JAMES M. ATCHISON, who is engaged in general merchandising in Gillespie, is one of the native citizens of this county. He was born in Bunker Hill, January 10, 1860, and is a son of Eldridge Atchison, a native of Tennessee, who in his youth learned the trade of a carpenter and cabinet-maker. While still single he came to Illinois and in Edwardsville met and married his wife, whose maiden name was Eucebia Wilson. She was born in Kentucky and during her maidenhood settled in Madison County. Some time after their marriage Mr. Atchison and his wife came to this county, where he embarked in farming near Bunker Hill. He became one of the prominent and leading citizens of this community and served as Postmaster of the city of bunker Hill for a number of years, filling the office during President Lincoln's administration and again under President Grant. At length he resigned, since which time he has been living a retired life. He is now eighty years of age and one of the well known and highly respected people of the community. His wife has attained the age of three-score and ten and she is a member of the Baptist Church. On the organization of the Republican party Mr. Atchison joined its ranks and at the last election supported Benjamin Harrison for the Presidency. The Atchison family during the war was represented by the father and three sons; the former, with his son Thomas enlisted in the Seventh Illinois Infantry, Mr. Atchison being at that time fifty-one years of age. Thomas continued in the service until the close of the war. The father was honorably discharged for disability, suffering from the hardships and trials of army life. The other two sons, Alex C. and Nathan D., both enlisted in the early part of the war, the former becoming First Lieutenant of Company A, Ninety seventh Illinois Infantry. He was killed at the battle of Vicksburg, at which time he was commanding a company, as the Captain, Mr. Woods was then off duty. Nathan enlisted at the age of sixteen years and though young proved himself a brave soldier. After participating in many engagements he was shot by the enemy at Altoona Pass, Ga.
Mr. E. Atchison was placed on the pension rolls in 1877 for disabilities received in the service of his country, at the rate of $12 per month from the time of his discharge form the army, aggregating about $2,000. He remained a pensioner until 1886, when under the administration of President Cleveland, after having applied an increase in his pension, he was cut down to $4 per month, which he refused to accept and wrote the Commissioner of Pensions to that effect. He remained off the rolls until 1891, when he was again restored to the pension rolls at the rate of $17 per month, and now draws that amount.
The subject of this sketch is the tenth in order of birth of the family of eleven children, six of whom are yet living. He was reared to manhood in bunker Hill and vicinity and in the public schools acquired his education. He married in 1882 Miss Elizabeth Roberts, who was born September 10, 1860, in Bunker Hill. Her parents were William and Mary (Lewellyn) Roberts. The father was a wheelwright and wagon-maker by trade, which occupations he followed for many years. He came from Kentucky, his native State, to Bunker Hill, where he died at the age of fifty years. He was a Democrat in politics and a prominent citizen of the community. His widow, a native of Virginia, is a member of the Methodist Church, still survives him and is now about sixty years of age. Nine children were born of this union, of whom seven are still living.
Mr. Atchison is a member of the Baptist Church and his wife of the Methodist Church; they are widely known throughout this community, taking rank among the leading young people of Gillespie. In politics our subject is a Republican and keeps himself well informed on all the leading questions of the day, both political and otherwise. He is recognized as a straightforward, upright business man who well deserves liberal patronage which he now receives. He entered upon his mercantile career in 1875, in the employ of T. E. Dow, and in 1886, when that gentleman established a branch house in Gillespie, Mr. Atchison was placed in charge continuing as manager of the store for two years, when in 1888 he became owner. He carries a full line of goods and by his earnest desire to please his customers, his genial manner and fair dealing, has built up an excellent trade.