A Murder in Pine River – October 29, 1898

George's Ranch 1895 NW Magazine

George’s Ranch 1895 NW Magazine

The mist was beginning to form, evening was coming.  It had rained on and off throughout the day. The leaves were falling and a nip was felt in the air.  It was late October 1898.  The train had come in that day.   It always came on Saturdays.  The crowd of passengers it discharged was unusually large that day.  By now, most of them had gone on their way.  Heading home to their farms in the tall pines or out to a logging camp to prepare for the winter logging drive.  The chore boy, McMahon was at the upper barn helping Bebo and his nephew, Deperrold, bed down their horses for the night.  All that remained was to close up the barn and lock the feed box.  A group of hunters had come in that day and were settling in at the station depot.  The smell of dinner coming from Amarilla’s kitchen was on the breeze.  The lights from the Barclay Hotel glowed brightly.  Darkness was settling upon Pine River.

The Barclay Hotel

The Barclay Hotel

George Angus Barclay settled himself in a chair, from this vantage point he could keep an eye on what was happening in his establishment.  He had been tending bar in the saloon while Yllander, the bartender had been on dinner break.  Yllander had returned to his duties.  Good thing, he thought, it would be such a relief to sit down and rest his aching muscles.  He was pleased there was a substantial crowd in the saloon this evening.  The liquor was moving and the profit would be good.  Several of the men were buying drinks for others. Talk filled the air.  He settled back with a good cigar and the smoke from it circled upwards. The evening was going along pretty much like any other Saturday night at the Barclay Ranch.

The Barclay Hotel had three floors.  In addition to the saloon and the kitchen, there was a dining room, a store,  and living quarters for the Barclays.  You could rent a room for the night or as long as you needed.  The gabled roof was black  with shingles – advanced technology for the day. The porch roof extended out and wrapped itself around two sides of the building. The front of the building had a facade with a small portion of gable roof and on each side it protruded out in a straight line creating a wing on both sides.  This gave the building a little more flair otherwise it would have ended up looking like a big huge box.  There was a balcony on the front side and from it hung a big bold sign “Hotel Barclay.”  On the first floor there were two large picture windows in the front flanking a door.  Around the corner and down the side was another door. White sideboards ran all around and it was affectionately called the “White Elephant.” This was definitely a big step up from the log cabin George Angus Barclay had built on the South Fork of the Pine River back in 1873.  The Brainerd Dispatch called the structure “as fine a building (as) would be expected in a town of 500 people.”

ColdBloodedMurder - Copy

Clapp was arguing with Barclay about some national political issue and Amarilla, Mrs. Barclay, was in the kitchen going about her dinner chores when the report of the gun echoed out across the night.   Amarilla’s head jerked up from her task and then she heard the commotion in the bar.  Her long dress swished as she swiftly made her way to the saloon where she spotted her husband.  He was crumpled there on the floor.  Something was dreadfully wrong. Someone was yelling “Barclay has been shot!” The men in the bar were running here and there. The tension in the air was sharp.  Pandemonium reigned. Amarilla heard someone screaming and realized it was herself.  Running over to George she knelt down, blood was coming from his neck.

George Angus Barclay tried to raise himself but couldn’t.  The pain was intense, he couldn’t get his breath, consciousness was fading.  He tried to speak “Co…” came from his lips.  Time had run out for George Angus Barclay.

This man had survived the bloodiest years in United States history – the Civil War.  As a fresh young recruit he an enlisted at Fort Ridgely, Minnesota at the time of the 1862 Dakota Indian uprising. Later he had traveled up and down the Mississippi as a wagoner with the 9th Regiment, Company I of the Minnesota Volunteers.  He had received an honorable discharge and returned to Minnesota to establish a trading post at Pine River.  He farmed with his brother Alexander for a while, but it was not what he dreamed of doing for his life’s work. He married Amarilla in 1878 in Brainerd. They lost their son George Alexander at 18 months of age in 1881 and the following year 1882, he held his daughter, Grace, in his arms.

