The Patterson Log Cabin
Charlotte Reeve Conover
Press of The N.C.R. May 1906
(Quotation from Daniel Webster’s famous “Log Cabin” speech, 1840)
“GENTLEMEN, it did not happen to me to be born in a log cabin; but my elder brothers and sisters were born in a log cabin. Raised among the snowdrifts of New Hampshire, at a period so early that when the smoke first rose from its rude chimney and curled over the frozen hills, there was no similar evidence of a white man's habitation between it and the settlement on the rivers of Canada, its remains still exist. I make to it an annual visit I carry my children to it and teach them the hardships endured by the generations which have gone before them. I love to dwell on the tender recollections, the kindred ties, the early affections and the touching narratives and incidents which mingle with all I know of this primitive family abode. I weep to think that none of those who inhabited it are now among the living; and if ever I am ashamed of it, or if I ever fail in affectionate veneration for him who reared it and defended it against savage violence and destruction, cherished all the domestic virtues beneath its roof, and through the fire and blood of a seven years' revolutionary war, shrunk from no danger, no toil, no sacrifice, to serve his country and to raise his children to a condition better than his own, may my name and the name of my posterity be blotted forever from the memory of mankind!”
The words of the prefaced quotation are the apotheosis of the log cabin. They express the vehemence of reaction; they were a part of the same spirit which swung the "Log Cabin and Hard Cider Campaign" into victory and General Harrison into the White House. They ring with the true American sentiment of loyalty to the plain and the solid.
Everyone knows how the Democrats in 1840 jeered at the Whigs for their candidate: how they advised that Harrison be given a log cabin and a barrel of hard cider to keep him contentedly in Ohio where he belonged. The weapon was turned back on the Democrats and the "Log Cabin" cry became the handle to it. Harrison was called the Log Cabin Candidate. Log cabins were celebrated in campaign songs and carried in campaign processions. They even got out a campaign paper, edited by Horace Greeley, called the "Log Cabin." Harrison, so far from being injured by the flings of his political enemies, ended by being elected because he had been born in a log cabin, instead of in spite of it.
America has gone a long way beyond log cabin days and sentiments. But it is not a bad thing to preserve a tangible reminder of the days when our forefathers straggled to win this country from the savages and create a dwelling place for those who came after them. Perhaps these reminders may serve as silent antidotes to the fierce pace which luxury keeps in this republic; the republic begun with so much privation, self-sacrifice and bravery and ending in such widespread luxury and extravagance.
The one-roomed log cabin now standing on the triangular piece of ground at the junction of Main and Brown Streets, south of Dayton, was built by Colonel Robert Patterson, the grandfather of Mr. John H. Patterson. Its situation was originally at Lexington, Kentucky, where it was one of the earliest houses erected. Since then it has had three sites since its first owner and his pioneer friends hewed the trees, shaped the logs and piled them into walls in the depth of the Kentucky wilderness.
Robert Patterson was born in Bedford County, Pennsylvania, March 23, 1753; the son of Francis Patterson and his first wife Jane. When he was twenty-one years of age he emigrated to Kentucky and with a party of young men spent a winter at Royal Spring, now Georgetown. During this time he underwent many thrilling adventures among the Indians, which are told in the story of his life, "Concerning the Forefathers."
In the early frontier days a man made a home for himself in one of three ways. He selected a site for a camp, generally near a good spring and blazed a number of trees in a circle, cutting his initials upon them. These were called "Hatchet Bights," and this constituted a "claim," but it was one likely to be interfered with by Indians on the one hand who burned his hut and destroyed his marks, or by "land sharks" later, who did not sufficiently respect the ax marks on trees. If in addition to these indications of his ownership the pioneer built a shelter of any kind he earned what was called "cabin rights," a much surer title to the land. If he persevered, cleared the land of timber and planted corn he then had "crop rights," which were considered equivalent to a warranty deed with all proper signatures.
