by Rick Gwynallen

Jane Patterson
1795 – 1861
Relationship to Fawn: 4th great grandmother

I wrote a couple of small essays on my great-aunt Susie Dent Allen.  She was named after her maternal grandmother, Susan Dent, so I started wondering about her Dent family line. The custom among the Scots, Irish, and Southerners to have given surnames of mothers, grandmothers and others to children as first or middle names, thus perpetuating that family identity, is a God-send to researchers.  While I’m still working on the details of the Dents I ran across Aunt Susie’s great-grandmother, Jane Patterson, whose line was already pretty well researched by others.  I am particularly grateful to the The Haywood County Line website for its description of the family lineage.

Jane Patterson’s parents were Tillman Patterson and Matilda Young.  However, let us start at the beginning of the Patterson story, or at least as early as can be proven.

Emigration from Scotland

The immigrant ancestor appears to have been Joseph Patterson, born about 1660 in Scotland.  His wife’s name was possibly Jennet.  At present, I have no substantive information about them, such as a point of entry into the colonies, year of arrival, or what part of Scotland they lived in.

We know he arrived prior to 1690, the approximate year of his son John’s birth.  If he left in the 1680s political turmoil could have sent him abroad.  Perhaps he was an anti-royalist.  Perhaps the various wars of the 17th century simply made life at home economically precarious no matter which side he took.  We just don’t know.

The name Patterson has a long history in Scotland in the Highlands and Lowlands.

The name in Scottish Gaelic is Mac Phadraig, which could be a shortened form of Mac Gille Phadraig, meaning son of the servant/devotee of (Saint) Patrick. Perhaps the ancestor was a churchman during the time priests were allowed to marry, or perhaps the ancestor was a lay member of the church hierarchy.


A family of this name is found toward the end of the 13th century on the shores of Loch loch-fyne-1Fyne.  By the 16th century, the anglicized form of Paterson or Patterson is found in Inverness and Aberdeen.  The surname of Patterson eventually becomes widespread in the Lowlands.  


Today the Lowland Pattersons are deemed a clan by the Court of the Lord Lyon, though currently without a chief.  The surname of Paterson or Patterson is also considered as a sept of Clan MacLaren and Clan Farquharson.

The First Generation in the American Colonies

Joseph’s point of entry is unknown. Given that the earliest documentation starts in Virginia, it is possible that Yorktown could have been the place of embarkation, but it could just as easily have been Maryland.

Joseph Patterson’s son John was born in 1690 in what would soon become Prince George County, Bristol Parish, Virginia.  He was the first of this Patterson line born in the American colonies.  At the time of his birth there were fewer than 2,000 people living in the area.

John appears in the County Deed Book in 1716 where he sells land on the Great Swamp adjoining a plantation given to him by his father, Joseph, which was originally part of a larger tract of land owned by his father.

“Sept 10 1716 John Patterson of Bristol Parish, Pr. Geo Co. to Richard Bland of Westoph Parish, Pr Geo. Co. on the Great Swamp between plantation where Joseph Patteson, father to John Patterson, formerly lived and plantation where Mr. John Woodleife formerly lived which tract was formerly part of a greater tract belonging to said Joseph Patterson and was given to said son John Patterson by his last will, for f15   Wit; Peter Bond, Thomas Matthew John Patteson  Rec. Sept 11 1716″ (Prince George Co., Virginia , 1713 1728 Abstracted and Indexed by; Benjamin B. Weisiger, III, Pg. 122)

The early 1700s is an era so different from our own that it’s hard to picture what farm life was like.  The word “plantation” draws up an image of a mansion, but that was no necessarily so in the early 1700s.  The Accokeek Foundation operates a living history farm in Accokeek, Maryland called the National Colonial Farm.  It includes a representation of a  farm of the era in which John Patterson lived and farmed in Virginia.


Prince George County at that time was predominantly agricultural.  Agriculture was the basis of the economy and directly or indirectly provided the livelihood for every resident. At the heart of this agricultural economy was tobacco.  Tobacco created wealth in Prince George County that certainly created large plantations over time, as well as wealth that allowed horse breeding to begin. However, tobacco provided “modest livelihoods for smaller farmers, and even served as legal tender for debts. That one crop contributed more to Prince George County than anything else, and created a prosperous, sophisticated tobacco society which traded its staple with English and Scottish merchants for goods from all over the world.”  (Source: Prince George County History by Alan Virta)

John married Jane Smith some time before 1720.  Their eldest child was my direct ancestor, Smith Patterson.  They had two other children, Francis and Eady before Jane died.

Before 1727 John married again, this time to Mary Taylor, and had three more children, Lewis, George, and Catherine.

John and his family migrated to North Carolina sometime prior to November of 1743.  A Crown Grant of 300 acres in Edgecombe County, North Carolina was issued to Mary Patterson on 15 November 1743.

John died in 1754 at the age of 64 in North Carolina, possibly in Edgecombe County, North Carolina.

The Second Generation

Though born in Virginia, the story of the second generation unfolds significantly within North Carolina.