Now he lay dying at age 54 and at the top of his life, successful in all he had done since the war.  The Minnesota frontier had only challenged him and pushed him on and he had come to this end on the floor of his hotel on October 29, 1898 at about 7:30 p.m.  Within 30 minutes or less, he was dead.   As he lay dying, Amarilla applied a cold towel to his head, giving him the last few minutes of comfort he would have in his life.

Written by his great-granddaughter, the person writing this blog, in 2005 from court records, newspaper accounts and more.

The Role of the Wagoner!

I became intrigued with the idea of finding out what a wagoner would do in the Civil War and what the wagons physical shape and size would be like.  The idea that my great-grandfather would be a wagoner was truly amazing to me!  He was my size 125 lbs. 5 ft. 4 inches tall. George was young and strong back at the time of the Civil War being about 18 years old.  I think we can see he was a determined person.


In a letter dated July 20, 1999 from Guy LaFrance of the Eastern National in Manassas, Virginia (Battlefield of the Civil War – Bull Run), I received this bit of information:

 “What I can tell you, based on my own personal knowledge, is that the role of a wagoner was to transport the supplies needed by the army.  He was responsible for driving the wagon and maintaining it, feeding and caring for the mule team that pulled it, ensuring that it was loaded properly, and seeing that its cargo reached its destination safely.  The cargo could be anything that an army of that time required; food, medicines, weapons, ammunition, clothing, shelter tents, tools, the soldier’s knacksacks, officer’s luggage, and anything else the Quartermaster Corps, the branch of the U.S. Army that was responsible for obtaining and distributing supplies felt was needed.  It was, and still is an essential job, one that is too often overlooked when studying military history.”

The picture of the wagon was taken at a museum in northern Minnesota probably the Itasca Historical Society but I do not remember exactly where. I was amused by the shiny floor and this huge wagon that towered over me.  I think it is probably a Conestoga style.  Next time I am near one of these wagons I will stand next to it so it is documented my size versus a wagon of this type.

Here is an article about the Quartermaster Department in the Civil War.



The Quartermaster Corps during the Civil War was managed by Montgomery Meigs who reorganized and it made it work.  Several years ago I was poking around on the internet about the Quartermaster Department of the Civil War and there was nothing but now things are changing. Wikipedia has a great biography of this man and his contributions:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Montgomery_C._Meigs

Tip:  go to Google Images and type in “Civil War Wagons” and you get a lot of photos of the different kinds of wagons used: ambulance, supplies, guns and more.  Copyright will not allow me to post pictures here unless I ask permission.

General Sherman writes in his memoirs:

An ordinary army-wagon drawn by six mules may be counted on to carry three thousand pounds net, equal to the food of a full regiment for one day.”  The Memoirs of General W. T. Sherman, Vol. II., Part 4; by William T. Sherman

George Barclay writes in his own words:

George and the Mule!

This is taken from George’s Civil War Pension record and written in his own hand.  Civil War Pension records are mostly about the service of the soldier and their medical condition in order to secure their pension.  Here George is pleading his case.  He wrote this about 1891.  Ouch!

Here is an interesting article on mules at the blog:  Civil War by LearnCivilWarHistory.comhttp://www.nellaware.com/blog/civil-war-mules.html  It tells about their uses and care.  Apparently they didn’t use mules around the guns for they would not be willing participants.  Mules worked best for hauling.   I saw a donkey at the Latte Plantation in North Carolina but he was small and shaggy so learning a little about mules versus horses has been very educational for me, I am a city kid.

A Study of the 9th Regiment – Minnesota

There are regimental histories all over the internet and in books. 

The source I chose to work from is:    

The Civil and Indian Wars of Minnesota, 1891, Narrative of the 9th by Hon. C.F. MacDonald, pages 416 to 438.  There was a copy of this book in the Minnesota Historical Society but I think it is pretty widely available and even on the internet.    

As you read these military histories of the regiments you see they are fixed on the foot soldier and artillery but what about the wagoner?    

What follows is a very briefly summary taken from Mr. MacDonald’s narrative.  I was interested in the locations that were involved and especially Co. I.   

Captain:  H.B. Strait, Edward H. Couse; quartermaster, Headquarters were at St. Peters established Nov. 26, 1862.   

1862 to 1863   

October 12, 1862 to April 30, 1863 – Stationed at Fort Ridgely, Minnesota. Company “I” participated in Indian Campaign of 1862.   