Robert Patterson was on the lookout for a land claim for a future home, and besides he had arranged with his father to preempt a thousand acres for him in return for the outfit of horse, gun and hunting suit with which the young pioneer had been equipped on his departure from Pennsylvania. It was early in November, 1775, that the two hunters, Patterson and Sterritt, a long day's journey from their friends at Royal Springs, camped for the night on the north fork of Cane Bun. Telling the story later to his daughter Catherine, Robert Patterson said: "When I came to the place I had no intention of improving there, but chancing to kill a turkey, and it being late in the evening, James Sterritt, who was the only person in my company, and I concluded to camp there all night. Sterritt and I proceeded on and came to a spring, where we built a cabin ten or twelve feet square and deadened fifteen or twenty trees, and marked ‘R. P.' on a tree."
Catherine Patterson Brown, telling in 1855 the story of this camp as she heard it from her father, said:
"Near the close of a long day's land-seeking ride from the armed camp at the Royal Spring, father was rewarded with a first view of the site that was to be his home, a beautiful spot, a grove of stately trees, the center of a mass of ripened cane stretching over gently rolling hills, a herd of grazing buffalo a feature of the scene. A splendid spring in the grove determined his place for bivouac, the winding course of the spring branch through rich grasses marking pasture ground for his horse.
"Fearless and satisfied he enjoyed a night's rest, waking in the early morning to full realization that the object of his western venture had been accomplished. I remember with what happiness he always told us of that night and morning. He remained at the spring in camp to run the bounds, blazing trees along the lines, with tomahawk cutting into corner trees and other landmarks, his brand (‘R. P. Nov. Ninth, 1775’) making legal claim to his first possessions. For this and adjoining tracts, and for lands purchased elsewhere for himself and others he paid scrip and warrants granted to himself, my grandfather and others of the connections for services in the Colonial, Revolutionary and Indian Wars in a period of forty-seven years." (See "Concerning the Forefathers.")
In the few days' camp at the spring wood was found, and water and stone in abundance, the desideratum of land seekers, and deep loamy soil, fertile beyond his dream when told of the cane lands two years previous by comrades of the Bangers. He returned to Royal Spring, blazing the way that soon became a familiar route, for he spent as much of the winter at his own spring as he could safely be away, and unmolested by the Indians planned for a cabin, a very hazardous undertaking in opinion of his frontier companies.
We may understand from the narrative that this first roof that grew over Robert Patterson's head was not intended for a permanent dwelling, but only as a casual shelter. It was probably a half-open shack of light poles put up by the two young men after their day of hunting and exploring.
The following spring—April, 1776—Robert Patterson, his friends the McConnells and Perry came to the head waters of the Town Branch, six or seven miles from the Cane Bun Camp, and made an improvement at the Sinking Spring, which is now on the grounds of the Eastern Kentucky Lunatic Asylum. He does not say that he built a cabin here and the "improvement" may have meant simply a crop of corn. This tract of 400 acres of land Patterson afterwards made over to James Perry** and established himself finally and permanently about a mile and a half south of his first claim. On this piece of land of 400 acres was another and a more remarkable sinking spring.
(** Suit—John Coburn vs. McConnell's heirs.)
A large volume of water still pours out of this spring. Formerly it ran for one hundred yards under the edge of projecting rocks and then disappeared, coming out still farther down the valley in another spring known as Aters' Spring. That these two springs are the same was shown by the fact that bran sprinkled in Patterson's big spring came out at Aters'. Railroad excavations have altered and ruined the volume and flow of the spring, which however, is well remembered by older citizens. It was on this tract of land that Perry and McConnell in the spring of 1776 helped Patterson build the cabin which afterward became his home. He did not occupy it at first, but when he was in this vicinity stayed with the McConnells, whose cabin on the old Leestown road seemed safer from Indian attack. It was in this cabin, according to the best authorities, that the city of Lexington was named, after the battle that had just meant so much to Massachusetts and the world. But this was later.
Following his first visit to the Lexington lands Robert Patterson led an exciting and strenuous life. Owing to the continued hostility of the Indians he lived at Harrod's Station or Royal Spring, and the cabin near the Sinking Spring remained chiefly to mark the land claim. During these years occurred his perilous journey up the Ohio River. His hairbreadth escapes from the savages have been told in the annals of the great West. He was wounded and went home to Falling Springs in Pennsylvania to recuperate. While there he became engaged to Elizabeth Lindsay, who was willing to exchange her father's fine stone mansion for a log cabin on a Kentucky creek. This was the winter of '78-'79. The marriage took place four years later.
