A mystery solved…A Niece visits Pine River for their Tall Tales Play…1985

When I traveled to Minnesota in 2000 and 2001, I was told that a niece of Amarilla’s had visited when the play “Tales from the Tall Pines…!” had been presented. Knowing what I did about my great-grandmother Amarilla, I was puzzled as to who it was.

So I was told about this play that had been presented in February of 1985.  The play was about the lives of my great grandparents Amarilla and George Barclay.

In early 2014, I was contacted and told that the niece who visited Pine River was Beulah Spracklin Harris, a daughter of Virda and Lillie. She was the guest at the presentation of the play.  I was not aware that Beulah and her family lived in Minnesota, until just recently.

There is a video of the play and it used to be housed at the Pine River Public Library. I visited the library when it was very small.  Since then they have built a new library. I did a search for the video but it is not coming up in their catalog.

Here are some newspaper photos shared by a cousin and I am so very grateful to receive these.  Just click on the photo and it will open in a larger window, then click your back button to return.


Tales from the Tall Pines

Tales from the Tall Pines


Beulah Spracklin Harris, niece to Amarilla and daughter of her 1/2 brother Virda and Lillie Spracklin

Beulah Spracklin Harris, niece to Amarilla and daughter of her 1/2 brother Virda and wife Lillie Spracklin


Tales from the Tall Pines begins with a narrator...

Tales from the Tall Pines begins with a narrator…

Various residents of Pine River participated in the play, taking on the roles of George Barclay, Amarilla and other characters. It was written by Kathy Fraser whom I talked to on the phone from the Visitor Center in Pine River one year.  She was going to share with me some information about the play, but so far it appears that she is still looking for it?  It is okay, by the time I came on the scene it has been awhile since this topic had been revisited. I am content to see these photos from the newspaper.

The character of Amarilla is the one in the dark dress and shawl.  George is the tall man with the stove top hat, which I find rather amusing.  My great grandfather was short, and small in stature. He did have a beard or rather goatee.

Scenes from the play

Tales from the Tall Pines


Apparently a linch party was organized

Apparently a lynch party was organized…

Who knew for sure who was Barclay’s killer…neither of the culprits served time for the murder…so who knows for sure?” – the Narrator…

Once again thanks to my cousin for sharing these wonderful photos of this event and solving my little mystery.

The Children of Virda H. and Lillie Spracklin…

Virda H. Spracklin was the son of Daniel and Sarah Spracklin.  In the last post I wrote about Virda and Lillie Spracklin and their life.  In this post I am sharing what I know of their children:

1.  Joella Edith Spracklin was born 25 May, 1887 and died 7 March, 1890 in Calhoun Co., Iowa. She is buried in the Cedar Township Cemetery in Calhoun Co., Iowa. This cemetery is near Rinard.

Source:  Calhoun County Iowa Cemeteries, pg. 3, 19, Cedar Twp. Cemetery, Published by the Iowa Genealogical Society, Des Moines, Iowa. Row 13, Spracklin, Joelle E. Died Mar. 7, 1890 2 yr 9 mo 11 days a daughter of Virda Spracklin. 

Note:  Find A Grave has a picture of the tombstone and it seems to verify the dates.  My Legacy date calculator, and using the age given, says that she was born in 1887.

Iowa Counties

Iowa Counties

2. Daniel Dair Spracklin was born 14 September, 1890 in Calhoun Co., Iowa. He died 3 November, 1975 in South Dakota.  He married Minnie May Schlund on 11 March, 1914 in Sanborn, South Dakota.

Daniel Dair and Minnie Spracklin

Daniel Dair and Minnie Spracklin

Source:  South Dakota Marriages, 1905-2013, Daniel D. Spracklin, Male, age 23, born about 1891 residing in Woonsocket, Sanborn, married 11 March, 1914 in Sanborn #41272, Spouse Minnie May Schlund.

In 1920 Daniel and Minnie are living in Alpena Twp., Jerauld Co., South Dakota:



Source: Dais D. Spracklin Family, 1920 U.S. Federal Census, Alpena Twp., Jerauld, South Dakota, SD 1, ED 110, Sht 9A,T625-1721, Image 17.

Dais D. Spracklin, age 29, born in Iowa, parents born in Iowa. General Farmer. Under him is Minne M., wife who is 25 years old, born in So. Dakota, parents born Iowa and Ohio.

Sadly Minnie died on 7 October, 1929 in Sanborn Co., per the South Dakota Death Index.

