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Page last updated on 05/31/2009


William Patton of County Down Ireland

1767 - 1843


Note: In this biography, I include some basic history of the living conditions and local history for our younger generations who have not had the opportunity to learn through historical writings of the time, what life was truly like for our ancestors. 

William Patton was born in County Down Ireland in 1767. He was of Scottish and Irish heritage. Although he was raised on a farm 16 miles from Belfast, William decided to become a Wesleyan Methodist Minister and attended college in Belfast to pursue his interest in ministry. After graduation, William spent 12 years as a Wesleyan Methodist Minister in Ireland before emigrating to the United States around 1806. Irish rebellions against the oppression from the British flared in 1798 driving many from Ireland to America to escape the violence and oppression.

William moved to Shelby County, Kentucky and married Anna Redmond there on June 29, 1807. A ship's manifest shows a William Patton from Ireland arriving in America in 1806. Considering his age and college and years in ministry, he would have indeed arrived sometime between 1798 and 1806 and this listing may have been his arrival date but so far, unconfirmed. There are also other Patton's from County Down in William's age group who arrived in 1803 which may have been brothers to William.... however, this is pure, unsubstantiated speculation at this time.

Shelby county had a bitterly hard history for the earliest settlers long before it opened as a territory.  Anna had been born on Oct 3, 1784 in the wilderness of Shelby county as described by son William Delany Patton in his published Memoirs of 1850. Two of Anna's sons both had stated she was born in Shelby county, Kentucky, yet Anna listed herself on the 1850 census as being born in North Carolina. On the 1880 census, her sons all listed their mother as having been born in North Carolina. I did not understand the discrepancy until I went up on Wikipedia and looked at their fine collection of maps showing the evolution of the states. This depicted how Anna could have been born on the border between two oversized territories at the time, so she could have indeed have been born in North Carolina and Kentucky if her parents' land was strategically located at the right location. Here is a link to that excellent page on evolution of US states: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Territorial_evolution_of_the_United_States

During Anna's youth being raised in the rough, uncivilized wilderness, the few scattered few lone pioneer families were often the targets of attacks by Native Americans trying to keep the invaders away from their lands. Anna's son had described her in his memoirs as having been a descendant of the "Children of the Sun" which was a curious statement. But tracing back her lineage, her fathers line went back to Scotland and her mother's lineage went back to England. However, we know the Romans were ensconced in Britain hundreds of years earlier and the soldiers were from many countries, although mostly from Italy and the Mediterranean countries and it is possible that many of our ancestors from Britain could have been mixed with a number of ethnicities. 

During Anna's youth, native Americans had burned many settlements and killed many families who had invaded their territory. As more settlers moved into the region, the native Americans felt compelled to defend their land more aggressively. No records exist of the many cabins burned and families scalped and killed long before the first official settlement in 1779. Homes in those early years were basically nothing more than small, one-room log cabins with one window and a dirt floor. There were no stores or settlements for supplies, medical or protection.

Squire Boone, younger brother to Daniel Boone, founded the first settlement of log cabins at Painted Stone station in the late summer of 1779, located in the center of Shelby County. When Anna's son, William Delany Patton described his mother years later in his memoirs, he spoke of a hardened pioneer woman who was reared by the crack of Boone's rifle. Having read the history of Shelby county and the settlement begun by Squire Boone, frequented by his older brother Daniel whom Squire often sought for advice, I found William's description of his mother to be more accurate than I had initially realized.

In the frightful winter of 1779-1780, it was the first winter for Squire Boone's first settlement of Painted Stone Station and none had foreseen the unexpected severity of that harshest of winters. The entire area of Shelby County was completely covered with snow from the middle of November to the first of March. No rains fell. What water was obtained was taken from melting the ice since all the streams and ponds had frozen all the way to the bottom and the rivers had become frozen roadways. Wild animals sought shelter near the cabins of the settlers, but entire herds of Buffalo and deer were found frozen to death while wild turkeys and birds froze to death where they roosted and dropped to the ground below by the thousands. Without warning, snow had fallen every day of that winter without reprieve and had set the path of death, plagues and famine upon the area through the 1830's. 

Stones marking massive numbers of graves of those who lost their lives to plagues, disease, spotted fevers, epidemics and famine from those early years were still being encountered by plow share farmers 50 years later. Although no records of those early plagues were kept, it is believed the numbers of dead from diseases rivaled those of the Cholera epidemic of 1833. 

