Apparently born in Ohio. Admitted as a paying pupil to the American Asylum for the deaf at Hartford, CT 1848-1858. What he did for the next 6 years is unclear. In 1864, he began work as a teacher at the American Asylum, but was called to work at the Ohio institution for the deaf due to Civil War-time staff shortages. After 6 years, took a new position teaching at the Arkansas School for the deaf in 1870. 5 years of political infighting in Arkansas led to a "state civil war" there, necessitating the sending of Federal troops to maintain order. Atwood was almost shot when he did not hear a sentinel order him to stop his horse; a nearby general, recognizing Atwood, just in the nick of time ordered the solder to not fire. The political strife led to the closing of the school, and Atwood returned north, helping to found the industrial and educational school for the deaf at Beverly, MA. He resigned as principal of that school in 1880 and took up his old position in the Ohio school for at least 18 more years.
Representative Deaf Persons [first edition], p.182-183.