James W. Patterson was born about 1823 in King and Queen County, Virginia. He was the son of Thomas Patterson, who died before 1840, and his wife Susan G. (1798-1878), whose maiden name is not known. James grew up in Henrico County, Virginia. He was however no later than 1850 a resident of Monroe County, Georgia. The 1850 Federal Census of that place shows him as age 25, born Virginia, occupation Teacher and a boarder at the residence of Mr. Benjamin King.
James married Mary Frances Stephens October 29, 1851 in Monroe County, Georgia. She was likely the daughter of Dr. William B. Stephens (1799-after 1860) and the sister of Caroline Smith Stephens Banks (1833-1896) who married Joseph R. Banks (1823-1910). James’ career as a lawyer in Lowndes County, Georgia began at Troupeville as early as 1854.
Savannah Daily Republican October 6, 1854 page 3
Attorney and Counselor at Law
He appears as an active attorney on the Superior Court Bench State Docket for Lowndes County, Georgia between 1855 and 1858. During that same period, and perhaps longer. In various sources he is listed as the law partner of Powhattan B. Whittle and R.A. Peeples, both of whom were well known attorneys in Lowndes County, Georgia.
By 1860 James and Frances had moved from Troupeville to the recently established town of Valdosta. They appear on the 1860 Federal Census living in the town of Valdosta at the residence of John May and his wife Ann C. May. Their details on the census were given as follows: James W. Patterson age 34, born Virginia, occupation Planter and Lawyer, Frances, wife, age 25, born Georgia. Also living at the May residence were L.D. de Lyon age 41, born Georgia, occupation Editor*, Columbus Burnett age 18, born Georgia, occupation journeyman printer and Hezekiah Rawes age 18, born Georgia, occupation journeyman printer. The 1860 Slave schedule shows James W. Patterson owned 14 Slaves. Four of his Slaves were male and ten were female. Their ages ranged from fifty years old to one year old.
The $2000 bond required to form what eventually became Company I 12th Georgia Infantry Army of Northern Virginia, also known as The Lowndes Volunteers, was filed with Georgia Governor Joseph E. Brown on January 23, 1861. The bond was secured by George T. Hammond, Captain Moses Smith, Jr., Charles H.M. Howell and James M. Briggs.
James W. Patterson succeeded Moses Smith Jr. as Captain of Company I in 1861 just prior to that units transfer from Savannah, Georgia to Richmond, Virginia. The battle of McDowell was fought in the foothills of western Virginia on May 8, 1862. The 12th Georgia Regiment took an active, some say overzealously active, part in that fight. The casualties in Company I at McDowell were as follows; killed in action, Captain James W. Patterson, 2nd Lieutenant John R. Goldwire, Privates R.M. Strickland and L.W. Wilson; wounded in Action, 2nd Lieutenant James M. Briggs, Privates David S. Copeland, Edward Copeland, R.W. Dampier, W.H. Fay, DeKalb Fletcher, James M. Ganey, J.E.B. Hall, J.W. Howell, G.H. Hunnicutt, Peter Kern, C.H. McNeilly, David J. Money, W.J. Nobles, Rufus Parker, Patrick Shannon, J.A. Smith, B.L. Stevens, J.F. Trippe and W.J. Zeigler. At the beginning of the War Between the States most Confederate companies averaged one hundred enlisted men and a total eight to ten Commissioned and Non-Commissioned officers. For those not familiar with the casualty statistics of the conflict, let it pass to say, the casualties taken by Company I 12th Georgia at McDowell may be classified as severe.
A portion of the military service of Captain Patterson was noted in History of the Doles-Cook Brigade Army of Northern Virginia, C.S.A. by Henry W. Thomas.
“Captain James W. Patterson of Company I was killed at McDowell, Va., May 8, 1862. He was a Virginian by birth, but moved to Forsyth, Georgia, previous to the War, where he taught school, and read law, and married. From there he moved to Valdosta, Ga., and practiced law until the commencement of hostilities, when he enlisted in the Twelfth Georgia Regiment. He was a gentleman of fine legal attainments and a brave and gallant soldier.”
