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  • ID: I2703
  • Name: John ATKINSON
  • Sex: M
  • Birth: 24 MAY 1841 in Warwick, Ontario, Canada
  • Death: 14 AUG 1898 in Detroit, Wayne, MI
  • Burial: 1898 Detroit, Wayne, MI, Mt Elliott Cem
  • Note:
    Note: Civil War Research Database

      John   Atkinson 
    Claimed Residence in Port Huron    
    Enlist Date 25 July 1862 Place Detroit, M Enlist Rank CaptainEnlist Age 21
    Served Michigan 
    Died at Detroit, MI, 08/15/98
    C Co. 22nd Inf Reg. MI
    S Co. 3rd Inf Reg. MI
    Transferred on 26 July 1864from Company C to Company S     
    25 October 1900
    Relationship: Widow
    Name: Lida Atkinson
    Number: 728972
    State: MI 
    Full Context of Historical Register and Dictionary of the USArmy 1789-1903, Vol. 2
    Alphabetical List of Officers of the Regular Army (From ItsOrganization, September 29, 1789, to 1903) Who Were Killed orWounded in Action or Taken Prisoner, With Date and Place.
    page 76
    Atkinson, John, maj 22 and lt col 3 Mich inf.
    "City of Detroit" = married 1 Feb 1866
    I have a letter written by John Atkinson to his son in 1890.The letter is written as follows:
    Boris Blanc, Mar. 16, 1890
    Dear O'Brien,

    We are having winter in spring as we had spring in winter. Itis just sundown and the night threatens to be very cold. I havebeen installing a new farmer M. Thomas Boyce who will presideover the destinies of B.B. until the next revolution. We camedown last night. David is with me. We slept warm and would havedone so under our load of bedding if we had been outside. Thewind is N.W. and is driving the ice into the lake or we shouldbe furnished with a bridge by morning. As it is Capt. Hackettthinks he may get us over but is not sure. I have just comefrom one of Housers exhibitions. He had Esmonde + KentuckyBelle out. They are in splendid order and obey him like circushorses but are just as wild with everyone else as if they wereunbroken. Thunder Boy gave us a free perfomance in which Barneywas his support. When we opened his stall Barney came in andremained until the lower door was shut. The horse went at himas if determined to (trample) his life out but we rescued himand a more greatful looking dog you never saw.
    We have eleven lambs and five pigs as starters. I may have toldyou before.
    Two of our Jerseys are to come in soon.
    The little one at home presented us with a young bull about asbig as a young cat and we gave it away. Billy is trainingPrincess i.e. he is telling us what he would have done if he hadstaid and what might still be done if (Gonse) had never set hiseye upon her.
    We have been quite inconvenienced by not having our ice bridgeover which we expected to bring many things, but still affairslook pretty well, and unless spring goes badly for us we will beall right.
    How about the summer? Tell me what you and Johnnie would liketo do. We will have no real summer here without you. But I donot want to influence your minds as to what is best foryourselves.
    (Gilbret) is gone as I suppose you would understand from what Ihave said. He is gone to Washington (the new state) with hisbrother and expects to be a millionaire and lend us all money ina little while. Tommy Middleton has finished the groves andreturned to town. Geo - is still here. Do you know my dear oldboy that I haven't had a good letter from you for a long time,but I know I have not done my part and Momma says you had betterplay than write. Do some of both.
    Affectionately, Papa
    I have a copy of the
    Census for Detroit, Wayne County Mich for June 7th, 1880 whichshows John
    Atkinson 39 years old, Lawyer, I think it says father fromCanada and
    mother from Ireland ( it is pretty blurry but those are theplaces listed
    in the last two rows on the census). It shows his wife listedas Lida
    (like you said Vicki!) 32 years old, "keeping house", the firstrow says
    Texas and I can't read the second. It shows O'Brien as Son,9years
    (Michigan, Canada), John Jr., Son, 4 years and a daughter that Iam still
    trying to decipher.

    O'Brien Atkinson, pamnobie@toad.net
    "Michigan Centennial History" Vol 4, George Fuller, Lewis HistPub.

