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Patterson Family Papers

Identifier: MS-236

Scope and Content

The Patterson Family Papers are an eclectic collection of financial and business records, family correspondence, scrapbooks, 19th-Century newspapers, family histories, and photographs which document three generations of Patterson and Johnston Family personal and business matters. The researcher should be aware that both Col. Robert Patterson and Col. John Johnston gave significant portions of their papers to Lyman Draper, who was gathering documents to write a history of the American frontier in the nineteenth century. These documents are available in the Draper Manuscript microfilm, reels 95 and 118-120, in Special Collections.

Series I, family correspondence, consists of letters exchanged between members of the Patterson and Johnston Families. Correspondence in this series is arranged chronologically within each folder and the span dates are 1810-1867. Col. Robert Patterson’s letters cover the years 1810-1829 and consist of correspondence from the Colonel to various family members, friends, and associates. Majorities of the letters are addressed to his son, Francis, and pertain to business matters. Another portion of correspondence consists of letters from Col. John Johnston to his daughter and son-in-law, Jefferson and Julia Johnston Patterson. These letters cover the years 1832-1860 and discuss Johnston’s business as an Indian agent and trader in Piqua, family and health matters, gossip, and advice. Another set of letters are from Rachael Johnston to her daughter, Julia, and span the years 1833-1840. Childbirth, children, health, and miscellaneous family matters are the major topics of discussion in these letters. Of particular interest in this series are the letters to Julia Johnston Patterson from four of her sons who served in the Union Army during the Civil War. A complete transcription of these letters is contained in Box 14, File 41. The Patterson family’s Civil War correspondence from Series I (Box 1, Files 13-17) can be viewed online in Wright State University’s Campus Online Repository (CORE Scholar):

Series II and III contain business and financial records covering the years 1780-1963. The bulk of the records, however, are in the 19th century. These records relate primarily to the operation of the Patterson family farm and lumber mill. A portion of Col. Robert Patterson’s land surveys and Quartermaster records are also included. A major portion of Series III, receipts and financial records, is composed of short notes from customers directing the Pattersons to deliver to the bearer of the note a certain amount of unspecified goods. Some of the correspondence in Series II is personal, but the major portion is business and legal in nature. The papers in these two series are arranged chronologically and the span dates are 1780-1963 for Series II, and 1790-1869 for Series III.

Series IV consists of 17 scrapbooks compiled under the supervision of John H. Patterson. These scrapbooks are an eclectic collection of letters and cards, news-clippings on a wide range of subjects, certificates, memorabilia, business and school records, photographs, and family histories. The materials that were not glued down onto pages were placed in file folders and arranged into groups by scrapbook. Of particular interest are scrapbooks 1 and 2, which contain Patterson Family histories and John H. Patterson personal history, and scrapbook 10, which contains material on Col. John Johnston.

The miscellaneous materials in Series V include a Patterson Family genealogy and family tree, materials regarding the Patterson Family Homestead, and three Saturday Evening Posts, published in 1953, which contain articles on John H. Patterson and the National Cash Register Company.

Series VI, photographs, contains a print of a painting of Col. John Johnston, a Jane Reece photographic print of Frank Stuart Patterson, a number of images from the 1913 Dayton Flood, a lithograph of J.H. Patterson, and a file of photographs of Edith McClure Patterson who was a niece of John H. and involved in local and state Republican politics during the 1930’s and 40’s.

Series VII, newspapers, consists of 25 single editions of various newspapers, mostly from Dayton, Cincinnati, and Piqua published during the Civil War and earlier.


  • Creation: 1780-1970


Restrictions on Access

There are no restrictions on accessing materials in this collection.

Restrictions on Use

Copyright restrictions may apply. Unpublished manuscripts are protected by copyright. Permission to publish, quote or reproduce must be secured from the repository and the copyright holder.

History of The Patterson Family

Colonel Robert Patterson (1753-1827) was born in Pennsylvania and immigrated to Kentucky in 1775 where he founded the City of Lexington. Patterson fought in the Revolutionary War and in Indian campaigns with George Rogers Clark, and in 1786, was commissioned a colonel. Patterson later moved across the Ohio River and became one of the three original founders of the City of Cincinnati in 1788. In 1802 he moved into the Miami Valley and settled near Dayton. Col. Patterson continued his military career on the Ohio frontier, and was commissioned as a Quartermaster during the War of 1812. Along with his military activities, Col. Patterson farmed and raised eight children with his wife, Elizabeth (Lindsay) on the family farm, “Rubicon”, which was located two miles south of the City of Dayton. He also operated a lumber mill with the aid of his youngest son, Jefferson Patterson (1801-1863).

