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A Moment in Black History: The Patterson Car -- Part 1 of 2

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Richard O. Jones
Mr. Charles Richard Patterson was founder of what was to become the world’s first Blackowned automobile manufacturing company. Greenfield, Ohio holds a special place in the annals of automobile manufacturing, thanks to an ex-slave and his family. During the early part of this century, the Greene Countrie Towne was home to the only Black-owned and operated automobile manufacturing enterprise known to have existed.

The head of this remarkable family was Charles (Rich) Patterson. He was born a slave on a West Virginia plantation and learned black smithing skills that would prove useful throughout his life. Patterson escaped to freedom shortly before the Civil War by hiking over the Allegheny Mountains and swimming the Ohio River. Another chronicler states that Patterson settled in Greenfield in 1865 but makes no mention of a dramatic escape. In any event, Patterson quickly established a reputation as a fine blacksmith.  In 1873 he went into partnership with a white man, J.P. Lowe.

Patterson assumed sole ownership a decade later upon the death of his partner. The C.R. Patterson Co. turned out 28 different types of horse-drawn vehicles. The product

line included buggies, backboards, phaetons, rockaways and surreys — the era’s most popular wagons.

Patterson and his wife, the former Josephine Qutz, were the parents of four children: Katherine, Dollie, Frederick, and Samuel. It was Fred who helped guide the company into the Automobile Age in the early 20th century.

Conflicting information has been published concerning the debut of the Patterson car, also known as the Greenfield touring car. One report states that the company was making cars in 1902, while another writer states that the Patterson-Greenfield made its debut on Sept. 23, 1915.

Email: richardojones1@verizon.net

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0 # Yu-Shan Shakir 2012-11-06 05:12
Not only did i find these story amazing, I would like to hear more facts about african american's that are not main stream. THANKS- Cleveland,Oh

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