W. J. BARKELL, son of William and Eliza (Piper) Barkell, was born July 16, 1849, at Cornwall, England. He received a limited education, beginning to work at the copper mines at the age of nine years, receiving the munificent sum of eight cents per day for the first year, ten cents per day for the second and twelve cents in the third year. This was for work about the offices, and at the age of twelve he went into the mines and worked for the sum of seven dollars and fifty cents per month, continuing there until he was seventeen years old, his wages increasing yearly until he was receiving twenty dollars a month. He then removed to the north of England, to a town called Cramlington, where he found employment in the coal mines and continued there or twenty-one years, during fifteen years of which time he was mine boss and fire boss combined. In 1887 he came to America and located at Scottdale, Pennsylvania, where he has since made his home. He was employed for some ten years in the sheet mill, then opened a small music store and has since given his entire attention to the business. He is an excellent musician, having taken up the study of music when a lad of fifteen years, giving attention to both string and brass instruments, and when twenty-five years old he began to teach. While at Cramlington he conducted one of the finest brass bands and directed one of the most excellent choirs in England, competing with all the famed bands and choirs of the country. For sixteen years he was director of the P. M. choir and of the Cramlington prize brass band, which company of musicians he organized, trained and perfected. Five of his former pupils have come to this country and become successful teachers of band music. Upon first coining to Scottdale he gave his entire attention for a short time to teaching music but then entered the sheet mill, thus dividing his time between music and mechanics. In his present establishment, which he opened in 1898, he handles all kinds and grades of musical instruments and musicians' supplies, and in addition a full line of kodaks, photographers' supplies, bicycles, sewing machines, and their necessary appurtenances. About the year 1892 or 1893 there appeared in the Metronome, a musical journal published by Carl Fischer, of New York city, a voting contest for the most popular cornetist and conductor in the United States, the contest open for six months. When the votes were counted it was found that W. J. Barkell had received the greatest number by a large margin, the votes coming from all parts of the United States and Canada. The prize he received was a cornet valued at two hundred dollars. His orchestra is in constant demand in all parts of the state, and is composed of the best talent to be found. He is a member of one of the executive board of the American Federation of Musicians, and a member of the A. I. O. K. M., Arpad Commandery, No. 342, of Scottdale.
Mr. Barkell married, (first) in 1870, Emma J. Bell. She died in June, 1884, at the age of thirty-three, leaving six children: Eliza, living at home; Mary, wife of John R. Riebe, general secretary of the Young glen's Christian Association, Berwick, Pennsylvania; William, a telegraph operator for the Union Supply Company, Scottdale, Pennsylvania, married Bessie -Moran; Robert B., a clerk for the H. C. Frick Company, Scottdale, married Esther Longenecker; George K., in the employ of the United States Express Company, Pittsburg, married Cora Myers; Emma J., died in infancy. Mr. Bartell married (second), in November, 1890, Sarah Robson, of Scottdale, a native of England. They are members of the Methodist Episcopal church, Mr. Barkell being a member of the official board of the same. He is also a member of the board of directors of the Young Men's Christian Association, and is a stockholder in the Scottdale Machine and Foundry Company.
Source: Page(s) 201-202, History of Westmoreland County, Volume II, Pennsylvania by John N Boucher. New York, The Lewis Publishing Company, 1906.
Transcribed August 2008 by Nathan Zipfel for the Westmoreland County History Project
Contributed for use by the Westmoreland County Genealogy Project (http://www.pa-roots.com/westmoreland/)
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