BUILDERS IN NEW FIELDS
Charles F. Sullivan
Mrs. Charlotte Reeve Conover has written two books, one called “Builders in New Fields” and the other “Concerning the Forefathers” giving the history of the Forefathers of John H. Patterson and both books are very interesting. It is my intention to make a digest of these two books.
It seems quite a co-insidence that two families, living not far apart in north Ireland and not knowing each other, should come to America as immigrants and settle in Pennsylvania not far apart, and later both should move into Ohio, still not knowing each other and then intermarry. The Patterson and Johnston families did just this very thing. They were both Scotch Irish descent, the Patterson came first and after several years the Johnstons followed.
The Pattersons landed in Connecticut and later went on to New Jersey, laying over there long enough to raise a crop of corn to carry them to Bedford county Penna. The Johnstons came later, settling near the same place in Bedford county.
Francis Patterson had five children and their second child was Robert, born March 23, 1753. His mother died when he was three years of age and he was raised by his step mother, Catherine Perry and since schools were unknown at that time, Robert learned about the country and all nature instead. As he grew up, the French and Indian war was in progress and his Father was drafted for that service.
Robert became interested in bows and arrows, guns and warfare even though he was too young to get into it.
At the age of 16 years, he was handy with traps and knew the whole country near his home. He became acquainted with the Lindsay family who lived near by, especially the daughter Elizabeth.
He watched for every chance to work for surveyors, which gave him good mental and physical drill. Then Lord Dunmore planned an expedition to Ohio and Robert enlisted in it and several months were used in drilling and learning warfare.
Then with a company, he was sent down the Ohio river for Indians as far as Wheeling. From there he went west into Ohio, scouting and with orders to meet the Governor at the mouth of the Hockhocking river. They then went up the river meeting Lord Dunmore with his army and a treaty was made with the Indians to give up all this Kentucky land without firing a shot.
Shortly after this Robert’s company was dismissed at Fort Pitt and Robert came home. During this time Robert had heard much about this wonderful country of Kentucky and Robert was determined to go there as soon as possible. He made a deal with his father, to pre-empt 1000 acres of land for him, receiving some horses and cattle for doing this and these were the first ever driven into the state.
Robert then went to Fort Pitt and organized a company, built a flat boat, gathered supplies for the trip and started down the river October 1775, loading the horses and cattle on another boat.
Some Indians were seen on the shore but they passed without any trouble, the men being on guard all the time. It is not surprising that the Indians did not like the whites, for we were killing the game which the Indians needed to feed their families, so he was fighting in self defense. The name Kentucke means “At the head of the river.” The five men of the Patterson party landed at Limestone now called Maysville and the rest went on down the river, settling in Kentucky lower down the river. Patterson and party followed up Salt Creek, crossing the Licking river and up toward what is now Georgetown. On this trip they saw their first buffalo and killed it for food. At Georgetown, there was a large spring and they built a log house there. Robert with James Sterritt, also on the lookout for land, went on to Cane Run and halted to spend the night there, at a spring.
In the morning after a good nights rest he got his first view of the place he was seeking. He began cutting his brand upon the corner trees “R.P. Nov ninth 1775.” making claim to his first possessions.
For this and adjoining tracts and land purchased elsewhere, he paid script and Warrants granted to himself, his grandfather and others of the connection for services in the Colonial, Revolutionary and Indian wars, in a period of 47 years.
After getting the land well marked, he went back to Georgetown and spent the winter at both places, where it seemed to be best to be. Here his experience in surveying came in handy for he made about 20 claims marking them for himself, his Father and others with their initials. He built a one room cabin on his own claim but did not use it for a home for several years. He helped to raise a stockade at Georgetown and called it McClellands’ Fort.
The government rule was that if a settler cleared off the land, built a cabin or raised a crop of corn, he could claim a thousand acres for himself, so Robert and his friends preceeded to fix their title with a crop of corn. So in the spring of 1776, “He grubbed a patch of corn.” This made it necessary to keep a watch upon it to protect it from buffalos and elk, as well as to cultivate it.
