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A History of Kentucky and Kentuckians, The Leaders and Representative Men in Commerce, Industry and Modern Activities. By E. Polk Johnson, Volume III. Illustrated. Publishers: The Lewis Publishing Company, Chicago-New York, 1912.
WILLIAM ELLIS BARKLEY is one of the most prominent and prosperous of the citizens of Bracken county, as well as one of its most highly esteemed and honored citizens. He has large agricultural interests, devoting his estate to tobacco raising and general farming. The white burley tobacco, for which the state is noted, originated on the Barkley homestead in the year 1864. But his interests are by no means limited to the “great basic industry,” for he is one of the well-known bankers of the section, having connection with several institutions of this character. He is the representative of a family which came to the Blue Grass state from the commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
William Ellis Barkley is the third in order of birth of the eight children born to George W. and Eliza (Remley) Barkley, both of whom were natives of Bracken county, Kentucky. Mary Elizabeth was the first of the children born to the union of this estimable couple. She was born March 30, 1843, and died on October 6 of that same year. James Samuel, born April 16, 1845, died April 9, 1846; William Ellis, the subject, was born August 7, 1847. Christina Helen, born May 29, 1850, married James Noble Sallee and died in March, 1911. George W., born November 1, 1852, died July 20, 1861. Alonzo, born July 22, 1855, died July 20, 1856. Benjamin F., born June 4, 1857, is single and resides at Augusta, Kentucky. The youngest member of the family, Lucetta, born March 6, 1860, became the wife of C. B. Johnson, December 13, 1888, and resides at Augusta.
The paternal grandfather of Mr. Barkley whose name initiates this sketch was born about the year 1773, in Pennsylvania, and he came to Kentucky as a young man, the date of his identification with the new state having been the year 1796. He was a farmer by occupation and settled near Augusta, marrying Christina Ellis and becoming the father of three children prior to his death, March 5, 1818, at a comparatively early age. The record of his children follows: Mary, born in 1813, married Benjamin Dugan October 10, 1832, and died October 2, 1883; James S., born at Augusta November 22, 18i15, married Adeline Swan on April 17, 1839 (she was born July 16, 1821, and died April 3, 1856), and after engaging in the work of farming near Coleridge, Nebraska, died at that place January 14, 1893; George W., father of the subject, born in January, 1818, married in 1841 Eliza Remley, daughter of Samuel and Mary Remley. Mr. Barkley’s mother was summoned to the Great Beyond October 7, 1892, and his father, in August, 1900.
Not only was Mr. Barkley born in Bracken county, but he has paid it the compliment of making it the scene of his entire career. To the schools of the township is he endebted for his education and he received a valuable early training upon his father’s farm. He resides two miles east of Augusta, Kentucky, and owns a farm consisting of some three hundred valuable acres at South Higginsport, Kentucky. This, leased to tenants, is devoted to the raising of corn, tobacco and the other products of general farming. As previously mentioned, his banking interests are of an important character. He has stock in the Farmers’ National Bank of Augusta, is vice-president and director of the Augusta German Bank and vice-president and director of the Citizens’ Bank of Higginsport, Ohio. Nor is this a complete enumeration of the concerns in which his fine executive is considered in the light of a valuable adjunct, for he is also a stockholder and director of the Higginsport Independent Telephone Company, of Higginsport, Ohio.
Mr. Barkley was happily married October 6, 1869, Miss Alona Alice Obenchain, daughter of Daniel and Mary E. (Burns) Obenchain, of Fincastle, Botetourt county, Virginia, becoming his wife. Mr. and Mrs. Barkley have no children. Their modern and handsome home, situated two miles east of Augusta, Kentujcky, was erected in 1908 and has every convenience.