The death of her father must have been a great shock to my grandmother Grace. She was only a little over 16 years old at the time of his murder. I wonder what she might have been thinking. I have wondered what the news of her father’s death would be like for her. Things had been tense between them because of Hank Taylor’s interest and then her marriage to my grandfather R.S. McDonald. George had not been happy and told her so.
Here is a possible scenario:
R.S. entered the hotel room. Grace was just finishing tucking her hair into place. She turned to greet him and stopped short. R.S. looked at her intently. “What’s wrong?” she said. Ronald Sandfield McDonald searched carefully for the words that would tell his lovely new wife of the tragedy that had occurred. “Well, Mr. McDonald, what on earth is wrong.” She demanded. R.S. could see no other way but to say the words. “Your father has been shot.” Grace looked at him and blinked standing there with a puzzled look at her face. “Papa, shot? Is he all right?” R.S. took a deep breath and said: “No, I am afraid to tell you this, but he died very quickly and suffered little.” Grace began to sway and R.S. rushed to catch her and gently helped her to the bed. “This can’t be. Are you sure?” Grace said. “Yes, here is the telegram that came just now.” He handed it to her. Grace took it into her hands and read it slowly and carefully. It was from her mother, Amarilla and it asked her to come home immediately. She held it tightly in her hand and the room was filled with silence. R.S. sat next to her gently comforting her. The last several months since their marriage had been hard but this was totally unexpected and unbelievable. R.S. was the first to break the silence and said “I have made arrangements to get you to Pine River as quickly as possible. He rose from the bed and went to her suitcase and started packing her things. Grace sat quietly on the bed, reading the telegram again and again. Clutching it in her hand. “Papa, dead?”
Grace and R.S. said their goodbyes at the Cloquet train station. “I have some business to finish up and will be going off to the camp. I will come down to Pine River in a couple of days and be with you. I am so sorry, Grace. I wish I could be with you now but Backus has me running.” Grace smiled gently at her husband. His job as Superintendent for Backus was not an easy one. Grasping the railing she climbed abroad the train. Feeling a tug at his heart, R.S. watched the train starting its journey. Leaving her behind was always hard but this was worse. He turned on his heels and dashed up the street.
Grace somehow found a seat on the train next to the window. The train began to pick up speed. Can’t this train go faster, she thought. Wanting to get home and find out what had really happened to her father and yet on the other hand a tremendous dread of what was to come engulfed her. Papa, dead……no it can’t be. He was just yelling at Yllander a few weeks ago. Papa always yelled! …
Written by her granddaughter in 2005. My grandmother had her written compilation “Words of Wasted Moment.” I hope I have done her proud to write this scenario. See the posted dated September 19, 2013 “1898: Sweet Sixteen – Grace Barclay is growing up. “
How Grace managed to get from Cloquet, Minnesota to Pine River by November 2, 1898 for the Coroner’s Inquest on the death of her father George, is only speculation on my part. I am convinced she used the railroads to do it. Getting around as a passenger in Minnesota had not been easy but progress was being made by 1898. She either went to St. Paul and headed for Brainerd where she took the train to Pine River; however, if the railroad was in place from Duluth to Brainerd then she could have gone to Duluth from Cloquet and transferred to get into Brainerd and then headed north to Pine River. Fun to speculate on her route.
The Historical Maps website has a railroad map for Minnesota dated 1900. Grace was no stranger to traveling the trains. She had been riding them for years going to school in St. Paul and traveling with her parents.