For his own safety, he slept at Georgetown where numbers made it safer for all. As danger from Indians increased, it became more necessary to live close to the forts. “I cribbed some of my corn in the cabin but the Indians carried it off.”
At this time the Revolutionary war was being fought and great Britain was urging the Indians to fight against the colonists, so can we blame them for much of the Indian trouble? These settlers were really fighting the Revolutionary war as much as those in the east against the British soldiers.
Early in 1776, the supply of powder and other necessities was very low and it was up to the unmarried man to go to Fort Pitt to get them before winter set in and made it impossible.
Robert, 23 years of age, was chosen as one of seven to go. They procured a boat at Maysville and commenced their journey, arriving at Point Pleasant without trouble of any kind.
Aware that the Indians were lurking around, they were very careful, making no fire after dark. They camped that night Oct 12 1776, in what is now Athens county and being tired, they settled themselves for the night around the remains of the fire.
When all were asleep for the night, they were fired upon by the Indians and followed by a tomahawk attack and Robert found his arm broken and a bad wound by a tomahawk in his back. Thinking that all his friends had been killed, he went away and then came back, when he knew that the Indians had gone.
He found that five were wounded, one missing and one dead. One man was sent to Wheeling to get assistance and came back in six days with assistance, taking care of the wounded and the living taken back to Wheeling.
Robert’s wound never ceased to torment him until his death. He was in the hospital at Fort Pitt half of the winter, then by easy stages, went home to be under his mother’s care.
He visited the Lindsays home and Elizabeth, 17 years of age was much interested in his message and he proposed to her and planned for a home in Kentucky. Also two brothers became interested and later came to Kentucky, making claim to some land from the government. At the time of the threatened over running of New York, in the revolutionary war, Robert helped in organizing a company for that work. However the company was ordered to go to Fort Pitt, to fight against the Indians. He again had to go to the hospital for treatment of his old wounds.
His brother was to go to Kentucky and work the land claimed by Robert. Later Robert went back to Lexington horse back.
There George Rogers Clark saw him and induced him to agree to go with him in a raid on the Indians of Illinois. His brother William was to take care of his interests at home during his absence.
Daniel Boone, a noted Indian fighter and explorer, was captured about this time and taken to Oldtown in Ohio. The Indians liked him so well that he was given privileges and learned that the Indians were planning a raid on Kentucky. Spurred on by loyalty, he escaped and returned in time to help prepare the people for war.
When the Indians learned of this, they changed their plans and raided small places, until it was not safe for any small settlement to be without fighters. Kentucky was considered the hunting ground for all the Indians, and when the whites settled there, they killed and drove away all the game, leaving no food for the Indians, making them very cross with the white folks and ready to fight.
When the whites were attacked, they made raids into Ohio destroying towns, crops and all the Indians had. This continued for ten years with Robert fighting and the brother caring for their interests in Lexington. This town was so named because of the great battle fought in Massachusetts, the news of which had filtered through to them by this time. Robert agreed to go with Clark on his expedition and raised 100 men to go along. When all were ready, they left Louisville June 24 1778 and had a very successful campaign, capturing and making Illinois loyal to the United States, returning home that fall and were mustered out.
A terrible battle occurred near Lexington, in which Robert was in great danger but managed to escape alive. In the winter of 1779-80, he went east, married Elizabeth Lindsay and took her to Lexington and started housekeeping in their one room log cabin, quite a change from her old home, a fine house to a log cabin out in a wild country. All furniture was home made out of slabs with three legs to a chair or table and dishes cut out of wood. Robert had several fights with Indians after this but not so severe, for the Indians were learning their lesson not to attack the white people. In 1781, a baby was born to Robert and his wife and of course that made them more anxious for safety, but in 82, Robert had to leave his home for another fight and in this way he was nearly killed at Blue Lick, not far from home. The baby died at the age of six years. Another was born in Jan 86 but only lived 6 days. Robert and several others petitioned for a “Transylvania University” in 1780, and this was endowed by the state of Virginia, opened in 1785 and was the first regular institution of learning founded in the west. Eight thousand acres were later ceded to it by the state. In 1789, Robert was an interested promoter of the first library in Lexington, indeed in the west. The money was raised and the books selected and forwarded by wagon from Philadelphia and placed in the Seminary building.
