Accessibility Navigation:

Patterson Family Papers

Filing title: 
Patterson Family Papers

Patterson Family papers
MS0341

Summary Information

Repository
J. Murrey Atkins Library Special Collections, UNC Charlotte
Creator
Patterson family.
Title
Patterson Family papers
ID
MS0341
Date [inclusive]
1761-1999
Extent
1.0 Cubic feet
Language
English
Abstract
Papers of the Patterson family of northern Mecklenburg County, mainly concerning their business activities, real estate purchases, wills, and family correspondence. Also includes papers from several related families, especially their Cumming, Hodges, Potts, and Sloan connections.

Preferred Citation note

Patterson Family Papers. J. Murrey Atkins Library Special Collections, University of North Carolina at Charlotte.

Return to Table of Contents »


Biographical/Historical note

Though this collection contains the papers of many different families in the Hopewell, North Carolina area, the majority of papers are from the Patterson family, William Patterson, in particular. The Pattersons owned and lived on a large plantation near Hopewell, and the papers that they generated provide a significant amount of information on the lives of a wealthy, antebellum, slave-owning family. John Patterson, the primogenitor of this family, immigrated from Antrim, in northern Ireland, in 1789 at the age of 21. His journey to the New World took him to Charleston, S.C., then eventually to the Providence area, south of Charlotte, North Carolina. He was of Scotch-Irish ethnicity, and not surprisingly, was Presbyterian in his faith. At the time of his arrival to America, he brought with him sufficient funds to purchase land and later began buying slaves—two important status symbols in the region at that time. In 1794, he married Margaret Houston, whose family had already been in the Carolinas for at least two generations, and some of her ancestors had participated in the Revolutionary War, on the patriotic side. John and Margaret had nine children. In his last will and testament (dated July 6, 1831) John Patterson listed his property, including many acres of plantation land, the house, agricultural equipment, furnishings, and slaves (Jacob, Congo, Nan, Lucy, Jane, Adeline, Jeb, Abram). William Patterson, the fourth of John and Margaret’s nine children, was born in 1806 and died in 1886. He married Elizabeth McEwen Potts in 1828 and settled on a parcel of land a few miles west of present day Davidson, NC (much of this property is now under water, as the result of the construction of a hydro-electric dam in the 1960s). William and his wife had ten children; however, only four of those ten survived to marry (one of their children lived only one day, and another, Margaret Lamira Patterson, lived to be eighty-six years old, but never married). These are Mary Adeline Patterson Houston, Lydia Lenore Patterson Wilson, John Newell Williamson Patterson, and Josephine Augusta Banna Patterson Alexander. In 1839 he, along with other planters in the area, signed a contract with a local teacher, to provide for their children’s education. In addition, his papers show that he sent at least two of his daughters on to “female colleges.” Mary attended the Salem Female Academy and Josephine Banna attended the Edgeworth Female Seminary. The only evidence that William sent any of his sons to college exists in the form of two receipts for tuition at Catawba College in 1853 and 1854 for John N. W. Patterson. William served as the executor (or administrator) for the estates of many of the people who died in the Hopewell/Davidson/Huntersville area; and many of the papers in this collection are the papers that he generated in the course of settling these estates. In addition to his estate work, he also was a planter, who owned many slaves and had significant business investments and dealings. His business activities are documented by the many receipts in his papers, from such commodities as cotton, sugar, molasses, rice, salt and tea. To say the least, William Patterson was a man of means. In addition, he lived during a significant period of American history, as the debate between northern and southern political interests raged on. Unfortunately, we do not know exactly what his opinions were of the major issues of the day, and can only speculate, based on his property, his position in society and a few fragmentary pieces of evidence. William subscribed to the Western Democrat and the North Carolina Presbyterian. It was William who presided over the family estate during the Civil War, and who was forced to part with a significant amount of personal wealth—the human property of slaves. One of the more significant documents in this collection is a letter detailing the way in which the negros were informed of their emancipation on November 10, 1865:

"We the Undersigned freedmen and women Certify that as soon as our former Master found out that the coloured people was set free come to the field whare we ware at work and told us all 21 in number that he saw it in the papers that we ware free…".