Robert's younger brother, William, was at this time fired with ambition to see the new and wonderful country beyond the mountains and gained his father's and mother's permission to start at once for Kentucky, He was directed to the claim, found the branch run, the cornfields, the log cabin and the trees marked "R. P."
Robert followed William to Kentucky some months later when his wounds were healed. From that time the cabin became the joint property of the Patterson brothers, and while Robert endured campaign after campaign of Indian fighting, William became the farmer and provider. He put a new roof on the cabin, cut port holes for defense which may still be seen, planted and guarded his crops and sought in every way to strengthen his brother's title to the soil they both loved.
These were perilous years. Which brother had the harder time would be difficult to say: Robert in his Miami campaigns, fighting and retreating, burning Indian villages and defending the frontier, or William, planting corn, gun in hand, driving the cattle to and from the pasture in hourly expectation of attack.
Then came the Illinois campaign, which is a matter of history, and in which Robert Patterson bore a worthy part. His share of the reward consisted in a commission as second lieutenant, a grant of 216 acres of land which he never really owned, and orders from Virginia to establish another fort for frontier protection wherever he might see fit. Naturally the spot chosen by him was the place that had so charmed him on his first exploring trip into Kentucky, and which, with William's help, had become a real home to both. Robert Patterson and about twenty-five young men marched to his clearing by the Big Spring and built a block house. This block house stood on the spot which is now the intersection of High Street and Broadway, Lexington. The Patterson cabin was a little to the west. The young hunters increased the clearing, built a block house and a stockade around it Then they settled down for the winter.
The quiet was not for long. The Bryan brothers needed help to build their station and Patterson aided in that; then he took part in the disastrous Bowman expedition up the Miami and various lesser skirmishes with the Indians. When he had time to work instead of fight he became a surveyor, and there was plenty to do, because claims were taken up constantly by land commissioners from Virginia. This gave him opportunity to fix the record of lands taken up for himself and his father. He was by this time, according to the standards, quite an extensive landed proprietor. With what he had preempted on his own account, what he had preempted for his father and what he had gained by military commission the whole amounted to not less than 5000 acres. When he paid for it the price is estimated to have been about forty cents an acre.
W. H. Polk tells us:
"The land which Patterson owned at that time embraced all the southwest part of the present city of Lexington, commencing at Locust (now Mexico) Street, and extending southwest to and beyond the Fair Grounds; bounded on the east by 'Curd's Road' (now South Broadway), and on the north by 'Scott's Road' (now Versailles Pike). Farther south, across 'Davis' Bottom’, now occupied by the depots and yards of the Cincinnati Southern Railroad, was all Patterson land, and beyond the latter the present Lexington Fair Grounds and track of the Kentucky Trotting Association. In fact, his possessions included all of South Lexington lying between the Versailles Pike and South Broadway as far as the Fair Grounds. This tract, now so valuable, was sold by Robert Patterson to Richard Higgins and others after his removal to Dayton in 1804."
Fully one-half the area of the present Lexington belonged to him. And the center of it all was the little log cabin which Perry and McConnell had helped him to put up. Its days as a bachelor hall were numbered, for Robert took unto himself a wife. He went to Pennsylvania to fetch her. After an elaborate wedding they came down the Ohio in a flat boat with their household goods piled on one end. At Limestone (Maysville) they landed and made their way across the country to Lexington Station, where they were received with joy, a bride and groom being a great addition to the society of the fort. It was an idyllic bridal trip and the young wife thought only of the happiness and picturesque-ness of it, not of its dangers, for there was still necessity for port holes and stockade forts.
Elizabeth Lindsay owned to feeling one moment of dismay when she alighted from her horse at the door of her new home. It must have looked, as it now does, rough and gray and bare, except for the vines which loving hands had planted. Its one lone room was very different from the spacious stone house which was Elizabeth's Pennsylvania home. But she reminded herself that this was not busy, active, crowded Bedford County; this was the frontier, and wherever Robert Patterson was, was home and would be forever. She stepped inside; the women of the fort had contributed beautifully dressed skins to furnish it; the cooking utensils she proudly said were "the best my husband could buy on the border." And so the married life begun and we have her word for it that the cabin was a "sweet home always."