The first church was organized in 1784 by the Rev Adam Rankin of Virginia.
In 1781, a log courthouse was built at Main and Broadway and was replaced by a stone one in 1783. That year Robert built a large log house at the corner of Hill and Tower streets which was later replaced by a stone one. Mathias Denman had come from New Jersey in 1786 and bought a large tract of land opposite the mouth of the Licking river and sold to each Robert Patterson and John Filson from Chester Co Pa, an equal and undivided interest in it. They called the name of the newtown Losantiville, (L for Licking river os latin for mouth anti meaning opposite to and villa French for city) and they were to start a city of that name.
J. C. Symmes who held the United States warrant for much land was delayed in getting there and John Filson being an engineer planned to start the city from what is now Broadway at the east end and stop at Central Ave. Soon after Filson disappeared and since his remains have never been found, it is supposed that he was killed by the Indians. The following winter, Fort Washington was built to protect the city and the name of the City was changed to Cincinnati. General Harmer with 300 men was sent to garrison this fort. Robert divided his time from 1788 to 1802 between Cincinnati and Lexington, but Cincinnati did not grow as fast as they wished, because of St Clair’s defeat by the Indians, bad weather and Robert’s absence.
Collins in his history of Kentucky, says “a great avenue around the City should be laid out and called Denman and McMillen Ave should be extended to east Walnut Hills and known as Patterson Ave. Cincinnati should perpetuate the names of these grand founders rather than those of her small beer politicians and wire workers.”
The long trip between the two cities was severe on Robert so when an offer came to buy his third interest, Mrs. Patterson’s wishes decided him and in November, he sold his title for two thousand pounds Virginia money or about $8 per acre.
Robert had gone on a government bond for a man who had defaulted, so he gave his Lexington property to the government to pay that bond. The proceeds of the sale of Cincinnati were used to make payments on a millsite and farm at Clifton and a large tract south of Dayton.
After some time Mrs. Patterson gave her consent to move to Ohio, which was announced at their 50th anniversary in 1853.
The move did not occur until the next summer and they settled on the large tract south of Dayton known as Rubicon. Here he built a sawmill, Fulling mill and flour mill, and they were always busy, receiving the power from Rubicon creek which flowed through this Tract.
Just before leaving Lexington, the oldest daughter, Rebecca, married Dr John Goodlet of Bardstown and after this, the family was marrying and leaving the home roof. During the was of 1812, with Great Britain, Robert was commissioned Quartermaster, giving him a heavy duty job, so he turned his own work over to his wife and boys and became a very efficient officer in getting the needs of the army getting them delivered to the army. After the war, October 7 1815, the grist and fulling mills were burned to the ground but were promptly rebuilt. The next year, 1816, the brick home, the present Rubicon was built. At the age of 74, after much suffering, Col Patterson died November 9 1827 and was buried at Fifth cemetery then moved to Woodland when it was ready for use.
He was the father of eleven children and many of them had large families. The youngest one was Jefferson, born May 27 1801, three years before the family moved to Dayton. During the war of 1812, he was kept busy with things on the farm and mills under the direction of his mother, for the father was 70 years of age and after such an active life and so many wounds received in Indian fighting, Jefferson had to take charge of the business until his father’s death and then it cam to him as his own property. At the beginning of this paper, I mentioned the connection with the Johnston family, so here it is. John Johnston received his first appointment from the government as factor at Ft Wayne Ind, and his job was to look after the Indians. At the opening of the war of 1812, President Madison appointed him Indian agent of Ohio at Piqua. He had a large family of 15 children, the fifth one being Juliana, met Jefferson Patterson and married him February 1833. They started house keeping at the old home and later moved into Dayton near the corner of Third and Wilkinson.