June 12-14, 1863 – Ordered to Camp Pope.  Arrived June 14th.  After removing all company property the camp was abandoned.  (INDIAN WARS)   

June 27, 1863 – Company returned to Fort Ridgley.  Distance marched 50 miles.   

July 24-30, 1863 – Ordered from Fort Ridgley to Fort Snelling.  Arrived at Fort Snelling July 30.   

 August 1, 1863 – Ordered to Saint Paul.  Distance marched 110 miles.   

Sept 23, 1863 – October 3, 1863 – Co. I and other companies concentrated at Fort Snelling, preparatory to leaving for the South.    

October 8-12, 1863 – Left Saint Paul, MN. For Saint Louis, Missouri.  Arrived October 12.   

October 13th, 1863 – Were ordered to Jefferson City, Missouri.  Arrived same day.  Distance, 125 miles. Assigned duty guarding railroad from Kansas Line to near St. Louis until May of 1864.   

December 7-8, 1863 – Ordered to Rolla, Missouri.  Embarked on the cars at Jefferson City at 9 a.m.  Arrived at Fort Wyman, Rolla at 1 a.m. on December 8.  Distance, 160 miles.   


May 18-19, 1864 – Left Rolla, Missouri.  Arrived at Saint Louis in the morning of May 19.  Stationed at Rolla, Jefferson City, LaMine Bridge, Warrensburg, Independence, Knob Noster, Kansas City, Waynesville, Franklin etc.  Headquarters at Jefferson City till April 14, 1864 and at Rolla until May 18.   

May 18-19, 1864 – Left Saint Louis.  Arrived at Memphis May 31.  Regiment concentrated and moved to Memphis, Tennessee.   

June 1-10, 1864 – Joined Sturgis’ expedition (to Guntown Miss., Ripley, Brice’s or Tishamingo Creek, near Guntown) and marched to Brice’s Cross-Roads.  Arrived there on June 10.    

“Found the enemy and engaged them for about three hours, when we were ordered to fall back, which we did in good order.  We made several stands and checked the enemy but only for a short period.  Our retreat continued until we arrived at Memphis, hotly pursued by the enemy.  The men losing all their personal effects and being so completely exhausted and, in many instances, out of rations, were obliged to throw away their arms to avoid falling into the hands of the enemy.  Lost in killed, wounded and missing twenty-two enlisted men, one commissioned officer.”   

May 1864 to Dec. 1864 – Attached to the Dept. of the Missouri to May, 1864.  2nd Brigade, 1st Div., 16th Army Corp., Dept. for the Tennessee, Dept of the Cumberland, to February 1865, 2nd Brigade, 1st Div., 16th Army Corps (New), Military Division West Mississippi to August 1865.   

9th Regiment Locations

Red Flags are 9th Locations, Purple Flag Sherman’s Click once to open, then you might need to click again to get some magnification.

June 22- July 5, 1864 – This company left Memphis, Tennessee with the regiment, of which it formed a part, and proceeded by railroad to La Grange, where it remained until July 5.  Was mustered for pay at La Grange.  Was attached to the First Division, Second Brigade, Sixteenth Army Corps under the command of Major-General A. J. Smith.  Broke up camp July 5 and marched through the northern part of the state of Mississippi.   

July 15, 1864 – Was engaged in the battle of Tupelo, when the enemy was completely routed.  Smith’s Expedition to Tupelo, Miss, July 5-21.   

“This expedition, which was under the command of that veteran hero, Maj. Gen. A.J. Smith, was organized for a raid in the direction of Tupelo, Miss., with a view to cutting the railroad, intercepting movements against Gen. W. T. Sherman, and, by this invasion of far Southern territory, keep the Confederates from sending Gens. S.D. Lee and Forrest’s forces to co-operating against “Old Tecumseh.”    

July 21, 1864 – Marched back to La Grange, where we arrived July 21, having marched a distance of about 180 miles.   

August 1-30 Smith’s raid to Oxford, Mississippi   

September – October 1864 – Stationed in the field near Pleasant Hill, Missouri   

 June 22-28, 1864 – Left Memphis.  Arrived at La Grange, Tennessee on June 28th.   