Just how long Robert Patterson and his young wife occupied the log cabin we do not know. Probably their residence there was intermittent; staying outside the stockade when things were safe and pleasant and running inside with babies and kettles when the Indians threatened. During the first two years, the years that saw the defense of Bryan's Station and the bloody and terrible battle of Blue Licks, there were two children born to Mr. and Mrs. Patterson, both boys and both named William. One died at several months, the other at six days.
The cabin saw anxious experiences for the Pattersons. Out of it went Robert to the defense of Bryan's Station, watched with what qualm of fear and love by Elizabeth. To it came Robert, breathless and weary after his escape from the battle of Blue Licks, when the neighbors stood about and counted the bullet holes in his leathern jerkin. Time and again the fort and surrounding cabins were attacked by Indians, some of whose bullets, seeking the port hole by the side of the door, were dug out of the logs in an area of a few inches' diameter a hundred and thirty years later in Dayton, and may now be seen preserved in the cabin.
We may imagine Elizabeth, the "eaver luvely Elizabeth," as her husband chose to call her, waiting at home while Robert was away fighting and trying by the light of the open fire to decipher the letters a runner delivered to her. One of them said, "I commanded the second line in Todd's Battle and am safe. With love to you all. Joseph was killed." Joseph was Joseph Lindsay and that meant a heartache. The letter came from the bank of the Ohio as he was about to start on the Miami campaign, not knowing whether he would ever return, but sending love and kisses for her and the children.
By 1785-90 the fighting was pretty generally over. Kentucky was a sate place to live in and, more babies coming to replace the little ones that died, the Pattersons needed a larger home; there-fore Robert had built a two-story log house where Elizabeth did not have to climb up a ladder to a loft and where she had more of the comforts of civilization. In this house were born Rebecca, Margaret, Elizabeth, Francis and Catharine. Then later, when Lexington was a real young city and there were schools and churches, and log houses were out of style, there came into the lives and fortunes of the Pattersons a fine stone house with which we have no concern. The new house was built near what is now the corner of High and Patterson Streets, and in it were born James, Robert L. and Jefferson.
When the family established themselves in the stone house the old cabin down by the spring was taken to pieces, brought up to the corner of the yard and used for servants' quarters. Here it stood while Lexington grew from a village to a city. Hew streets were laid out; stores and schools established; the Transylvania University, the Lunatic Asylum, Stock Yards, Court House, then railroads, modern hotels and trolley cars. All this time the old log cabin stayed hidden in the back of a town lot. The Pattersons had moved away, leaving their property in the hands of a man for whom Colonel Robert had become security. There were no more slaves to live in it. It degenerated into a mere lumber receptacle on the land which belonged to Miss Ormie Hayes and was hidden by the rows of modem dwellings fronting on High Street. Thus it entered into the twentieth century, having been begun in the eighteenth.
But there were people in Lexington who remembered the history of the old log cabin. About 200 yards away from Robert Patterson's stone house, and right opposite where Patterson built the block house in 1779, lived an old Pennsylvania German named Shiddell, who came to Lexington in 1786 (about the time Robert Patterson's father, Francis Patterson, came west). This old man saw the progress of the Pattersons out of the small cabin into the larger one and then into the stone house. 'He had two sons, Barney and Jack, who died not long ago at an advanced age. They had heard their father tell about the Pattersons and they told it to Mr. W. H. Polk, who wrote it down for this sketch. Both ShiddeIIs identified the cabin as the one first occupied by Robert Patterson before he moved into the two-story log dwelling. W. H. Polk says, "they had been told this by their father, and I have no doubt of the truth of their statements, as both of them were cranks on the subject of local history—men of remarkable natural talents, but not highly educated." The carpenter who took the cabin apart to be sent to Dayton testified that the rafters and sill plates showed that they had been twice built. It was plainly a reconstructed house. This same account was virtually given to Mr. Polk by Abe Jones, an intelligent negro, who died in 1905, aged 97, who remembered localities and happenings when he was a boy. All this information was gathered by Mr. W. H. Polk, an antiquarian of Lexington and an authority on disputed points of local history. He writes:
"The old two-story log house of Patterson, built in 1783, stood at the street corner of what is now High and Patterson (formerly Lower) Streets, and faced High. About 150 feet farther back of this two-story log house, the stone house was built. About 400 yards southwest stood the old one-story cabin, first built by Patterson, and later moved to rear of log and stone house at High and Patterson. I have tried to be as explicit as possible and think what I have written here can be relied on as correct. I have talked, in the past twenty-five or thirty years, with other aged citizens, now dead, and all gave about the same account as the ShiddeIIs."
