ALTER BARBELL was born in Pruzany, in what was then Russia on January 24, 1877. He came to the via Hamburg aboard the Hamburg-American line steamship Phoenicia, arriving at Ellis Island, New York on February 28, 1902. He was joined by his wife Dora and sons Myer and Elmer in 1904. The Barbell family was living in South Philadelphia when the 1910 Census was enumerated, and another child had been born there, a son named Israel, by then. Shortly after the 1910 Census was taken, the family had moved to 327 Liberty Street in Camden, where daughter Rose Lillian Barbell was born in 1911. Camden’s first synagogue, generally referred to as the Lichtenstein Shul as its main patron was local businessman Abraham Lichtenstein, was on this block, and it very well may have been through Lichtenstein’s influence that Alter Barbell moved to Camden. Alter Barbell had come to America as a tailor, but it was not long before he began working as a Hebrew teacher, the occupation he is best remembered for.
Alter Barbell filed his declaration of Intention to become an American Citizen in March of 1917. The family then lived at 1122 Baring Street. When the 1920 Census was compiled, the family lived at 1130 Baring Street, a few doors north of Kaighn Avenue, between Broadway and South 6th Street. The back doors of the homes on Baring Street face South 6th Street. Son Myer at that time was working as a draftsman in a factory, while Elmer worked as a bookkeeper at a furniture store.
The family was still living on Baring Street in April of 1930. By this time Myer Barbell had married and moved to 2 Leonard Avenue in East Camden, where he practiced medicine as a physiotherapist. The other children still lived at home. Elmer Barbell was now an accountant, while Israel Barbell had become a dentist.
Alter Barbell was still teaching Hebrew in Camden as late as 1938. He passed away at the age of 69 on July 14, 1946 and was buried in the new Jewish section at New Camden Cemetery. His widow, Dora Barbell resided at 1227 Langham Avenue with son Elmer and daughter-in-law Sadie. Rose Lillian Barbell also lived at the Langham Avenue address. Israel Barbell was then living at 297 Rand Street in East Camden. Dr. Myer Barbell had moved around the corner, to 2737 Federal Street.