    John Atkinson, who since 1923 has been assistant corporationcounsel of Detroit, in which city he was born November 30, 1875,is a son of John and Lida (Lyons) Atkinson. His father was bornin Warwick, Lambton County, Ontario, Canada, May 24, 1841.....
    John Atkinson Sr., who was a lad of about thirteen years whenthe family home was established in Michigan. He attended highschool in Port Huron and in 1857 became a law student. Later heenrolled in the law department of the University of Michigan andwas graduated in 1862, being admitted to the bar the same year.He entered into partnership with T.W. Mitchell under the firmname of Mitchell & Atkinson, but discontinued practice on the25th of July, 1862, to enlist in the Union army, with which heserved until February 26,1866. He won promotion to alieutenancy, afterward became captain and finally major of theTwenty-second Regiment of Michigan Volunteers and later was madelieutenant colonel of the Third Michigan Infantry. Heparticipated in all of the engagements with the Army of theCumberland. On his return he was appointed internal revenuecollector at Port Huron by President Johnson but for politicalreasons the Senate failed to confirm the appointment. Hisattention was then given to law practice in Port Huron until thefall of 1870, when he came to Detroit and thereafter wasconnected with professional work here as a member of the firm ofTrowbridge, Atkinson & Hawley; Atkinson & Atkinson; Atkinson,Carpenter, Brooke & Haigh; and Atkinson & Haigh. He passed awayAugust 14, 1898, and many were the expressions of high regardentertained for him as a citizen, as a man and as a lawyer. Hehad exercised wide influence in political circles and as amember of the State Legislature had supported Governor Pingreein his fight to make the corporations pay their just share ofthe taxes, and from that time forward was a persistent andpotent enemy of the tax evading methods of many corporations.He served for one term as a member of the Detroit board ofestimates and did much to further the purchase of Detroit'sbeautiful park, Belle Isle. He also served on the lightingboard of the city and in 1896 was not only elected to theLegislature but was made a presidential elector on theRepublican ticket. He contributed to Detroit's materialdevelopment through the opening of that section of the citynorth of Grand Boulevard and east of Woodward Avenue. He was aCatholic in religious faith, a member of the Irish Society, ofthe Loyal Legion and the Michigan Club. Of him it was said:"Too just to have prejudice, too wise to pass judgement, neithercaste nor creed, high place nor low station, were ever factorsin his computation of life's values. He was truth personifiedand honesty incarnate."
    On the 1st of February, 1866, Colonel Atkinson married LidaLyons, of San Antonio, Texas, daughter of Dr James Lyons, whowas a Confederate army surgeon. She died October 6, 1921. Theywere the parents of ten children, of whom seven are living.