The scribe writing out this testimony wanted to make sure that it was known that Master Patterson informed his negroes (as they were called at the time) that they had been emancipated as soon as his himself was aware the new law. The letter went on to state that Patterson would pay his former slaves only if they agreed to remain on the plantation until the harvest had been brought in. Those that left at that time would not be paid at all. Patterson kept the copies of the receipts he issued to those who remained through the harvest. Along with other former slave-owners, he established a new working relationship with his former slaves, in the form of share-cropping. In spite of all of the tumult, the Pattersons still held on to their land. Another telling document held in this collection is a legal complaint, filed by Patterson, against Thomas M. Alexander on September 24, 1849, for an offense that took place on Sept. 17, because he “did profanely swear & curse to the number of twenty-two oaths, whereby he forfeited the sum of twenty-five cents for each & cursing oath or curse in all amounting to five 50/100 cts. dollars.” William Patterson was a man who did not like profanity. John Newell Williamson Patterson, mentioned earlier (one of William’s sons), married Margaret Lenora Sloan, in 1861. Except for the birth of his children, we have little evidence to reveal the details of his life. He and Margaret had ten children, but this collection only contains the papers of two of them: Ona Elizabeth Josephine Patterson Cumming, and Harriet Emma Patterson Bonney Hodges. Four years after the death of his wife Margaret, John sold the family land (203 acres for one dollar) to his children and their spouses, possibly as a way to avoid inheritance taxes. The daughter who is most significant to this collection is Ona, who married Dr. Calvin Knox Cumming. Her obituary (found in file 5) provides a bank of information about her life. Ona E. J. P. Cumming was born in Hopewell, NC in 1865. She was educated at what was then known as the Charlotte Female Institute, later known as Queens University. Being a devout Christian, she entered Christian missionary work in Japan under the auspices of the Southern Presbyterian Church. It was there that she met and married Dr. Cumming, who administered the Presbyterian mission in Nagoya. There they produced three sons, one of which died there. The Cumming family returned to the US in 1925 and settled in Davidson, NC. Dr. Cumming died in 1935, and Ona died in 1955. One their sons was William Patterson Cumming, who earned a Ph.D. in English and became a distinguished member of the Davidson College faculty, writing several books and earning an excellent reputation in his field. It was one of his children, Robert Patterson Cumming, who donated this collection to the UNC Charlotte Library in 2004. This collection also contains a small subseries of papers of Harriet Emma Patterson Hodges, sister of Ona. Emma was able to establish a genealogical descent through Elizabeth McCuen Potts (wife of John Newell Williamson Patterson) to William Potts. According to her DAR application, Potts was a captain of militia in North Carolina. According to Emma’s correspondence, she was admitted to the Daughters of the American Revolution right around the time that the US entered World War II (her correspondence of January 1942 makes no mention of the recent attack on Pearl Harbor, but she was delighted by her new membership into the DAR). The substance of the collection begins to decline after 1866, though there are a few items, including a few property deeds and correspondence, most of it dealing with genealogy.

Return to Table of Contents »


Scope and Contents note

The Patterson family papers, spanning from 1761 to 1999, contains information concerning the plantation class of Mecklenburg County, North Carolina. The scope of this collection is broad in both chronology and family lineage, spanning over 200 years and including the names of people from over twenty families. In addition, these families, many of whom owned slaves, increases the scope of this collection. The importance of this collection is found in the documents of legal bearing: wills, estate probation and debt settlement, land grants, property deeds and surveys, and papers concerning slaves (buying, selling, inheriting and emancipating), as well as the evidential value derived in such things as sales receipts for consumer goods, or letters describing nineteenth century college life. Many of the wills contained within this collection were transcribed either in hand, or typed or both. Apparently, a descendant of the Patterson and related families copied many of the wills found in this collection from county court records. Many of the documents in this collection are “indentures,” a frequently used legal term, usually used to denote property deeds. Most of the papers in this collection are either wills (which itemize personal estates), real estate indentures, receipts for the purchase of consumer goods and commodities, genealogical records, or correspondence. Also included in this collection are such things as tax receipts (including receipts for taxes paid in-kind during the Civil War), receipts for the purchase of slaves, as well as receipts for medical services, performed by local doctors, not only on white patients, but also on slaves. There is also a small amount of documentation concerning contracts made with newly liberated freedmen, and a contract for a share cropping arrangement.

