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*Charles Richard Patterson’s birth in 1833 is celebrated on this date. He was a Black slave who gained his own freedom and became an inventor and carriage company entrepreneur.
Born on a Virginia plantation, Charles R. "Rich" Patterson was the son of Charles and Nancy Patterson. He gained his freedom by crossing the Allegheny Mountains, hiking through West Virginia, and crossing the Ohio River to reach Greenfield, OH, a station on the Underground Railroad. There, Patterson worked for the Dines and Simpson Carriage and Coach Makers Company. Later, in partnership with J.P. Lowe, he formed a company that became known for its expertly crafted horse-drawn carriages; soon he had bought out his partner and formed the highly successful C.R. Patterson and Sons Carriage Company.
Charles R. Patterson was awarded patents for the following devices: a trill coupling (#364,849) in 1887; a furniture caster (#452,940) in 1891; a vehicle dash (#803,356) in 1905. Clay Gordon patented a buggy top (#983,992) that was assigned to C.R. Patterson & Sons Co. (a co-partnership) in 1911 and Homer C. Reed patented a combination ladder that was assigned to F.D. Patterson in 1910.
After Charles Patterson's death in 1910, his eldest son took over the family business. Noticing more and more of the "funny-looking horseless" carriages on the road, he reported to the company's board, "In 1902 there was one car to 65,000 people, and by 1909 there was one vehicle for every 800 people...I believe it's time for us to build a Patterson horseless carriage." On September 23, 1915, young Patterson saw his dream roll off the assembly line-an awkward-looking two-door coupe.
C.R. Patterson and Sons could not compete, however, with Henry Ford, on his way to becoming one of the world's largest automobile manufacturers. In 1939, the company closed its big wooden doors. Most believe that C.R. Patterson would have been saddened, but very proud to know that his name on a product still meant the highest quality.
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