Silvanus Barden Atwater
Submitted by: George Fulton
Source: Unknown Newspaper
Silvanus Barden ATWATER
b. March 20, 1835 – d. June 13, 1908
Death of a Well Known Veteran

The remains of S. B. Atwater, who passed away in the Soldier’s Home at Quincy Saturday morning were brought to Viola Monday, where funeral services were held and burial made. Mr. Atwater was a man of sterling character. He bore the honor of having been the first superintendent of schools in this county and the foundation for all that has been done for the schools in this county.
Silvanus Barden Atwater was born in Trumbull County, Ohio, March 20, 1835 and was the son of David C. and Mary (Barden) Atwater and died at the Soldier’s Home at Quincy, Illinois, at four o’clock Saturday morning, June 13, 1908, being 73 years, 2 months and 23 days of age. He was a descendant of David Atwater who in 1635 owned the land where Yale College now stands. Mr. Atwater received his education in the public schools and had entered the Western Reserve Normal School. It was the intention of the father to give the son a liberal education but he was stricken and died with cholera when an epidemic of that dread disease swept over the country. Mr. Atwater was at school at the time and so sudden was the father’s death that the funeral obsequies had been held and the grave filled when the son reached the spot–the family burying ground on the old farm in Ohio. Mr. Atwater did not return to college but at the early age of 17 years began teaching his first school across the line in Pennsylvania, contributing to the support of his mother and younger brothers and sisters. Here he became acquainted with the family of Wm. Miller, now living south of Joy, a lifelong friendship being formed then, only broken by death now. In 1855 Mr. Atwater came to Mercer County, Illinois, and the same year taught the school four miles east of Keithsburg, Illinois, at what was known as the "Brick School." He continued to teach in Mercer and Rock Island counties until the breaking out of war. When the firing on Fort Sumpter revibrated through the country in 1861 Mr. Atwater was among the first to offer his service in the defense of his country’s honor. He first enlisted in a company formed in Aledo. This company was, however, not accepted by the government and on August 9, 1861,he again enlisted in Cp. G, 27th Illinois Volunteers Infantry for three years or during the war. His term of service was three years and one month, the regiment receiving its baptism of fire at Belmont, Mo., 9Grant’s first battle) November 7, 1861. He in common with his comrades saw much hard service, participating in the following subsequent engage-ments: Union City, Tenn.; Island No. 10; Siege of Fort Pillow; Farmington; Siege of Corinth; La Vergne; Nashville; Stone River; Chicamagua; Missionary Ridge; Dandridge; Rocky Face; Resaca; Calhoun; Pine Mountain; Mud Creek and Kennesaw Mountain. It was here while with Sherman on his famous march to Atlanta that he was severely wounded by a Minnie ball passing through his lower jaw while making the terrible charge on the rebel breast works lead by John A. Logan at Kennessaw Mountain, that his term of service was ended and he with his company were mustered out of service at Rock Island, Ill., Sept. 20, 1864.
It was as an educator that he was most widely and favorably known. The same fall he returned from the war he was elected county superintendent of school–being the first to fill that office under the law creating it–and served four years. When Mr. Atwater entered on his duties as superintendent he found the educational system in a chaotic condition and at once entered on the important work of organizing the school on their present basis and establishing a higher grade of qualifications for teaching. He performed the pioneer work in grading the schools of Mercer county and did important and valuable work in advancing the educational interests generally. After retiring from the office he became principal of the Aledo school the succeeding year. He continued to teach in this and adjoining county until failing health compelled him to abandon the profession.
On May 1, 1861, he was married to Sarah A., daughter of John and Mary (Shields) Roberts, at New Boston, Illinois, who died December 17, 1887. To this union were born three children, May, wife of John Hardin, Clio, wife of E. J. Fulton, and John who died in infancy. There are also six grandchildren. Mr. Atwater was one of a family of nine children only four of whom reached maturity and is survived by but one brother, Ethan, of Beaver Crossing, Neb. Mr. Atwater was a charter member of the G. A. R. Post and a charter member of the Keithsburg Lodge, I. O. O. F., Politically he was a republican. Possessed of a sterling honesty he was generous to a fault, no appeal for air ever being unheeded. While being poor in this world’s goods he was rich in that heritage of friendship and the consciousness of good deeds well performed that he firmly believe would last beyond the grave and that with his friends and comrades who have crossed the river he will find a better and nobler work there than he performed here. Funeral services were held at the Methodist church in Viola Monday afternoon, conducted by Rev. J. T. Killip. Internment was in the Viola cemetery. The remains were laid to rest with the Masonic rites.
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