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California Genealogy and History Archives

Sonoma County


H. H. Atwater

Though passed from the scenes of earth, the memory of H. H. Atwater is enshrined in the hearts of a host of friends, who were endeared to him as a result of many years of intimate and congenial association. A native of Pennsylvania, he was born in Providence, in 1837, the son of parents who passed the greater part of their lives in that eastern commonwealth. The father was well known in commercial circles in that part of the state, especially in Providence, where he was established in the dry-goods business under the name of Winton & Atwater.

H. H. Atwater was reared and educated in his native town of Providence, and when the time came for him to prepare for his future from a business standpoint he entered the dry-goods store of which his father was the junior partner and learned the business in all of its details. It was with a thorough understanding of this business that he came to California in 1875, the same year coming to Petaluma and accepting a position with the dry-goods firm of Hinman & Elder. He remained in the employ of this well-known firm for a number of years, or until a better business opportunity presented itself. This was with the Wickersham Banking Company, of which he was the efficient cashier for many years. It was while the incumbent of this responsible position that failing health made is necessary for him to take a respite from business cares, and for this purpose he went to Skaggs Springs, Sonoma county. He passed away at this health resort August 10, 1897. During the twenty-two years of his residence in Petaluma he took an interested part in her activities, and was recognized as one of the substantial and dependable citizens and upbuilders of the community. In his political affiliation he was a Republican, and fraternally he was associated with the Odd Fellows order.

Five years before coming to the west Mr. Atwater had formed domestic ties by his marriage in New York state, with Miss Addie A. Daily, the marriage occurring May 3, 1870. The only child of this marriage is Frank Atwater, who is a prominent merchant in Petaluma. Mrs. Atwater is proud to claim descent from good old Revolutionary stock. Her grandfather, Jared Knapp, passed through the entire conflict in the capacity of body guard to Gen. George Washington, and subsequently, in the war of 1812, fought with equal zeal against the tyranny of the Mother Country. Other historical interest centers around this patriot of Revolutionary fame in the fact that he was one of the men to led Major Andre to his execution.

The spirit of protest against injustice so marked in the make-up of this patriotic ancestor is noticeable in modified form in Mrs. Atwater, and has been put to use in high and noble causes ever since she came to Petaluma. For many years she was president of the Humane Society, and is now president of the Ladies’ Improvement Club of Petaluma, which was organized in 1898 through her indefatigable labors for the betterment of civic conditions in her home city. From the day of its organization she has been at its head as president, and during this time an active campaign has been carried on in the improvement of conditions. Among other things that have been accomplished has been the laying out of the city’s two parks, Hill Plaza and Walnut Park, planting trees on many of the streets, placing a well in Walnut Park, besides building sidewalks and making other improvements that but for the united action and insistence of the club might never have been possible. Not the least of the activities for which the citizens have cause to thank the club is the fine condition of the grounds around the Carnegie Library, which they laid out in artistic style and which have since been a source of pride to all citizens. The lot on which the library stands was Mrs. Atwater’s personal gift to the city, an act which gave substantial evidence of her deep interest in the cause for which she has labored for so many years, the betterment of humanity in general and particularly that portion in and around her home city, Petaluma. Under the new charter the responsibility of the park finance has been placed upon the park commission, and they are at present in charge, but the Ladies’ Improvement Club have been requested to take the same interest in it as formerly.

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