Thursday, September 17, 2009

Julia Johnston Patterson, Matriarch 1811-1897

Julia Johnston was born August 16, 1811 at Upper Piqua, OH. She was the first of the Johnston children to be born in the new brick house. Julia, the fourth girl in the family, tended toward a melancholy disposition and had, as her father put it, ‘no taste for a farmer’s life’. She escaped the farm by marrying Jefferson Patterson of Dayton, Ohio on February 26, 1833 in a lavish ceremony that brought chefs to the Piqua farmhouse. The newlyweds lived at the Rubicon Farm in Dayton, part of which is now the Patterson Homestead. Two of Julia’s sons, John Henry and Frank Patterson, were the founders of National Cash Register or NCR in Dayton.

Julia was asked, as an older woman, to write her memories of the Upper Piqua farm. Thanks to her doing so, we have wonderful anecdotes about her grandmother taking care of the children's pet deer (after it had broken its ankle while stealing a sip of milk in the springhouse), and about the Johnston children baking poundcake, feeding the chickens and - once in a while - turning their mother's hair prematurely gray by finding Indian scalps hidden in a blockhouse.

Julia johnston Patterson died May 29, 1897 at age 85 about a month after suffering a broken hip. She was one of Ohio's last remaining pioneers.

Julia Johnston to Jefferson Patterson – Piqua July 1, 1833

I arose this morning in rather low spirits from some cause or other, I scarcely know what, but thought it would go off as it usually does in the course of an hour and then I would write to you, but I have waited until this evening and still my spirits are below par.

John Johnston to Jefferson Patterson, Upper Piqua, Sept. 6, 1833

There is nothing more unprofitable in this country than carrying a farm entirely by hired labour , and in point of vexation and want of comfort there is nothing to be compared to it, it is a continual scene of uneasiness. If you value your own comfort and happiness and that of your wife, have nothing to do with such things. She has no taste for a farmer’s life, and although raised on a farm, she knows nothing of the duties belonging to the station.