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First West Virginia Legislature

Biographical Sketches: John H. Atkinson

Wheeling Intelligencer
July 20, 1863


Sketches Personal, Political and Biographical.



Mr. Atkinson is a small man, well proportioned and very attractive. His hair is dark, almost black, and very think, as are also his whiskers, which he wears in considerable profusion, adding something to the good looks of his pleasant face. His eyes are very large and full, standing out prominently from their sockets; are of a brown color, and when directed at you, you are likely to know it. His nose is straight and not large; mouth medium; forehead high, smooth and well formed. - In short his features are regular, and the entire expression of his countenance is exceedingly pleasant; one sees at a glance that he is good-natured, handsome and smart; but he would have a more pleasing general appearance if his eyes were not so prominent, though this may be a delusion of the writer. He is a married man.

He was born in Licking county, Ohio on the 7th day of January, 1820, but removed to Hancock county, Virginia, at the age of seven, where he has ever since resided. His ancestors for three generations were Virginians. He was engaged for a number of years in teaching, and was subsequently Clerk of the Courts in Hancock county for four years. During the last fifteen years he has been engaged in the manufacture of fire brick, having a large trade in the South, and by means of the rebellion lost heavily in that direction - a sum indeed that would have been a small fortune; but by steady application to his own business, and letting other people's alone, he has, to a great extent retrieved his losses.

He was an old line Whig, and is now a straight line Union man, ardently desiring a restoration of the Union, in which he has full faith. He was President of the Wheeling Convention which appointed the Electoral ticket for Mr. Fremont, and subsequently voted for him, and at last election for Mr. Lincoln. Being in Louisiana at the time that State pretended to secede from the Union, he presented itself when the flag of the revolters was swung from the State Capitol; felt the "Iron Hand" of the secession vigilance committee, and saw with sorrow and not without anger the brutal and indiscriminate assaults upon, and accursed acts only to draw from him that sacred vow, made by every true Union man, that his efforts against the power of the revolted States should never cease until the old flags hall float in triumph over every foot of United States soil.

Mr. Atkinson was a member of the ever memorable convention which assembled in Wheeling on the 11th day of June, 1861, and which dared to defy the combined power of Letcher and Davis.

He is a member of the Presbyterian church but whether he wears the "blue stocking" this deponent knoweth not, but he looks like he kept the faith. His present position as one of the Senators for the district of Ohio, Brook and Hancock, offered without solicitation, was accepted at a great sacrifice of pecuniary interests, but with a determination to serve the cause, not himself. He is Chairman of the Committee on Education, and expresses great interest upon that subject, and desires to perfect a system of free schools, which in coming years shall be the glory of West Virginia.

Biographies of the First West Virginia Legislature

West Virginia Archives and History