In September 1781, violent uprisings of Native Americans defending their lands and their families from the brutality of these uninvited European intruders flared to a head on the western border of the county where 40 - 50 settlers of men, women and children were reported to have been slaughtered. Colonel Floyd and his soldiers who started in pursuit of the natives were ambushed a mile further west. The inhabitants of Squire Boone's settlement fled upon hearing the news and did not return until Christmas of that year. Squire Boone, also a Virginia Legislature, failed to return to Painted Stone Station and lost his ownership of the settlement to Colonel Lynch in 1783, which was renamed Lynch Station thusly. The founding families arrived in 1784, the year of Anna's birth. Shelby county, at that time, was the only county in Kentucky and covered a much larger area than it does today and was thus subdivided into many other counties during the 1800's. An exceptional rendition of historical events and evolution of Shelby county can be found in an excellent book by George L Willis, Sr entitled, "History of Shelby County, Kentucky." Published in 1929, reprinted in 1979, it also contains numerous biographies and memories of surviving original pioneers in the early 1800's collected by historians and biographers of that time. Some of the most interesting historical notes can be found among the footnotes of this excellent book.

William Patton had been raised on a farm in Ireland, but they may have lived with Anna's parents since no record of land has been found belonging to William. However, other Patton's had also lived in Shelby county just before William's arrival and may have been his kinsmen. Shelby county had rich soil for farming. Unlike Virginia, the Shelby county Kentucky farmers decided to grow hemp in the early years. An interesting crop since some varieties have uses other than for rope which were not regulated for more than 150 years, thus did not carry the same stigma for that period in time. 

I have the correct names of William and Anna's seven children and confirmed birth dates on 3 of them but I am unsure as to which order the remaining children were born. My best guess was by using the 1830 census in Edgar county, Illinois as a guide to their ages and gender and tried to place them in the proper order as best I could. So, be forewarned, some of the children may be in the wrong order.

William and Anna's first child was a daughter born between 1807 and 1809. Best guess would be 1808. They had 2 daughters, Mary and Henrietta, but I'm not certain which was the eldest. I found the eldest daughter was still living at home with her parents in Edgar county, Illinois in 1830, as were all six of their seven children at the time. William Delany Patton was the only offspring who had left the parental home at that time.

Anna is not shown with her husband William on the 1810 Shelby county, KY census, so I assume she was living with her parents as she was pregnant at the time and probably needed help taking care of her infant daughter. William may have been building their home at the time, having to live in the rough until it was fit for his family to move into. Even if he was building their home next door, he would have been listed separately and the census takers were only interested in who was living in the house on that date, regardless of whether it was temporary or not. The best of log cabins in that era according to the author of the "History of Shelby county" were simply a one room log cabin with one window and a dirt floor.

Their second child, son William Delany Patton was born in Shelby county on December 11, 1810. He said he was born under the elms of Lexington. (Keeping in mind that Shelby was the only county in those early years and was much larger). William Delany has a very colorful history and biography of his own.

Shelby county was mainly settled by British families, most were rigid Baptists and overly judgmental of settlers from different ethnic backgrounds and began to raise taxes and enact restrictive ordinances which were becoming increasingly oppressive. According to author George Willis, "in no other county was religion, theological differences and denominational struggles for existence more zealously fought out than among those primitive churches and congregations in Shelby county [sic]." Despite building a new Methodist church on donated land in town, the English settlers appointed a non-cleric  member of their community to lead the church. This must have been a great insult to William who was an ordained Methodist Minister with over a decade of experience. Not long after William and Anna had departed Shelby county, the Methodist church was abandoned because land on either side had been sold to free blacks. What a sad state of things the community had wrought for itself. 

On Dec 16,1811 at 2AM, the Great Quake originating from the New Madrid Missouri fault shook the foundations of every community hundreds of miles from the epicenter. Great tracts of forests came crashing to the ground and fissures had opened so wide, horses could not jump over them. Terrified residents described seeing eerie flashes like lightning in the distance, air heavy with sulfurous vapors, as well as geysers of sand and coal dust spewing from the ground, dotting the landscape for miles around. An earthquake so powerful, it shook the windows and chandeliers in Washington DC.  