In 1930 Daniel is living on his own as a lodger with a Burt Swenson. It is interesting that it does not give a first name.

Source:  1930 U.S. Federal Census, Daniel D. Spracklin, Franklin Twp., Jerauld Co., South Dakota, Town of Lane, ED#37-11, SD#5, Sht#2B, enumerated April 19, 1930, by S.H. May. 

Line 79, Leland Street, Spracklin, boarder, M, W, 39, Widowed. No, yes, born Iowa, parents born Iowa, yes, Manager, Standard Oil Co., 8989 W, yes, no.  

On July 5, 1930 he remarried to Adah Kanger.

Source: A second marriage for Daniel Dair Spracklin is listed in the South Dakota Marriages 1905-2013, male, age 39, born about 1891 residence Lane, Jerauld, marriage 5 July 1930 in Beadle, South Dakota #138787, Reg#5702, Spouse Adah Kanger. 

Daniel and Adah are living in Woonsocket, Sanborn, South Dakota in the 1940 U.S. Census.

Source:  1940 U.S. Federal Census, Woonsocket City, Sanborn, South Dakota, Ward 2, Block 12-13-15-19-20-21, SD#5, ED#56-18, Sht#8A, enumerated April 1940, by Birdie T. Kogel. 

Line 27, 185, 9, 1000, 5th Ave., Spracklin, Dair D. Head, M, W, 49, M, No, 8, 8, born Iowa, Same place. no yes, truck driver, road construction, GW, 33, 514, yes. Spracklin, Adah B, wife, F, W, 50 M, No. 8, 8, So. Dakota, same house, no, no, no, no, H, 0, 0, no. 

It looks like Daniel did not have any children with either wife.

Find A Grave has a picture of his tombstone that includes his two wives. It is in the Eventide Cemetery in Woonsocket, South Dakota.

3. Lola Isabelle Spracklin was born 29 December, 1892 in Calhoun Co., Iowa and died 29 December, 1975. She married Guy Randerson on 22 December, 1915 in Woonsocket, South Dakota. They had four children: Ruby M., Orval A., Opal A. and Fay A.

Guy and Lola Randerson

Guy and Lola Randerson

Source: South Dakota Marriages, 1905-2013, Lola L. Spracklin to Guy Randerson, #50478.  Lola L female age 22, born about 1893, residence Woomay D, Sanborn, marriage 22 December 1915, Sanborn, SD to Guy Randerson. 

Lola and Guy Randerson

Lola and Guy Randerson

Guy and Lola appear in Warren Twp. in the 1920 U.S. Census:

Source:  Guy Randerson Family, 1920 U.S. Federal Census, Warren Twp., Sanborn Co., South Dakota, SD#312, ED220, Sht#2, enumerated 27-28 January 1920, by ____Ray.

Line 59, ____29, 30, Randerson Guy, Head, O, M, M, W, 30, M, yes, yes, born South Dakota, father born Ohio, mother born Missouri, farm, general farm, ___, 30. Randerson, Lola I., wife, F, W, 27, M, yes, yes, born Iowa. Randerson, Ruby, M. daughter, F, W, 2 6/12, S, born South Dakota. Randerson, Orreal A., Son, M, W, 1 2/12, S, born South Dakota. 

Ruby daughter of Lola and Guy Randerson

Ruby daughter of Lola and Guy Randerson


Lola Spracklin Randerson

Lola Spracklin Randerson

In 1930 they are still living in Warren Twp.

Source:  Guy Randerson Family, 1930 U.S. Federal Census, Warren Twp., Sanborn Co., South Dakota, ED#56-17, SD#5, Sht#2A, enumerated 5 April, 1930, by Edwin R. Newcomb.

Line 24, Far 7, 31, 32, Randerson, Guy, Head, O, yes, M, W, 40, M, 26, no, yes, South Dakota, Father Ohio, mother Missouri, Farmer, general, O, yes, no, 30. Randerson, Lola I, wife-H, F, W, 37, M, 22, no, yes, born Iowa, parents born Iowa. Randerson, Ruby M, daughter, F, W, 12, S, yes, yes, born South Dakota. Randerson, Orval A, son, M, W, 11, S, yes, yes, born South Dakota. Randerson, Opal A., daughter, F, W, 9, S, yes, …., born South Dakota. Randerson, Fay A, son, M, W, 6, S. 

