From:Annals of Brown County, Kansas, From the Earliest Records to January 1, 1900; Compiled and Published by Grant W. Harrington, Editor and Publisher of Kansas Democrat; Hiawatha, Kansas, 1903; Part II. Historical sketches and biographies; pages: 469-470


Henry J. Aten was born near Astoria, Fulton County, Ill., October 12th, 1841. His parents were Richard Aten and Ann Peterson. Both were of Holland Dutch descent.

The Atens came to Long Island about the year 1651 and the Petersons about the same time. The great grandfathers of Mr. Aten both paternal and maternal served in the Revolutionary war and his grandfather on his mother's side of the house was a soldier in the war of 1812.  Mr. Aten's father and mother were both born In West Virginia. There they were married and removed to Illinois in the spring of 1840.  Mr. Aten worked on a farm and attended school winters until the breaking out of the war when he enlisted on August 8th, 1861 in Company H of the 28th Illinois Infantry.  He was with Grant in the Belmont expedition but later in the campaign was taken down with pneumonia and was discharged after a ten months' service. Recovering from this, he re-enlisted on August 12th, 1862, in Company G of the 85th Infantry and served to the close of the war, taking part in the battles of Perryville, Murfreesboro, Chickamauga, Chattanooga and the battles of the Atlanta campaign.  He marched with Sherman to the sea, saw Joe Johnson surrender and marched In the Grand Review up Pennsylvania Avenue.

In October 1866 he entered the Chicago Business College and graduated in February of the next year. He then taught in the Bryant and Stratton business college at Quincy until 1870 when he came west landing at Hiawatha on the 1st day of March. Upon the organization of the town of Hiawatha he was appointed city clerk and served in that capacity for two years. In 1870 he was elected clerk of the court and served one term. His successor Henry Anderson died in office and Mr. Aten was appointed to fill out his term.  In 1874 he was elected Mayor of Hiawatha as the temperance candidate and reelected in 1875.  It was during this administration that the Hiawatha Club defied the city and was driven out of business. In 1889 Mr. Aten was appointed one of the three commissioners to negotiate with the Kickapoo and Pottowatomie Indians for taking their lands in severalty and later was appointed special allotting agent for both tribes. Mr. Aten joined the Odd Fellows in 1868 in Quincy, Ill. He has been an active and enthusiastic member of the order ever since and has risen high in its councils. He was Grand Patriarch of the Grand Encampment of Kansas in 1894-95; Representative of the state in the Supreme Grand Lodge In 1895-96; and is now serving as Grand Treasurer of the Grand Encampment. He is also a member of the Grand Army and has been twice elected Post Commander of Hiawatha Post 130. Ten years ago when John A. Martin died Mr. Aten was elected vice president of the Army of the Cumberland to succeed him and bas been annually reelected ever since.

Mr. Aten's business is that of a land, loan and insurance agent. He has a substantial stone office on the south east corner of the public square and in the thirty years that he has been a resident of Hiawatha he has loaned thousands of dollars for eastern parties and disposed of many an acre of Brown county land to new settlers.

For the past two years he has spent his leisure time compiling a history of his regiment, the 85th Illinois, for publication. The book is now in press and is a volume of more than four hundred pages. It gives a straight narrative of the regiment from its organization to the time it was mustered out and then follows it up with a biography of each member of the regiment. The members of the regiment are scattered now into all parts of the Union and it has taken an immense amount of labor and the writing of more than a thousand letters to secure the necessary information but the work has been a labor of love and the book comes from the press one of the most complete regimental histories ever published.

Mr. Aten was married September 15th, 1870 at Quincy, Ill, to Maria L. Burbidge (also spelled Burbridge) and their family consists of two daughters - Edna B., a successful Brown county teacher, and Stella W., who will graduate from the State University at Lawrence next June.

More on Henry J. Aten:

On Genealogy Trails Brown County, Kansas

  Henry J. Aten's and his widows, Civil War Pension paper

On Genealogy Trails Schuyler County, Illinois

  Bio and Pictures

On Genealogy Trails Fulton County, Illinois

  History of the 85th Illinois Volunteers Illinois Volunteer Infantry by Henry J. Aten

Note: You'll find many other Aten in these Counties which are related to Henry J. Aten.  For more info on Henry J. and other Aten Ancestery, contact Sara Hemp

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