From NKAA, Notable Kentucky African Americans Database (main entry)

Barnett, Peter W.

(born: 1871  -  died: ) Peter W. Barnett was an author, educator, journalist, publisher, veteran, and musician. He was born in Carrsville, Livingston County, KY, the son of Sarah (b. 1840) and Peter Barnett (1830-1898). [Peter Sr. is listed as white in the 1870 U.S. Federal Census.] Peter W. Barnett taught school in Kentucky. He was educated in Kentucky and Indiana, moving in 1891 to Indiana to attend high school. He went on to become a student for two years at Indiana State Normal in Terre Haute [now Indiana State University]. He was employed at Union Publishing Company, the company that published the first labor paper in Indianapolis; the company later moved its headquarters to Chicago. During the winter of 1896, Barnett opened a night school in Indianapolis. Barnett was also a reporter and representative for the African American newspaper, Freeman. Barnett and J. T. V. Hill [James Thomas Vastine Hill] published the Indianapolis Colored Business Chart Directory in 1898, the goal of which was "to promote industry and race patronage and to encourage business enterprise." J. T. V. Hill was an African American lawyer in Indianapolis, opening his office in 1882 [source: Encyclopedia of Black America, by W. A. Low and V. A. Clift]. He was the first African American to be admitted to the Indianapolis Bar. Peter Barnett would become his understudy while in the service. Barnett was 28 years old when he enlisted in the U.S. Army in Indianapolis, IN, on March 13, 1899. He was assigned to the 24th Infantry, Company L. In December of 1899, while stationed at Ft. Wrangle, Alaska, Peter Barnett, who had been studying law under J. T. V. Hill, gave it up because there were no resource facilities available to him in Alaska. He began to study music and organized a group of musicians (soldiers) that he named the Symphony Orchestra of Company L, 24th Infantry. Most of the men could not read music. Barnett was discharged from the Indiana Colored Infantry on March 12, 1900, at Fort Wrangle, Alaska [source: U.S. Army Register of Enlistments]. For more see "Peter Barnett..." in the last paragraph of the article "Camp Capron Notes," Freeman, 10/01/1898, p. 8; "Night School," Freeman, 10/24/1896, p. 8; On the Trail of the Buffalo Soldier, by F. N. Schubert; quotation from "Local Notes," Freeman, 12/11/1897, p. 4-Supplement; and "From Alaska," Freeman, 12/30/1899, p. 9.


Cited in this Entry

NKAA Source: Indianapolis freeman (newspaper)
NKAA Source: Indianapolis Colored business chart directory
NKAA Source: Encyclopedia of Black America
NKAA Source: Indianapolis freeman (newspaper)
NKAA Source: On the trail of the buffalo soldier: biographies of African Americans in the U.S. Army, 1866-1917

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“Barnett, Peter W.,” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed November 23, 2017,

Last modified: 2017-07-19 13:51:51