There are at least a dozen deeds or indentures in the Patterson papers for the sale of acreage, and two land surveys. The earliest real estate indenture was issued in the name of King George III in 1761, for 150 acres to Robert Price, who later sold that parcel of land to the Pattersons. In addition to the Pattersons, this collection also includes people from more than twenty other families, many of which had married into (or out of) the Patterson family. John Patterson (1786-1831), and his wife, Margaret Houston Patterson, had eight children, and many grand children. William Patterson (the predominant personality in this collection) and his wife, Elizabeth McEwen Potts Patterson, had ten children (two boys and eight girls), including John Newell Williamson Patterson who, with his wife, Margaret L. Sloan Patterson, also had ten children. One of their children, Ona Elizabeth Josephine Patterson, married Calvin Knox Cumming, and had at least two children, including a son named William Patterson Cumming. William P. Cumming had a son named Robert Cumming. It was Robert who inherited these papers, and donated them to the Library of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. With this many generations and daughters who married into other families, the arrangement of family names in this collection is extensive—enough to necessitate the inclusion of a genealogical chart in this guide. There is a considerable amount of genealogical notes, charts and information for most of the families in this collection. Not only is there a significant amount of evidential information found in the papers of this collection (marriage licenses and wills, listing offspring), but the genealogical notes provide a wealth of information on these families. The geographic scope of this collection is mostly the Hopewell/Davidson/Huntersville area of northern Mecklenburg County. In this collection is a contract entitled “Articles of a school.” This was a contract with Nancy D. Ewart, a school teacher, “to teach a school for the term of six months including Reading, writing & Arithmatic as far as she is capable of doing at four dollars per scholar…” Miss Ewart’s contract with six employers, was signed the 12th of Dec. 1839. Unfortunately, it does not list the names of the pupils (see file 24). Other similar items are two receipts from the Salem Female Academy for the academic year 1847-48. These receipts itemize the expenses that Miss Mary A. Patterson accrued during her time in school, for room, board, tuition and related supplies (see file 32). Also, Julia Sloan wrote to her relatives while attending the Statesville Concord Female College, describing her curriculum and work routine, in 1860 (see file 65). A letter written to William Patterson in 1842 by T. H. Ross, tells of “a great deal of sickness in our family this summer espetialy among the negroes.” According to Ross, “they have had Typhhus fever among them.” His letter (found in file 43) elaborates on a number of other concerns, typical of plantation life during the antebellum years. In addition to the Patterson and related families, this collection also contains a wealth of information about the institution of slavery. The Patterson family (and other families mentioned herein) were slave-owning families, and the names of their slaves are recorded in their wills, probate records, and sale receipts. The names of these slaves is so significant and informative that an appendix of their names appears in this guide. Gender has been specified in the few instances when the name did not clearly indicate it. This directory also indicates the type of document where the name appears. Many were listed in sales receipts or estate settlement records. As the date span for the Patterson Papers ranges from the 1760s to the late twentieth century, there are papers in this collection that include the years of the Civil War, such as a “Tax- in-Kind” that shows how taxpayers without cash funded their government and its army during the war. In addition, there is an appeal for foodstuffs, issued by Major R. J. Nichols, quartermaster, in an effort to provide Confederate troops with sustenance. This broadside has been transferred to the Atkins Library Rare Books Collection. As the greatest and most significant papers in this collection date from 1761 to 1866, there are only a few more recent legal documents: one will (1938), and one real estate indenture (1908). Most of the post-Civil War papers are correspondence and newspaper clippings concerning historical issues of the region, or of the families related to this collection.

Return to Table of Contents »


Arrangement note

The first series in this collection pertains to names—of families and in some cases, individuals. The more prominent families whose papers are contained herein (in addition to the Patterson family) are the Cumming, Hodges, Potts, Price and Sloan families. Individuals are listed singly if there are significance items in this collection. William Patterson served as the executor for the estates of several deceased people, and a file for each of them is found under his name. Some names appear repeatedly in this collection. For example, Edwin Potts wrote out his will in 1851 and William Patterson served as his agent. In 1854, Potts died, and Patterson settled the debts of his estate. So there are three files for Edwin Potts: one for his will; and two under the name of Patterson, who served first as his agent and later as the executor of his estate.