Two more great quakes struck the same region during the next few months. The quake on Feb 7th, 1812 was the most powerful and violent of all causing church bells to ring as far away as Richmond Virginia and terrifying residents in Pittsburgh, PA. Naturalist John James Audubon reported in Kentucky, "the ground rose and fell in successive furrows like the ruffled waters of a lake. The earth waved like a field of corn before a breeze." By the time the earth stopped shaking, the landscape had been changed beyond recognition. Fields and riverbanks were crisscrossed by a maze of furrows and crevasses. Thousands of acres of prairie had been converted into swamp, a lake bed had been raised to become dry land and eruptions of sand had deposited wide mounds of white quartz grit across the bottom lands. [These descriptions are stated in the "Planet Earth" series of books in the volume on Earthquakes.]

Then the War of 1812 took away any of Shelby county's sturdy yeomen, cabinet makers, wagon builders, blacksmiths, coffin makers, millers and other artisans which were too few to be spared, leaving each home with having to manufacture their own goods.

It is no wonder that William and Anna decided to relocate their family to Ohio county, West Virginia in 1813. William and Anna did not remain in Shelby county Kentucky for long and these events are likely reasons they moved away. According to son, William Delany Patton, his Irish father and other Irish immigrants were described in his memoirs as "Patriotic, Republic-thirsty, freedom-seeking, yet shackle-doomed people". The Irish moved to America to get away from the British oppression, so it is unlikely they would have been happy living in a community so heavily populated by upscale, hardened British. I'm sure the Irish assumed that the American Revolution against the British had resolved the problems with British controls, so I doubt they were expecting to run into this again in America. The early settlers of Shelby county are also described in the " History of Shelby county Kentucky".  

William and Anna moved their family to the Wheeling area of Ohio County, Virginia (later became: West Virginia) in 1813. Their new home was within a mile and a half from "Monument Place" where a statue of Henry Clay once stood at that time.

The order in which their seven children were born is a guess based on the 1830 IL census. Of the seven, we only know the specific birth info on William D, Thomas J and James CC. After William Delany Patton was born in 1810, another son was born to William and Anna between 1811 and 1814. My best guess would be son, George Washington Patton. I'm not sure if he was born before or after they moved from Shelby county.

Other Patton's were living in the Wheeling area at the time William relocated there, which may have been brothers or kinsmen of William. I'm still trying to see if there is a connection. Another son, James Christopher Columbus Patton was born in Ohio county, WV (VA at the time) in 1815. A forth son, probably Samuel Franklin Patton, was born there between 1816 and 1819. Son number five was Thomas Jefferson Patton born Feb 27, 1822 in Ohio, WV and their second daughter was born between 1821 and 1824. James and Thomas always moved together for the duration of their lives and raised their families on adjacent lands in Illinois, Missouri and Arkansas. Thomas has a very interesting biography of his own. In 1824, William Delaney Patton, the eldest son, left home at the age of 14 to apprentice as a blacksmith and farrier in Wheeling. 

West Virginia, where William and Anna lived and raised their children from 1813 to 1828 was fraught with coal mines and TB (Consumption) at the time. Cholera epidemics spread throughout many states and settlements due to contaminated water, poor sewage, no garbage services and poor hygiene. This was a time in our history, decades before electricity, no phones, no TV, no radio, no movies, no air conditioning, no fans, no autos or any other vehicles, for that matter. There was some primitive plumbing & sewage in the larger cities like New York, but most people had wells, streams, cisterns and outhouses. Wood stoves, fireplaces, coal and kerosene lamps were the sources of heat, light and cooking. Indoor plumbing was almost nonexistent. In some communities, a public well was used for residents to obtain water. In 1833, a terrible Cholera epidemic swept through Shelby county Kentucky and other communities killing thousands and wiping out entire generations of families.

