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Charles T. Atkinson is one of the oldest members of the bar in Southern Kansas, having been an attorney at Arkansas City since 1884. He is a lawyer first and last, and had seldom allowed outside interests to interfere with his complete devotion to his profession, in which he had made a most noteworthy success.
Mr. Atkinson had an interesting ancestry. His people for generations back were Quakers and were identified with the early history of the City of Brotherly Love. It was during the time of William Penn that the first of the name came from England to Philadelphia. The immigrant ancestor, because of his avowed devotion to the Quaker religion was imprisoned in Lancaster jail in Lancaster, England. Mr. Atkinson’s paternal grandfather was Watson Atkinson, who was born in Philadelphia in 1779, grew up and married in that city and became a manufacturer of brooms. In 1832 he removed to Southern Ohio, bought two farms in Muskingum County, and kept them the rest of his life. He died at Zanesville in 1870. He was a Quaker and was one of the first active abolitionists in Southeastern Ohio. Many Quakers were stern opponents of the institution of slavery, and Watson Atkinson maintained a station on the famous underground railway by which thousands of slaves made their way from the South to freedom in Canada. Watson Atkinson married Elizabeth Watson, who was born in Philadelphia in 1787 and died on the old home farm in Ohio in 1860.
Charles T. Atkinson was born on a farm near Zanesville, Ohio, December 29, 1853. His father, Richard Hall Atkinson, was born in Philadelphia in 1818, went to Ohio with his parents at the age of fourteen, and spent all his active career as a farmer near Zanesville, where he died in 1901. In matters of politics he always exercised an independent judgment and choice. He served as justice of the peace, and was an influential Quaker. He married Rachel Ann Glassford. She was born near Harper’s Ferry, Virginia, in 1828 and died near Zanesville, Ohio, in 1901. Charles T. was the youngest of their three children. The oldest, Mary J., died near Zanesville, Ohio, wife of J. H. Winn, who afterwards came out to Kansas, was a farmer, and died in Cowley County. Clarence C., the other child, was a farmer and died near Zanesville, Ohio, in 1882.
Charles T. Atkinson had the rugged country around Zanesville, Ohio, as his early environment. He attended the rural schools and later entered Mount Union College at Alliance, Ohio, where he was graduated A. B. in 1877. Mount Union College is a noted old institution of Ohio and its graduates include many famous men. William McKinley, the martyr president; John H. Vincent, who became a bishop of the Methodist Church; Philander Knox, the noted Pennsylvania lawyer and politician and former attorney-general of the United States, and many other prominent men were graduates.
After leaving this school Mr. Atkinson taught in academies in Ohio two years and in the meantime studied law. In 1881 he was admitted to the bar in Kentucky and in the same year came out to Arkansas City. Though qualified as a lawyer, he was first known in this community as superintendent of the city schools, an office he filled for three years. In 1884 he entered upon a general practice and the profession had commanded his time and energies ever since. For one term he served as county attorney and for several terms acted as city attorney of Arkansas City. His offices are in the Johnson Building.
Mr. Atkinson owned the old homestead of 126 acres near Zanesville, Ohio. This is a good farm and the land is also highly valuable because of its coal deposits. In 1908 Mr. Atkinson built his residence at 222 West Adams Avenue. In politics he is a republican, is a member of the Quaker Church, belongs to the Kansas State Bar Association and is affiliated with Canal City Lodge No. 352, Independent Order of Odd Fellows, and Inaugural Camp No. 867, Modern Woodmen of America. He is also a member of the Anti-Horse Thief Association.
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Mr. Atkinson was married in January, 1881, in Kentucky, to Miss Nona McClure, daughter of a Kentucky farmer, James M. McClure. In 1905, at Arkansas City, Mr. Atkinson married Miss Jessie Gilbert, daughter of A. J. and Sarah (Loring) Gilbert. Her father was a railroad contractor in Kansas, built part of the Missouri Pacific and Frisco Railroads, and is now deceased. Mrs. Atkinson’s mother resided at Arkansas City. Mr. Atkinson’s children, all by his first marriage, are four in number, as follows: Clarence K., who attended the New York Military Academy on the Hudson for three years, took his law degree from the University of Kansas in 1908, and is now a bond broker at Wichita, Kansas; Ethel, wife of John Edwards, a railroad man living at Hinsdale, New York; Vera, who graduated A. B. from the University of Kansas in 1913, is the wife of Francis Veatch, a sanitary engineer located at St. Louis, Missouri; and Lila, a member of the class of 1917 in the State University of Kansas at Lawrence, and she was elected a member of the Phi Beta Kappa.