September 2, 1864 – The company embarked on transports at Memphis, Tennessee and proceeded to Devall’s Bluff, Arkansas (Mower’s Expedition to Duvalls Bluff, Ark, Sept 3-9); thence marched to Cape Girardeau, Missouri via Brownsville, Arkansas, then embarked on transports and proceeded to Jefferson City, Missouri.  Disembarked and marched in pursuit of General Price. Marched thru Arkansas and Missouri in pursuit of Price September 17-November 15.  Then moved to Nashville, Tenn.   

November 15, 1864    

After destroying Atlanta’s warehouses and railroad facilities, Sherman, with 62,000 men begins a March to the Sea.     

November to December 1864, Lawrenceburg, Tenn   

November 1-15, 1864 – The company was at Pleasant Hill, Missouri; thence marched 275 miles to Benton Barracks, Missouri, where it arrived November 15 and remained.   

November 24-December 1, 1864 – It embarked on transports and proceeded to Nashville, Tennessee, where it arrived December 1.  Battle of Nashville, Ten. December 15-16.  Pursuit of Hoot to the Tennessee River December 17-28.     

December 15-16:   

The company performed picket and fatigue duty in entrenching at Nashville until December 15, when it took an active part in the battle of December 15 and 16, participating in four successful assaults on the enemy’s works, having in two days fighting, the captain and one private killed and three men wounded.  The company then marched with the Army in pursuit of the demoralized enemy and have reached Lawrenceburg, Tennessee on muster day.   


January, 1865 – The company was last mustered in the field near Lawrenceburg, Tennessee.  Thence marched to Clifton, Tennessee.  There embarked on transport Tyrone and proceeded to Eastport, Mississippi.   

January 10, 1865 – Disembarked and remained.   

February 5, 1865 –  The company embarked on transport “Atlantic” and came to New Orleans, Louisiana. Disembarked and camped at Chalmette near the city.   

March 5-7, 1865 – Left Camp Chalmette near New Orleans on board transports for Dauphin Island.  Arrived March 7.  Moved to New Orleans, LA., February 6-21.    

March 20, 1865 – Embarked for mouth of Fish River, Mobile Bay.  Campaign against Mobile, Ala., na dits Defenses Mary 17-April 12.    

March 25-26, 1865 – Marched in the direction of Spanish Fort, skirmishing all day with the enemy, arriving at the Fort on March 26.   

April 8, 1865 – Lay in sight of that place until its fall April 8, when we marched to Blakeley.   

April 9, 1865– Gen. Robert E. Lee surrenders at Appomattox Courthouse in Virginia.   

April 13-25 – Remained at (Blakely) until April 13, when we took up our line of march for Montgomery, Alabama, arriving on April 25.  (Siege of Spanish Fort and Fort Blakely march 26-April 8.  Assault and capture of Fort Blakely April 9.  Whole distance traveled 470 miles.   

May 10, 1865 – Last mustered at Montgomery, Alabama.  Occupation of Mobile, April 12.  March to Montgomery, April 13-25.  Duty at Montgomery and Selma until July.   

May 14, 1865 – Broke camp and marched to Selma, Alabama, arriving May 14.   

May 19, 1865 – Marched to Marion, Alabama.  Whole distance marched 85 miles.   

Moved to St. Paul July 26-August 11.  Mustered out August 24, 1865.   

In summary:  The 9th was at Nashville when Sherman was Marching to the Sea.  I did read where one military unit made it to Atlanta in 17 days in order to connect with Sherman.  Unless I get more detail, I am going to have to assume that great-grandfather George A. Barclay was not with Sherman in Georgia but “in the field Tenn” in the Battle of Nashville in Tennessee.

George A. Barclay and Sherman?

My Aunt Miriam writes in her notes about George’s enlistment in the Civil War.

Miriam’s Notes – Civil War

The book from Pine River “Logsleds to Snowmobiles” gives this information about George’s service:

“George became a wagoner with Company A, Ninth Volunteer Infantry.  Barclay was with General Sherman on his “march through Georgia to the sea.” He was honorably discharged on August 24, 1865.” page 105.

