Back Up Next

Patterson, John D., mayor of Harrisburg, was born at Williamsburg, Blair county, Pa., November 1, 1842. His parents were of that sturdy stock, Scotch-Irish, the representatives of which are so numerous and prominent in the leadership of American society. The education and training of children are regarded by this worthy class of citizens as ships of priority and prominence in promoting the public intelligence and virtue. The parents of Mayor Patterson gave their son the advantages which the public schools afford, and supplemented these by a course of study at the academy. At the same time they were careful that some systematic and continuous industrial occupation should fill up the vacations and intervals between school terms. The result was a studious and industrious youth, with some knowledge and training and a desire for more. His first employment on his own account was farm work, in the summer months, and teaching school in the winter months. Busied at these occupations, he constantly grew and strengthened in body and mind. The war came on and opened to him a new field of action. He enlisted in the army in August, 1862, and thus became a soldier before he became a voter. Before he had been a month in the service, on September 17, 1862, he was baptized in the blood of battle, on the battlefield of Antietam, where he received serious injury. For meritorious action, and conduct which displayed the tactics and heroism of the true soldier, he was promoted on the field, and made orderly to General Kane, and also to General Knipe. At the end of his term of service he re-enlisted and served to the end of the war. Upon his final discharge from the army, July 1, 1865, he came immediately to Harrisburg, and entered the service of the Pennsylvania Railroad Company. He remained with that company until December 1, 1874, when he resigned his position for the very best of reasons, namely: His elevation to the highest office within the gift of his fellow-citizens of Harrisburg, the mayoralty of the city. The acknowledgment by the public of the success of his administration as chief executive of the city was his re-election to the office in 1876, and the repetition of this endorsement by his election to a third term of the office, in 1878. In these elections Mr. Patterson was the candidate of the Republican party.

In 1881 he was elected resident clerk of the House of Representatives. The compliment in this election was the greater because the majority in the House was Democratic, and his successor in this office was a member of that party, showing that he was chosen on the grounds of personal worth and ability, and not on party preference. He was elected sergeant-at-arms of the House of Representatives in 1885, 1887 and 1889. In December, 1889, he was appointed auditing clerk of the commissioners of the Soldiers' Orphans' Schools. This position he was called to give up because of the rare honor conferred upon him of election in February, 1896, to a fourth term of the office of mayor.

For many years Mr. Patterson has been a member of Post No. 58, G. A. R. He is also a member of the Improved Order of Red Men. The family are members of the Zion Lutheran church, on Fourth street, Harrisburg. Mr. Patterson was married on 1866, to Clara Morris, daughter of Israel Morris, of Reading, Pa. They had three children: Mary Emily, Jennie E., and Alice D. Mrs. Patterson died in 1889.

Patterson, John D., p. 319 & 320

Transcribed by Gwen Bixler Drivon at for the Dauphin County, Pennsylvania Genealogy Transcription Project -

9 Nov. 2000

Copyright c 2000 - All Rights Reserved: Use, duplication or reproduction for profit or presentation by any person or organization is strictly prohibited.