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Below is a family biography included in History of Union County, Iowa published by S. J. Clarke Publishing Co., in 1908.  These biographies are valuable for genealogy research in discovering missing ancestors or filling in the details of a family tree. Family biographies often include far more information than can be found in a census record or obituary.  Details will vary with each biography but will often include the date and place of birth, parent names including mothers' maiden name, name of wife including maiden name, her parents' names, name of children (including spouses if married), former places of residence, occupation details, military service, church and social organization affiliations, and more.  There are often ancestry details included that cannot be found in any other type of genealogical record.

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William B. Atkinson is numbered among the veterans of the Civil war, who fought long and valiantly for the preservation of the Union. Throughout the greater part of his business career he followed farming but is now living retired in Creston in the enjoyment of well earned ease. His birth occurred in Yorkshire. England, in 1839, and in his boyhood days he was brought to the United States by his parents, John and Sarah (Boyden) Atkinson. The father was born in England in 1818 and, coming to the United States in 1847, settled at Milwaukee, where he spent a year at the carpenter’s trade. He afterward made a permanent location in Dane county, Wisconsin, where he continued to engage in carpentering for some time but eventually took up his abode upon a farm, where he passed the remainder of his days. He was a prosperous man in his business affairs, owing to his careful management and sound judgment, and the success which he achieved was justly deserved. He belonged to the Odd Fellows society, usually attended church services and gave his time and influence in behalf of all that is just and right in man’s relations with his fellowmen. For some years his political allegiance upheld the men and measures of the republican party but in his later years he was independent. His wife was born in Yarmouth, England, in 1818, there being three months difference in their ages. For sixty-five years they traveled life’s journey together, sharing with each other its joys and sorrows, its adversity and prosperity. The death of Mrs. Atkinson occurred a week prior to the demise of her husband in 1899.

They were the parents of eleven children: William B.; E. J., who enlisted for service with Company K of the Thirty-third Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry during the Civil war and was killed by lightning on Champion Hills after the battle of Jackson, July 22, 1863; Searina, the wife of J. M. Hart, a retired farmer living at Stoughton, Wisconsin; Aaron J., a gardener of California; Louis James, who died at sea while on his way to America and was buried at Buffalo, New York; Frank, who died at the age of twenty-one years; Wallace E. and Walter E., twins, who are now retired farmers at Stoughton, Wisconsin; Evelett, the wife of John M. Bailey, secretary for the Beaver Insurance Company at Stoughton; Dora, deceased; and one who died in infancy.

William B. Atkinson was reared to farm labor and was nine years of age when he came to the United States. Here he attended the country schools, having already become somewhat acquainted with the rudiments of English learning in his native land. He was still attending school when the Civil war broke out and in August, 1862, aroused by a spirit of patriotism, he enlisted in Dane county as a member of the Thirty-third Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry, being assigned to duty with Company K. He then served until the close of hostilities and was mustered out at Vicksburg, having attained the rank of second sergeant. He participated in a number of important engagements, including the following: Hernando, Mississippi; Coldwater; siege of Vicksburg; Jackson, Mississippi; Pleasant Hill Landing; Cane River; Alexander; Governor Moore’s Plantation; Tripoli; Old Town Creek; Nashville; Corinth; Iuka; Pearl River; Fort Blakely, Fort Derusa, Louisiana; Clauterville; Yellow Bayou; Camingo Crossroads; and the siege of Spanish Fort.

When the war was over Mr. Atkinson, with a creditable military record, returned to the farm in Wisconsin and engaged in general agricultural pursuits until 1895, carefully conducting the work of the fields, which he brought under a high state of cultivation, gathering rich crops as the reward of his labors. At length he retired from the farm and came to Creston, the removal being brought about through his wife inheriting property from her father at this place. Mr. Atkinson still owns a farm in Dane county, Wisconsin, of one hundred and sixty acres, and a fine modern residence, it being the costliest farm home in the county. There he raised tobacco for over thirty years, it being one of his staple crops.

Mr. Atkinson was married in 1870 to Miss Lucretia E. Devoe, who was born in Jefferson, Wisconsin, in 1840, and was a daughter of A. B. and Lucretia (Doty) Devoe. Her father was a farmer and a very prosperous man, who became one of the early settlers and prominent citizens of this county. Unto Mr. and Mrs. Atkinson were born five children. George E., who is now manager for the Mutual Telephone Company at Creston, married Mabel Hilton and has one child, Alice. William died at the age of four years and nine months. Forrest A., residing on his father’s farm at Stoughton, Wisconsin, married Annie Erickson and has three children, Lucretia, Willie and Ernest. Lorenzo D., a professor in the Four C Commercial College at Madison, Wisconsin, in which he owns a half interest, is married and has a daughter, Dorothy. Claire, who completes the family, is at home and is now in school at Madison, Wisconsin.

The parents are devoted members of the Presbyterian church and Mr. Atkinson belongs to Potter Post, G. A. R. For fifteen years he was commander of Buckman Post at Stoughton, Wisconsin, which was named by him. He has long endorsed the principles of the republican party and was chairman of the county board of supervisors while living in Wisconsin, but since coming to Iowa has taken no very active part in politics. He is living retired, deriving a good income from his property and his present rest is the fitting crown of his long years of intense and well directed activity.

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This family biography is one of 247 biographies included in The History of Union County, Iowa published in 1908.  For the complete description, click here: Union County, Iowa History and Genealogy

View additional Union County, Iowa family biographies: Union County, Iowa Biographies

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