    "City of Detroit" 1701-1922 pub 1922

    COLONEL JOHN ATKINSON A representative member of the Detroit barpassed away when Colonel John Atkinson ws called to the homebeyond. He possessed few of those meteoric qualities whichdazzle for the moment and then vanish, but he was rich in thosesubstantial qualities which endure and make for strength andcapability in the practice of law. He always held to thehighest ethical standards of the profession which he representedand enjoyed in the fullest degree the confidence respect of hiscolleagues and contemporaries. Moreover, he was one of theeminent legislators of the state, one who ever placed the publicgood before personal aggrandizement and the general welfarebefore partisanship. His standards of life in every respectwere the highest and the world is better for his having lived.
    Colonel Atkinson was born at Warwick, Lambton Co. Ontario,Canada on the 24th of May, 1841, his parents being James andElizabeth (Shinners) Atkinson. The father was born in 1800 inCounty Mayo Ireland, where his wife's birth also occured andwhere they were married. They emigrated to the new world in1832 settling first in Canada and removing thence to Port Huron,Michigan, in 1854. There Mr. Atkinson passed away in 1856 beingmany years survived by his widow, who died in 1884. He wasengaged in the lumber business on an extensive scale and won agratifying measure of success in that connection.
    John Atkinson, who was one of a family of ten children, obtainedhis early education in the public and high schools and began thestudy of law at Port Huron in 1857. In 1862, when twenty-oneyears of age, he was graduated from the law department of theUniversity of Michigan and was admitted to the bar by thesupreme court the same year. Starting in the paractice of hisprofession, he became a partner of the late Hon. T. W. Mitchell,under the firm name of Mitchell & Atkinson, but two monthslater, on the 25th of July, 1862, he enlisted under PresidentLincoln's call for three hundred thousand men and served withgreat distinction from the date of his enlistment until Feb 26,1866. He first became lieutenant, later captain and then majorof the Twenty-second Michigan Infantry, while subsequently heserved with the rank of lieutenant colonel of the third MichiganInfantry. The scene of his active service was mostly with theArmy of the Cumberland, including all the important campaigns ofthat army corps.
    After the war he was appointed collector of internal revenue atPort Huron by President Johnson, but for political reasons hisappointment failed of confirmation at the hands of the senate.He practiced law in Port Huron from the spring of 1866 until thefall of 1870 and then located in Detroit, where he wasassociated as a member with many of the important law firms,including those of Trowbridge & Atkinson & Hawley; Atkinson &Atkinson; Atkinson, Carpenter, Brooks & Haigh; and Atkinson &Haigh. Colonel Atkinson was recognized as an authority on thepractice of libel and slander cases, contracts and wills inMichigan. The Bay City Tribune at the time of his death wrote:"As a lawyer John Atkinson had no superior, and few if any,equals in Michigan at the time of his demise. In addressing ajury he brought all the powers of his well-stored, virile mindinto action. As an orator he was magnetic, eloquent, witty,sarcastic, pathetic and humorous. he could inspire terror andbeget mirth or tears at will." When Colonel Atkinson passedaway, James McNamara, who had long been associated with him as amember of the bar, the two at times being opponents in forensicbattles, though the warmest of friends, said: "Colonel Atkinsonwas my beau ideal of a great lawyer. He was one of the bestequipped, all-around lawyers in the state. The foundation forhis legal education was laid broad and deep. He was neither asurface skimmer nor case lawyer. He grasped and comprehended thephilosophy of justice--the great principles upon which ourjurisprudence rests. If he found a case which said that twicetwo is five, he wouldn't attempt to overthrow the mathematicalprinciples of the multiplication table by solemnly announcingthis fact in court. He knew intuitively that such reasoning wsfalse. His ananlysis of a legal proposition was as keen as arapier and as clear and comprehensive as a June sky. Hisargument in the somewhat famous Michigan Central mileage casebefore Judge Donovan this year, when he had opposed to him sucheminent attorneys as Alfred Russell, Ashley Pond, Henry Russeland Benton Hnachett, will easily stand as one of the finest andmost eloquent arguments ever made before a court in this state.He was a wonderful advocate. Before a jury he had no peers, andbut few equals, in the United States. A close student of men aswell as of books; earnest, persuasive and powerfully eloquent; amind store with the riches of ancient and modern literature;great, sensitive heart which would respond to ever beautifulsentiment of the soul, he could run the gamut of human feelingswith a master's mind and a voice of wonderful volume andsweetness.He loved the law. He was too great for pettyprofessional jealousies. He knew that only the great wouldsucceed, and always had a kind word and a genial smile for astruggling brother. His noble life enriched the profession ofthe law. It was and is a compass and a guide to the strugglingand the ambitious?
    "Politically, Colonel Atkinson had attained to eminence and whenat last he stood where ambition had lured him, death summonedhim away. He was a consistent and honest admirer of GovernorPingree. He detested bluster, but when he was once convincedthat Governor Pingree was honest in his great efforts to makethe corporationof this state pay their just proportion of thetaxes, and assume some of the burdens they had helped to create,his wonderful talents were at once enlisted in the crusade forequal rights; and the war he waged and the blows he struck madehim not merely the fidus Achates of the governor, but thepersistent, relentless and brainy enemy of tax-sulkingcorporations. He lifted the campaign against corporate greedfrom the slough of contempt, to the high plane of intellectualand legal respectability. His fight in the legislature for theprinciple of equal taxation, almost single-handed and alone; andthe great legal battle against the railroads now pending in thedupreme court of this state to which he lent the luster of hislegal genius, are among his later works which will not soon beforgotten by those against whom he fought and will long becherished in sacred remembrance by the common people of thisstae, in whose behalf he arrayed himself by the side of hisfriend-Governor Pingree."
