The Patterson Family

April 2011 marks the beginning of the 150th anniversary of the start of the American Civil War.  As we join other institutions nationwide in commemorating this anniversary, we will be posting materials from many of our Civil War era collections.  One of the most prominent families of Dayton, the Patterson family, sent family members to serve in the Civil War, and we will be documenting their journey through the battlefields over the next four years.  Before we begin that journey with them, however, here is a bit of the background to the Patterson family’s own history.  More information about the Patterson family and their collection is available in the collection guide.

Colonel Robert Patterson

Col. Robert Patterson

The Patterson Family


The fighting spirit of the Patterson family of Dayton, Ohio during the Civil War began with the matriarch of the family, Colonel Robert Patterson.  Robert Patterson was born on March 23, 1753, in Bedford County, Pennsylvania.  He was one of five children born to Francis and Jane Patterson.

In 1775, he and a party of young men traveled to Royal Spring (now Georgetown), Kentucky, to look for land.  In November 1775, he claimed land on the north fork of Cane Run, which is now within the corporation limits of Lexington, Kentucky.  In early 1776 he returned to the site to build a cabin, which became his home.  Maintaining that home was difficult, as the Indians were constantly on the warpath.  Wounds from one of those battles led him to return to his home in Falling Springs, PA to recuperate.  While there, he became engage to Elizabeth Lindsay, who he eventually married and moved to his home in Kentucky.  Robert’s younger brother, William, also joined Robert in Kentucky.  While Robert was fighting the Indians, William planted and guarded the crops and farmstead.

Robert was involved in many campaigns against the Indians on the Ohio frontier.  In 1779, he accompanied Colonel Bowman in an expedition against the Shawnee Indians at the old town of Chillicothe.  The following year he served as a Captain in General George Rogers Clark raid on Chillicothe and old Miami.  In 1782 he was in command of a company in General Clark’s campaign against the Indians at Piqua, on the Miami River, and at Laramie.  While on this campaign, his company camped on the present site of Dayton.  In 1786, Patrick Henry, Governor of Virginia, commissioned him a Colonel in the Virginia state line.  Later, in 1791, he and his regiment were present a General St. Clair’s defeat by the Indians.  Finally, in 1812, he was in charge of the transportation of supplies from Camp Meigs, near Dayton, to the army fighting in northern Ohio.

When Robert was not fighting Indians, he was a farmer owning not less than 5,000 acres.  He was also a surveyor laying out the city of Lexington.  In 1787, he became one of the founders of Cincinnati, Ohio.   He also began acquiring land in Ohio, up to 2400 acres, in what is now Dayton.  In 1795, the town of Dayton was laid out and settlers began to arrive in 1796.  In 1804, Colonel Patterson moved his family from Lexington, Kentucky to Dayton to a farm he name “Rubicon.”

At the time Robert and Elizabeth Patterson moved to Dayton, they had eleven children, 10 of which made the move to Dayton:

William, born January 30, 1781;
William Lindsay, born January 2, 1783, and died six days later;
Rebecca, born February 9, 1784;
Margaret born June 9, 1786;
Elizabeth, born January 27, 1888;
Francis, born April 6, 1791;
Catherine, born Mar 7, 1793;
Jane, born May 25, 1795;
Harriet, born March 25, 1797;
Robert Lindsay, born May 27, 1799; and
Jefferson, born May 27, 1801.

Robert Patterson was a successful businessman and farmer in Dayton.  His home was open to many travelers through the Dayton area.  However, failing health and old wounds from his many Indian battles led to his death on November 9, 1829 at the age of eighty.  His wife, Elizabeth, died almost four years later on October 22, 1833 at the age of 74.

The last surviving son of Colonel Robert and Elizabeth Patterson was Jefferson Patterson.  Jefferson, who was born in Kentucky and came to Dayton when he was three and a half years old, inherited the family farm, “Rubicon,” and the family mill business.  In 1833, Jefferson married Juliana Johnston, the daughter of Colonel John and Rachel Johnston.  Colonel Johnston was the Indian agent for Ohio who was posted at Piqua, Ohio,.  Juliana, born on August 16, 1811, was one of fifteen children of John and Rachel Johnston.

Jefferson Patterson

Jefferson Patterson

Jefferson and Juliana Patterson had eleven children.

Robert, born November 27, 1833;
John Johnston, born in 1835 and died in infancy;
Rachel Robinson, born in 1837 and died in infancy;
William Lindsay, born April 1, 1839;
Elizabeth Jones, born January 20, 1841, died of cholera in 1849;
Stephen Johnston, born December 20, 1842;
John H., born December 13, 1844;
Catherine Phillips, born December 29, 1846;
Francis J., Born June 15, 1849;
Arthur Stewart, born June 20, 1852; and
Julia W., born March 15, 1857.

Beginning in mid-April, come follow along our Civil War narrative with the Patterson family as they set out on their adventures.

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