In February of 2009 I received an e-mail from my third cousin, George Patterson, who is also a descendant of John "Jock" Patterson. He provided me with information that required me to make a few corrections to the dates in this Patterson family history specifically as they relate to the year of Jock Patterson's birth which I previously listed incorrectly as 1829 instead of 1822. He also sent me exciting new information about Jock Patterson's role in the North-West Rebellion that took place in Canada's western territories in the year 1885. The below narrative has been adjusted according and it is with great pleasure that I offer George Patterson our thanks for participating in our history of the Patterson family.
As far as I can determine, I have only one direct ancestor that fought in a foreign war and for that matter, fought in any wars other than the American Revolution. That person was John Patterson, my great-great grandfather, who was born in 1822 in Paisley, Scotland. When John was in his 20s he enlisted in the 42nd Highland Regiment, a regiment that was later to become the 42nd Royal Highland Regiment and referred to informally thereafter as the “Black Watch.” Even at the time of his enlistment in the early 1850s (he would have been 28 in 1850), the 42nd Highlanders were famous for their battle prowess and bravery. The regiment was originally formed in 1725 as a British military unit to stop the fighting among the Scottish Clans. Since its inception this kilted regiment has been utilized in almost every war involving the British including the American Revolutionary War and most recently, the War in Iraq. When John Patterson enlisted, the 42nd Highlanders had been engaged earlier in the decade in the Napoleonic Wars and at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815. Clearly John Patterson must have had an adventurous spirit to have enlisted in such an illustrious military unit. No doubt the fact that the 42nd Highlanders were renowned for their Pipe and Drum Corp which had been formed during the Napoleonic Wars and used to “play their regiment into battle” influenced his decision. John was a skilled bagpiper. I am assuming that he was already a proficient bagpiper before he joined the regiment, although it is possible, if he enlisted at an early age, the military may have taught him the bagpipes. Considering how well he played in 1855 as reported later, I suspect that he learned to play the bagpipes before he joined the 42nd Highlanders.
Early in 1853, John Patterson along with his regiment and over 50,000 other British troops embarked on ships headed for the Crimea thus beginning Britain’s entry into what is now known as the Crimean War. While the Crimean War is an important event in world history, it is not well known to Americans primarily because our country was not involved. The war is described only briefly in history books in American schools. Considering that the war involved the British, the French, the Ottoman Empire, and the Russians as the combatants, and also considering that almost 300,000 people including civilians died as a result of the war, it probably justifies offering more than a page or two in our history books. I am not going to try and makeup for the short comings of our history books, however to fully understand what John Patterson experienced, it is necessary to briefly outline what he faced.
In the first half of the 1800s the Ottoman Empire consisted loosely of the Balkan Peninsula, Turkey, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, the other Arab countries in this area, and the “Holy Lands”. Their control over their empire was weak and on the decline. Russia during this period controlled the land on the north side of the Black Sea, including the peninsula of Crimea. In order for Russia to gain a warm-water access for their navy which was harbored in the Black Sea at the City of Sebastopol, through to the Mediterranean Sea, the Russians needed to control the narrow straights, including one by the City of Constantinople in Turkey, that lead from the Black Sea to the Mediterranean. Russia to achieve its goal initiated a series of political negotiations and military moves that had as its intended result, gaining control over the Ottoman Empire. Turkey was angered by the Russian activities and they finally declared war on Russia in March of 1853. Meanwhile the French and the British not wanting Russia to gain control in the area and knowing full well that Turkey was too weak to defend itself alone, sent troops via their fleets into the conflict area and allied with Turkey. In March of 1854, both France and Great Britain declared war on Russia thus formally beginning the Crimean War.
The war lasted from early 1854 until the end of 1855. It consisted of two major battles, the Battle of Alma in which the Black Watch participated, and the Battle of Balaclava, which included the infamous “Charge of the Light Brigade”, plus a few other skirmishes, and the siege and ultimate capture of the City of Sebastopol on the Crimean Peninsula. It was the Siege at Sebastopol that resulted in the majority of the deaths in the Crimean War. As far as we know, John Patterson was in the Crimean War from the beginning through to the end. Based on a newspaper article published in the Nova Scotia Times in 1885, where it was reported that “his [bagpipe] music cheered his comrades on the slopes of Sebastopol” we know that John was at the Siege of Sebastopol. We also know that the British, the French, the other Allied troops, and the Russians were subjected to deplorable human suffering during the siege. It is estimated that during the war and the siege which itself lasted a full year, the British troops consisting of around 50,000 men, lost 2,755 men killed in action, 2,019 dead from battle wounds, and an astounding 16,323 dead from disease. Death statistics for the French and Russian troops were no better. We know that the 42nd Highland Brigade did not participate directly in any of the battles. We do know that John Patterson faced a far greater danger than being killed in battle. Death from disease and exposure claimed many more deaths. Fortunately for his descendents, he survived.