Lola and Guy Randerson with their children: Opal and Fay

Lola and Guy Randerson with their children: Ruby and Orval


Lola and Guy's children

Lola and Guy’s children: Opal, Orval, Fay and Ruby


Lola and Guy's family

Lola and Guy’s family

4.  Mabel Sarah Spracklin was born 16 September, 1895 in Somers, Calhoun Co., Iowa. She married Peter Henry Lund 4 July, 1914 in Sanborn, Jerauld Co., South Dakota. They had one child.

Source:  South Dakota Marriages, 1905-2013, Mabel Spracklin to Peter Henry Lund #42760, Mabel female, age 18, born about 1896, residence Alpena, Jerauld, marriage date 4 July 1914, in Sanborn, SD.  

Henry and Mabel appear in Story Co., Iowa in the 1920 U.S. Census:

Source:  Henry Lund Family, Lafayette Twp., Story Co., Iowa, SD#7, ED#194, Sht#18G., enumerated on the 5th and 9th of January 1920 by Lew Johnson. 

Line 48, Fm, 36, 37, Lund, Henry,  Head, R, M, W, 30, M, yes, yes, born Iowa, parents born Norway, yes, farmer, general farm, Emp., 36. Lund, Mabel, Wife, F, W, 23, M, yes, yes, born Iowa, father born Iowa, mother born Missouri, yes, none.

Something happened to the marriage to Henry for in the 1930 U.S. Census Mabel is now Mabel Frye with a daughter named Fern Lund.  They have migrated to Nebraska.


Source: Frank Frye Family, 1930 U.S. Federal Census,  Perry Precinct, Emerson, Thurston, Nebraska, ED#87-13, SD#3, Sht#1B, enumerated on 2 April, 1930 by Stanley [Piebitt].

Line 51, 11, 11, Frye, Frank, head, R, 10.00 Vo, M, W, 31, M, 23, No, yes, born Nebraska, father born England, mother Nebraska, yes, laborer, steam railroad, yes, yes. Frye, Mabel, wife-H, V, F, W, 34, m, 19, No, yes, born Iowa, parents born Iowa. Lund, Fern, step-daughter, V, F, W, 13, S, yes, yes, born South Dakota. 

Here is Mabel’s marriage record to Frank Frye.

Source:  Record of Marriage, Frye to Lund, July 26, 1922, #88389, Reg#30, Mabel Lund, Residing Woonsocket, S.D., age 26 divorced, married Frank Frye, residing in Alpena, SD, age 24, W.R. Hinds, Justice of the Peace. South Dakota Division of Vital Statistics. 

Find a Grave has memorials for Mabel Frye and Frank Frye in the Rose Hill Cemetery in Emerson, Dixon Co., Nebraska. Ferne Lund Combs also has memorials and tombstone pictures in the Evergreen Cemetery in Superior, Knuckles Co., Nebraska with pictures, obituaries and links to other family.

5. Solomon (Saul) McKinley Spracklin born 7 January, 1898 in Somers, Calhoun Co., Iowa and died 20 August, 1974 in Omaha, Nebraska.  He married Helen Bronson on 11 March, 1919 in Jerauld, South Dakota. They had seven children.

Source:  South Dakota Marriages 1905-2013, Saul Spracklin to Helen May Bronson, #67207, Reg#130. Saul male, age 21, born 1898, residence Woonsocket, Sanborn, marriage date 11 March 1919, Jerauld, SD to Helen May Bronson age 17. 

Saul was refusing to be found in the 1920 census so I moved ahead to the 1930 and found him with Helen in Omaha, Nebraska.

Source:  1930 Census, Saul Spracklin Family, Dunee Precint, Douglas Co., Nebraska, ED#28-144, SD#7, Sht#7B, enumerated April 17, 1930, by Mrs. J.M, Stafford. Omaha City is crossed off.

Line 99, Alamada, 6309, 876, 190, Spracklin, Saul, Head, O, 3500, R, No., M, W, 32, M, 21, No, yes, born Iowa, parents born Iowa, yes, painter, motor, 2922, W, yes, no. Spracklin, Helen M, Wife-H, F,W, 29, M, 16, No, yes, born Iowa, father born Norway, mother born Nebraska, none. 

Next page: Spracklin, Eleanor A., daughter, No, F, W, 10, S, yes, yes born South Dakota. Spracklin, Eugene G, son, M, W, 8, S, yes, born South Dakota. Spracklin, Helen B, daughter, F, W, 5, S, yes, born Nebraska. Spracklin, Darla M, daughter, F, W, 2, S, no, born Nebraska. Spracklin, Donald, son, M, W, 1/12 S, no, born Nebraska. 