For someone to truly understand how the living conditions were at that time and how virtually powerless the medical community was in the face of epidemics, infections and disease and how limited medical care was at that time we need to look at the timeline. Louis Pasteur, who was responsible for the understanding of bacteria, microorganisms, importance of hygiene and pasteurization and revolutionized medicine with his work on infectious diseases and killed-type or artificial forms of vaccination, made most of his progress and discoveries in the 1870's and 1880's. Antibiotics were not available until 1910 and even then, only sulfa drugs were available until WWII when they added Mycins to the available antibiotics. The initial discovery of Penicillin was made in 1928 but did not get much notice until the 1940's when  methods for mass distribution and applications for humans were developed when faced with a second world war. Thus, prior to the 1900's, there were no medicines to treat epidemics and infections. In reading through some Civil War documents, I found that doctors were using arsenic to treat some types of infection and using poultices of mashed, rotted apples. Nonetheless, epidemics went unchecked in the first 140 years of our country resulting in massive numbers of deaths. Typhoid fever, smallpox, spotted fever, scarletina,  meningitis, diphtheria, TB, cholera and  many other diseases were rampant in crowded areas, especially in poor settlements filled with immigrant miners crowded into small areas. Many of William's descendants died from TB between 1850 and 1900. It was especially bad in West Virginia, Ohio and Pennsylvania where the three states meet near Wheeling. New roads and expansion of railroads brought those diseases farther west.

When work began on a major cross country road, it was routed through Wheeling by Henry Clay and they began building the large suspension bridge which was completed around 1833... Keeping in mind that these were not blacktop roads. These roads were for horses and carriages, stagecoaches, wagons and carts. Judging by William Delany Patton's description of their family living within a mile and a half of Monument place, this would have placed the road and bridge construction  either on or very close to his parents property. By 1828,  road and bridge construction would have certainly been underway at that time with a large influx of immigrants and new settlers to perform the task. This was probably the key factor as to why William and Anna decided to relocate to Illinois in 1828 with their 6 remaining children after living in the Wheeling area for 15 years. Son, William Delany Patton, moved to the home of a kinsman in Monroe county, Ohio in July 1828. William settled in Woodsfield where he met and married his wife Margaret Ann McClelland on Dec 9, 1828. George Redmond and wife Henrietta Noland also moved to Edgar County although I'm not sure who moved there first until I see some of the land and local tax records.

It is interesting to note the occurrence of "the night the stars fell" in 1831, as described on a footnote in the "History of Shelby county, Kentucky" since an event this significant was still being talked about by residents, 70 years later. A meteoric shower of such profound proportions, it terrorized not only the superstitious and uninformed; it terrorized communities across the land from state to state. Even the most sedate and highly educated were terrorized into quaking on their knees in fear. On one account from a physician returning home from treating a patient, he said when the rain of meteors began, the skies literally snowed stars! [it must have been quite a sight to see!!] He said his faithful riding horse instantly fell upon its knees. The doctor concluded the horse had more sense than he did, so he, too got down on his knees. The horse was quaking with fright. The doctor said he did not remember how he got his horse home, but left him in his stall, still quivering with fear. I mention this story as it may have impacted the decision of son, William Delany Patton to move his family to Illinois at that time.

That same year, 1831,  William Delany Patton and wife Margaret McClelland, sold their land in Woodsfield, Monroe County, Ohio and moved to Edgar county, Illinois within 6 miles of Paris in 1832 with their 2 children (at that time) George Washington Patton and Mary J. Patton. They lived in Edgar county Illinois on an 80 acre farm for 5 years. William Delany Patton was the constable in Bloomfield Illinois and a Captain in the Illinois Militia during most of those 5 years, but became disenchanted when some Patent shysters cheated him out of his money on a gas light patent, so William Delany Patton, his wife and 5 children moved back to Monroe county, Ohio around 1838. (more on his story on his own bio).

William (the elder) was said to have died around 1843. I don't have any documents on that date yet. Anna was said to have died in 1848, but that is not correct because I found her living with her son Thomas J Patton in Missouri in 1850, so her death would have been in Missouri after that census date. I am unsure whether William died in Illinois because I cannot find them on the 1840 census, or whether his widow and family moved to Illinois after his death or whether the estate probate may have forced them to move or perhaps William moved with his family to Missouri. 

By the time both parents had died, William Delany Patton was living in Woodsfield, Monroe, Ohio until 1870 when he moved back to the Wheeling area where he was raised as a child. His brother, Thomas Jefferson Patton lived in Missouri  living next to his other brother, James Christopher Columbus Patton until after the Civil War. Both moved to Washington county Arkansas.  More on their children who moved to Missouri will be available under the biography for Thomas J Patton when complete. I have not yet found what became of their other children; Mary, Henrietta, George Washington and Samuel Franklin Patton.


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