The second series pertaining to a wide variety of subject matter follows the Family Papers series. This series is divergent enough in its content that it is simply identified as Non-Family Papers, and includes a few records from the two Presbyterian churches in the Davidson area, newspaper clippings and a number of miscellaneous items.

Seventeen items and an assortment of newspaper clipping are too large to be stored in legal size file folders. These oversize items have been transferred to an oversize flat box, and an oversize inventory itemizing each one is located at the end of the Container list.

Return to Table of Contents »


Administrative Information

Publication Information

J. Murrey Atkins Library Special Collections, UNC Charlotte 2006

9201 University City Blvd.
Charlotte, NC, 28223
704-687-1170
spec-coll@uncc.edu

Conditions Governing Access note

Collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use note

Some material may be copyrighted or restricted. It is the patron's obligation to determine and satisfy copyright or other case restrictions when publishing or otherwise distributing materials found in the collections.

Immediate Source of Acquisition note

Gift of Robert P. Cumming, January 2004.

Processing Information note

Processed by Robert A. McInnes, 2005

Return to Table of Contents »


Controlled Access Headings

Family Name(s)

  • Caldwell family.
  • Houston family.
  • Hughey family.
  • Johnston family.
  • Patterson family.
  • Potts family.
  • Sloan family.

Geographic Name(s)

  • Mecklenburg County (N.C.)--History

Occupation(s)

  • Slavery--North Carolina--Mecklenburg County.

Personal Name(s)

  • Patterson, John Newell Williamson, 1835-1912
  • Patterson, John, 1768-1831
  • Patterson, Margaret Houston, 1768-1839
  • Patterson, William, 1806-1886

Subject(s)

  • Plantation life--North Carolina--Mecklenburg County
  • Presbyterian Church--North Carolina--Davidson.
  • Presbyterian Church--North Carolina--Mecklenburg County.
  • Reconstruction (U.S. history, 1865-1877)--North Carolina.

Return to Table of Contents »


Collection Inventory

Series I. Family Papers

Box Folder

Alexander, Josephine Banna Patterson--Papers 1869-circa 1880 6.0 Items (6 items, 2 envelopes).

Scope and Contents note

Includes bills for tuition and expenses for the Edgeworth Female Seminary, an invitation to a party

1 1

Alexander, Josephine Banna Patterson--Autograph book circa 1877 1.0 Items

1 2

Barry, Richard June 12, 1956 1.0 Items

Scope and Contents note

An article, printed in the Charlotte Observer, concerning Richard Barry and his family

1 3

Caldwell Family circa 1920-1960 6.0 Items

Scope and Contents note

Papers including a will from Neta Patterson Caldwell (July 7, 1938) and materials on 109 acres of Caldwell property in Mecklenburg County and a Farm Conservation Plan

1 4

Cumming family. Ona Patterson Cumming 1955 6.0 Items (6 items, 1 envelope).

Scope and Contents note

Memorials

1 5

Cumming family. William Patterson Cumming 8.0 Items (8 items, 7 envelopes).

Scope and Contents note

Correspondence

1 6

Curry, James. 1805 1.0 Items

Scope and Contents note

Will (transcribed by Emma Patterson Bonney Hodges in 1934)

1 7

Gibson, James. 1804 1.0 Items

Scope and Contents note

Indenture for 62 acres in Mecklenburg County

1 8

Graham, Lydia Potts. 1819-1834 3.0 Items

Scope and Contents note

Receipts for consumer goods, and also for medical treatment for a servant girl named Lucy

1 9

Hodges, Harriet Emma Patterson Bonney. 1938-1942 13.0 Items (13 items, 5 envelopes).