During the century, nearly, that elapsed between the ownership of the cabin by Robert Patterson and its ownership by his grandson, John H. Patterson, eleven different people held the ground it stood on. It first went into the hands of Richard Higgins and Lewis Saunders in 1813. According to the records in the Lexington Court House, the following transfers took place:
1835-Richard Higgins sold the property to Henry J. Peck;
1845-Henry J. Peck sold it to Leonard Taylor;
1846-Taylorsold it to John Lutz;
1851-Lutz sold it to John G. Allen;
1865-John G. Allen sold it to his brother James Allen, and on the same day Allen sold it to Mrs. Anna B. Martin. The next month Mrs. Martin sold it to George Groves;
1867-Groves sold it to Mrs. Ormasinda Hayes, who left it to her daughter Georgia Hayes, who left it to her sister Ormasinda Hayes, who sold the log cabin to John H. Patterson in 1901.
In September of that year came the mechanics to take down the old cabin and move it to its Ohio home as its builder had himself gone a century before. Considering its age the old dwelling was in fairly good condition. Some few logs were rotten and had to be replaced, but there was still enough solidity in the ash and walnut to last many years. In the 130 years of its existence the roof and door sills must have been replaced many times. As it came down, piece by piece, the bystanders wondered why a man who could afford a fine house to live in should care about an old log shanty out of somebody’s back yard. Sentiment, to the multitude, is a commodity little understood. The cabin was shipped to Dayton without further difficulty.
Owing to some delay the lop lay on Mr. Patterson's land, at the junction of Main and Brown Streets, for three years. Once by some mistake the foundation stones were used in constructing a roadway and had to be taken out again.
In May, 1904, an order issued to Mr. George Edgeter to reconstruct the cabin resulted in its being erected in its present shape. The undertaking was not an easy one. Mr. Patterson wished the cabin rebuilt with due regard for the rules of scientific restoration. Everything was to be supplied in the exact manner of the old-time construction. He wanted no mill work in it and no nails, and all timber used was to be found, if possible, on the land that Robert Patterson had owned. The following are the memoranda issued to Mr. Edgeter for the rebuilding of the cabin:
Put on clapboard roof.
Old puncheon floor.
Stone and stick chimney, as nearly like the original as possible.
Have logs .clear to the top of the roof, instead of boards.
Put rail fence around the house. (Rails that came from the farm.)
Cabin to front north. Location about five or eight feet east from hedge fence. foundation—bowlder stone pillars on each corner.
Door of puncheon.
Windows—glaze with skins.
Get necessary logs to replace rotten logs and whatever else necessary.
Get clapboards, logs, skins and any other material that may be necessary to put up the log cabin as it was, as nearly as possible.
These orders, Mr. Edgeter with the assistance of Mr. A. H. Campbell, of The S. C. B. Woodworking Department ("to whom," says Mr. Edgeter, "too much credit cannot be given") proceeded to carry out. The log walls and stone foundation were all that was left of the old cabin. After reconstructing the walls and the roof (which is made of clapboards which were left over from building the first house in Dayton, and had been lying for years in Houck's lumber yard), the chimney was built of clay and stones which were taken from what was the old sugar camp on the Patterson farm. At this time the Patterson barn was being remodeled and in it were found some fine old walnut logs. These were used to make the cabin door, window frames and shutters. All these were made by hand, no mill work being employed. The door came also from the barn logs. It was hewn with a broadax just as was done in pioneer days, and the window frames and sash were dressed with a drawing knife. The wooden hinges and the slides covering the port holes are also made by hand from the barn timber shaped like the originals.
The masterpiece of the building is the puncheon floor. Mr. Edgeter says, "Mr. Campbell and I went to West Alexandria, Preble County, and from there drove south seven miles and a half to the Fisher farm where we were told could be found puncheon flooring, but there was nothing suitable. We came hack inquiring all the way for the material necessary. Directed to a farm owned by a Mr. Myers living three miles south of Brookville, we found an old bank barn building and in the hay mow a puncheon floor in the best condition, composed of ash wood some thirty inches wide. After dickering we got the material from the farmer by offering to replace it by a two-inch plank floor. Ash timber of this size cannot be found in this state today and probably nowhere else."
