James G. Craigie, his wife, and his daughter came to Otter Tail County in 1861 and settled at a spot he named Balmoral 5 miles south of Ottertail City where a creek runs into Otter Tail Lake.
A Sioux massacre in September of that year depopulated the Minnesota frontier and the Craigies moved to an older settlement. Part of that time he worked in a mill at Sauk Centre. They returned later and built a dam and mill. Mrs. Craigie, who often worked like a man, went to St. Cloud in the dead of winter and hauled machinery for the mill.
Snow Flake Flour
Craigie, a brawny, robust Scotsman, soon earned a reputation as a thorough miller and provided a grist mill much nearer for the settlers than Alexandria. His enterprise, Snow Flake Four was a success.
“In 1871 his daughter, Annie reached the age of 18 and eloped with Archie McArthur and then went to Detroit to live.
A Family Tragedy
Tragedy came to the Craigies on a beautiful day in September 1872. Mr. and Mrs. Craigie and a young woman fresh from Scotland, who claimed she was the wife of Becker County’s auditor, John Cromb, went sailing.
No one really knows what happened next. The boat was reported as a poor one ballasted with stone. The boat tipped and the three passengers drowned. Mrs. Crombs body was found near the boat in eight feet of water. The Craigies’ bodies were recovered the next day.
Alexander M. Craigie of Minneapolis and George F. Walker of Dassel, a brother of Mrs. James Craigie, claimed Annie McArthur was not Craigie’s daughter and took possession of the mill then valued at eight or nine thousand dollars.
Trial By Court
Annie McArthur appealed from the probate court decision and a district court jury in 1875 decided in her favor. The Craigies appealed to the supreme court and a new trial was ordered. Expert counsel for both sides called numerous witnesses and the Methodist Church in Fergus Falls where the trial was held, was filled with spectators. Again the jury decided in favor of Annie.
The McArthurs operated the mill for a few years. Annie McArthur died at Balmoral in 1879.