Samuel P. Atkinson. Perhaps Champaign has no more sturdy and progressive citizen than is found in Samuel P. Atkinson, manager of the S. P. Atkinson Monument Company. He is a thorough American, with a backing of colonial ancestry and Revolutionary stock; and is a veteran of the great struggle which prior to 1914 the people of the United States has called the saddest page on the world’s history. Mr. Atkinson is a vigorous and able business man, but he is much more, for he has the true welfare of his city at heart and is zealously working to advance movements that will be of the greatest permanent benefit to the whole community. His entire life has been a busy, useful and interesting one.
Samuel P. Atkinson was born in Central Ohio, November 26, 1844. His parents were Peabody and Marenda (Elliott) Atkinson, both of whom were descendants of Revolutionary heroes and natives of New Hampshire. The old Atkinson homestead situated ten miles from Concord, New Hampshire, was the cause of a pilgrimage made by Samuel P. Atkinson in 1916, and in the vicinity, with other kindred of generations gone, rest the ashes of his grandfather, Joseph C. Atkinson. To Peabody Atkinson and wife seven children were born, namely: Henry and Mary, both of whom are deceased; Joseph, who is living in Ohio; George, who is deceased; Samuel P.; and Annie and Nettie, both of whom are deceased. The father of the above family died from an accident in August, 1863, and the mother passed away in 1866.
Samuel P. Atkinson completed his junior year at Marietta College of Ohio, and entered the senior class at Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, from which he graduated with high honors in June, 1866.
In 1864, when the need of soldiers was the greatest, he with his two brothers, leaving their widowed mother alone upon the farm, enlisted in the One Hundred and Thirty-fifth Ohio Volunteer Infantry, serving in the Army of the Potomac in Maryland and Virginia. When this regiment was mustered out more men were missing from its ranks in killed, wounded or prisoners of war than any regiment which left Licking County, Ohio, during the Civil War. Six soldiers in the Revolutionary War, three in the War of the Rebellion and six thus far in the present world’s conflict is the quota from the Atkinson family for voluntary military service.
After completing his collegiate course Mr. Atkinson went to Attica, Indiana, where he remained one year engaged in teaching school. On April 20, 1868, he came to Champaign and soon became interested in farming, and for twelve succeeding years cultivated his fields in the summer months and taught school in the winter seasons. In the spring of 1880 he left the farm and engaged as salesman for J. W. Booker in the monument business at Champaign. In 1881 he became a partner in the business.’ He continued until 1884, when he sold his partnership interest to Mr. Booker and embarked in business for himself, purchasing the monument business of Falls & Bagley. The S. P. Atkinson Monument Company is now located in the commodious building erected by Mr. Atkinson in 1904 at No. 106 South Neil Street. He has occupied other excellent locations, for the first four years at the corner of Taylor and Neil streets, where the Citizens’ Bank is now located, after which he purchased the Flatiron Building, in which the Champaign Gazette is located, and which he still owns, but removed to his new site in 1904.
Mr. Atkinson has had a long and honorable career as a successful business man, and has been interested in many of the city’s most stable enterprises. He has been a director in the Champaign Building and Loan Association, of which George W. Harwood is and has been the secretary, and attributes his success in a business way to this sure and safe way of acquiring a home and a competence.
On August 8, 1894, Mr. Atkinson was united in marriage with Miss Emma Schultz, who was born in Champaign, Illinois, and they have two sons. Donald is a graduate of Champaign High School and attended the University of Illinois two years. He enlisted in the Ambulance Corps of the Regular Army June 7, 1917, and is now in training at Allentown, Pennsylvania, preparatory to service in France. Joseph, the other son, is a member of the Champaign High School, class of 1919. The family belongs to the Congregational Church. In politics Mr. Atkinson is a Progressive Republican, and believes in clean politics and a progressive city. He belongs to the Knights of Pythias, the Elks, the Grand Army of the Republic, and is a Blue Lodge, Chapter and Commandery Mason.