The cross beams to hold the roof boards in place were obtained three miles north of Brookville. Thus, as it stands today, the cabin is a faithful reproduction of the dwelling of our fore-fathers. What of its construction is not original has been carefully restored by much study of pioneer methods of building. The logs hewn by Colonel Robert Patterson and his friends, adventurous boys in a frontier wilderness, have thus become a transplanted memento of those lives and times.
The new site chosen for the erection of the cabin has been associated, since the beginning of things in Dayton, with the Patterson family. It is a triangular piece of land formed by the junction of Main and Brown Streets, and was originally loaned by Colonel Robert Patterson for schoolhouse use. For many years there stood on this triangle an ugly little red brick schoolhouse about eighteen feet by twenty-two, with small-paned windows and solid wooden shutters Inside were three rows of scratched and whittled desks and an air-tight wood stove. The door opened on the town side and the other three sides had two windows apiece.
Hither came children from the surrounding countryside to school—the Harrisons who lived in the house now owned by Colonel Parrott the Garsts who lived on a farm across the road, the Sawyers who lived farther up the pike, and of course, the Pattersons. The roll-book of the school, carefully preserved by Mr. Uri Chambers contains the names of five Patterson children John, Stephen, Frank, Stuart and Katie, all going to the little brick schoolhouse at the same time. It also holds six Garsts, three Chambers, eight Cramers and three Shroyers.
The teachers from the time of establishment were as follows: Henry G. Reddout, Nancy Bell Campbell, Edward Varian, Edward Denniston, Jacob H. Kemp, Sarah McEwan, Lizzie Denton, Minerva Seeley, Mary Ann Murray, William Ramsay, J. C. Smith, John P. Craighead, Charles W. Buvinger, James Brown, Samuel Wilson, Charles F. Dean, Eliza J. Patterson, Mary A. Reel, Johnson Snyder, James Baldwin, Alfred Shirer, A. L. Lessner, Alice Cole, Jennie McQuig.
From 1846 to 1880 the teacher's salary was $15 a month. The first roll numbered forty children; the last, in 1868, two hundred and eight. The first meeting of trustees was held in September, 1846, at the house of Jefferson Patterson, where he and Stuart Wead and Jacob Shroyer were elected directors. Jefferson Patterson continued in active participation in the affairs of the school for the next fifteen years.
The boys in this school had to take turns bringing wood and water. If they were too long about it they were whipped. At noon they sat around the stove with their dinner baskets and ate bread and butter and jam and cold sausage.
In winter, the climb from the Patterson farm up the Brown Street road in snow and mud was not easy. The boys wore copper-toed shoes and (pit on their slates. The girls wore high-necked calico aprons and pigtails. They learned reading, writing, spelling and arithmetic; never dreamed of "science" lessons, but had plenty of "nature study" and "physical culture" all the week long outside of school hours. The term lasted eight months of the year, and out of it, as out of the log cabin which has replaced it, came boys who were to mean something to Dayton later on.
Mr. John H. Patterson says: "At noon we boys would frequently go over into the woods across the way. I remember one day when I was about eight or ten years of age we went over to the top of the highest point, now known as Far Hills. I climbed a tree there and, looking down over the valley, I could see a long distance. I had never seen as grand a view in my life before. I could see across the river and over beyond the city."
The ground on which the schoolhouse stood, and the cabin now stands, has always been in the Patterson family. Mr. Patterson's title to it comes to him by inheritance direct from the United States Government. It never has been sold and probably never will be. Nearly all the land in sight from this high corner of the branching roads, east, west, north and south, belonged a hundred years ago to Colonel Robert Patterson. From the hills west of the city, capped by the Soldiers' Home, to the Southern Ohio Lunatic Asylum, a tract of about 2400 acres came to him by preemption rights, through Daniel Cooper and John Cleves Symmes. The patent to this quarter section is signed by James Madison, President, October 5, 1816.* (* See appendix "Concerning the Forefathers.")
