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Hudson-Mohawk Genealogical and Family Memoirs:

Index to All Families | Index to Families by County: Albany, Columbia, Fulton, Greene, Montgomery, Rensselaer, Saratoga, Schenectady, Schoharie, Warren, Washington

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[This information is from Vol. III, pp. 1327-1328 of Hudson-Mohawk Genealogical and Family Memoirs, edited by Cuyler Reynolds (New York: Lewis Historical Publishing Company, 1911). It is in the Reference collection of the Schenectady County Public Library at R 929.1 R45. Some of the formatting of the original, especially in lists of descendants, may have been altered slightly for ease of reading.]

The Arkells of Canajoharie, New York, are descendants of an ancient English family of frequent and honorable mention in the history of the British Empire. The American ancestor was William Arkell, who came to the United States about the year 1840. He settled on a farm in Canajoharie, Montgomery county, New York, after first going west. He was not pleased with western surroundings, saying on his return east that he would not live in a country where the men did not blacken their boots. He was a man of education and true to the traditions of an aristocratic family. He married Mary Carter in England and had issue.

(II) James, son of William and Mary (Carter) Arkell, was born in Oxford, England. Among his remote ancestors were Sir Hugh Aracle and Sir George Brooks, names famous in English history. He died in Canajoharie, New York, August 11, 1902. He came to the United States with his parents and grew to great prominence in business and political life. He was twelve years of age when he came to Canajoharie, where he was educated in the public schools and at the academy. He was for a time interested in insurance, being connected with the local company of which the well known Judge Spraker was president. He was later engaged in farming. In 1863 he purchased and edited The Radii, a weekly newspaper founded in 1837 by Levi S. Backus, a deaf mute. This paper was enlarged and renamed The Canajoharie Radii and Taxpayer's Journal. L. F. Allen assumed an interest at the same time, and under the firm name of Arkell & Allen continued the publication until January 1, 1866, when Angell Matthewson purchased Mr. Arkell's interest. In 1859, in partnership with Benjamin Smith, he began the manufacture of paper and cotton sacks under the firm name of Arkell & Smith. This was the beginning of an immense business which later developed and still is one of the main industries of the village of Canajoharie. During the war the firm was hard pressed for a time. Mr. Arkell coming to his son's assistance, however, enabled him to pull through safely and by fortunate purchases of cotton they made a large addition to their capital. In 1884 the business was incorporated with Mr. Arkell, president, Benjamin Smith, secretary, and Adam Smith, treasurer. Mr. Arkell was the inventor of the satchel bottom paper sack and also the machine for manufacturing same; this is the first on record in the United States, if not in the whole world, and the value of that patent is beyond computation to this day. Mr. Arkell became deeply interested in many other business enterprises of his town and state. He was the chief promoter and largest owner of the Mt. McGregor railroad, and for many years principal owner of the Albany Journal. He was always a power in the newspaper world where he was well known as a strong writer of editorials on political and financial subjects. He was high in the councils of the Republican party and intimately known to the greatest men of the same. He was a warm personal friend of President Grant and during his last week at Mount McGregor was a welcome visitor to the stricken general. He was elected state senator and was a leader in the senate. His eloquence and practical business experience rendered him a popular and valuable servant of the state. He remained active in business and retained his interest and influence until his death. He was a natural leader of men and there is scarcely an interest in the town of Canajoharie that did not have either its inception in his busy brain or receive hearty and material assistance from his abundant resource. He read widely and from his richly-stored mind could draw a wealth of interesting facts for platform or editorial purpose. Strong, convincing, and eloquent, he held his audiences in closest attention and never failed to arouse the enthusiasm of his hearers, yet withal was the sound and safe man of affairs, successfully conducting his own affairs and aiding others along the road to prosperity. He was a warm friend of the American system of public schools and for many years served on the village school board. The high school building in Canajoharie owes its erection and subsequent usefulness largely to his untiring advocacy of better educational facilities for the youth of his village. He developed the water power which turns the mill machinery and patented many of the devices now used in making cotton bags and their later substitute made of paper. He acquired large tracts of land and village property which he improved. Nothing lay idle under his ownership nor did he wait for the enterprise of others to enrich his holdings. He was a member of the Masonic order, and was liberal in his religious ideas, helping all denominations regardless of their sect, and aiding every enterprise of value to the community.

He married, July 23, 1853, Sarah Hall, born September 18, 1835, daughter of Ebenezer and Elizabeth (Philip) Bartlett, of Massachusetts, and granddaughter of Joshua and Sarah Bartlett, of Blanford, Massachusetts. Elizabeth Philip was daughter of William and Elizabeth (Ostrander) Philip. Children of Ebenezer and Elizabeth Bartlett:

  1. Sarah Hall, married James Arkell;
  2. Celeste, married Daniel Graff;
  3. Mary Augusta, married Cornelius Deyoe;
  4. Lydia Frances, married James Green, M. D.;
  5. Franklin, married Anna Van Camp;
  6. Kate L., married John Vosburg.

Children of James and Sarah Hall (Bartlett) Arkell:

  1. William J., born March 26, 1856; became widely known as the owner of the illustrated periodicals Judge and Frank Leslie's; he married Minnie Cahill; children:
    1. James Arkell (2), married Claire Matties;
    2. Margherita, married Arthur Dudley Warner.
  2. Mary F., married, May 4, 1880, Edward Burnap, born in the town of Ephratah, Fulton county, New York, November 24, 1858; he was educated in the public schools of his town and at Palatine Bridge; he entered Union University, where he was graduated A. B., class of 1879; he located at Canajoharie, where he was engaged in mercantile life until 1885; in that year he became associated with Arkell & Smith as manager, a position he yet retains (1910); he is a member of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, in politics, a Democrat, and belongs to Fort Rensselaer Club. Child, D. Arkell, born September 16, 1883.
  3. Laura.
  4. Bartlett.
  5. Bertelle H., married (first) Bernhard Gillam, who died in 1896; married (second) Francis Edward Barbour (see Barbour II).

Mrs. Sarah Hall (Bartlett) Arkell survives her husband, a resident of Canajoharie, where she occupies the beautiful mansion rebuilt in 1890.

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