Saul and Helen are in the 1940 Census in West Benson, Douglas, Nebraska with their family.

In searching for the burial for Saul, I stumbled on newspaper articles about his death.  He was killed in a parking lot in Omaha by some young kids in July 1974 and died on 20 August 1974 of the wounds from what I can make out. More information is available if you contact me by leaving a comment.

6. Beryl Edna Spracklin was born 4 April, 1901 in Calhoun Co., Iowa. She married Bertyl Andrew Lillehaug on 2 July, 1919 in Jerauld, So. Dakota.  Bertyl was born 24 January, 1897 in Lane, Jerauld, South Dakota. They died in Pierce County, Washington. Bertyl and Beryl had five children: Arlene B., Verda Mae, Alvin B., Bonnie R, Betty A.

1917 Beryl mother of Verda Mae.

1917 Beryl mother of Verda Mae courtesy of a cousin.

Source:  South Dakota Marriages 1905-2013, Beryl Spracklin, #68945, Reg #144. Peryl Spracklin female, age 18, born about 1901 resident Woonsocket, marriage date 2 July 1919, Jerauld, SD. to Bertel Lillehaug.  Summary index it is spelled Peryl no Beryl, on the actual card it is correct. 

In 1920 Beryl is living with Bertyl’s brother’s family in Viola Twp., Jerauld Co., South Dakota.

Source:  Sunan Lillehaug Family, Viola Twp., Jerauld Co., South Dakota, SD#312, ED#112, Sht#3-A, enumerated 11-12 March 1920, by A.D. McRay.

Line 15, Fam, 41, 42, Lillehaug, Suiian, Head, R, M, W, 27, M, yes, yes, born South Dakota, parents born Norway, farm, general farm, Em, 38. Lillehaug, Ellen, Wife, F, W, 19, M, yes, yes, born Illinois, parents born Sweden. Lillehaug, Bertel, brother, M,W, 19, M, yes, yes, born Illinois, farm laborer, sam fm, OA. Lillehaug, Beryl, Wife, F, W, 18, M, yes, yes, born Iowa. 

Beryl and Bertyl Lillehaug

Beryl and Bertyl Lillehaug

1930 the Lillehaug family is living in Nebraska.

Source: Bert Lillehaug Family, Omaha City, Douglas, Nebraska, Ward 11, Block#365, ED#28-122, SD7, Sht#77A, enumerated April 18, 1930, by William E. Conkling.

Line 12, 5635, 828, 851, Lillehaug, Bert, Head, R, 25, R, No, M, W, 33, M, 21, no, yes, born South Dakota, parents born Norway, yes, Mechanic, automobile, yes, no. Lillehaug, Beryl, Wife-H, F, W, 29, M, 18, no, yes, born Iowa, father Iowa, mother Ohio, yes, none. Lillehaug, Arline, daughter, F, W, 10, S, yes, yes, born South Dakota, yes, none. Lillehaug, Verda M., daughter, F, W, 6, S, yes, born South Dakota, none. Lillehaug, Alvin, son, M, W, 5, S, yes, born South Dakota, none. Lillehaug, Bonnie R, daughter, F, W, 2 9/12, S, no, born South Dakota, none.

Bert and Beryl Lillehaug are still in Omaha, Nebraska in the 1940 U.S. Federal Census. Bertel is working in a Planing mill as an odd jobs worker.  The family consists of Bertel 43, Beryl 39, Verda 16, Alvin 15, Bonnie 12 and Betty Ann 1-year-old. So this means they made their migration to Washington State after 1940.


Find A Grave has a memorial of their tombstone and son Alvin’s at the Haven of Rest Cemetery in Gig Harbor, Pierce Co., Washington.  There are obituaries listed on the index for Bert and Bertyl at the Tacoma Public Library which require a fee to purchase copies.

7. Howard Alfred Spracklin was born 14 September, 1903 in Lane, Jerauld Co., South Dakota and died 19 October, 1977.  He married Pauline Kruse on 9 June, 1928 in Jerald.

Source:  South Dakota Marriages 1905-2013, Alfred Spracklin #124948, Reg#494, Alfred male, age 24, born about 1904, residence Woonsocket, Sanborn, marriage date 9 June 1928 in Jerauld, SD to Pauline Kruse. 

Alfred and Pauline are living in Alpena in the 1930 census.

Source:  Alfred Spracklin Family, 1930 U.S. Federal Census, Alpena Twp., Jerauld Co., South Dakota, ED#37-2, SD#5, Sht #1-A, enumerated 14, April, 1930 by John J. Feish. 