Jefferson Patterson was raised in Dayton, Ohio, on the family farm, which he inherited along with the lumber mill on the death of his father. Jefferson’s marriage to Julia Johnston (1811-1897) united two of Ohio’s most famous pioneer families. Julia was the daughter of Col. John Johnston (1775-1861), a well-known Indian agent and trader in Piqua, Ohio. A native of Ireland, Johnston immigrated to America in 1786. He served in the supply business for Wayne’s army in 1793-1794, and in Fort Wayne, 1798-1812. In 1812, he was appointed Indian agent at Upper Piqua, Ohio.

Jefferson and Julia Johnston Patterson had 14 children. One, John H. (1844-1922) gained national prominence. With his brother Frank J. (1849-1901), John H. Patterson co-founded the National Cash Register Company in Dayton in 1884. As president of NCR, he developed the cash register into an indispensable commercial tool, and his innovative marketing and employee relations practices revolutionized American business. He was also very active in local civic affairs and was instrumental in the formation of the city manager style of government in Dayton.

A detailed Patterson Family genealogy is located in Box 14, File 39. Family histories of the Johnston Family are in Box 13, Files 20, 21, and 26, and a family history of the Pattersons is located in Box 13, File 28. Scrapbook #10 also contains extensive biographical material on Col. John Johnston.


9 linear feet

Language of Materials



A collection of correspondence, family histories, photographs, business records, and scrapbooks from two local pioneer families who played an important part in the early development of the Miami Valley: the Pattersons of Dayton and the Johnstons of Piqua. The business records cover the period 1785-1879 and relate to the operation of the Patterson Family farm and lumber mill. Some of Col. Robert Patterson's land surveys and quartermaster records are also included. The correspondence consists of letters between family members and friends, the bulk of which falls within the years 1820-1900. These letters are a good representation of 19th century life and discuss business, family affairs, daily activities, and politics. Of particular interest are the letters to Julia Johnston Patterson from her sons in the Union Army during the Civil War. The scrapbooks are an eclectic collection of newspaper clippings, programs, and memorabilia concerning John H. Patterson, the National Cash Register Company, and local and family history.

Statement of Arrangement

The collection is arranged into seven series.

  1. Series 1: Family Correspondence
  2. Series 2: Correspondence, Business, and Legal Papers
  3. Series 3: Financial Records and Receipts
  4. Series 4: Scrapbooks
  5. Series 5: Miscellaneous Materials
  6. Series 6: Photographs
  7. Series 7: Newspapers

Other Finding Aid

The Patterson family's Civil War correspondence from Series I (Box 1, Files 13-17) can be viewed online in Wright State University's Campus Online Repository (CORE Scholar):

Acquisition Information

The Patterson Family papers were accessioned into Dunbar Library's Special Collections and Archives in December 1991. The collection was donated by Montgomery County Historical Society.

Existence and Location of Copies

The collection was microfilmed by Wright State University Libraries in 1992 (MFM-131: Patterson Family Papers on microfilm.) The microfilm is located in Special Collections and Archives' microfilm cabinets DB Rolls 1964-1973 and duplicate set DB Rolls 2559-2568). Please note that the microfilm will not reflect any additions to or reprocessing of the collection after 1992.

Related Material

Related Collections include the Edith McClure Patterson Papers (MS-231), Woodhull-Patterson Family Papers (MS-379), and the Tecumseh Papers (reels 118-120) and the Robert Patterson Papers (reel 95), from the Draper Manuscripts.

Separated Material

Oversized materials are in oversize drawers 29 (folders 2 and 3), and 78 (folders 10 and 11) The book, The Intellectual Life, by Philip Gilbert Hamerton; with a portrait of Leonardo da Vinci etched by Leopold Flameng, 1875, was separated to the reading room. Call number LC31 .H3 1875

Processing Information

The collection was processed by Dorothy Smith, Spring 1994.

Guide to the Patterson Family Papers
Finding aid prepared by Dorothy Smith, 1994
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections Repository

Wright State University Libraries
Special Collections and Archives
3640 Colonel Glenn Hwy
Dayton OH 45435-0001 USA