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California Genealogy and History Archives

Sonoma County


Austin J. Atchinson

The present efficient justice of the peace of Santa Rosa township, Sonoma county, Austin J. Atchinson was born near Rochester, N. Y., June 18, 1840, the son of Samuel and Elizabeth (Johnson) Atchinson, who were also natives of the Empire state. The father was a stone-mason throughout the active years of his life. Austin J. Atchinson received a good education in Lima, N. Y., and afterward taught one term near his home.

Feeling circumscribed by his surroundings in the east and not wishing to take up agriculture as a life calling A. J. Atchinson struck out in the world for himself in 1863, coming to California by the Panama route and reaching his destination April 28 of that year. Aside from his early knowledge of farming he had little or no experience upon which to draw when cast upon his own resources but he had received a fairly good education and indeed this proved a valuable asset in the new life which he had undertaken. First in San Joaquin county, Cal., and later in the state of Nevada he followed schoolteaching for a livelihood, continuing this altogether for twelve years, when, in 1876, he turned his attention to commercial pursuits with equally good results. Going to Winters, Yolo county, he began buying and selling eggs and poultry, and as the venture proved a profitable one he continued it for a considerable period, giving this up later to take charge of a ranch in Yolo county, in the care of which he had a valuable assistant in his wife. Altogether they managed the ranch for five years, during which time Mr. Atchinson’s popularity as a citizen and his ability to fill public office led to his election as recorder on the Republican ticket. As his fellow-citizens had anticipated, he proved the right man for the place, and at the expiration of his first term in office he was nominated and elected his own successor.

It was after the expiration of his second term as recorder in Yolo county that Mr. Atchinson came to Petaluma, Sonoma county, and established himself in business by buying out the agency of all the San Francisco newspapers. This too proved a successful undertaking, but after carrying it on for five years his election to public office again made it necessary for him to dispose of his private interests. In 1894 he was elected county auditor and recorder of Sonoma county, a position which he filled acceptably, and subsequently he was elected to the office of justice of the peace, a position which he still holds, this being his third term.

Mr. Atchinson has been twice married, his first union being celebrated in 1869 and uniting him with Miss Emma C. Still. Two children were born of this union, Lella, who is deceased, and Fred R., a resident of Santa Rosa. The mother of these children died in 1899, and ten years later, on March 20, 1909 Mr. Atchinson married his present wife, formerly Mrs. Ora M. Humphrey, a native of Missouri, as was also the former Mrs. Atchinson. Politically Mr. Atchinson is a Republican, and fraternally he is an Elk and an Odd Fellow. Mr. Atchinson is regarded as one of the thoroughgoing, dependable citizens of Santa Rosa, and is liked by all who are brought in contact with him, whether in an official, business or social way.

History of Sonoma County, California
Biographical Sketches of The Leading Men and Women of the County Who Have Been Identified With Its Growth and Development from the Early Days to the Present
History By: Tom Gregory
Historic Record Company, Los Angeles, California (1911)

Transcribed by Peggy Hooper 2011