Sunday, April 19, 2015

When Was John Patterson Actually Born?

Which John Patterson?, You Ask

John Patterson married Margaret "Peggy" Black in the 1780's in South Carolina, somewhere in Camden District, apparently. According to the 1850 Union Co., GA census, Margaret was listed as 83 years old that year, which would give her a birth year of 1766/67. I have pretty much always listed her as circa 1767.

In the 1980's when I began researching my family tree for the first time, info that I typically saw at the time listed John as born ca. 1767 as well. After I began to look closer at the census records, however, it became clear to me that he must have been born closer to 1765 than 1767. Not knowing, at the time, who his parents were, let alone when they were married, anything prior to 1765 was like spitting in the ocean. So I've always run with ca. 1765 for this John Patterson.

John Patterson's Birth Year Re-visited

Recently I was working through a five-part series on a Robert Patterson whom I believe to have been a younger son brother of this John. In the process of writing, documenting, reviewing, revising, etc., I tripped over this question of John's birth year once again.

In the ensuing years since I began researching my family tree, we have discovered that John's father was Thomas Patterson, son of Robert and Sarah Patterson of York Co., SC. Then a few years later, we discovered the marriage record for Thomas Patterson, to a Margaret Harrison, on December 24, 1761, in Augusta Co., VA. Just to clarify, this was not a court record. This was a diary record by the minister who performed the wedding.

At this point, it would be safe to assume that John was born no earlier than 1762. So for now, that gives us 1762/65 for his birth year range.

But when did Thomas and Margaret Patterson move from the Linville Creek area near Harrisonburg, Va to the Clarks Fork of Bullocks Creek area of York Co., SC? They seem to have migrated about the same time as the Harrisons (Nathaniel and Thomas), but that's hard to prove. Most of what we have to work with involves the Mecklenburg Co., NC grants and surveys that were issued in the mid 1760's to people who were living in areas that are now south of the border between the two Carolinas. The next decade it became SC again, as it had been prior to this mid 1760's time of confusion. The surveys that were done on these Patterson, Black, and Harrison tracts were mostly done in 1765 and later, but it's clear they had been there for some time.

I also know that Thomas Patterson's 60 acre tract on Clarks Fork was next to both Nathaniel Harrison, and Robert Black. Remember that Thomas Patterson's wife was Margaret Harrison. I believe she was a sister to Nathaniel and Thomas Harrison. Furthermore, Robert Black was married to Majey Cravens, a cousin (probably 1st cousin) to these same Harrisons.

We do have a little more information to work with in regards to Nathaniel Harrison and his land. In the Rutherford Co., NC court records there is a record showing that Joseph Harrison and Rachel Harrison sold 140 acres of land lying in York Co., SC on both sides of Clarks Fork of Bullocks Creek to Matthew Black, dated 29 July 1785, being the land granted to Nathaniel Harrison in the year 1762. In York Co., SC court records there is recorded the same transaction, only naming Joseph Harrison and his mother Rachel as selling the same land to Matthew Black, land that was granted to Nathaniel Harrison in 1762. In October Court, 1788, York Co., SC there is a record of Joseph Harrison vs Matthew Black, something to do with "debt" and was "dismissed at the defendants cost." This is the same tract of land that was right next to Thomas Patterson's 60 acre tract. Both were resurveyed in 1765, and granted in 1767. Rachel Harrison was Nathaniel's wife, and Joseph was his son. These families later ended up in Buncombe Co., NC as did these Pattersons and Blacks.

I bring up these details simply to show that Thomas Patterson most likely acquired his land on Clarks Fork at the same time as Nathaniel Harrison, his presumed brother-in-law. Knowing that Harrison received his in 1762 indicates that Thomas Patterson probably moved to the Carolinas around 1762 or shortly thereafter.

It's also interesting to note that John Patterson's daughter, Amy Jane Patterson (Kincaid), was born in 1793 and lived until 1889. She told her descendants that the family was from Camden District, SC. Furthermore, she listed both of her parents on the 1880 census as born in SC.

Breaking Down the Census Records

Where does that leave us? For now, I believe it still leaves us at 1762/65 for a birth year range for John Patterson. So what do the census records for John tell us? We have the census records of 1800 and 1810 Buncombe (NC), 1820 Haywood (NC), and 1840 Union (GA), to work with. Here is the breakdown of John's age by census year:

  • 1800 Buncombe NC: 26-44 (1756-1774)
  • 1810 Buncombe NC: 45+ (1765 or earlier)
  • 1820 Haywood NC: 45+ (1775 or earlier)
  • 1840 Union GA: 70-79 (1761-1770)
The composite of these would put him at 1761-1765.


Knowing that his parents were married on Dec. 24, 1761, as well as the fact that he most likely was born in SC (NC at the time), and that they probably moved to SC by 1762, the safe conclusion would put the earliest year for his birth at 1762 still. Again, he doesn't seem to have been born any later than 1765, but it could have been as late as that year.

The area where Clarks Fork of Bullocks Creek is located, is in modern day York Co., SC. It has been considered York County since 1772, officially. But prior to that, NC claimed that area off and on, and issued over 1000 grants for land that is now considered SC. This includes the Clarks Fork region. It was claimed by Anson Co., NC from 1748/49 until 1763, when Mecklenburg Co. was formed. This same area of land later became claimed by Tryon Co., NC beginning in 1769.

My analysis leads me to believe that I must begin to list John Patterson as born 1762/65 in York Co., SC. The one caveat to that statement is that when he was born, that area was claimed by either Anson or Mecklenburg Co., NC, depending on whether John was born in 1762/63, or in 1763/65. Have fun with that!

I'll just go with York Co., SC. If that was good enough for his daughter in 1880, it's good enough for me in 2015.

Wes Patterson

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