Captain Patterson was born in Virginia, moved to Georgia, became a lawyer in that State, joined the Confederacy in Lowndes County and then travelled back to Virginia with his military unit in 1861. Having been back in Virginia for only a matter of months, he was killed near McDowell. By today’s standards that place is not much more than a two-hour drive from his family’s burial plot. The remains of Captain James W. Patterson were interred at Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond, Virginia. His mother, Susan G. Patterson, two of his siblings and other family members are also buried there.
Announcements regarding the estate of James W. Patterson appeared in the Savannah Daily Morning News as follows:
May 28, 1862 page 2
State of Georgia Lowndes County. Court of Ordinary May 21, 1862. Whereas Joseph R. Banks has filed his application for Letters of Administration on the estate of James W. Patterson, late of Lowndes county deceased. This is to cite and admonish all and singular, the kindred and creditors of said deceased, to be an appear at my office on the first Monday in July next, to show cause to the contrary, as in default thereof said letters will be issued to the applicant. J.W. Harrell, Ordinary L.C.
August 28, 1862 page 1
All persons indebted to James W. Patterson, late of Lowndes county deceased, will make immediate payment to R.A. Peeples at Valdosta, Ga. who is my authorized attorney and all persons having demands against said estate will present them to my said attorney, duly authorized, within the time prescribed by law. J.R. Banks, Adm. August 21, 1862
The Inventory and Appraisement of the estate of James W. Patterson was ordered August 25, 1862 by John W. Harrell, Judge of the Lowndes County Court of Ordinary. It was returned to the court on September 2, 1862 by appraisers James O. Goldwire, James Wisenbaker, J.C. Wisenbaker and Joshua Griffin. Some items inventoried and appraised were; an eight-year-old negro girl Amanda at $700, two mules at $275, one dark bay horse at $150, two buggies at $105 and a 56 volume Law library at $56.00. The estate also held notes considered solvent on, among others, William Ashley $171, John May $90, J.P. Staten $100, P.B. Whittle $100 and R.A. Peeples $50. There is no further mention of the estate of James W. Patterson in Lowndes County, Georgia records.
The fate of the wife of Captain Patterson and whether or not there were children, are subject to much speculation and debate. Some say after the death of her husband Mary F. Stephens Patterson returned to her family in Monroe County, Georgia. Others say she moved to Virginia and lived out her life with members of the Patterson family. Research into either of those possibilities can prove difficult.
Patterson Street in Valdosta, Georgia is named in honor of Captain James W. Patterson. The following has been reported to the author by reliable sources: “The house he built just before the outbreak of the War Between the States sat in the middle of what is now Patterson Street. When the house was built it was just outside the town limits of Valdosta. Some years later, when Patterson Street was extended, the house James W. Patterson built was demolished as it was directly in the path of the work.”
The author would like to thank the Lowndes County Historical Society for their permission to use the photograph of Captain James W. Patterson as a part of this article. Please visit the Society’s museum at 305 West Central Avenue for a better look at the photograph of Captain Patterson and many other historical treasures from the Southwest Georgia area.
*Leonorean De La Motta DeLyon: Before moving to Lowndes County Mr. DeLyon resided in Thomasville, Georgia where he owned and edited a newspaper called the Thomasville Watchman. No later than 1858 he was living in Troupeville and publishing the Southern-Georgia Watchman. By June 29th 1860 he had relocated to the newly established town of Valdosta. About that same time, he changed the name of the Southern-Georgia Watchman to the Valdosta Watchman. Mr. DeLyon was born about 1819 in Savannah, Georgia and descends from one of the most well-known families of that city. His parents were Judge Levi S. DeLyon and Leonora De La Motta. No later than 1870 Mr. DeLyon moved to Texas to join the families of his half-brother Isaac and half-sister Rebecca. He died in in Waller County, Texas February 4, 1892.
* The History of Lowndes County, Georgia 1825-1941, compiled by Mrs. Fred H. Hodges, states one of the securities for the Bond issued to form Company I 12th Georgia was George T, Hanover. There is evidence that name should actually be George T. Hammond, who at the time was a well known local attorney.
Please note: These articles are based on research conducted by the writer/author utilizing a variety of reliable source material. Those wishing to learn more regarding source material utilized or those who may have any other questions, should contact the writer/author via South Georgia Today. Reproduction of this material is prohibited without express written permission from the author.