James G. Patterson, an agriculturist and capitalist living at 2101 Twenty-second street in Sacramento, was born in Steuben county, New York, August 21, 1837. His father, A. D. Patterson, was born in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, in 1804. The family was founded in America by ancestors who came from the lawlands of Scotland in the early part of the eighteenth century, and in pioneer days in Virginia and North Carolina representatives of the name were connected with events which shaped the material development and early history of these states. The great-grandfather of Mr. Patterson was a member of the patriot army in the Revolutionary war, while the grandfather served as a scout in the war of 1812 and was wounded at the battle of Lundy's Lane. There were also various representatives of the family in both the Union and Confederate armies in the Civil war.
A. D. Patterson, the father, was a carriage-maker by trade. He became a member of the party known as the Pittsburg and California Enterprise Company, which was organized in March, 1849, for mutual protection in crossing the plains to California. This party was composed of about two hundred and eighty men. The trip was without particular incident and not a man was lost. Mr. A. D. Patterson arrived at Weaver Creek, California, August 18, 1849, and began mining in that locality, but had to abandon his work in the gold fields on account of ill health. He afterward engaged in the carpenter work, making rockers at fifty dollars each. Lter he established a store. On one occasion he started for Sacramento for a load of goods and was mired ten miles from the capital city. In the morning he found that his oxen had been stolen. He then started a store on the banks of the American river just above where Sutter built his gristmill and remained there up to the time of his death. The property which he once owned is still known as the Patterson ranch. He was active and influential in public affairs and prominent in the early development of his community. He served as the first sheriff of Sacramento county, elected in 1851, and held the position until the fall of 1853. His influence and aid were ever on the side of right and order in the early days, when it required courage for a man to stand for his honest convictions. His death occurred in December, 1884. His wife, who bore the maiden name of Mary Starkweather, was born in state of New York and was also descended from good old Revolutionary stock. Mrs. Patterson came to California by way of the isthmus in 1852, and she survived her husband for many years, passing away in 1892. In the family were four daughters, Mrs. John E. Plater, of Los Angeles, California; Mrs. Mary R. Foster, of San Francisco; Mrs. Frances F. Moran, of Lodi, California; and one sister who has passed away.
James G. Patterson, the only son, spent his early youth in the east and attended the public schools of Steuben county, New York. He afterward graduated from Franklin College in that county as a member of the class of 1855. Prior to that date, however, in August, 1852, he had come to California with his mother, but one year later returned to the east and concluded his studies. After his graduation he again came to the Golden state, this being in 1855, at which time Walker was trying to capture Nicaragua. One battle was fought while Mr. Patterson and others of the party were on the isthmus. He was one of the party of seven who went back to Virgin Bay to rescue the women and children who had been left behind. Four of the party turning back, Mr. Patterson with two other brave and resolute spirits continued on the self-imposed task. Out of the fourteen women passengers rescued, thirteen died on board steamer. The ocean voyage was a frightful one. The passengers crossing the isthmus had partaken of the native wine and eaten of the fruits, and the first day after sailing cholera broke out on board ship. Four hundred and fifty-eight passengers were buried during that trip of the steamer Uncle Sam.
Mr. Patterson began working with a surveying party on the Sacramento Valley Railroad and after this task was completed returned to his father's ranch on the American river, where he remained until 1859. He then went on the railroad survey from Folsom to Marysville, where he continued for one year, and later returned to the Sacramento Valley Railroad Company, with which he continued until 1865. He next went to Reese river, Nevada, on a prospecting tour, where he had made a trip in 1863. He then remained in Austin, Nevada, until 1868, devoting this time and attention to mining and later he worked for Sisson, Egbert & Company until the Central Pacific Railroad was completed to Promontory, being there at the laying of the last rail, and he and a Mr. Kellogg drove the last iron spike that made the connection. Mr. Patterson afterward brought stock down from Promontory to Elko, trailing a party of miners into camp on a three days' trip to the rich country. he prospected there for a year, and finally he and his three partners milled what they had in dump and secured therefrom a sum of six thousand dollars. When this work was completed Mr. Patterson went to Salt Lake on a prospecting tour and there remained until 1873, when he traveled to Lower Califonria, hunting for horn silver, but he found that the horn silver was copper. He located under the Mexican law, but after he had learned to understand and speak the Spanish language he abandoned the claims. However, he brought up with him from Lower California fifty pounds of ore, which he took to San Francisco, where it averaged twenty-eight percent. It was at this time that Mr. Patterson began carpentering at the family ranch on American river, and for seven years he followed that industrial pursuit. He next made his way to the quartz mining regions of Amador county and afterward to Grizzly Flat, where he worked for two years with his brother-in-law. On account of his ill health he then returned home to his father's farm and there followed carpentering until 1884. In that year he took charge of the ranch and station and gave his time and energies to agricultural pursuits until 1900, when he took up his abode in Sacramento, where he has since lived retired. In July, 1903, he purchased an interest in a deep gravel mine--an underground channel--in Placer county and is still one of the owners of that property, which has been producing steadily and heavily since last December. He now owns thirty-three acres of land in Sacramento county planted to English walnuts. He has been most successful in the cultivation of this product, raising a superior grade of walnuts, for which he obtains an excellent price.
On the 24th of November, 1878, Mr. Patterson was married in Sacramento county to Miss Mary E. Crew, a native of California, and an adopted daughter of Dr. W. S. Manlove, now deceased, who was one of the honored pioneers of this state. They have one son, Arnold D. Patterson, who is now twenty-four years of age and is engaged in the operation of his father's mine. He married Miss Agnes Harris, of Eugene, Oregon, a daughter of Dr. Harris, of that place.
In his political views Mr. Patterson is an old Jackson Democrat, unfaltering in his allegiance to the principles of the party as advocated by that early statesman. He has represented the party in both county and state conventions, but has never sought or desired office, being always too busy to care to devote his time to official duties. He is now the president of the Order of Sons and Daughters of Sacramento Pioneers, which was organized in 1891. While in Nevada he was a member of the National Guard at Austin, that state, but first was a member of an infantry company, and afterward belonged to an artillery organization.
If the life record of Mr. Patterson was written in detail it would contain many thrilling chapters of incidents in early pioneer days in California. In speaking of the discovery of gold in the state, which is always attributed to Marshall, he said that at the time the first nugget was found Colonel Sutter was constructing a gristmill six miles from Sacramento and sent Marshall up the south fork of the American river about fifty miles from Sacramento, where Coloma now stands, to build a sawmill with which to get out the necessary lumber to complete the gristmill. Marshall on the 24th of January, 1848, while digging the tail race found a large gold nugget in the gravel. They boiled it in a solution of lye, for two days, and as it showed no effects of the boiling Marshall took it to Colonel Sutter, who submitted the metal to an acid test.
Mr. Patterson is very familiar with California's history, and what to many others are a matter of record are to him events of experience or of close, intimate knowledge. His life has been one of untiring and well director industry and intelligent effort and as the years have advanced he has kept apace with the general progress made in the state with its improvement and advancement, and to-day he finds in a handsome competence the reward of his labor which classes him among the capitalists of Sacramento.
Source: History of the New California Its Resources and People, Volume II
The Lewis Publishing Company - 1905
Edited by Leigh H. Irvine
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