As one drives through the rural roads
of northeastern Harnett County, one might catch a glimpse of the
sign, "Barclaysville", at a typical country crossroad. Approximately
twenty-five miles north of this crossroad is Raleigh.; twenty-five
miles south is Fayetteville. This road is known as the Old Stage
Road. The direction sign to the east and west informs one that Buies
creek is four miles away and Benson eleven miles. One might still
hear the whistle of the train that once passed by the crossroad and
realize that at one time a train stopped regularly to pick up lumber
at Barclaysville. There are tobacco fields surrounding the roads
with little traffic except for local drivers and tractors humming
way to the fields. As one passes through this quiet, sparsely settled
community, nothing of any significance would be noted. However, historical
significance lies hidden within this crossroad called Barclaysville.
In 1819 or 1820, Mr. and Mrs. John
Barclay came to this section of North Carolina from Pennsylvania.
They purchased a 510 acre tract of land and built an Inn called Barclay's
Inn upon this land along the Old Stage Road which was the main route
from Raleigh to Fayetteville. This inn provided a welcomed stop for
many travelers making a trip via stage coach, horse or foot.
John Barclay died on may 25th. 1928.
He was survived by his wife, Mildred Barclay, and three daughters,
Katie, Ann, and Mildred. The inn and land was left to his wife. Mrs. Barclay
became the owner and manager
of the inn, and a very capable manager she proved to be.
The History of a Crossroad
Barclay's Inn was famous from Boston
to New Orleans for it's fine food and hospitality. The well known
inn also housed famous visitors as well as many others.
Legend has it that Marquis de Lafayette
stayed at Barclay's Inn during his visit to the United Sates in 1824
or 1825. He was a french soldier and statesman. Lafayette fought
for American independence, and it was he that along with George Washington
forced Cornwallis to surrender.
There is also a legend which claims
Barclay's Inn hosted Santa Anna in 1836. However, let it be pointed
out that Santa Anna was not on a luxury tour but rather was being
transported to Washington D.C. as a United States Government captive
after being captured in eastern Texas. Santa Anna had led his mexican
army against the Texan volunteers at the Alamo.
The Battle of the Log cabin was supposedly
fought near Barclaysville. This battle was between opposing political
factions during the 1840's. The elections were generally spirited
and close between the Whigs and Democrats.
A description of Barclay's Inn is
found in Frederick law Olmstead's book The Cotton Kingdom. Olmstead
was a Yankee writer who traveled from Raleigh to Fayetteville in
1853 or 1854. His description goes as follows: Before eight o' clock,
I reached a long cabin which I found to be Mrs. Barclay's. It was
right cheerful and comforting to open the door from the dark, damp,
chilly night into a large room filled with blazing light from a great
fire of turpentine pine by which two stalwart men were reading newspapers,
a door opening into a background of supper-table and kitchen, and
a nice, stout, kindly looking Quaker like old lady coming forward
to welcome me.
As soon as I was warm, I was taken
out to supper: seven preparations of swine's flesh, two maize, wheat
cakes, broiled quail, cold roast turkey, coffee and tea.
My bedroom was a house by itself,
the only connection between it and the main building being a platform
or gallery in front. A great fire burned here also in a large fireplace;
a stuffed easy chair had been placed before it, and a tub of hot
water, which I had not asked for, to bath my weary feet.
And this was a piney-woods stage
house! But genius will find it's development no matter where it's
is cast; and there is much genius for inn-keeping as for poetry. Mrs. Barclay
is a Burns in her own way,
and with even more modesty; for after twenty-four hours of the best entertainment
that could be asked for,
I was only charged one dollar.
This is quite a tribute coming from
Olmstead for he had precious little to say that was favorable to
Today, across a plowed field
where the Barclay Inn once stood, one can see a cluster of trees,
beneath which lies the remnants
of stones marking the graves of John and Mildred Barclay from whom the crossroad
got it's name.