J.D. Atchinson, attorney at law and ex-County Superintendent of Schools was born in this county Dec. 31, 1852. His father, Austin Atchison, was born in Virginia in 1807, and was of Scotch parentage. He was a farmer in good circumstances, until 1865, at which time he lost his slaves and other property. He died in 1875. Mr. Atchison’s mother, Lucy (Moseley) Atchison, was a native of Kentucky and died in 1865. His parents were married in 1850. Owing to defective vision he did not learn to read until ten years of age, at which time he attended a county school one month, having procured a lens which enabled him to see sufficiently well to study. He was very small and sickly until sixteen years of age; he then again attended a county school. All of his leisure time had been spent in hard study, but a want of proper books was a great obstacle to his progress. A friend, E.H. Bryan, gave him great assistance in the sciences. In 1868 Prof. W. Alexander established Oakland Seminary, near the farm of Mr. Atchison’s father, and at once took great interest in J.D., who was his pupil four years. He attended the school only during a part of the winter session, but took private lessons during the entire year. At the age of twenty Mr. Atchison borrowed money of his father, with which to buy suitable clothing, and started out to take care of himself. He went to Henderson County, where he was engaged nearly a year in teaching school, for which he was paid sixty dollars a month. With a part of this money he repaid his father, and the remainder he spent in the pursuit of his studies at school, where he organized a club, and “bached” at an expense not exceeding $1.25 per week.
In 1874 Mr. Atchison accepted a professorship in West Kentucky College, at South Carrolton, Ky., which position he held two years. He was thus again associated with his former preceptor, Prof. Alexander, who held the first position in the school. When quite young Mr. Atchison had determined to study law, and in 1876 he resigned his position in the school and commenced the course of study in his chosen profession. Partly from poverty, and partly from a fixed principle that every one ought to acquire knowledge by his own efforts, he determined not to enter a law school. He came to Owensboro, and in June, 1876, entered the law office of Hon. W.N. Sweeney, where he remained four years. He was admitted to the bar in March, 1877, and in May, 1879, he was married to Miss Blanche Hermon, of Muhlenburg County, Ky., one of his former pupils. In 1880, when Judge James Stuart’s term as Circuit Judge expired, he and Mr. Atchison formed a co-partnership, which still continues under the firm name of Stuart & Atchison. For a number of years Mr. Atchison was School Commissioner of Daviess County.
Source: History of Daviess County, Kentucky. Chicago: Interstate Publishing Co., 1883. Print.