds to Snowmobiles

I ponder what life may have been like for my great-grandmother Amarilla.  In the photo above, we see that she is participating in a Pine River gathering that I place about 1908.

From the description, she is the third person in the row of ladies who are seated on the right of the photo. Amarilla is the third lady from the left.  You cannot see her face because she is behind another woman’s hat.  It looks like she purposely hid herself?

Even though she failed to cooperate in the photo, we do see the setting and the clothing and something of the fun she had.

Grace Barclay McDonald as Administrator of Alexander’s estate…

Grace was pregnant with Miriam at the time of her uncle Alexander’s death. Giving birth in January of 1906. She took action and petitioned the court for the administration of Alexander Barclay’s estate about January 11, 1906. Alexander did not have a will.

farmingtoninternet

Grace was unable to travel because she was pregnant with Miriam.  By the time the testimony was given below was presented she had given birth, so the court was delayed in getting started.  Grace sent Charles W. Stanton as her representative:

Charles W. Stanton called and being duly sworn says (about March 14, 1906)

“My name is Charles W. Stanton.  I am the Attorney-in-Fact for Grace A. McDonald, the same person who made the petition for letters of administration shown me in this matter.  The other instrument shown me is my Power of Attorney executed by Grace. A. McDonald.  She was unable to appear at this hearing on account of delicate health.  On or about February 1st Mrs. McDonald gave birth to a child and has not as yet, regained sufficient strength to warrant a journey from International Falls to Hastings.  The distance according to the present means of travel, being over 700 miles.

I am a resident of the Village of International Falls, Itasca County, Minnesota.  I am well acquainted with Grace A. McDonald, wife of Ronald S. McDonald.  She is also a resident of the Village of International Falls, Itasca County, Minnesota.  I have known her since about the year 1890.  I also became acquainted with George A. Barclay, the father of said Grace A. McDonald about the year 1890.  Grace is now about 25 or 26 years of age.  I was, at that time, visiting in the Pine River, Cass County, this State and have visited there since then many times, at the home of George A. Barclay and his family.  I know from my own knowledge of the family and from information received relative to said family that Grace A. McDonald was a daughter and the only child of George A. McDonald.

 George A. Barclay was shot at Pine River, Cass County, Minnesota some few years ago, and was survived by his wife and daughter, Grace A. Barclay, (who has since been married to said Ronald S. McDonald).  Mrs. Barclay, the widow of said George A. Barclay, has since inter-married with a certain man, and is now Mrs. Daws.  I never heard any mention of their being any other children in their family.  I have never seen any family record of their family, do not know that they kept any such record.  I do not know where Mrs. McDonald was born, although she may have told me. I do not recall now. 

 I know that said George A. Barclay is dead of my own personal knowledge and know that he was killed, as before stated.  He left some estate both real and personal.  I believe the personal property was divided amicably between his wife and daughter after his death.

 I did not know that there was such a person as Alexander A. Barclay prior to the death of George A. Barclay.  I have heard Mrs. McDonald speak of him since.  She also told me of the interest he took in the trial of the alleged murder of Mr. George A. Barclay.  She said the deceased assisted them financially many times during the lifetime of her father and has also assisted her mother since his death by loaning her money.  Mrs. McDonald visited Mr. Alexander A. Barclay, during his lifetime, while she was attending school in St. Paul or Minneapolis.  He (the deceased), visited them many times also, particularly during the trial and investigation of the murder of George A. Barclay.  Of my own personal knowledge, I do not know that the loans of Mr. Alexander Barclay to Mr. George A. Barclay were paid, or whether they were not, but have been informed by Mr. W. A. Gray of Farmington, Minnesota that they were paid in full.  Mr. Gray knew all about the affairs and business connections or transactions of Alexander A. Barclay, with the exception of some mining stock owed by the deceased.  Dr. Rogers of Farmington, knew and was well acquainted with the deceased prior to his death and knew all about the mining stock owned by the deceased at the time of his death, knows what companies they are invested in and also knows the amount invested by the deceased, which was, I believe $2300.00.  I made inquiries of both these men and think they can give and gave all of the necessary information relative to the estate of Alexander A. Barclay, deceased, that was in their possession. 

