ATKINSON, George Richard
Past and Present of the City of Rockford and Winnebago County, IL, C. A. Church. Chicago: Clarke Publishing Company, 1905, pp 362-5
George Richard ATKINSON, well known in business circles of Rockford as a merchant tailor, was born 19 Sep 1835 in Cockermouth County, Cumberland, England. His parents were Joseph and Ann (ANDERSON) ATKINSON, the former a native of England and the latter of Ireland. The father died when the son was a small child. He had been connected with a factory whose produce was Cumberland tweed. George R. ATKINSON, the eldest of the family, remained a resident of his native land until about 19 years of age, when in 1858 he crossed the Atlantic to the new world. At the age of 12 years he had entered upon an apprenticeship to the tailor's trade, serving a term of four years, and when he had mastered the business he decided to seek his fortune in America, hearing that better wages were paid for all such work in the new world. Accordingly he made arrangements to leave his native land and secured passage on the sailing vessel *James Bell,* which was six weeks in making the voyage to NY City, where he began working in a tailoring establishment, spending a brief period in that city. Because his uncle, Thomas CHAMBERS, lived in Montreal, he made his way to the latter place and entered the employ of his uncle, who was conducting a store there. After six months, however, he went to Portland [Cumberland County], ME, in order to see the Prince of Wales depart for England. He did not return then to Montreal, but remained in Portland for a year, and in 1860 went to Boston, where he met the lady who became his wife, Miss Julia Ann HARPER, a resident of Wilton, Franklin County, ME, her birth having occurred near Farmington, that state. Her father was Colonel James C. HARPER, a veteran of the Mexican war, who served under General Winfield Scott.
Mr. ATKINSON continued a resident of Boston until 1864, when he went to ME on a visit. Later he returned to Boston, but in the meantime he had heard much of Chicago and its advantages, and determined to make a visit to the western city. There he met a friend who was living in Rockford, who induced him to come to this place in 1864. While in Boston he had learned the cutting business and had become an expert workman in that line, and after arriving in Winnebago County he secured a position as a cutter with the firm of David, Wallach & Company, remaining with that house for five years. He then determined to embark in business on his own account, and carried out the plan in 1869. In January 1900 he again embarked in business on his own account at No. 304 South Main Street in the Nelson building. Here he has since remained and now enjoys a liberal patronage accorded him by his fellow townsmen, also a large trade which comes to him from surrounding cities. That his business has reached extensive proportions is indicated by the fact that he now employs 14 men throughout the entire year. In style, finish and workmanship, the products of his tailoring establishment are of superior grade, and as he is reasonable in his prices and honorable in his dealings, his patronage has continually increased until it has reached gratifying proportions.
Mr. ATKINSON was married on 01 Jan 1863, and he now has a beautiful house at 1215 National Avenue. He belongs to the Masonic fraternity, his membership being in the Star of the East lodge, and he has attained the 32nd degree of the Scottish rite. He is likewise connected with the Mystic Shrine, and in politics he was a democrat until 1896, since which time he has supported the Republican party. During the years which mark the period of his business career he has met with gratifying success, for he is a self-educated as well as a self-made man. After coming to America he attended night school in Albany and made the most of his opportunities as the years passed by. During the period of his residence in Rockford, he has won the [p 365] good will and respect of many of the best citizens here. Concentration of purpose and persistently applied energy rarely fail of success in the accomplishment of any task, and in tracing the career of Mr. ATKINSON it is plainly seen that these have been the secret of his rise to prominence.
Submitted by Cathy Kubly.