Born in Dauphin County in 1754, he was the son of John and Sarah Barnett, who had emigrated from Ireland early in the eighteenth
century. Joseph's parents both died while he was a small boy and he was raised in the home of relatives. He served under General Potter in the Revolutionary War, and after the war settled in Lycoming County,
Pennsylvania. In 1788, he married Elizabeth Scott. They became the parents of ten children, among them being Thomas, Sarah, John, Andrew, Rebecca, Margaret, Juliet and J. Potter. Joseph died April 15, 1838, at
age 84 years, and his wife Elizabeth, died in August of 1838, at age 65 years. They are buried in the old graveyard on Pickering Street in Brookville.