The Miami & Erie canal was started in 1825 and finished in 1829 and soon after Patterson shipped a boat load of flour to Cincinnati loading it right where the canal crosses his farm. Many more later.
Two of the children of Jefferson and Julia Patterson have had much to do with the advancement of Dayton. Stephen J. and John H. had lots of work to do about the farm while attending the little brick school west of Main street on the Cincinnati pike. After that they attended the central high school, then located at the S W corner of Fourth and Wilkinson. Then John H attended Miami University at Oxford but in the middle of it, he enlisted in the army for the Civil war. After his discharge, he went back and finished his course there and then went to Dartmouth for two years.
Upon his return, he was unable to find any work so stayed upon the farm as a farm hand for a couple of years. Later he was appointed canal collector and his office was upstairs over the Third street Canal bridge. This required him to be on the job almost 24 hours per day and seven days per week, so he slept in his office, in order to be on hand when needed. His duties were not hard and to assist his meager salary, he put up a sign “COAL FOR SALE” and out of this he would get a small commission. Soon a neighboring coal dealer wanted to sell out and Mr Patterson bought the yard and ran it as the Patterson Coal Co, with offices at the corner of Kenton and Third where the C & L E Bus depot now stands. He probably bought his coal in Cincinnati and it was brought up from there by canal boat. In 1876 he resigned as canal collector and took his brother in as a partner. The business increased constantly and after a while, the partner started an independent business of his own operating it as the S. J. Patterson Coal Co., and it is still operating as a wholesale business under the same name today.
What would be more natural than that the brothers should learn of a seam of coal in Jackson County Ohio, one hundred miles from here that would burn like wood and leave almost no ashes? Why not promote a railroad to it, get an option upon some land underlaid with this coal and when the railroad was built, open a mine and ship the coal? The railroad was built as a narrow gauge, three feet wide through Xenia, Washington C H; Chillicothe and was complete to Wellston June 30, 1880 and coal began coming to Dayton at once. S. J. Patterson operated the Tom Corwin Coal Co at Glen Roy, while John & Frank had one mine at Coalton and one at Wellston. This road is now the Wellston branch of the B & O R. R.
The Patterson boys operated a store at each of their mines and suspected a leak in the stores and bought a cash register for each of their stores. They soon proved their value and they bought one for the retail office here. They invested in the Standard Register Co but after a year, it did not show the proper results, so they sold out of it. In the spring of 1884, J. H. & Frank Patterson sold out their interests in the mines to the southern Ohio Coal & Iron Co and the local yard to the Acme Coal Co and that fall, they bought the Standard Register Co. At that time the shop was in the Callahan power building in the rear of the present third National bank and at that time they were using just 13 men in its production. They increased it to 40 men and that was all the space they could get in that building. They decided to build their own factory building upon ground that they owned south of town. The new factory was of brick, two stories high, 240 feet on Stewart Street and 50 feet deep, with many large windows and it was a fine factory building. They were ridiculed because they built such a fine large factory building, in such an out-of-the-way place, where all employees would have to go through “Slidertown” which was at the junction of Warren and Brown, where it was not safe to go through in Daylight, so would be much worse at night. No railroad facilities, and one small horse drawn street car line to get the employees back and forth. They had hardly moved in before they felt the effect of Slidertown, for windows were broken, grass dug up and flowers and shrubbery destroyed. Mr. Patterson hired Miss Harvey to work with the boys, providing her with a house, to teach them drawing, woodcarving, and clay modeling free. Miss Harvey changed those boys from enemies to warm friends of the N. C. R. Co. In the summer he gave each boy a plot of ground, furnishing him the seed, tools and other things needed and all the boy raised, was his own, to use as he saw fit.
Both of these things were published all over the United States, more to ridicule Mr Patterson than anything else but it advertised Dayton and the N. C. R. Co. just the same. He was considered a crazy man by many, but he has changed that end of town from a rough ugly part, to a beautiful part and it had the appropriate name of “SouthPark.” Later he built the N. C. R. school house and he donated it every Saturday morning to the young people of the city giving them a very fine educational program and the building is filled to capacity every week end. This was also published as news but it was advertising the Cash.