    While Colonel Atkinson was regarded as one of the most eminentrepresentatives of the Michigan bar, he also left the impress ofhis individuality upon the history of the city and state in manyother ways. He was a member of the Detroit board of estimatesfor one term and was largely instrumental in bringing about thepurchase of Belle Isle, Detroit's far-famed and beautiful park.In this he met with strong opposition, many claiming that hewished to bankrupt the city through this purchase, but those whoopposed him most bitterly recognize today how valuable an assetit is to Detroit. He also served as a member of the lightingboard of the city and he was elected in 1896 to represent hisdistrict in the state legislature and in the same year waschosen one of the presidential electors on the republicanticket. In this connection a biographer of that period wrote ofhim: "The strong figure in the legislature of 1897, was he, whowas always a lover of liberty and a champion of the lowly fromthe time he entered the army of the United States in 1862, untilthe last forensic battle was ended in the session of theMichigan legislature just closed, and who stood the leader in along contested struggle for local self-government, a uniformsystem of taxation on all kinds of property, uniform passengerand freight rates on the railroads in the state, and inopposition to unreasonable concessions to corporate interests.Never in the historu of Michigan has any one man, through hisposition as a legislator, commanded the attention and plauditsof the legislators and the people as did the man her referredto, Colonel John Atkinson of Detroit representative in thelegislature of 1897. coming from a family every member of whichis noted for breadth of intellect, scholastic attainments andoratorical gifts, he couples these with a keen wit, a princelycourtesy, and a penchant for repartee that make of him apowerful adversary in debate. It is seldom that the people ofany state are so fortunate as to be represented in thelegislature by one so thoroughly qualified in natural gifts,training and experience in the affairs of life to assume therole of an ideal legislatior, and although he gave to the statetime and talent that in his profession is said to be worth onehundred dollars a day, there was no member in the last sessionwho put in more time at work upon bills, at his office inDetroit, in committee rooms of the capitol, on the floor of thehouse, and in chasing them through the mazes of parliamentaryprocedure, than did Representative Atkinson."
    On the 1st of February, 1866, while still in the army, colonelAtkinson was united in marriage to Miss Lida Lyons of SanAntonio, Texas, who was a daughter of Dr. James Lyons, a surgeonof the Confederate army. Mrs. Atkinson died October 6, 1921.their marriage was celebrated while Colonel Atkinson wasstationed in Texas, following the close of active hostilitiesduring the Civil war. they became the parents of ten children,seven of whom are living, as follows: O'Brien, a resident of NewYork; John, of Detroit; James, of Detroit; Reilly, of Boise,Idaho; Lucy, who married Frederick S. Hodge; David Farrand, ofDetroit; and Gerald, of Detroit.
    Colonel Atkinson was a member of the Loyal Legion, the MichiganClub and the Irish Society and his family are members of theCatholic Church. Colonel Atkinson passed away August 14, 1898,and his remains were interred in Mount Elliott cemetery. He wasa man of splendid personal characteristics and of highprofessional attainments and his worth was attested by all withwhom he came into contact.
    At his passing one of the Michigan papers said of him: "JohnAtkinson was a loyal friend and a manly foe. He never abused aconfidence or struck a fallen antagonist. Personally he was alovable man. He was conscious of his own weaknesses and tolerantof the weaknesses of others. He hated Pharisaism and hypocrisyand punctured both with merciless sarcasm. While John Atkinsondid not underrate his own powers he was not an egotist and neveryielded to the seductive influences of flattery; nor could he bemoved from a fixed resolve by threats or promise of reward. Abrave soldier, a great lawyer, a towering orator, an honestreformer, a good citizen, was John Atkinson. His demise has lefta vacancy which will not be filled for many years." One of hisold friends said of him: " John Atkinson was, in many respects,one of the truly great men of today. He fought his way fromboyhood to manhood, unaided and alone. He began life infortunate poverty. Not being born to affluence, he was notsurfeited into idleness or suffocated with irresolution. Hisaspirations and ambitions were great. He always measured his ownresources---which, to me, were always measureless--- knew hisown capabilities, and strove, strengthened with thisconscuousness, to make the most of them. He never had a sordidor selfish thought. His highest place was among those by whom hewas best known. There was no sham or tinsel about him. He wasintensely real and detested the cant of the legal or politicalhyprocite. Colonel Atkinson was as modest as he was chivalrous.He joined the army shortly after the outbreak of the war, beingat that time less than twenty years of age, possibley about theage of his son, Reilly Atkinson, a second lieutenant in CompanyL, Thirty-third Michigan, and who just returned on a sickfurlough from the battle field of Santiago, in time to see hisfather die. Colonel Atkinson's record as a soldier is one ofthe brightest and bravest in the war annals of the state. Andyet, it was from his title, won on the field of battle, and notfrom his conversation, that his acquaintances became possessedof the fact that he had served his country faithfully and wellon many of the bloodiest battle fields of the rebellion. "
    Obituary..THE DETROIT JOURNAL August 15, 1898

