David Atchison, one of the prominent and progressive business men of Leavenworth, where he owns extensive coal and wood yards and also an ice and feed and a bill posting business, was born in County Tyrone, Ireland, Feb. 22, 1842, son of John and Sarah (McMaster) Atchison. His grandfather, John Atchison, Sr., was a farmer and dealer in live stock in Ireland. He was a nephew of John and William Atchison, who settled in Virginia at an early date and later removed to Kentucky, the Missouri Atchisons being direct descendants of them. John Atchison, Jr., father of David, immigrated to America, in 1846, and located at St. John's, New Brunswick, where they remained a short time. From there the family removed to Boston, Mass., and then went to Lonsdale, six miles from Providence, R. I. There the father followed the stone mason's trade for years. In the spring of 1857 the family came to Kansas and located at Leavenworth. They traveled by rail to St. Louis, but as there were no railroads west of Jefferson City, Mo., at that time, they traveled by boat from St. Louis to Leavenworth. There John Atchison followed the stone mason's trade and also contracted for buildings. A year later he opened up a farm in Platte county, Missouri, where he died in the fall of 1862. His wife, a native of Scotland, removed to County Tyrone, Ireland, when a child. There she met and married John Atchison, Jr., and she died at Lonsdale, R. I., of cholera in 1855. David is the third child of the family, and the others were John A., deceased, who is buried in Denver; William, now living in Illinois; Thomas, deceased, also buried in Denver; and Mary Jane, who married John Coleman of Leadville, Col. David lived at home with his father and worked on the farm. In 1860 the father and other brothers engaged in freighting, and David remained at home attending to the farm and was also employed in running a fishery on Bean and Sugar lakes in Missouri during this time. In 1862 he came from Missouri to Leavenworth with a wagon load of corn and was induced, somewhat against his will, to haul goods for the government and the settlers from Leavenworth to Forts Scott, Gibson and Smith. During Price's raid in Kansas he served in the Nineteenth Kansas cavalry, under Capt. Tom Clark. While on one of his freighting expeditions, in 1863, with a train of 300 wagons and 300 Union soldiers, an attack was made by the Confederates, about five miles north of Fort Gibson. The wagon train was under escort of Captain Stout, who was in command of the Third Wisconsin cavalry, known as the "Gray Horse Cavalry." The Confederates numbered about 1,500 men, under command of Generals Standwaitie and Cooper, and attacked the wagon train just at dawn, the fight lasting all day, but the Union troops, having been reënforced by 1,000 Cherokee Indians, under command of Colonel Shorty, retained possession of the train, drove the attacking party off, and succeeded in reaching Fort Gibson. The Union loss was about a dozen killed and the Confederates lost about 200, as near as was ever known. In 1865 Mr. Atchison bought ten wagons and began freighting with oxen, having five yokes for each wagon. He was the owner and captain of the wagon train which made two trips a year to Denver and Forts Collins, Col., and Laramie and Halleck, Wyo. During the five years he was freighting he had a number of fights with the Indians and was at Fort Laramie while the peace commissionersGenerals Sheridan, Sherman and Sanbornwere there making a treaty with the Sioux, Cheyennes, Crows and other Indians. Boveaux acted as interpreter for the commission. At this time Mr. Atchison was present and saw the Sioux Indians stampede and drive away 600 head of horses and mules belonging to the government at Fort Laramie. As a member of the firm of Hook & Atchison he engaged in the hay and wood concontracting business at Fort Sedgwick, Col. In the spring of 1867 he started from Denver for North Platte City and was attacked on the way by Indians, but whipped them. On this trip he found three men who had been killed by the Indians and his party buried them a mile west of Big Springs, Neb. They were members of another freighting party, in the employ of Mr. Penny of Nebraska City, and a Mr. Galbraith of Atchison. In 1869 Mr. Atchison contracted to deliver cord wood at Forts Fetterman and Steele, in Wyoming. On his return to Leavenworth, the same year, he began to deal in coal, wood and ice, and subsequently was one of the pioneers in erecting large ice houses before artificial ice was manufactured in Kansas. In 1878 he went into the bill posting business, which he has conducted ever since and still owns and controls that business in Leavenworth, exclusively; and from 1880 to 1883 was manager of the new opera house at Leavenworth. Mr. Atchison is regarded by his associates as one of the most progressive business men in Leavenworth. For five years before the city waterworks were built he contracted and successfully watered the streets. During the territorial period he was a stanch free-state man and always supported the Republican party. During Governor Humphrey's administration he served one term as president of the board of police commissioners with great credit to himself.
On Jan. 28, 1868, Mr. Atchison married Anna Ward, a native of Waterloo, Monroe county, Illinois, who came to Leavenworth, in 1855, with her parentsHugh and Jane Ward. The father built and became the proprietor of the Illinois Hotel. Seven children were born to Mr. and Mrs. Atchison: Clara Jane married John Fry of Topeka, Kan.; Mary Mage is the wife of W. J. Black of Chicago, traffic manager of the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe railroad; Anna Veronica is the wife of Lee Bond, county attorney of Leavenworth county, Kansas; Gertrude Harriet is the wife of Hiram Wilson of the Great Western Stove Company of Leavenworth; Sarah Theresa is at home; David Ward is engaged in the lumber business in Chattanooga, Tenn, and Lottie Lee married Edward T. Wilder, architect, a member of the firm of Wilder & Wite of Kansas City, Mo.Pages 795-797 from volume III, part 2 of Kansas: a cyclopedia of state history, embracing events, institutions, industries, counties, cities, towns, prominent persons, etc. ... / with a supplementary volume devoted to selected personal history and reminiscence. Standard Pub. Co. Chicago : 1912. 3 v. in 4. : front., ill., ports.; 28 cm. Vols. I-II edited by Frank W. Blackmar. Transcribed December 2002 by Carolyn Ward. This volume is identified at the Kansas State Historical Society as microfilm LM195. It is a two-part volume 3.
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