It was not long after the first factory was built that others were needed and the new ones were almost all glass making them light and airy in hot weather and this was published as news, also that the buildings were kept looking like a park around the outside which was different from the ordinary factory around here.
They began giving a free program for city beautification and these programs were given to schools, churches and other places and it did much to make this city the “Gem City” as it is called.
In this program, he used a sterioptican to illustrate what the lecturer said.
One day, seeing a lady employee heating some coffee upon a gas jet in the factory, Mr Patterson asked the forelady if it was a special kind of paste she was making, and although afraid of the consequences, she told him the truth. He went on at once, but came back later for a more detailed report. Then he arranged that those employees should have a warm dinner by providing them with a stove. As soon as the result showed its worth, he arranged for the same of all lady employees and later for all employees.
The welfare department was started and is still doing many things that no other factory is doing for its employees.
When the water came upon us in 1913, he was at his office early as usual and from his window could see that trouble was ahead and ordered all his carpenters to make boats for rescue work. Also his commisary to stock up with all they could get.
When the worst did come, he threw his factory open to the public feeding and sleeping them as long as there was need, for you remember that this was March 23 and the weather was very disagreeable. The branch of the Pennsylvania railroad coming in past the Cash was the only road entering Dayton that was not cut off by the flood, so he was able to get supplies which he distributed wherever needed.
At one time a fire broke out near the corner of Main and vine and the people became panicky, so Mr Patterson had his locomotive gather up all the flat cars available and run them down on the traction rails on Main street, so with a plank people could get onto the cars and by them to solid ground. He was watching all over the city and accomplished much by his zeal and watchfulness.
The river was hardly back in its channel, before he was out with a drive for subscriptions to a fund to survey the entire valley and find a plan that would make protection for this city against all future floods. The money was raised and the valley surveyed and the present plan formed and carried through which we feel sure will protect us from all future floods.
The Cash was building a new building almost every year and now it is an immense plant and the organization so perfect that after the death of Mr Patterson, May 7 1922, the factory is still going strong and his policies have been followed in nearly every detail. In his death, Dayton suffered a great loss, for he left much work unfinished which will never be done by any one, and the N. C. R. is a fine monument to him and his memory. He trained E. A. Deeds for the job and he is now the successor to Mr Patterson and since he is the originator of the General Motors Co. and is very influential in it, the N. C. R. is working in very close affinity to the G. M. Co.
Mr Patterson was the author of Kindergartens in the Dayton schools and they have proven their worth in many ways.
He was in favor of Woman’s suffrage which is now in use all over the country, started the beautification of his factory which is now generally used in all cities. At noon the employees have the privilege of going into the schoolhouse to hear an interesting program which is changed every day. Sometime it is a movie, than a lecturer or a successful man in politics, invention or any other distinction.
Of fifty seven definite projects outlined by Mr Patterson in 1896, we find that at the time of his death in 1922, 26 were really finished, 19 partly achieved. After the flood he said “This must never happen again” and now we are sure that it never will happen again.
Then he wanted a change in city government and at this suggestion the present plan came into use and is now being copied in many cities all over the land.
He started giving his employees dental and medical care in the factory on employed time and now every large factory does it.
He said that “A man owes more to his employees that the wages he pays them.” Also he said “Nothing is impossible and objected to his employees using the word.” “There is no use in a vision unless you make it come true. If you want a thing done, go to it at once, keep at it. If it is knocked down by opposition, pick it up again. If a hindrance gets in its way, go around it, or over it, or dig under it, never give in. Work with any one who will help, never mind his religion, or his politics; give him all the credit if he wants it.
As to popularity, I have gone through every grade in that school and graduated. I can stand as much more as I have to stand.”
Chas F. Sullivan
112 Wyoming St
Dayton 9 Ohio