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John Patterson of Adams County Ohio


John Patterson was born in Pendleton County, Virginia, November 23, 1793, and died in Wilkins, Union County, Ohio, February 1, 1859. His parents were James Augustine Patterson, of English descent, and Ann Elizabeth Hull (Patterson), of Dutch descent.

The family lived in that part of Virginia (now West Virginia) known as the “Backbone of the Alleghanies,” and owned large tracts of land on the South Branch of the Potomac River. James A. Patterson rendered the American cause important service during the War of the Revolution, and for that reason became possessed of sufficient means to purchase a large body of land in Alleghany County, Pennsylvania, a part of which is now in the heart of the city of Pittsburg. Others had preempted a part of the land before he reached it, and he did not attempt to dispossess them.

John Patterson was but about eight years of age when his father died, in 1801, and in 1804 he was apprenticed for a period of ten years to Z. A. Tannehill to learn the trade of watchmaker and silversmith. His employer died in 1813, leaving his apprentice on his own resources. He then enlisted as a private soldier in a Pittsburg infantry regiment, serving in Gen. Adamson Tannehill’s Brigade in what is historically known as the “War of 1812.” He saw but little field service, but before the war ended he was made a corporal.

In 1815 he went to Alexandria, Va., expecting to go into business, but his partner proved unworthy, and he returned to Pittsburg, entering the employ of Mr. John Thompson. In the autumn of 1817 he emigrated to Ohio, making the journey down the Ohio River on a keel boat to Manchester, and thence overland to West Union, then one of the most promising settlements in the Buckeye State. Here he opened a jewelry store, made and repaired watches and clocks and manufactured articles of silverware. Some of the spoons and possibly other utensils of his handiwork are still in existence. He afterwards established a tannery, and then one of the first wool-carding and combing factories erected in southern Ohio. In the spring of 1819 he was elected justice of the peace for Tiffin Township, and subsequently was twice elected to the same position. For several years he held the office, by appointment, of county collector of taxes. On January 27, 1827, the system of tax collecting then in vogue was abolished by the act of the legislature, which created the office of county treasurer, and the incumbent of that office was made the only tax collector.

In 1826 Mr. Patterson was elected as representative from Adams County to the twenty-fifth general assembly of the state; in 1828 to the twenty-seventh; in 1829 he was joint representative with Hosea Moore in the twenty-eighth general assembly. He was then, as always throughout his public career, an ardent Democrat. In 1833 and again in 1834, he was for the fifth and sixth times elected as representative in the legislature. He was elected as state senator from Adams and Brown counties in 1835 to the thirty-fourth general assembly; and in 1836 was elected as state senator from Adams, Brown, and Scioto counties to the thirty-fifth general assembly.

With the single exception of Hon. Thomas Kirker, Governor of Ohio, in 1808, who served as senator and representative for seventeen years prior to 1825, John Patterson was a member of the legislature longer than any other citizen of the county. He took high rank as a party leader and debater, and secured the passage of excellent laws. He was a firm friend of all public improvements, and heartily supported the “National Road” and all the various canal projects which were before the legislature during his eight terms of service.

In 1834 John Patterson, of Adams; Uri Seeley, of Geauga, and Jonathan Taylor, of Licking, were appointed by Governor Lucas as commissioners for Ohio to settle the boundary between Ohio and Michigan. The action of the commissioners was resisted by the Governor and inhabitants of Michigan Territory, and for a time there was great excitement throughout the state, the militia was called out on each side, and for a few weeks there was every prospect of bloodshed. Happily for all concerned this was averted. This, and subsequent proceedings relative to the disputed boundary line, are matters of record end a part of the history of the state, too lengthy for repetition here. Suffice it to say that the action of the commissioners was sustained by the governor and legislature of the state, and by the president and congress of the United States. The territory in dispute now includes the great city of Toledo.

On March 21, 1838, President Van Buren appointed Mr. Patterson United States Marshal for the state of Ohio, as the successor of John Patterson, of Belmont County, who, though he bore the same name, was not a relative. The United States courts then were all held at Columbus, and thither Mr. Patterson removed his family, residing in that city from the date of his appointment until the expiration of his official term, July 10, 1841. His most important service was the taking of the United States census, during the summer of 1840. This immense and important task was solely in his charge, and it was performed in a manner creditable to himself and to the complete satisfaction of the government.

Returning to Adams County, in 1841, Mr. Patterson resided in West Union until the summer of 1847, when he removed to York Township, Union County, Ohio, where he spent the remainder of his life on a farm in the peaceful pursuits of agriculture and stock raising. His remains were laid to rest in sight of his home, in the cemetery of the York Presbyterian Church, with which he was identified during the last twelve years of his life.

John Patterson was married three times. His first wife was Mary Brown Finley, daughter of Major Joseph Lewis Finley and Jane Blair Finley. They were married at her father’s residence on Gift Ridge, south of West Union, November 10, 1818, by Rev. Thomas Williamson. Six children were born of this union, namely: Joseph Peter (died at Butler, Pa., March 4, 1856), Lewis Augustine (died at West Union, April 26, 1846), Matilda Ann (married John Smith, died at West Union, August 23, 1895), Thomas Reed (resides at Price Hill, Cincinnati, Ohio), Hannah Finley (married Lewis C. Clark, died at Manhattan, Kansas, April 23, 1884), and Mary Brown (married Jacob Dresback, resides at Paris, Ill.).’ His first wife’s remains were laid away in the old village cemetery.

His second wife was Miss Celia Prather, daughter of Major John Prather, of West Union, to whom he was married November 9, 1831, by Rev. John Meek. To them the following children were born: Algernon Sidney (died in infancy), Elizabeth Jane (married Benjamin F. Coates, resides at Portsmouth, Ohio), Robert Emmet (died at Nashville, Tenn., June 25, 1860), John Prather (died at Chicago Ill., December 17, 1889), and James Hamer (died in infancy at Columbus, Ohio) Mrs. Celia Patterson died at Columbus, Ohio, February 22, 1840. A number of years afterward her remains were removed to the West Union cemetery.

His third wife was Miss Mary Catherine McCrea, a relative of Jane McCrea, whose tragic massacre by the Indians near Saratoga, N. Y., is narrated in the annals of the Revolution. They were married at Columbus, Ohio, on November 12, 1840, by Rev. James Hoge. All of their four children were born in West Union; three of them (James McCrea, Stephen Henry, and Celia Ann) died in infancy. Charles Moore, their youngest child, died in his seventeenth year (March 4, 1863), at Murfreesboro, Tenn., while in the service of his country as a volunteer soldier during the War of the Rebellion.

Mrs. Catharine M. Patterson was married to Andrew McNeil, of Union County, on June 16, 1862, who died December 31, 1889. She died at her home near Richwood, Ohio, October 27, 1893.

“A History of Adams County, Ohio”,  Nelson Wiley Evans, Emmons B. Stivers, 1900, West Union Ohio, pages 265-266


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