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McLean County, Illinois
History and Genealogy



C. W. ATKINSON, ex-County Clerk of McLean County, has been a resident of the Prairie State since 1853, coming here when a young man eighteen years old. His native place was Lake County, Ohio, where he was born In 1835, and his parents were William and Marian (Ferguson) Atkinson, natives respectively of New Brunswick and New York. They were married in Ohio in 1833, locating upon a farm of 160 acres, where William Atkinson industriously engaged in farming and stock-raising until 1853. He then started for the prairies of Illinois and purchased a farm in Cheney's Grove Township, this county, which he cultivated for a number of years, and which still remains his home, although he is now retired from active life. William Atkinson was born in 1807, and is consequently now eighty years of age. He was always of a religious turn of mind, studied for the ministry while a young man and was ordained a minister of the Methodist Church in 1848, since which time he has served as a local preacher. The parental household consisted of ten children, six now living.

The subject of this history spent his boyhood and youth in attendance at school during the winter seasons and assisting on the farm the balance of the year. At twenty-one years of age he entered Wesleyan University, Bloomington, where he pursued a two years' course, and engaged in teaching for two years following, in McLean and Champaign Counties. During the first year of the war he enlisted as a soldier in Co. I, 23d Ohio Vol. Inf., and served until the close of the conflict. For brave and faithful services he was commissioned Captain, having taken part in the battles of South Mountain, Antietam, and all the engagements of the Shenandoah Valley of 1864. He escaped serious injury and received an honorable discharge on the 26th of August, 1865.

At the close of his military services Mr. Atkinson returned to Illinois, and locating at Saybrook, engaged in mercantile pursuits until 1868. He then sold out, and going to Bloomington, was appointed Deputy Circuit Clerk, which position he held four years and then was the incumbent of the same position in the office of the County Clerk until 1877, when he was elected County Clerk and held the office until December, 1886.

Mr. Atkinson was married in 1866, to Miss Kate Guthrie, the daughter of Rev. R. E. and Lucy (Kelsall) Guthrie. Of this union there have been born five children : William E.; Wilber, a graduate of the city High School, both of whom are clerks in the office of their father; those at home are Marion, Roy and Carrie. Mr. Atkinson is Republican in politics and socially belongs to the Masonic fraternity, the I. O. O. F., the G. A. R. and K. of P. In addition to his pleasant residence in Bloomington, he has a farm near Cheney's Grove, consisting of 140 acres of valuable land, finely improved and mostly devoted to stock-raising. Mr. Atkinson is a thorough business man and in all respects a representative citizen.

[SOURCE: Portrait and biographical album of McLean County, Ill. : containing full page portraits and biographical sketches of prominent and representative citizens of the county, together with portraits and biographies of all the governors of Illinois, and of the presidents of the United States. (Chicago: Chapman Brothers, 1887). Transcribed and annotated by Judy Rosella Edwards.]


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