Line 9, 3, 3, Spracklin, Alfred H., Head, yes, M, W, 26, M, 25, no, yes, born South Dakota, parents born Iowa, manager farm, W, yes, no, 3. Spracklin, Pauline E., wife-H, F, W, 18, M, 17, No, yes, born Nebraska, father born Nebraska, mother Illinois, yes, none. Spracklin, Howard A., son, , M, W, 1 5/12, S, no, born South Dakota, none. 

Alfred was attacked, according to newspaper reports, by two men who stormed into his apartment, stole from him and hurt him in October of 1974.  More information will be shared by leaving a comment and I will get in touch with you.

8.  Beulah Elsie Spracklin was born 1 May, 1906 in Lane, Jerauld Co., South Dakota. She married 27 September, 1927 to Elmer Ernest Harris. They had  five children.

Source: South Dakota Marriages 1905-2013, Beulah Spracklin #119950, Reg#471, Beulah, female, age 21 born about 1906, residing Lane, Jerauld, marriage date 26 Spt. 1927 in Jerauld, SD to Elmer E. Harris. 

Beulah and Elmer are in Rose Hill Township in South Dakota in the 1930 census.

Source:  Elmer E. Harris Family, 1930 U.S. Federal Census, Rose Hill Twp., Hand Co., South Dakota, ED#30-39, SD#4, Sht#2A, enumerated April 29, 1930, by George Welch. 

Line 7, 24, 24, Harris, Elmer, E. Head, R, yes, M, W, 26, M 23, No, yes, South Dakota, father born US, mother Ohio. yes, labor, farm, yes, yes, ___. Harris, Beuleh E, Wife, F, W, 23, M, 21, no, yes, South Dakota, parents born Iowa, yes, none. Harris, Daryl JM, adopted son, M, W, 5, S, yes, no, South Dakota, yes, none. 

In 1940 they are living in Bay Lake, Crow Wing Co., Minnesota. Elmer is 36, Beulah E. is 24 and children. Elmer is working as an operator on a farm.

Beulah Spracklin Harris was the mystery niece that attended the Pine River, Minnesota presentation of the play “Tales from the Tall Pines…” in 1985. When I visited Pine River on my three trips there, I was informed of a niece who came to this event. I finally know which of Amarilla’s nieces was involved. Sadly I did not realize that she actually had lived in Minnesota or I would have learned more.  See the next post for more about Beulah and this event in Pine River.

There is an Elmer E. Harris at Find A Grave with a memorial and tombstone photo. He was born 1904 and died July 15, 1977 in Crow Wing Co., Minnesota and is buried at the Lakewood Cemetery in Crosby. Beulah was living in Bay Lake in 1985 and that is east of Brainerd, Minnesota.  It might be her husband but so far I have no burial for her.

9.  Gerald Huston Spracklin was born 20 December, 1908 in Lane, Jerauld Co., South Dakota. He married Helen Wilson in 1930 in Moody Lake, South Dakota. They both died within months of each other in 1998.

Source:  South Dakota Marriages 1905-2013, Gerald H. Spracklin #141484, Reg#258, Gerald male, age 21 born about 1909, residence Madison, Lake, marriage date 18 Nov 1930, marriage place Moody, SD. to Helen Wilson. 

Gerald was apparently a man of clever industry as this newspaper photo shows:

Gerald Spracklin Tin Can Man

Gerald Spracklin Tin Can Man

Jerry and Helen Spraklin (note spelling) are living in Madison, Lake, South Dakota in the 1940 census with [Nihla J.) daughter.

Find A Grave has a memorial and tombstone photo for both Gerald and Helen at the Graceland Cemetery in Madison, Lake Co., South Dakota.


FamilySearch has school census for the Spracklin family in South Dakota and it looks like most of the children attended either in Alpena or Woonsocket from 1911 to …South Dakota School Records 1879-19700.  They have the actual census pages which could me of value to a descendant.


There is more to do and share about this family. I am not up on Nebraska or for that matter South Dakota genealogy but I do wish to caution you about the names of the locations and to verify them.  As always please check the other information found above and make sure it is correct.  I am more familiar and knowledgeable about Iowa, Washington State and Minnesota genealogy.

I have documents and more collected by cousins that I am happy to share. If you would like to know more about these families, just leave me a comment and I will get in touch with you.

My thanks to all those cousins who have helped with me with this family and for the wonderful photos.