    Col. John Atkinson died at 11 o;clock Sunday morning, after anillness of 31 hours, of neuralgia of the heart. For theannouncement of his death, the public was wholly unprepared.
    This man of strong phsique and strong personality and 57 yearsof age, had been engaged up to friday afternoon with theactivities of a professional and public career. The week hadbeen a busy one. Aside from many things demanding his attentionis his legal practice, there had been diverse conferences amongthe leaders of the political movement with which he wasidentified. Some of these conferences were of great importance,and the colonel's counsel had proved of much service. Anengagement had been made with Fred A Maynard, theattorney-general of the state for Saturday morning. Col.Atkinson's family was stopping at the summer home on Bois BlancIsland, the city residence at 129 Grand Boulevard east, havingbeen leased to W.D.Gordon, the new federal district attorney.The colonel decided, accordingly, to pass Friday night in thecity at the home of Mrs. J.J. Caspari, at 967 West Fort-st. Mr.Maynard was to meet him at Mrs. Caspari's Saturday morning.
    The colonel returned from a brief trip to Bois Blanc Island lateFriday afternoon, and proceeded to the Caspari home. About 4o'clock the next morning, the inmates of the house were awakenedby movements within Col. Atkinson's room. In response toinquiries he said he was very ill and was trying to light thegas.
    Neuralgia of the heart, or angina pectoris from which, on thearrival of Dr. James E Davis, he was foung to be suffering, isone of the most frightfully painful of all human maladies. Thepatient continued in great misery for many hours. Dr Davisremained in constant attendance on him from the time he wassummoned until the end.
    Miss Madge Agnew, Miss Bessie Hamilton, and Miss Stirling,graduates of the Grace hospital training school, taxed theresources of the nurs's art to minister to his comfort, and atCol. Atkinson's request, his family physician, Dr. F. B.Galbraith, of Pontiac, was also summoned and arrived about 10o'clock Saturday morning.
    Great fighter that he was, both in military and civil life, thecolonel made one of his greatest fights against death. Whenyielding to hypodermic injections of morphine and othertreatment, the pain gradually subsided, the heart was left in agreatly enfeebled condition. To keep the organ beating was theend to which all medical effort was directed. In the end medicaleffort was unavailing. The family at Bois Blanc were notified,and Mrs. Atkinson came on one of the Saturday morning boats.Other members of his family came to his bedside. Dr Charles O.Reilly, perhaps the colonel's dearest friend and after whom oneof his sons was named, was telegraphed for and come from theparish in Adrian, over which he now presides. Late Saturdaynight, Dr. Reilly administered the last rites of the church.
    The graciousness which was characteristic of him in liferemained in his dying moments. His last words were: "You are allvery kind to me"
    Col. Atkinson was the father of nine children, of whom sevensurvive: Maj. O'Brien Atkinson, John, James J., Lieut. O.Reilly,Lucy, David and Gerald. Of his brothers and sisters, O'Brien J.and Thomas Atkinson live at Port Huron; James J. and Capt. W.F.Atkinsonand Mrs Mary McGinn live in Detroit, and Mrs Peter Boyceresides at Wayland.