The Crimean War is noted for a number of important issues in world and British history. First, it is considered to be the first large-scale “world war” wherein multiple nations were engaged. Secondly, the military tactics utilized were a precursor of what to expect in subsequent wars including the American Civil War and World War I. The allies at the siege of Sebastopol employed the uses of trenches for the first time in military history. The use of the glorious cavalry charge against infantry, a tactic successfully utilized in previous wars, was shown to be fallible against well placed canons. Alfred Lord Tennyson wrote his famous poem The Charge of the Light Brigade shortly after the Battle of Balaclava wherein he memorialized a suicidal British cavalry charge against a heavily armed Russian position:
All in the Valley of Death
Rode the six Hundred:
‘Forward, the Light Brigade!
Charge for the guns’ he said:
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.
Of the 637 mounted participants in the charge, 247 were killed or wounded in a matter of minutes. This incident along with other military blunders on the part of the military leadership in the Crimean War finally convinced the English Parliament once and for all that the British military custom of “selling” their higher military ranks to wealthy English nobility rather than promoting men from the ranks based on ability, needed change. Despite this system being in place for hundreds of years, it had finally proven to be an ineffective way to run a modern war and the system was changed shortly after the end of the war.
Another serious failure on the part of the British leadership resulted from their impulsiveness to go to war without making the proper preparations. Unfortunately the war was not won in the short period of time anticipated. The siege of Sebastopol lasted through the winter of 1854-55 and almost criminally, the troops had been sent to war without adequate provisions including clothes and shelters to survive in winter conditions. Thousands died as a result of this military incompetence. Furthermore, the British military system had never developed a system for handling large quantities of sick and wounded. There were almost no doctors, there were inadequate supplies of medicine, there were no nurses, few wagons and stretchers bearers to handle the wounded (other than a few poorly trained bagpipers, perhaps even our John Patterson, who were enlisted to help out), and no hospital tents or structures. It is hard to imagine this lack of caring. Fortunately, for the first time in warfare, the British press sent war correspondents to the battle front and they reported back to their newspapers and the British people of the terrible conditions in the Crimea and of the scandalous treatment and misery and suffering of the British troops. Despite the obvious public outcry that followed, it took private funding and the heroic efforts of Florence Nightingale to organize a nursing team to be sent to war front. This one change, nursing as a vocation for women, was perhaps the most positive result of the Crimean War.
Somehow through all of this, my great-great grandfather survived.
The gentleman in the above photo with the bagpipes is John “Jock” Patterson, my great, great grandfather on my mother’s side of the family. The three young boys are his sons William, Charles, and John. John Patterson sitting on the far right in the photograph is my great grandfather. The photograph is a copy of an original photograph on tin type taken around 1864-5, probably in Halifax or Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, Canada.
Jock Patterson retired from the military after the Crimean War and shortly thereafter emigrated to Nova Scotia, Canada, where he met his wife, my great, great grandmother, Margaret Leonard. Margaret was born in Ireland in 1835 and she died in 1889. Together they had nine children, including my great grandfather, John Riddle Patterson, who was born in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia around 1857. Jock Patterson died in 1892 and with his wife is buried in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. For most of his life Jock Patterson was noted as a skilled piper. From the same 1885 newspaper article previously quoted, it further reads: ”Reports from Winnipeg state that the Halifax Battalion have gone into quarters at the skating rink there. During the long and tedious march over the melting ice of Lake Superior, officers and men had no sleep, but not a man fell out. In the ranks are old soldiers who have seen duty in various parts of the world. Among them is Jock Patterson, the piper from Dartmouth. His performances on the bagpipes at the Winnipeg camp are said to be inimitable.” John Patterson was 62 years old when this was written. He died at the age of 70 in the year 1892.
The following three paragraphs were added in February of 2009 based on new information received from George Patterson:
The 1885 article in the Halifax newspaper quoted above failed to mention why Jock Patterson and the Halifax Battalion marched across Lake Superior and were camped at Winnipeg. Apparently my lack of knowledge of Canadian history failed to trigger my usual inquisitive nature to question why in heavens name a battalion of soldiers from Halifax were so far from home. Unfortunately as a result, I missed an important milestone in the life of John Patterson, his participation in the North-West Rebellion that took place in the Canadian western territories in the year 1885.