Daniel Spracklin’s Estate: Heirs-at-Law

In Daniel D. Spracklin’s probate/estate file there was an Heirs-at-law form filled in with the names, and addresses of the heirs.  I was thrilled to get this document, not all probate/estate files have them.  I would just love to have one from John A. Spracklin’s estate packet, Daniel’s father, that would be great but so far I have not been so lucky.

The most important part is that it shows that Amarilla is Daniel’s daughter, and that the others are her siblings, nieces and nephews. I have yet to find a bible or church record showing the births of the children of Daniel and Elizabeth, as well as Daniel and Sarah.

Heirs-at-law Daniel Spracklin

Heirs-at-law Daniel Spracklin

It reads as follows – all of full age

Mrs. Lydia M. Ross, daughter, Somers, IA,

Description N.E.1/4, Section and Lot 19 78, Range 12.

V.H. Spracklin, son, Woonsocket, S.D.

R.A. Spracklin, son, Deep River IA

D.G. Spracklin, son, Deep River, IA

P.G. Spracklin, son, Estherville, IA

C. E. Spracklin, son, Pine River, MN

Mrs. Amarilla Dawes, daughter, Pine River MN

Children and heirs-at-law of Henry Spracklin deceased, son of said deceased:

Maggie Parks (Parke) – (Margaret Evalina), Davenport, IA

E. F. Spracklin (Elroy Franklin), Davenport, IA

H.L. Spracklin (Harry Leroy), Davenport, IA

E.G. Spracklin (Elmer George), Portsmouth, IA

J.D. Spracklin (John Daniel) _________, CA

O.R. Spracklin (This is probably Raymond Otha?), Woonsocket, SD

Bessie Burford (Elizabeth Ann), La Gloria, Cuba

Wilbur Spracklin, unknown location

Ed. Spracklin (Edward Oliver), unknown location

State of Iowa, signed by R.A. Spracklin Adm. of the Estate of D.D. Spracklin

2nd of April, 1915 R.W. McKnight Clerk D.C., by R.E. McBride Deputy Cleark

Source: Estate packet #5964, 6-525, Iowa County Courthouse, Marengo, Iowa of Daniel D. Spracklin, Iowa County, Iowa March 9, 1915 – Heirs At Law affidavit. 

Based on the above form you can see why it was so difficult to find information out about Daniel’s children, they had all scattered to different locations of Iowa and even other states.

In past posts on this blog, I have written about Henry Spracklin’s death and end of life and have given a brief amount of information about his children. See the post dated August 24, 2012, Henry and Elizabeth Spracklin’s Family.

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.

Traveling to Iowa in 2003 in Search of Spracklins…

Over Iowa 2003

Over Iowa 2003

Back in 2003, my research on my family was pretty new, I had been to Washington D.C and Minnesota but I was still searching for family.  I decided to travel to Iowa because I had been in contact with a Spracklin cousin who emailed me.  Jerry is a descendant of Henry Spracklin, Amarilla’s older brother from the first marriage of their father Daniel. He lives in Iowa.

Over the years, I have learned that my genealogical research trips are just as important as putting together the research and scrolling through sources.  I learned this from Paul H. Goss who did research on the Goss family.  He didn’t journal his research visits to cousins to learn about the Goss family history back in the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s.  If you read his manuscripts you will see that he hints at these visits but he doesn’t elaborate on them.  Paul’s visits to cousins or Goss descendants was very important and needed to be reported and sourced.  I have a lot of respect for my cousin Paul Goss.  It would have been nice to know where he obtained some of his information.

In reviewing my journal from my trip to Iowa, it brought back the whole trip and reminded me of my time in Iowa.

Here is a summary of that trip that opened the door on my research of the Daniel D. Spracklin families which included Amarilla my great-grandmother and her origins.

My trip to Iowa started on Friday, April 25, 2003 and ended on Wednesday, May 7, 2003.  I flew into the Cedar Rapids Airport (Eastern Iowa Airport). I flew first to Chicago and then walked that airport from one end to the other to get to my connection to Iowa. Always check out an airport’s website they have great information to help plan your trip.

This airport was a small airport so it was not hard to find the car rental desk and my car for the trip. Once I had settled into the new car, I made my way south to the Amana Colonies Holiday Inn east of Williamsburg.  It doesn’t seem to be there anymore and is probably under another name.

My goal was to visit courthouses, societies, libraries and cemeteries in and near Marengo and Blairstown, Iowa in search of the Daniel D. Spracklin families and Amarilla’s origins.

