James Atkins

MRS. JAMES ATKINS presides over one of the fine homes of El Dorado and has long been prominent socially in that city. Mr. James Atkins is an honored veteran of the Civil war, one of the earliest settlers of Butler County, and though he began life in the West with little more than his courage and the labor of his hands he now has abundance and deserves both his leisure and his success.

Mrs. Atkins was born at Louisville, Kentucky, December 11, 1864. Her maiden name was Eva J. Pool. Her parents were Anthony and Matilda J. (Bennett) Pool. In the paternal line Mrs. Atkins' ancestry reaches back to England, from which country her great-grandfather Pool came to America in colonial days. Her grandfather, William Pool, was born in Pennsylvania in 1795. He lived on a farm in Washington County, Pennsylvania, a region made historic because it was the scene of the famous whiskey rebellion and of many other events in the early colonial life. From Southwestern Pennsylvania William Pool removed to Ohio, was a farmer in that state and in 1860 went to Louisville, Kentucky, where he lived retired until his death in 1877. He was a democrat, and a very loyal supporter of the Methodist Episcopal Church. William Pool married Elizabeth Murry, who was born in Pennsylvania in 1795 and died at Louisville, Kentucky, in 1879.

Anthony Pool, father of Mrs. Atkins, was born in Washington County, Pennsylvania, in 1824, spent part of his early life there and when he was a young man he went with his parents to Ohio. He was married in Ohio, followed farming there, but in 1860 went to Louisville, where he engaged in the marble and monument business. In 1882 Anthony Pool, disposing of his interests in Louisville, removed his marble business to Lancaster, Ohio, but in 1886 came to El Dorado, Kansas. Here he located on a farm adjoining the town, and was occupied with his farming interests until his death in 1888. He was a democrat and a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church.

Anthony Pool married Matilda J. Bennett, who was born in October, 1831, in Washington County, Pennsylvania, and died in El Dorado, Kansas, in August, 1902. Her father, William Bennett, was born in County Cork, Ireland, in 1798. When he was eleven years of age, in 1809, his parents came to America and settled in Washington County, Pennsylvania, where he grew up and became a farmer. He afterwards moved to Ohio and died in that state in 1842. William Bennett married Jemima Miller, who was born in Pennsylvania in 1802, of German descent. She died at Albion, Illinois, in 1879. They reared eleven children, none of whom are now living.

Anthony Pool and wife were the parents of five children: John S., who succeeded to the marble business of his father in Louisville, Kentucky, and is now living in that city retired; Hettie J., who lives at St. Louis, Missouri, widow of T. L. Cadwallader, who was in the real estate business; C. W. Pool, a traveling salesman living at Hutchinson, Kansas; Maggie A., wife of R. S. Martin, a real estate man at St. Louis, Missouri; and Mrs. James Atkins.

Mrs. Atkins was reared at Louisville, attended the public schools there, including the high school, and came to Kansas with her parents when she was a young woman. She was married at El Dorado in 1900 to Mr. James Atkins. They have one child, Anthony Pool Atkins, born at El Dorado November 26, 1902. Mrs. Atkins takes an active part in the Methodist Episcopal Church at El Dorado.

James Atkins was born in St. Clair County, Michigan, in 1844, a son of Alexander and Eliza (Lewis) Atkins. His father was a native of Scotland and his mother of Connecticut, and he was one of their eleven children. Mr. Atkins grew up on a farm in Michigan, attended the common schools, and was only seventeen years of age when the war broke out. At the age of twenty he enlisted in Company A of the First Michigan Cavalry, and served with that noted organization during the remainder of the war. After the close of actual hostilities between the armies of the North and South he was sent West and took part in a campaign against hostile Indians in Colorado and Utah. He was granted his honorable discharge and was mustered out at Salt Lake City, Utah, March 10, 1866.

Mr. Atkins was twenty-two years of age when he left the army, was full of vigor, hope and ambition, and ready for participation in any phase of the hard and dangerous life of the West. After leaving the army he went to Helena, Montana, then the center of a newly developed mining district, and was there from April to August, 1866. On starting back to the States he traveled on a flatboat down the Missouri River from Fort Benton to Omaha. For about a year he was in the employ of the Union Pacific Railway, and in 1867 he arrived in El Dorado, Kansas.

He began life in Southern Kansas with a quarter section of land in El Dorado Township. That quarter he still owns, but it is only the nucleus of the extensive holdings he has since developed. He has upwards of 1,000 acres in Butler County and also has extensive interests in the oil districts. His first home on his homestead claim was a dugout. From that rude shelter he directed his operations as a cattleman, also engaged in general farming, and while he has experienced the vicissitudes common to other Kansas pioneers his career on the whole has been one of unusual success and prosperity.

He was in Butler County when its lands were sparsely populated, and chiefly by cattle men, before there were railroads, and his most available point to buy supplies was Lawrence, though soon afterwards he began trading at Emporia. The first cattle he marketed he drove across the country to Kansas City. He drove several herds of cattle over the noted cattle trails from Baxter Springs. He has been a witness of much that is part of the historic record of Butler County. He was living in the county when the cyclone devastated El Dorado. He was also there when the big June flood of 1869 occurred, in which several lives were lost along the west branch of the Walnut River. From his personal recollection he was also able to recall some of the other able pioneers of Butler County living in the county in 1867. These included Henry Martin, Archibald Ellis, Mrs. Cowley, Jerry Connor, Nathaniel Thompson and men named Croft, Hobbs and Donaldson. Thus Mr. Atkins had a part in the "winning of the west" and for years has been an important factor in the forward progress of the county. Besides his interest in several improved farms in the county he and his family have one of the finest modern homes in El Dorado. He is now past the age of three score and ten, but finds business to occupy his attention and is enjoying the simple but happy life, has the friendship as well as the esteem of the older as well as the younger set of Butler County citizens, and while rejoicing in the wonders of the twentieth century he recalls without regret the primitive circumstances and the hardships of early times.


A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans, written & compiled by William E. Connelley, 1918, transcribed by Staci Lewis, student from USD 508, Baxter Springs Middle School, Baxter Springs, Kansas, December 1, 1999.

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