William M. Atkinson was born in Winchester, Virginia. He was the son of the Rev. William Mayo Atkinson (1796-1849), a Presbyterian minister, and his second wife, Elizabeth “Bettie” J. White (b. ca. 1824). The Rev. William M. Atkinson was the brother of the Rev. Thomas Atkinson, third Protestant Episcopal bishop of North Carolina, the Rev. John Mayo Pleasants Atkinson, a Presbyterian minister and the president of Hampden-Sidney College, and the Rev. Joseph Mayo Atkinson, a Presbyterian minister in North Carolina. (Haywood)
William studied at the Winchester Academy, then earned a B.A. at Hampden-Sidney College in 1870. He attended the University of Virginia in session 48 (1871-1872), from which he graduated with a degree in law. During his time at Hampden-Sidney and U.Va. he was a member of Beta Theta Pi fraternity.
William opened his law practice in Winchester, and held varous public offices including commonwealth’s attorney, city recorder, judge of the district court of Frederick County, VA (of which Winchester was the county seat). He was a member of the city council, and served as Mayor of Winchester. Anderson was a Democrat and a Presbyterian throughout his life
In 1884, William Mayo Atkinson married Caledonia “Callie” Campbell (Bryce) Trenholm (1848-1939), widow of Alfred G. Trenholm of Columbia, SC, and had one child, William Mayo Atkinson Jr. The Mayo family is buried in Mount Hebron Cemetery, Winchester, VA.
- Ancestry.com. 1850-1930 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc.
- Haywood, Marshall D. Lives of the bishops of North Carolina. Raleigh, NC, 1910, p. 144-145. Accessed via books.google.com
- Tombstones of the Atkinson family, Winchester City, VA. Findagrave.com (Accessed 10/3/2011).
- Tyler, Lyon G. Men of mark in Virginia. Washington, D. C., 1907, v.3, p. 12-13. Accessed via books.google.com