We are descended from the eldest child of John and Jane, Smith Patterson, who was born 28 August 1720 in Prince George County, Bristol Parish, Virginia.

Smith married Sarah Turner about 1750, the date being used because that was when their first child was born. Assuming her birth around 1724 in Virginia, the author of The Haywood County Line website speculates that this could have been a second marriage for both of them since Smith was 30 and Sarah was 26 at the presumed time of their marriage.

Their first child was Sarah, who is believed to be born in Virginia in 1750.  Their second child, Young, was born about 1753 in Guilford County, North Carolina, so it appears that between the birth of their first two children, sometime between 1750 and 1753, Smith and Sarah moved with the Patterson family from Virginia to North Carolina.

Smith Patterson migrated to Granville County with his half-brothers, Lewis and George by 1754.  He appears as a sergeant in the Muster Roll of the Regiment in Granville County under the Command of Col. William Eaton as taken at a General Muster of the Regiment on the 8th of October 1754. He was part of Captain Daniel Harris’s Company. Lewis and George were also listed as part of that Company.

Smith appears in the 1755 tax rolls of Granville County, North Carolina.

The Granville County Deed Book of 1761 – 1764 indicates Smith was acquiring and selling land.

“Oct. 2, 1763-Smith Patterson of Granville Co., to Jememiah Neil of Granville Co. for 33 pds 6 shls 6 pence, 250 acres onside of Reedy Creek on James Alston’s old line to Lemuel Hargrove’s corner, to Mangum’s Acock’s lines. Wits; Robert Flack, John Linton (Abstracts of Granville Co. NC, Deeds 1746-1765)

“pg 245-46 April 1, 1763-Grant to Smith Patterson for 700 acres onNorth side of Reedy Creek at Adcocks’s corner, Macon’s Creek,Hardway’s and Young’s lines.

“pg 240-41, Jan. 4 1764 Smith Patterson to Mathew Morrell of Southhampton Co. VA. for 40 pds., 500 arces on Meltons Creek in Granville Co., NC at Jeremiah Neils corner Hardway’s and Youngs lines. Wits;James Thompson,Lewis Harris.”

Though not our direct line of descent:

“Records for two of Smith’s stepbrothers, Lewis Patterson and George Patterson also show them migrating south. As early as 1755, census records show Lewis already in Granville Co., NC where he would die in 1810 at the age of 83. He and his wife, Lucy Jordan, had 10 children.

“Smith’s stepbrother, George Patterson, migrated from upper North Carolina to the south. Records on him can be found in Bute, Warren, Granville, Tryon, and Edgecomb Counties of North Carolina, finally settling in York County, South Carolina. He died there in 1803 at the age of 74. George’s son, Littleberry Patterson and his descendants were some of the earliest pioneer families to settle in Monroe, Polk, and McMinn Counties in Tennessee.” (Haywood County Line)

We find Smith and his son Young Patterson in Franklin- Warren County, North Carolina at least by 1771 when they appear in the Tax List.  However, he seems to have been unable to pay his taxes in 1788.  He is referred to as an Insolvent in Franklin County, North Carolina records: “Jeremiah Perry Collector in Capt Whites District for the year 1788 be allowed the following Insolvents, Smith Patterson 50 acres and 1 poll.”

We are descended from their son Tillman.

The Third Generation

Tillman Patterson was born 1761 or before in Granville County, North Carolina.  His pension application, filed on 3 October 1826, when he was living in Louisburg, Franklin County, North Carolina gives his birth year as 1753, but the 1840 Federal Census give his age as 79 resulting in a birth year 1761.

Tillman participated in the American Revolution.  According to his pension application of 11 September 1826 in Franklin, North Carolina, Tillman joined the army in Franklin, North Carolina on 1 November 1778.  He served as a sergeant in Captain Sharp’s Company of Colonial Armstrong’s North Carolina regiment, and was discharged somewhere between 1 and 10 August 1779.

Tillman first appears in the Federal Census as head of household in the 1800 census, at that time living in Louisburg, Franklin County, North Carolina, which indicates he had migrated to Franklin County at least by 1800.  Possibly his family had removed to Franklin County at the time he enlisted in 1778.

Tillman and Matilda had at least three children, all born in Franklin County, North Carolina: Jane born about 1795, Young on 14 March 1799, and Smith about 1798.

We are descended from Jane Patterson.

Tillman may have left his own farm in his later years because he appears in the household of James Dent and his daughter, Jane, in the 1840 census, which gives his age as 79. 

James and Jane were married about 1825, and would become a set of my third great-grandparents.  The child from whom we are descended, Susan, would have been a child in the house with her grandfather, Tillman, in 1840, eight years old art the time, and 17 at the time Tillman’s death in 1849.

I don’t know the location of the Patterson or Dent farms in Franklin County, but below is an overview of Louisburg, Franklin County.


And I did find this little house.


This little building was a rest stop for stagecoach travelers on the Richmond to Raleigh road (401) in Franklin County NC. Built in the late 1700’s or early 1800’s. The main house burned in the 1970’s.

I can imagine that the Pattersons and Dents may have traveled this way, perhaps using this little rest stop to met people or for simple refreshment.