Saturday, July 23, 2011

How Many Sons Did Old Robert Patterson Have After All?

Robert Patterson wrote his last Will & Testament in July of 1775 in York Co SC. He died no later than November that same year. Robert was my gggggg-grandfather. For years, all we've known for sure concerning how many sons he had was the four sons named in his Will, viz. Thomas, Robert, Peter and William. But were there other sons?

Naturally, anyone would agree that there could have been other sons that died young, but how could you ever prove it? There just isn't any empirical evidence that other sons existed. Right?

Well, maybe there is enough evidence to suggest there were more sons. At the very least, there appears to have been a son named James that can now be "confirmed". I would also suggest there could have been a son named John, but that cannot be proven or disproven at this time, to my knowledge, so I'll leave that discussion for another time.

James Patterson. We know he existed. We've known for years there was a James Patterson living close by on Clarks Fork of Bullocks Creek in what is now York Co SC, but who was he? Why wasn't he named in Robert's 1775 Will?

For years I suggested to Harald Reksten that James could have been a son of Robert. But I didn't see enough of the big picture to be able to prove it one way or the other. Eventually, I stopped suggesting this. Then recently, Harald suggested it to me based on the evidence he was finding in the land records.

Harald's theory? James Patterson died before his father Robert died in 1775. He was also single and therefore no estate was administered for dependents. Hmmm... that theory works. But proving it is another story.

The facts we already had in place were the following:

1. Mecklenburg Co NC, Book 23, Page 163. 26 October 1767 Grant #438 to Robert Cravens 150 acres on Clarks Fork of Bullocks Creek adjacent Robert Patterson line. Chain Bearers: James Petterson, Newberry Stockton. Plat: 17 January 1767. File #2251.

2. Tryon Co NC, Book O5, Page 072. 23 February 1774 Robert Cravens of Augusta County, Colony of Virginia and Wife Esther to James Patterson of County of Tryon, North Carolina for £90 Va. currency, 150 acres in the county of Tryon, NC, on both sides of Clarks fork of Bullocks Creek adjacent Robert Patterson's line. Signed: Robt Cravens, Esther Cravens (LS). Witnesses: Robert Patterson, Joseph Dictum , John Quin. Proved by the oath of Robert Patterson 4 June 1774 before Joseph Robinson, J.P. Recorded 15 March 1785.

The Robert Patterson in both records was most likely Robert Jr, the brother of James Patterson. A few years ago I obtained a copy of the 1774 deed and the Robert Patterson did not have the trademark "R" mark that Robert Sr used. So I am convinced it was Robert Jr.

Esther Cravens was born Esther Harrison, daughter of Jeremiah Harrison and Elizabeth Patterson. Therefore she was the 1st cousin of James and Robert Patterson. Joseph Dictum married another first cousin of both Esther Harrison Cravens and James Patterson.

If Harald's theory is true, in that James was a son of Robert Patterson Sr, then James died between February 1774 and July 1775. Robert Sr must have already had a Will in place with as much land as he owned in VA and SC (Clarks Fork of Bullocks Creek was deemed to be in York Co SC around 1775). It would stand to reason that Robert would have re-written his Will if one of his sons died unexpectedly. I believe this is why Robert wrote his Will in July 1775 in order to update it.

But still that's no proof. If James were single, his assets would have devolved to his father. So the smoking gun question is this. Is there any evidence that Robert Patterson Sr ever came into possession of James' 150 acres he purchased from Cravens in 1774?

The answer... YES.

Here's your smoking gun:

3) York Co SC, Book H, Page 100. 6 June 1802 Robert Wallace of York District to John Wallace of same for $10, (1) 150 acres on Clarks Fork of Bullocks Creek joining Robert Patterson, being originally granted to Robert Cravens and from said Cravens conveyed by deed to Robert Patterson deceased; (2) 40 acres on Hendersons Branch of Clarks Fork of Bullocks Creek joining John Patterson, a part of tract granted to Robert Patterson in the year 1794. Signed: Robert Wallace. Witnesses: Samuel Love, Samuel Brown, Andrew Love. Proved: 18 January 1816 by Samuel Brown before Thomas Simpson. Recorded: 4 March 1816.

So this deed proves the same 150 acre tract passed to Robert Patterson. Which Robert Patterson? Robert Sr died in 1775. Robert Jr died in 1828. This deed was in 1802, so clearly "Robert Patterson deceased" is referring to Robert Sr. We know that Cravens did not sell the land to Robert directly, but rather to James, but the chain of title shows it passed to Robert. The only way that could have happened without James selling it to his father, was for it to pass to him through inheritance. James had to die after February 1774. And since his father died in 1775 between July and November, James had to have died prior to that.

This is about as solid a case as one could ever present. My hat is off to Harald Reksten for working through the details on this one. He presented the theory to me a few months ago and then recently found this 1802 deed, which to me is empirical evidence.

The sons of Robert and Sarah Patterson at the very least include Thomas, James, Robert, Peter and William.

WP