The National Cash Register factory and the old Patterson Homestead, "Rubicon," were a part of this tract. From Robert Patterson the land descended to his son Jefferson Patterson, and from him to his son John Henry Patterson.
The story of the Patterson land is as follows: Tracing it back from the beginning, the original proprietors were, of course, the North American Indians, though where they got their rights there is no history to say. Perhaps they inherited the land from the mound builders whose historic remains are still to be found in this part of the Ohio territory. At any rate the Shawnees, the Wyandots and other tribes were here before the white man, and their resentment at his usurpation shows that they held to the old adage of possession being nine points of the law. They certainly had more right to the land than James I. of England, who ceded the whole of this western territory, his by right of discovery only, to Virginia; and Virginia ceded it to the United
States. Then came the first white men upon the scene about 1785.
The beginning was a land syndicate formed by Benjamin Stites, of Pennsylvania, to preempt a territory comprising the southwest quarter of the present State of Ohio. Into this scheme came John Cleves Symmes, member of Congress from New Jersey, who acquired from the Stites syndicate the whole of what were called the "Miami Lands." The first official mention of this part of Ohio is in a petition from John Cleves Symmes to Congress praying for the right to purchase a million acres bounded on the south by the Ohio River, on the east by the Little Miami, on the west by the Great Miami, and on the north by a parallel drawn from one river to the other so as to include the requisite number of acres. The petition is dated August, 1787, and the Act of
Congress granting it October 15,1788.
The method of procedure in the acquirement of western lands in those years was for the government to fix a nominal price per acre and assign a large tract of territory to a purchaser. If, before he had finished paying for the land, he found others who wished to acquire homes and to assume payment he assigned a part of his share to them and they made payment direct to the government, receiving title direct. Thus, all this part of Ohio between the two Miamis was made over originally to John Cleves Symmes and through him passed to General Arthur St. Clair, General Jonathan Dayton, General James Wilkinson, and Colonel Israel Ludlow, the original proprietors of Dayton.
In 1795 a town was laid out, our local street names testifying to the ownership of the city. The surveying was done by Daniel Cooper, who acquired a thousand acres in the same way from John Cleves Symmes, in and near Dayton, His home was on his farm south of Dayton, the land he afterwards assigned to Robert Patterson. Indeed, Daniel Cooper owned at one time practically all of Dayton, having assumed the obligations of payment when the four original purchasers became discouraged and abandoned the enterprise. In 1796 the actual settlers came up from Cincinnati by land and by boat and built their homes upon the streets named after the Revolutionary officers who founded the town.
Eight years afterwards Colonel Robert Patterson cane to Dayton to live. Up to this time he had lived in Lexington, Kentucky, which he had founded and named in 1776 and helped to make a flourishing town. Becoming involved in a law suit, he left his property there to pay a man for whom he had gone security and moved to Dayton in 1804. The locality was not new to him. He had fought campaign after campaign all through this valley against the Indians and the land had attracted him by its evident fertility. He is reported to have said once, when encamped at the mouth of Mad River, that if he owned a home away from Lexington this should be the spot. Therefore, when he began to con-template removal from Lexington, Robert Patterson came to the little settlement at Dayton first in 1799; later in 1802, when the decision was made to come to Dayton to live. On this last visit he inspected his mills at what is now Clifton, in Greene County, and on his return through Dayton, while he was visiting relatives on Beaver Creek, he learned that Daniel Cooper was going to be married and live in town instead of on the farm.
This property, situated south of Dayton, had attracted the attention of Robert Patterson, from its fine location and various improvements. Cooper had built a mill and a stout log house upon it, and two good roads led into Dayton. The agreement was made and Daniel Cooper assigned to Robert Patterson 322 acres, the patent from the United States Government coming direct to the purchaser, signed by James Madison, President. This ground, known as Section 2, Range 7, part in Van Buren Township and part in the city of Dayton, includes the present site of the log cabin. Other tracts of land were acquired by Robert Patterson from William Lindsay, Peyton Short and Henry Brown, aggregating in all 2417 acres, and reaching from the Soldiers' Home to the Lunatic Asylum.
This is the story of the log cabin which has lasted from the eighteenth into the twentieth century and which now stands as a monument to the fortunes of one family, and in a wider sense as a monument to the fortunes of all the early pioneers—the forerunners and makers of our national life.