When I prepare for a trip like this, I make an itinerary that is extremely detailed for each day of the trip.  I know exactly what I plan to do that day after studying the websites of different repositories I want to visit. I add the addresses of repositories, their phone numbers, times they are opened and write all that information on the itinerary so I don’t have to search for it if I get lost or there is a problem that occurs, or I have to reschedule. My itinerary is there to guide me and can change.  The journal is what really happened on the trip.

Later I started using Microsoft’s Streets and Trips (now discontinued as of 2014 and support ending 2015) to prepare a road trip itinerary. I like this software because it will break the route down by each day. The map is not always detailed enough so I do use GPS either in the rental car or on my cellphone.  Cellphone GPS when traveling Internationally would be too costly. So I still need maps to help guide me. Before the trip I go to Google Earth or Google Maps to see the road using the satellite version.  Areas of the route I am unclear about I drill down so I know what might happened.  Still there are always surprises. I then make copies of my S&T maps and make sure I have a good state and or county map.

Armed with my itinerary, research goals, research papers, maps, and routing information, I head out on my adventure.

Marengo Public Library

Marengo Public Library

Once settled into the my hotel after the airplane flight, I prepare for my day. My first stop was Marengo, Iowa. I spent time in the Marengo Public Library using its newspapers and going into the basement where the Iowa County Genealogical Society was housed at that time. They were very helpful.  ICGS has moved to North English. Don’t confuse them with the Iowa Genealogical Society which is the state society located in Des Moines. The ICGS volunteer was very kind and kept the society open longer than was posted. She helped me locate cemeteries to view, found books, microfilm and more.  I was very impressed with this society.

The most significant items found where the Atlases for Iowa and Benton County showing Daniel’s land. Most of what we did was eliminate history books and other sources.  Daniel was proving to be difficult to find.

Marengo Courthouse town in distance...

Marengo Courthouse town in distance…

My biggest outing was to the courthouse for Iowa County in Marengo and it was there I obtained copies of the Probate/Estate packet for Daniel D. Spracklin. The county website has a much better picture of the courthouse. County websites are tough to get around in, so just be persist till you find what you are looking for, call and ask.


I waited patiently while the clerk copied the file and had my money ready to pay for the copies. She was not necessarily happy with me. I agreed not to make her copy all of the creditor receipts and instead I look at them and made my choices.  It was well worth the wait to obtain this file and see Amarilla listed as an heir-at-law of Daniel D. Spracklin along with her brothers and sisters.  Oh yes, the floors did creak…

Loy's B&B in the distance

Loy’s B&B in the distance

After a couple of days, I moved from the hotel to Loy’s Bed & Breakfast which was closer to Marengo.  It was really a farm-house where they were renting out the lower floor to visitors like myself.  I wanted to see what it would be like to stay on a farm in Iowa.  The proprietors were very nice. The man who was the owner of the farm, worked for the farm cooperative and was kind to study the estate papers of Daniel’s especially the inventory.  He said that Daniel was a general farmer and had many items that indicated this.  I was grateful, I am city girl.  He was very knowledgeable and told me how the farming was done today.

While staying at the farm B&B there was a storm and the sky got really black and I mean black and hung low to the ground. There were reports of tornadoes to the south. It slowed me down a little and made me a little nervous.  I am a city girl you know.

While in Marengo, I found a lovely cafe to the left of the park where the locals gathered.  The seats were a little worn but the food was good comfort good. It looks like its probably gone now. Sigh!

Oh, I did experience a traffic jam in Marengo.  The train that goes through the town to the south blocked my progress for about 20 minutes, giggle.

Marengo's Park in the town Center

Marengo’s Park in the town Center

I also drove from Marengo up to Blairstown to get a feel for the land and see the area. It is a little more rugged along that road and flattens out when you get to Blairstown. The public library at the time was going through construction so they had a prefab building housing the collection.

The Benton County Genealogical Society holdings were not there at my visit, they were at another location for safety. Now that the new library has been built they are housed there.  It is really a nice library from the pictures and they have a genealogy room.


Blairstown, Iowa Sign

Blairstown, Iowa Sign

The road to Blairstown

The road to Blairstown

I did not go to Vinton to see the Benton County Historical Society holdings which would be of interest for Spracklin research.


I did make it to Belle Plaine but my search for Peter Spracklin’s grave, a brother of Daniel, failed because there was some confusion about where he was buried.