Scope and Contents note

Correspondence

1 10

Hodges, Harriet Emma Patterson Bonney. 2.0 Albums (2 notebooks, 23 leaves)

Scope and Contents note

Genealogical notes

1 11-12

Hodges, Harriet Emma Patterson Bonney. 1956 May 6 1.0 Items

Scope and Contents note

Memorial

1 13

Houston Family. [1779] 1836-1933 18.0 Items

Scope and Contents note

Papers including a receipt for consumer goods (1836), and transcriptions of wills, dating back to 1779

1 14

Hughey Family. 1792 1.0 Items

Scope and Contents note

Petition to the Rowan County Court, for the sale of the estate of Jacob Hughey, for the benefit of his heirs: Seynthia, Margaret, Rachel, and Henry

1 15

Johnston family. James Johnston. 1839 3.0 Items

Scope and Contents note

Promissory notes

1 16

Johnston family. Patrick Johnston. 1842 July 7 1.0 Items

Scope and Contents note

Will

1 17

McCuen, Hugh. 1792 February 2 1.0 Items

Scope and Contents note

Will (typed transcription)

1 18

McKinley, William. 1810 April 2 1.0 Items

Scope and Contents note

Will (transcription)

1 19

Patterson family. Genealogy Notes 1.0 Items

1 20

Patterson family. Genealogy Notes 42.0 Items

1 21

Patterson family. Genealogy Notes 9.0 Items

1 22

Patterson family. Land records, Deeds, Indentures, for land in Mecklenburg Co. 1828-1913 17.0 Items

1 23

Patterson family. Papers, medical prescriptions and Articles of School 1832-1860 3.0 Items

1 24

Patterson family. John Patterson. Bible 2.0 Items

Scope and Contents note

With genealogical notes (includes many photocopied pages)

1 25

Patterson family. John Patterson. Memoirs 1.0 Items

1 26

Patterson family. John Patterson. Will, 1831 1.0 Items

Scope and Contents note

(typed transcription)

1 27

Patterson family. John Newell Williamson Patterson. Papers, 1861-1908 3.0 Items

Scope and Contents note

Marriage license [photostat] and a property deed for land in Mecklenburg County

1 28

Patterson family. Margaret Houston/Huston Patterson. Will 1839 1.0 Items

Scope and Contents note

(transcription)

1 29

Patterson family. Margaret Lamira Houston Patterson. Correspondence circa 1851-1901 7.0 Items (7 items, 6 envelopes).

1 30

Patterson family. Margaret Lamira Houston Patterson. Will 1912 Oct 24 1.0 Items

1 31

Patterson family. Mary Adeline Patterson. Receipts 1847 2.0 Items

Scope and Contents note

Salem Female Academy

1 32

Patterson family. William Patterson. Agent for Potts, Edwin, -1854 25.0 Items

1 33

Patterson family. William Patterson. Executor for Goodrum, James -1856

1 34

Patterson family. William Patterson. Executor for Nantz, Clement -1854 13.0 Items

1 35

Patterson family. William Patterson. Executor for Patterson, John 1768-1832 3.0 Items

1 36

Patterson family. William Patterson. Executor for Patterson, Joseph 1.0 Items

1 37

Patterson family. William Patterson. Executor for Patterson, Margaret Houston 1768-1839 12.0 Items

1 38

Patterson family. William Patterson. Executor for Potts, Edwin -1854 14.0 Items

1 39

Patterson family. William Patterson. Executor for Potts, Elizabeth -1860 15.0 Items

1 40

Patterson family. William Patterson. Executor for Potts, Mary -1840 18.0 Items

1 41

Patterson family. William Patterson. Negroes--slaves and freedmen 1832-1865 27.0 Items

1 42

Patterson Family. William Patterson. Papers 1826-1872 43.0 Items

Scope and Contents note

Including a certificate for militia duty, a marriage license (Photostat), correspondence (concerning typhus fever outbreak among the slaves), and a law suit concerning profane swearing

1 43

Patterson Family. William Patterson. Receipts 1827-1868 64.0 Items

Scope and Contents note

For consumer goods and agricultural produce

1 44

Patterson Family. William Patterson. Receipts--Taxes 1829-1885 41.0 Items

1 45

Patterson Family. William Patterson. Will 1883 Oct 19 4.0 Items

1 46

Patterson Family. William Henry Patterson. Papers 1941-1959 3.0 Items

Scope and Contents note

A diploma from Davidson College and letters

1 47

Patterson Family. Potts Family. Genealogical notes 13.0 Items (13 items, 1 envelope).