In the late 1800s in both the western parts of the United States and Canada there was an "Indian problem", at least in the eyes of the political and military leaders of both countries. The Native American Indians on the other hand considered the gradual loss of their land and their hunting grounds to the flood of new settlers to be a white man problem and as a result they rebelled against the intrusion. The most famous of the conflicts between the Native Americans and the United States military occurred at the Battle of the Little Big Horn (also known as Custer's Last Stand) in 1876 and the Wounded Knee Massacre that took place in 1890. The most famous conflict in the Canadian west was the North-West Rebellion and while the root cause of this rebellion was similar in nature to its counterparts in the United States, the details of the conflicts were substantially different. At the Battle of the Little Big Horn over 1,000 Indians attacked and annihilated 268 soldiers in about one hour of fighting. At the Wounded Knee Massacre around 500 soldiers made a surprise attack on an Indian village and in less than one hour they machine gunned to death 200 men, women, and children. The North-West Rebellion on the other hand consisted of a number of different and smaller conflicts over the period between March 26, 1885 and May 12, 1885. The combatants consisted on one side of Native American Indians most of whom at the time were living on reservations who had combined forces with another group of half-breed Indian farmers called Metis. Their total strength was around 1,000. They faced a Canadian military that at full strength numbered over 10,000 composed primarily of short term enlisted soldiers, militia, and police. The troops were rushed westward on the Canadian Pacific Railway that at the time was still under construction requiring the troops to march at least part of the way. Most of the military battalions were from Ontario, although there were two battalions from Quebec and one from Nova Scotia. This huge force that had been dispatched in a very short period of time quickly defeated the greatly outnumbered rebel forces, and they arrested and imprisioned the rebel leaders many of whom were tried for treason, found guilty, and subsequently hanged. The Canadian government's quick and decisive response was probably responsible for the small number of total casualties and the short duration of the rebellion. Their actions however, did little to settle the legitimate complaints of the native peoples and it took decades for these Native Americans of western Canada to recover politically and emotionally from their defeat in 1885. But for most Canadians, the victory in the west was a great triumph and the participating soldiers were honored with metals, and heaped with praise by their contempories for their bravery.
In March of 1885, when John "Jock" Riddle Patterson enlisted in the Halifax Provisional Battalion he was 62 years old. We know his exact age because he informed a Canadian Census taker in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia on April 27, 1891 that he was 69 years old. This would have made him 62 years old in 1885. However, when Jock enlisted he reported his age as being only 58, a small fib perhaps but probably a necessary one for him to be considered for enlistment. His experience in the Crimean War and his skill as a piper was no doubt the reason he was accepted although even at the age of 58 he was pretty old for a soldier who faced the possibility of being sent into battle. We have to believe that Jock was thrilled with the opportunity of re-living his experences in the Crimean and traveling with some of his old army buddies. His battalion shipped out by train shortly following his enlistment. He left behind however, his wife Margaret and four or five of his children that were still living at home and he did not return home for at least four months. It is hard to imagine how his family survived on his meager wages in the military and Jock during his life had not been known to be a wealthy man. His occupation in the 1891 Census was listed as a "coal measurer". It appears that Jock Patterson may have been a colorful figure on the plains of Saskatchewan for an artist named George Craig photographed Jock Patterson in his kilts and holding his bagpipes and from this photograph he reproduced his vision of Jock in his oil painting a copy of which is shown to the left. The original painting currently resides at the Dartmouth Heritage Museum in Darmouth, Nova Scotia. I suspect that Jock had many more tales to tell his family and friends of his new experiences in the Canadian west.
I know very little about my great grandfather John Riddle Patterson other than what he looked like when he was young (in the Scottish kilts photograph) and what he looked like in his mid-60s. The adjacent photograph taken in the early 1920s shows Great Grandfather Patterson with his grandchildren. On his lap is my Aunt Anne; to his left is my mother, Marian, and to his right is my Uncle Gene. This photo was taken at his son’s home, my grandfather Douglas Ross Patterson, in Lockport, New York. My great grandfather Patterson died in 1927. I do not know the location of his burial site although I assume that he is buried in Nova Scotia with other members of the Patterson family. Great Grandfather Patterson (John) married Mary Savage in Nova Scotia around 1880 and together they had six children including my grandfather, Douglas Patterson. Mary Savage’s father, Thomas Savage, was born in Sligo, Ireland in 1825. His wife, Eliza West, my great grandmother, was born in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia. She died in 1931. Thomas emigrated to Nova Scotia sometime in the mid to late 1840s, probably with his parents and probably, like so many other Irish at the time, to escape the famine conditions in Ireland. The background cause of Irish migration to America is further covered in Chapter 6 Immigration.