The company is “I” and not “A,” that George served with.

Did my great-grandfather George Angus Barclay “march with Sherman” as my Aunt Miriam states or did he “marched through Georgia to the sea” as the book reference suggests?

Well let’s examine the evidence.

Because I am a curious creature I ordered George’s Civil War Service record from the National Archives (NARA) and waited impatiently for its arrival.  I also ordered his Civil War Pension Record but NARA didn’t have it?  NARA wrote back to tell me that it was with the Veterans Administration.  So of course, I wrote for it immediately.  It came — all 3 inches thick of it!  The pension file was huge and covered 1892 to 1942.

After studying both the Civil War Service Record and the Civil War Pension files of George A. Barclay I cannot state with certainty that George  “marched with Sherman” or ‘marched through Georgia to the sea!”  George never mentions it in his pension file. The goal of the pension file application is to get a pension and it is probably better to keep your answers short.  The Service Record is more like an attendance record for the soldier.

George writes in his own hand on an affidavit from his pension file:

I have not been in the military or naval service of the United States since August 24th, 1865.  That I served as Wagoner in Company I, 9th Minn. Vol. Inft. for the period of 3 years and 9 days and was never in any company.”  From G.A. Barclay Civil War Pension File.  

We need to understand the history of George William T. Sherman’s military career.  The History Channel website has this interactive video of the three of the campaigns of Sherman:  Sherman’s March.


1.  The Atlanta Campaign.  It started in the Summer and he took Atlanta on September 7, 1864.  It is from Atlanta that Sherman started his march to the sea.

2.  The Savannah Campaign started on November 15, 1864 and went for 300 miles. This is the famous “March to the Sea” campaign.  He did march across Georgia to Savannah, NC to accomplish this goal.   This link to the History Channel gives more on this specific march.


“Sherman’s Army:  Sherman had a massive army.  Over 60,000 troops, 8000 horses and mules, 2500 wagons.  Two 900 foot pontoon bridges to cross the many rivers and streams of Georgia.  In some places the army would march by a house or plantation for 2 straight days without a break during daylight hours.  The March proceeded in two wings.  Each wing was divided into two columns.  Often the four columns were on separate roads.”

Wikipedia’s – Sherman’s March to the Sea has a really good explanation and even details the “Opposing forces” which breaks down the various army groups that participated in this march in more detail along with links.  They have some maps with details of the campaigns and you can click to make them bigger.


3.  The Campaign of the Carolinas.  In this campaign Sherman marched north through these two states starting on January 15, 1865.

George William T. Sherman had a very long military career even before the beginning of the Civil War.  He was involved in many other campaigns.  To dig deeper on W. T. Sherman let’s go back to Wikipedia for a biography on Sherman.   There is a lot of great information at this particular Wikipedia site but always be sure you check other sources and there are plenty on the web referencing the Civil War.


Scrolling down the page to Civil War Service you see that Sherman was involved with other campaigns prior to the three mentioned above.

1.  First Battle Bull Run or First Battle of Manassas. I have had the privilege of visiting this park twice.  The park is west of Arlington, Virginia and easy to get to by car.  I believe it is haunted. The battle took place on July 21, 1861.  So if George mustered in on August 15, 1862 he most definitely was not in this battle. The National Park Services has wonderful websites of the major battlefields of the Civil War:  http://www.nps.gov/mana/index.htm

2.  Shiloh is in Tennessee and the battle took place April 6-7, 1862.  The National Park Services also has a website for this battlefield:  http://www.nps.gov/shil/historyculture/shiloh.htm  Again George musters in August 15, 1862 he misses this action as well.

3.  Vicksburg, Mississippi Dec 26, 1862 to July 4, 1863 and Chattanooga, Tennessee October and November 1863.   Now there might be possibilities in these campaigns?  We will see.

Let us review George’s military card service cards in the next post and see if we can find anything in them that will help us figure out this puzzle.

WARNING!  Researching and reading about the Civil War can be addicting!