1 48

Patterson Family. Potts Family. Papers 1831-1867 6.0 Items

Scope and Contents note

Including transcriptions of court records and receipts for consumer goods

1 49

Patterson Family. Edwin Potts. Will 1851 1.0 Items

Scope and Contents note

(transcription)

1 50

Patterson Family. Elizabeth Potts. Papers 1825-1859 4.0 Items

Scope and Contents note

A receipt for the sale of a slave girl named Chainey, and three versions of Elizabeth Potts’ will

1 51

Patterson Family. James Potts. Will 1781 1.0 Items

1 52

Patterson Family. James Potts. Will 1828 4.0 Items

Scope and Contents note

(original and transcriptions)

1 53

Patterson Family. Mary Potts. Papers 1820-1840 65.0 Items

Scope and Contents note

Receipts for consumer goods and promissory notes

1 54

Patterson Family. Robert Potts. Indenture 1803 1.0 Items

Scope and Contents note

For 100 acres in Mecklenburg Co.

1 55

Patterson Family. William Potts. Will 1800 1.0 Items

Scope and Contents note

(transcription)

1 56

Price Family. James Price. 1799 Aug 22 1.0 Items

Scope and Contents note

Indenture for 62 acres in Mecklenburg Co.

1 57

Price Family. Robert Price. Land grand and indentures for land in Mecklenburg Co. 1761-1804 4.0 Items

1 58

Sloan Family. Family Bible pages 1.0 Items

Scope and Contents note

(contain genealogical notes)

1 59

Sloan Family. Genealogical notes 5.0 Items

1 60

Sloan family. Legal Description for 234 acres in Mecklenburg Co., 1833 1.0 Items

Scope and Contents note

(transcription)

1 61

Sloan family. Betty Sloan. Diary 1885-1890 1.0 Items

1 62

Sloan family. Henry A. Sloan. Land survey for 234 acres in Mecklenburg Co. 1853 Nov 1.0 Items

1 63

Sloan family. Henry A. Sloan. Will 1852 September 1 1.0 Items

Scope and Contents note

(transcription)

1 64

Sloan family. Julia Sloan. Letter 1860 March 18 1.0 Items

Scope and Contents note

Concerning the Statesville Concord Female College

1 65

Sloan family. Robert Sloan. Will 1793 August 6 1.0 Items

Scope and Contents note

(transcription)

1 66

Sloan family. Robert Sloan. Will 1823, April 7 4.0 Items

Scope and Contents note

(transcriptions)

1 67

Stinson family. Genealogical notes 1.0 Items

1 68

Stinson family. Hugh Stinson. Will 1827 April 17 7.0 Items

Scope and Contents note

(transcriptions)

1 69

Stinson family. Nancy Stinson. Will 1837 January 21 2.0 Items

Scope and Contents note

(transcriptions)

1 70

Williamson family. Jane Williamson. Land survey for 785 acres, in Mecklenburg Co. 1846 September 10 1.0 Items

1 71

Williamson family. Samuel Williamson. Executor for James Potts, Receipts, 1820

1 72

Wilson family. Annie Lowrie Bonney Wilson. Papers 1.0 Items

1 73

Wilson family. William Wilson. Indenture for 87.5 acres in Mecklenburg County 1803 April 25 4.0 Items

1 74

Yandle, Samuel. Land survey for 19 acres in Mecklenburg County 1790 1.0 Items

1 75

Return to Table of Contents »


Series II. Non-family papers

Box Folder

Presbyterian Church Papers. Bethel [Presbyterian] Church. Records 1841-1874 7.0 Items

1 76

Presbyterian Church Papers. Ramah [Presbyterian] Church. Records 1838 Sept. 28 1.0 Items

1 77

Map of the Davidson area 1.0 Items

1 78

Miscellaneous 33.0 Items

1 79

Newspaper clippings 1854-1999 16.0 Items

1 80

Newspaper clippings undated 20.0 Items

1 81

Return to Table of Contents »


Box Folder

Oversize Inventory. Series I: Family Papers 1761-1876 File of

OF9 7
Box Drawer

Oversize inventory. Series II: Non-family papers 1854-1999

Scope and Contents note

Newspaper clippings

OF9 8
Box Folder

Oversize inventory. Series II: Non-family papers (undated)

Scope and Contents note

Newspaper clippings

OF9 9