George Atkinson

by Edmund Starling, 1886

GEORGE ATKINSON-George Atkinson, who was for many years one of the most conspicuous characters in the social and business life of Henderson, was born at Church Hill, in county Down, Ireland, on May 17th, 1793. Being left an orphan at an early age, he came to America in the year 1805 and was reared by an uncle in Richmond, Virginia. He was sent to the best schools within reach, but when a mere youth went into the counting-house of his uncle as a clerk, and there acquired the knowledge of business and of men which in his later life was of great advantage to him.

While so engaged, and during the War of 1812 with Great Britain, he had some experience of military life, serving for a time in a company of volunteers, commanded by William Wirt, who was afterwards Attorney General of the United States, and was often thrown into contact with Chief Justice Marshal, John Randolph, of Roanoke, and other men then prominent in public life, whose influence upon his observant and ambitious character was strongly felt and always remembered.

In the year 1817 Mr. Atkinson removed from Richmond and settle in Henderson, then a mere village, and began the tobacco business which has since increased to such vast proportions. For many years he applied himself diligently to that business and to merchandise, and by his pluck, judgment and integrity, attained large success financially, and acquired the confidence and respect of all who had any intercourse with him.

In the year 1819 he married Miss Mary Dixon, a daughter of Capt. Wynn Dixon, and a sister of the late Governor Archibald Dixon. By this marriage he had seven children, only two of whom survived his, viz: John C. Atkinson, who has twice been Mayor of Henderson, and has taken a conspicuous part in the progress and development of the city, and Mrs. Blanton Duncan, of Louisville.

His first wife having died in the year 1842, in 1844 he married Mrs. Lucy A. Gayle, a daughter of Major John Holloway, and sister of John G. and Wm. S. Holloway and of Mrs. Rebecca Stites. By his latter marriage, he left surviving him only one child. Edward is now an office of the Farmers' Bank in Henderson. His second wife died in 1872. Mr. Atkinson was a man of great decision and force of character, frankly and without reserve expressing his views on all subjects of importance as occasion required, or his inclination prompted. He retired from active business during the late war between the States, and in 1864, with his wife, daughter and youngest son, made a trip to Europe, visiting Great Britain and Ireland and the principal points of interest on the Continent, passing the winter of 1864-'65 in Rome

Mr. Atkinson was for many years identified with the Episcopal Church, being a member of the first vestry of St. Paul's Parish at its organization in 1832, and, although not a communicant, continuing in that body until the year 1867, when he joined the Presbyterian Church, of which his wife had for many years been a zealous member.

He was always liberal in his support of the church, and of every project or institution for the betterment of his fellowmen. His hospitality was proverbial, and his charity, while wholly unostentatious, was lavish and bounded by no sect, nationality nor condition. Courteous, brave, upright in all transactions, with a keen sense of honor, from which no threat nor advantage could swerve him, through a long life he passed in and out among his fellowmen, making his presence felt, setting an example which followed, would be a benefaction to the world, and dying left a name and memory unblotted by any unworthy deed. He died in Henderson on June 24th, 1877, in his eighty-fifth year.

The History of Henderson County, Kentucky by Starling 1887 page 612-13;

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