Here are some other websites to explore:

The National Civil War Museum in Harrisburg, PA is a wonderful place to visit.  I was able to wander this archive back in September of 2008.

http://www.nationalcivilwarmuseum.org/index_1.php   http://www.nationalcivilwarmuseum.org/


Civil War:  http://www.civilwar.com/

Don’t forget Google Images of the Civil War go here http://www.google.com/imghp?hl=en&tab=wi  and type in “Civil War” or “Civil War Wagons” and click!

Civil War Home Page http://www.civil-war.net/

Civil War Soldiers and Sailors System http://www.itd.nps.gov/cwss/  You can search for a soldier and more.

The Civil War (PBS) http://www.pbs.org/civilwar/

American Civil War.com http://americancivilwar.com/

Time Line of the Civil War:  http://rs6.loc.gov/ammem/cwphtml/tl1861.html

The National Civil War Museum

Getting to Know Great Grandfather George Angus Barclay!

Most of the stories I heard growing up were dominated by my McDonald side through my father Keith.  His full name was Keith Barclay MacDonald.  I heard stories about the family through his siblings. My father really didn’t talk that much about his family.  He was close to his father and siblings.  I knew a little about my father’s mother Grace, my grandmother, but the stories were mostly about her death and it was all very sad.   

Miriam, my aunt, had provided my first introduction to my great grandparents on the Barclay side by sending me a page of typed notes about 1986 that had two paragraphs describing each one of these two individuals with the surname of Barclay. 

As I read the two paragraphs that described by great-grandfather and grandmother I tried to reach my mind behind the words.  I was astounded! Who were these two people?  Reading about these two individuals for the first time sparked a great curiosity in me.  I will start with George’s paragraph  

George A. Barclay Notes


In reviewing these notes here are a few thoughts based on what I have learned.  I will go into more detail in future posts.    

His name was George Angus Barclay and this is correct. 

The date of birth of 1846 is not correct. He was born August 18, 1844 per his Civil War Pension file.  

The death of date of 1898 is correct.  He died October 28, 1898.  

He enlisted August 15, 1862 as a wagoner Co. I, 9th Minn. Vol. Inf.  This is all correct according to his Civil War Pension file and Civil War Service file.  The enlistment at Fort Snelling is not correct.  He enlisted at Fort Ridgely at the time of the Dakota Indian uprising.  

He homesteaded in what is called Pine River.  Yes he bought land in the Pine River area and settled there by about 1873.   

He operated a half-way house.  I didn’t know what this term “half-way house” meant.  Answers.com defines this as:   

“A stopping place, such as an inn, that marks the midpoint of a journey.” 

True, he first had a trading post on the south fork of the Pine River and later he moved up to the present area of Pine River about where the visitor’s center is located.  He built a house, barn, a store, later a hotel.  It was situated by a train depot after about 1896 and was a place were a lot of hunters, loggers, businessmen, settlers and travelers would stop for the night.  

He financed “gyppo loggers.”  Again I did not know what this term “gyppo” meant.  Dictionary.dot com defines this term as: 

 “a logger who operates on a small budget and typically gleans the timberlands already cut by larger companies.” 

“someone willing to do piecework, usually a non-union worker…” 

George did have logging interests.  I have a timber contract he had signed.  To what extent and who he employed is not known.  

He was shot while reading the paper on October 28, 1898.  This is true my great-grandfather was shot and killed.  The bullet traveled through the front window of his hotel. It caused quite an up roar and resulted in a Coroner’s Inquest and later a trial.  

It is not known whether he was born in Scotland or New Jersey.  George’s birth is still shrouded in mystery.  I have tracked him back to 1850 where he was living in Enfield, Connecticut.  He is six years old.  He is not with his father or mother.  He is with a completely different family.   

His father was John Barclay.  This is true.  I have been researching John Barclay and have quite a bit of information on him.   

His mother was “Margaret.”  George’s mother is a mystery.  Miriam knew very little about her and so far I have not been able to identify her.   

George was indeed a small man as described in his Civil War Pension file medical records.  He came in at 5 feet 4 inches tall.  In 1892 he weight 125 lbs.  If you compared my great-grandfather with me, we would be about the same size.  He was a wagoner in the Civil War which means he handled those huge wagons and mules?  

I was able to target each one of these comments written by my Aunt Miriam and it started me on a great adventure in researching the life of my great-grandfather.