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O'Brien Joseph Atkinson
Class of: 1860
 
Biography

O'BRIEN J. ATKINSON, attorney at law, is a native of Canada; was born in the city of Toronto, May 24, 1839, and came to this State in 1854. Attended school here and entered the State University at Ann Arbor, where he completed his literary education. He studied law and was admitted to the bar in 1861; then engaged in the practice of law in Port Huron, and since then for the past twenty-two years has successfully practiced his profession here. Mr. Atkinson is a hard student and has won an enviable reputation for ability and eloquence as a pleader, and is a leading member of the legal circles of the State. Soon after being admitted to the bar, he was elected Prosecuting Attorney of this county in 1861, and held that office four years, and has held town and school offices, and is now President of the village of Fort Gratiot. He is not an office seeker, but devotes his energies to his profession. Mr. Atkinson was united in marriage, November 4, 1862, to Miss Mary M. Jones, of Port Huron. His brothers, Col. John Atkinson and W. J. Atkinson, were formerly connected with the press and bar of this county.
 
From-- History of St. Clair County, Michigan, containing an account of its settlement, growth, development and resources, its war record, biographical sketches, the whole preceded by a history of Michigan. Chicago: A.T. Andreas & Co., 1883. p. 554

 
Judge Atkinson Dead. - Passed Away at His Home on Hancock Street This Morning. - Succumbed to a Peculiar Disease Which Baffled His Physicians - The Deceased Was the Acknowledged Head of the St. Clair Co. Bar - Judge O'Brien J. Atkinson died at the family residence, 719 Hancock street, at nine o'clock this morning after an illness covering over a year. O'Brien J. Atkinson was born in the city of Toronto on May 24, 1839, and came to Michigan in 1854. He was one of 11 children born to Mr. and Mrs. James Atkinson, both of whom were natives of Ireland. Mr. Atkinson attended the public schools in Port Huron, after which he entered the academy at Sarnia where he took a full classical course. He entered the law department of the state University, graduated in 1860, and received the first diploma issued by the law department of that famous institution and a degree of L.L.D. He was admitted to the bar in the Wayne county circuit court in June, 1860, and began the practice of his profession at Port Huron. About this time the war broke out and he enlisted for a term of three years, but owing to the fact that Michigan had its full quota of men he was mustered out without seeing service. Four of his brothers, however, took part in the civil war. Mr. Atkinson continued his profession and became one of the leading attorneys of Michigan and stood at the head of the bar of St. Clair county. He was twice elected prosecuting attorney for St. Clair county and was appointed circuit judge by the late Governor Pingree. A large number of attorneys have graduated from Mr. Atkinson's office during the past 25 or 30 years, among them being Elliott G. Stevenson, Judge S. W. Vance, Frank T. Wolcott, Geo. G. Moore, John L. Black, P. H. Phillips, John M. Kane, O'Brien O'Donnell and several others. During his career Mr. Atkinson had associated with him as partners his brother, Col. John Atkinson, John S. Crellin, E. G. Stevenson, Samuel W. Vance, W. F. Atkinson, Frank T. Wolcott and Geo. G. Moore. For nearly 25 years Mr. Atkinson was the legal representative of the Grank Trunk railway in the state of Michigan and was also attorney for the Pere Marquette railway. His practice extended through all of the courts of the state and the United States district and circuit courts. Judge Atkinson was a Democrat and held many offices. He was elected first mayor of Fort Gratiot, now a part of Port Huron, ran for judge of the supreme court on the Democratic ticket, was a candidate for Congress, a candidate for circuit judge, a member of the water board and other boards of the city. At the time of his death he was a member of the library commission. Mr. Atkinson was a lover of books and literary pursuits. During his leisure hours he wrote on different topics for magazines and newspapers. Some of his contributions such as 'Thomas Moore,' 'Campbell, Burns and Moore,' 'The Relation of Church to School,' 'Capital Punishment,' etc., have attracted considerable attention. At different times he has been a member of nearly all the literary societies in Port Huron. In November, 1861, Mr. Atkinson was married to Miss Mary Jones, who survives him. He has one adopted daughter, Mrs. J. J. Cronan. Mr. Atkinson was one of the largest real estate owners in Port Huron and owned many stores, hotels and private residences, and much vacant property. He was a stockholder in the First National Exchange, St. Clair County Savings and Commercial banks and a director in the first named bank. He also held stock in banks in Detroit, Marine City and Capac. He was interested in the Deepspring mineral bathhouse, the Auditorium, and other enterprises throughout the city. He was one of the original stockholders in the Port Huron Gas company, but sold out to the syndicate a few years ago. Mr. Atkinson's illness baffled the physicians. He was taken sick nearly two years ago, but not until December last was he obliged to give up work. He received medical treatment in Detroit for a time and then went with his wife to Boynton, Fla. He gradually failed and was brought home a very sick man. Since then he had been confined to the house. Day by day, during the past three months, he has failed. On Monday he was told by his physicians that there was no hope for him and that he could live but a short time. It is said that he made all arrangements for the disposition fo his effects and calmly awaited the end. At four o'clock this morning he became unconscious. His relatives, including his brothers Wm. F. and James Atkinson, from Detroit, were sent for and were at his bedside at the time of his death. In the death of O'Brien J. Atkinson Port Huron loses one of its most prominent and scholarly citizens. He will be buried from St. Stephen's church. The funeral will be held on Friday morning, leaving the house at 10 o'clock. Services at St. Stephen's church at 10:30 o'clock. When the announcement was made in the circuit court that Mr. Atkinson had died an adjournment was taken until Friday morning next. At 11 o'clock a bar meeting was held to take action on his death. Suitable committees were appointed to make arrangements for attending the funeral, etc. Frank T. Wolcott, who for the past 10 years has been closely connected with Mr. Atkinson, as a partner, this forenoon said: 'Mr. Atkinson befriended many young men. I considered him my very best friend.' During the past two years Judges Canfield, Vance, Eldridge, and Atkinson have died. All had been judges of the St. Clair county circuit court.

 
Bar Meeting - Large Meeting of Attorneys Was Held This Forenoon - To Take Action on Death of Judge Atkinson - Committees Appointed to Make All Funeral Arrangements - A meeting of the St. Clair County Bar association was held at the circuit court room at 11:30 o'clock this forenoon to take action on the death of Judge Atkinson, president of the association.
The meeting was called to order by A. E. Chadwick, vice-president. Mr. Chadwick said: 'It seems to me that God in his inscrutable wisdom is laying very heavily upon this association. I have nothing further to say at this time.' Judge Thomas said that court had adjourned immediately upon the announcement of Mr. Atkinson's death. On motion of Joseph Walsh it was voted that the bar attend the funeral in a body. The following committees were appointed: On arrangements to attend the funeral - Geo. G. Moore, Jos. Walsh, Thos. Wellman, Lincoln Avery, E. F. Law, Burt D. Cady, John B. Mellwain, Jas. Muir, W. L. Jenks and John C. Graham. Resolutions - A. E. Chadwick, W. T. Mitchell, H. W. Stevens, E. W. Harris, F. T. Wolcott, Lincoln Avery and P. H. Phillips. It was decided to hold memorial exercises in the court room on Monday morning at 9 o'clock. It is understood that each attorney will prepare some written sentiment, suitable for the occasion.

 
From-- P.H. Daily Times, Tuesday, 09-JUL-1901, page 5

 
 
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