Blairstown's Water Tower

Blairstown’s Water Tower

I had to reschedule to the next day to go and study that collection which was in a bank in Blairstown.  The librarian was very helpful and kind.  I did do a search of the newspapers in the time frame of 1858-1859.  There were obituaries but I did not find anything about Elizabeth Keller Spracklin’s death or any Spracklins.  I found others with familiar names from the Titler cemetery.  Apparently you had to have money to appear in the newspapers which were mostly about farming and politics at the time.

Titler Cemetery

Titler Cemetery

I visited the Titler Cemetery which is northwest of Marengo on the road to Blairstown.  It is where Elizabeth Keller Spracklin, Olive and Mary are buried.  It was not in good shape and I could not find the graves on that visit.  (See below for the results of another visit.)

Once I was done with my visiting in the Marengo area, I did a little backtracking and headed east to Iowa City. My next goal was the State Archives of Iowa Branch which is located in Iowa City on the campus of the University. I stayed at the Haverkamp Bed and Breakfast up the street from the Archives. It was very convenient to the Archives and I could walk to it.  It looks like they are closed now.  It was a great area of the city where there were a lot of old houses.  My room was up on the 3rd floor and very nice and cozy.

State Archives for Iowa in Iowa City

State Archives for Iowa in Iowa City

I spent a wonderful several days at the Archives getting all kids of information about the Spracklins of Iowa. I searched cemetery records, vital records, and more at this location.

Once all my research at this location was done, I took the car back to the airport and shuttled back to Iowa City to await the arrival of my cousin Jerry who was coming to pick me up.  I would be staying with him and his family in Des Moines. My goal was to visit the Iowa Genealogical Society, and the main branch of the State Archives of Iowa and Historical Society in Des Moines.

Jerry came to Iowa City and we drove back to the Titler Cemetery north of Marengo. He found the stones for the Spracklins piled under a tree.

Piled under a tree

Piled under a tree, sigh…

The cemetery as in bad shape and I didn’t want to leave Elizabeth and the babies there. The stones were not on the graves put piled under trees.  See my BJM Cemeteries blog for a more thorough description of the Titler Cemetery and all my photos of tombstones (not necessarily complete.) Here is the starting post there are many more about this cemetery, so scroll to the cemeteries on the right side and find Titler.


Elizabeth, Mary and Oliver’s post:


Millersburg's sign

Millersburg’s sign

We also stopped at the Community Cemetery was near Millersburg. I usually like to visit a cemetery several times before I leave. We found the graves of Daniel, Sarah and Alfred Spracklin.

Community Cemetery near Millersburg

Community Cemetery near Millersburg


We stopped at more cemeteries for his mother’s side of the family and then headed west to Des Moines. I spent a lovely fives days with Jerry’s family. He was extremely generous and shared his research of Henry Spracklin’s family with me. Henry is Amarilla’s older brother.

We visited the state genealogical society, Iowa Genealogical Society in Des Moines and just as they were closing I found some information about Peter and Solomon Goss Spracklin. There are two publications of the Titler Cemetery and you need both to get a total picture.  I got copies of these publications.

Iowa's state archives and historical society

Iowa’s state archives and historical society

We later went to the main State Archives in Des Moines and that is where I found the obituaries of Daniel and Sara Spracklin and did deed research on Daniel, his brothers Peter and Solomon Goss Spracklin.  I really should have been there for two days not just one.

I am referring to the State Historical Archives housed as part of the State Historical Society of Iowa.  http://www.iowahistory.org/archives/

On May 7th a Wednesday, Jerry took me to the airport in Des Moines and said goodbye to me and it was sort of sad but we have kept in touch over the years and I have shared my findings with him.  I helped him find Elizabeth Downey Spracklin, Henry’s wife.  We now what happened to her after his tragic death.  I have written about his death on this blog.

As you can see my trip to Iowa focused on Iowa City, Marengo, Blairstown and Des Moines.  There was not enough time to visit other areas of Iowa. So maybe another trip is in order.  We will see.

I am very glad I did visit Iowa in 2003 because I learned that the reason I could not find the Spracklins was because they all left Iowa County by the time Daniel died in 1915 and had scattered to other parts of Iowa and other states mainly going north to Minnesota and west to the Dakotas. So by 2003 you had to dig for information. Once I knew where they all went, that opened the door to more research.

Dedication:  I dedicate this post to the memory of Netha Meyer’s whom I met on my trip there, she was very helpful and enthusiastic and even offered to look up more obituaries and go to the courthouse with me. See her memorial on the Iowa County IA Genweb page.

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?