It is possible although not confirmed, that John Riddle Patterson may have moved at some point to Lockport, New York from Nova Scotia. This assumption is based solely on my knowledge that some of his children were living in the Lockport area in the 1950s. I remember clearly my Grandfather’s brother, Roy Patterson (“Uncle Roy”), and while I do not have memory of others in my grandfather’s immediate family, I do recall frequent mention of my great aunts, Ethel and Mabel, Grandfather’s sisters. On the other hand, John and Mary Patterson are not buried with their two sons in Lockport thus leading to the conclusion that they are buried in Nova Scotia.
The photograph of my grandfather, Douglas Ross Patterson, was taken in the early 1920s when my grandfather was in his 30s. He was definitely a good looking man. I am not going to repeat a lot of the basic biographical information about my grandfather since it is recorded in Chapter 9 Mother. It must suffice for me to recall in this chapter my grandfather’s qualities that made him such a highly respected individual all of his life.
As a young man he was a gifted athlete. My mother related to me a story of when she was young she watched her father with her younger bother, Gene, on his father’s shoulders leaping off a bridge in Lockport into the Erie Barge Canal, a drop that must have been a good 15 feet. The purpose of the jump was a publicity stunt to raise money for the Boy Scouts. Douglas was a champion swimmer and obviously a fearless jumper. Young son Gene made it though the ordeal and he must have trusted his father. I recall a photograph of grandfather as a young man surrounded by all of his metals and trophies. For a number of years in the 1940s grandfather sponsored a son and son-in-laws spring weekend up at the cottage on Crane Lake. Besides fishing and drinking beer each spring, grandfather held a horseshoe contest with all the young men. As the story goes, he never lost at horseshoes. I recall playing horseshoes with grandfather when I was in my late teens. He was in his 70s at that point and he still beat me.
Much of grandfather’s success in business was due to his gregarious personality and his ability to communicate. Undoubtedly he had the gift of gab for he was an outstanding salesman for the E.H. Ferree Company, a small leathergoods factory in Lockport, New York, owned by his father-in-law, Eugene H. Ferree, my great grandfather. Several years ago I came across a humorous story involving my grandfather and the leather goods factory. One of E.H. Ferree’s largest customers for their leather wallets was the Woolworth stores. In 1938, my grandfather thought it would be a great way to promote his product if the company inserted small sample social security cards in each wallet sold by Woolworth. The sample cards were half the size of the real social security cards that had been issued only a few years earlier by the federal government. The sample card was printed in red and contained the word “specimen” printed across its face. Grandfather thought that it would be a clever and humorous idea if he had the actual social security number of his secretary printed on the card. His joke however, ultimately backfired. Many of the purchasers of the wallet adapted his secretary’s social security number as their own. In the peak year of 1943, 5,755 people were using grandfather’s secretary’s Social Security Number. The Social Security Administration acted to eliminate the problem by voiding the number and publicizing that the number was invalid. Nevertheless, the number continued to be used for many years. In all, over 40,000 people reported this as their SSN and as late as 1977, twelve people were still found to be using the social security numbers printed on the sample card found in each of the E.H. Ferree wallets sold by Woolworth. No doubt this confirms the power of advertising. My grandfather must have found it all quite amusing although I am sure that publicly he was very apologetic.
Whenever our family gathered when I was young and it was often, my grandfather was always the life of the party. He was clearly the head of the family and obviously respected. For many years on Christmas day, Grandfather and Grandmother held a family Christmas party in Lockport, New York. The parties were held in banquet halls outside their home due to the large number of their children and grand children in attendance. By the late 1960s, there must have been at least seventy-five relatives in attendance all drinking and dining in the same room. Our son Charles, born in November, 1969, attended at the age of one month the last of my grandfather’s great Christmas parties.
Grandfather and Grandmother (Blanche, his second wife) were moved to a nursing home in the early 1970s. Even here Grandfather continued to be the man-in-charge. Our sons’ Charles and Geoffrey, visited their great grandfather at the nursing home around 1975. Even though we were not sure that Grandfather recognized that they were his great grandsons, he insisted on showing them around the nursing home and introducing them to all of the resident older ladies, many of whom were lying almost unconscious in their beds and quite oblivious of their visitors. It was his job nevertheless as the gregarious leader, to show his grandchildren around. He was quite a guy. It is too bad that our boys never really knew their great grandfather.
Douglas Ross Patterson died on April 13, 1979. I recall a large funeral procession that followed his body to his final resting place in the Cold Springs Cemetery in Lockport, New York. He rests next to our Grandmother Florence Ferree Patterson and his brother Roy and his wife, Blanche. Grandfather always thought big even when planning for his eventual death. According to the caretaker at the Cold Springs Cemetery, there is room in the Patterson family plot for at least ten more family members. Anyone interested?