When I went to Farmington, which was on the 10th day of January, this year, I was not acquainted with anyone, but had a letter of introduction to Mr. George R. Taylor, who is Cashier in the Bank at Farmington.  He told me what he knew of the deceased’s financial and referred me to Mr. Gray and Dr. Rogers, from whom I obtained the information stated in the petition for letters that I made as attorney in fact for Grace A. McDonald, in this matter.  From information obtained from Mr. Gray by me, I believe the value of the personal property is about $2000. and consisted of  a mortgage of $1400; a chattel mortgage on a Blacksmith shop at Farmington, for $300 an another note executed by a party at Pine River for $100, on all of which there is probably some accumulated interest.  There was a check in the Bank of $50., some personal effects, etc., aggregating in all, about $2000.  The present value of the mining stock for investments, I know nothing about a personally, but was informed they are unlisted stock and in my opinion, not worth very much, perhaps about $1000.

I visited the real property owned by the deceased at Farmington, which consists of a house and lot, worth probably $800.00.  The Lakeville farm, I did not see, but it consists of 105 acres of agricultural land, and taking into consideration the answers to inquiries I made about it, it is worth between $4000. and $5000.  I know of no other real property owned by the deceased at the time of death.

George A. Barclay was engaged in Hotel business at Pine River, also the delivery and stable business at one time, but I have never heard anything about the deceased having any interest or partnership in any of the aforesaid business of said George A. Barclay, although he loaned him money at different times, according to Grace A. McDonald.

I know nothing about the other heirs of the deceased, although I have heard Mrs. McDonald speak of them perhaps.  I do not recall anything to the affect now.

The petition for letters asked for the appointment of Dr. H. N. Rogers, and we still desire this appointment.”

This testimony of Mr. Stanton is probably the best piece of information I could have found.  I now feel confident that my research on the Barclay’s is true and good. I wonder what other stories Mr. Stanton or the others may have had to share.  Sigh!

Apparently there were other reasons for delay and Dr. H.J. Rogers was not appointed administrator till about March 13, 1906. The bond was $5,000.

Dr. H.L. Rogers also was called to testify:

Dr. Rogers called, and being duly sworn, says: –

 “I reside at Farmington, Dakota County, Minnesota.  I knew and was well acquainted with Alexander A. Barclay, prior to his death.  I know the real property he owned at Lakeville and Farmington.  The property in Lakeville consisted of a farm of 105 acres of agricultural land and that at Farmington of house and lot.  I knew something of his financial affairs and his personal property to the best of my knowledge, consisted of something like $1800.  In notes, most of which are secured and $50. in certificate of deposit & $1000 shares of mining stock.  I know that Mr. Barclay paid for the mining stock and I am familiar with the kind of stock.  I would not attempt to place a value on this stock, as it is all unlisted stock but will give the Companies and the most of the stock of Mr. Barclay.

Dr. Rogers gives a detailed list of about 7 stocks and their total $2812.50

 In addition to the above the deceased had some “Shamrock” shares…I know of no other personal property belonging to the deceased, except two old trunks, containing cloths, which are of no particular value.  There may be papers of value in those trunks.  The farm implements and farm property owned by deceased, were disposed of sometime prior to his death.  The house and lot at Farmington is worth about $800.00.  His farm is valued at about $50 an acre.

My knowledge of the heirs of the deceased was obtained from him, and through correspondence with his heirs before and since his death.  I have no personal acquaintance with but two of the deceased heirs, viz: Charles Barclay at Shakopee, Minnesota, and Grace A. McDonald at International Falls, Minnesota.

Grace A. McDonald is the only child of George A. Barclay, who was killed a few years ago at Pine River, Minnesota, and who was a brother of Alexander A. Barclay’s.  I am not acquainted with the other heirs of the deceased named in the petition, but from what I have learned believe, that John A. Barclay named in the petition died prior to the death of the deceased, and that John A. Barclay left surviving him two children, who were his only heirs, viz: Sarah Ellen Sears and John Avery Barclay.  I believe John A. Barclay had no other children, except Sarah Ellen and John Avery.

 I know of the deceased death and arranged for his funeral at Farmington, and attended his funeral.  He died at Rochester, Minnesota, December 9th, 1905, at the State Hospital for the Insane.  At my request his remains were prepared for burial at Rochester, and shipped to Farmington, where he was buried.”

You never know what you will find in a probate file.  In this case, I had copies of the packet which I paid a high price for.  I did not have the court clerk books which might shed light on the process of the probate court.