    Col. John Atkinson's chief charactaristic was his cool,analytical brain and keen insight into human nature. He waspossibly seen at his best when engaged in fiery debates onsubjucts of great moment......
    He was an unrelenting enemy and just as warm a friend.....
    ...truly an Americqan as any in the numerous company ofdistinguished patriots who were born of the same parentage inthe union. He partook of the environment of his birth as littleas the immigrant child born in the sleeping car en route fromthe east over the Canada Southern.
    Both his father, James Atkinson, a surveyor in Ireland, and hismother came from County Mayo. They located in Canada in 1832.On May 24,1841 at Warwick, Lambton county, Ont. In 1864 thefamily removed to Port Huron. John who was 13
    years of age on the removal to Michigan began the study of lawat 16. In 1862, he was graduated from the law department ofMichigan University being admitted to the bar...at Detroit, onhis 21st birthday in that year.

    Now on to the Atkinsons. Enclosed you will find a copy of theDetroit Journal - nearly the whole front page was dedicated toJohn. Where the paper is folded the print is very blurred. Ofcourse, it is a very old brittle paper. When you mentionedabout the possibility of a mistress - it got me thinking. when Iread that paper years ago (my aunt gave it to me). I wonderedabout him being in the home of Mrs Caspari - so really I'm notsurprised. I guess I had better tell you how I know quite a bitabout the Atkinsons. My grandfather Edward robertson was afirst cousin to John Atkinson & John asked my Grandpa to go downto Bois Blanc & farm it for him.
    So Grandpa & Grandma Robertson packed up their 6 kids & movedthere. My dad would be about 9 years old. So they went therein 1897. His older sister tutoured him. They lived in the bigsummer cottage (mansion I should say) Dad lived a very idylliclife there- exploring the old house & the library that hadshelves from floor to ceiling. I have one of John's books -dated 1886 from that library. I also have a copy of theinventory of the Island when they went there and the originalinventory of the Island when they left in 1899. They alwaysreferred to Mrs. Atkinson as the Southern Lady - as she was.Dad also told us about the big ice house that had doors thatwere lined in a green baize & the very ornate out door privy.The big house faced the Detroit river. they used to go toChurch in Amherstburg in the row boat.
    I also have this wonderful book - that I presume each guest wasgiven. They were from a presentation banquet at the DetroitYacht Club that was given in honour of John A. the seating planshows 65 guests - the creme de la creme of Detroit society & themenu is in French. the rest of the book is speeches very"syrupy" Now that book is in remarkably good condition veryheavy paper. Several years ago I wrote to the "Amherstburg Echo"to have them publish my letter re: the Atkinson, Bois Blancconnection. I did get a reply & a lady in Amgerstberg answeredit & gave me the name of an Atkinson relative residing at GrosseIlec. She said "I thought a long time before I decided to writeto you". Which I thought was rather strange. Anyhow, I wrote tothe lady at Grosse Ilec & I heard nothing, which now makes methink that there was something to that mistress story......
    Sincerely, Eleanor Collings
    PS I remember my mother telling me when the Atkinsons lived inthe Warwick area they were very poor & they couldn't buy shoesfor their children & in the winter time their mother would carrythe children on her back thru the woods to school. She was sodetermined that they would get an education.

    Obituary brother James
    And it is not recalled that it was Col. John Atkinson who firstplanned the Grand Boulevard around what was then Detroit. Theterritory involved was so far out at the time that the projectwas referred to as Atkinson's folly.... At one time, Col. JohnAtkinson owned Bois Blanc (Bob-Lo) Island, down the river.

    1 . Eleanor Collings, 30 Egerton St, Strathroy, Ontario, CanadaN7G 2E7
    2. O'Brien Atkinson, pamnobie@toad.net

    Father: James ATKINSON b: 1 JAN 1798 in Claremorris, Co Mayo, Ireland
    Mother: Elizabeth SHINNERS b: NOV 1804 in Co Clare, Ireland

    Marriage 1 Lida LYONS
    • Married: 4 NOV 1861 in San Antonio, TX
    1. Has No Children John ATKINSON b: 30 NOV 1875 in Detroit, Wayne Co, MI
    2. Has Children O'Brien1 ATKINSON b: 1871 in Port Huron, St Clair, MI
    3. Has No Children James ATKINSON
    4. Has No Children Reilly ATKINSON
    5. Has No Children Lucy ATKINSON
    6. Has No Children David Farrand ATKINSON
    7. Has No Children Gerald ATKINSON
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