Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The Pattison Family of Memphis, 1800-1932

The Pattison family weren't part of the movers and shakers of Memphis.  They married, died, cried, got religion, and made a name for themselves as successful business owners in the bookselling trade.  They served their country before the rebellion and then served their chosen side when war split the country in half. Not every family can be famous but every family has a story. 

George M. Pattison Sr. was born about 1800 in Carlisle, Pennsylvania.  The best history of the Pattison family comes from his wife's obituary which is transcribed below.  He married Sarah G. Trabue in 1831. They moved to Iowa probably in the late 1830's as two of their sons, Thomas and John, were listed in Census records as being born there.  They returned to Tennessee, specifically the Memphis area, in or after 1844.  They had at least 8 children: 
--Robert Trabue Pattison born about 1832 in Tennessee and died in 1862 in Boston.  Single
--Holmes A. Pattison was born about 1834 in Tennessee, death unknown. He was employed as an engineer with the U.S. Topographical Corps of Engineers prior the to the Civil War.  He resigned from that position to begin his career in the Confederacy.  He had a distinguished career as a Captain in the CSA Corps of Engineers.  His Military file exceeds 100 pages. After the war he appears in the 1865 Memphis City Directory as H.A. Pattison as an engineer.  The date and place of his death is unknown at this time.
--Annie E. Pattison born about 1836 in Tennessee, married W.B. Mitchell.  Most of their children were premature/stillborn but they did have one son, George Pattison Mitchell, who lived to be 70 years old.
--George M. Pattison, born about 1838, was in the bookstore and stationery business with his father, died Nov. 13 1859 in Brooklyn. Single
--Oliver Garnett Pattison, born about 1840 in Tennessee, was with the Bluff City Grays.  Killed at Shiloh, April 1862. Single
--Thomas Foster Pattison, born about 1842 in Iowa and died April 1, 1868 in Memphis.  He married Anna Holmes, they don't appear to have had children. He served in the Civil War in Co. A, 3rd TN Cav (Forrest's).  He mustered in as a Sergeant and mustered out as a Captain.
--John H. Pattison, born about 1844 in Iowa and died June 25 1879 in Texas.  His wife Maggie died August 28 1875.
--Reuben Pattison, born about 1849 in Tennessee, died after being fatally shot in the leg by a sky rocket on December 25, 1868.

In the 1850 Census George Pattison Sr is listed as a clerk.  By 1860 he has amassed $75,000 in real estate and $8,000 in personal value.  He was in the bookselling and stationery business and had his own company in Memphis.

The family seemed to be cursed with consumption since five died from the disease, two more probably had it as well. One died at the battle of Shiloh and another died from a horrible firework accident.   Annie and her husband William were cursed with 4 stillborn/premature births, one of them being a set of twins.  Another child of theirs died by asphyxia.  Of the remaining Pattison's one died of apoplexy, one of old age and another myocarditis.  Almost all are interred at Elmwood except for Robert who died in Boston and John who is buried in Texas and two unaccounted for W.B. Mitchell and Holmes A. Pattison

Death of a daughter of Annie E. Pattison and her husband W.B. Mitchell, stillborn
Listed in the Shelby County Register of Deaths, daughter of W.B. Mitchell stillborn, September 10 1859.

Death of a daughter of Annie E. Pattison and her husband W.B. Mitchell, asphyxia
The child lived one day and according to the Shelby County Register of Deaths died of asphyxia.  She was interred in the Pattison Family Plot at Elmwood. Died August 7 1860.

Death of the Matriarch, Sarah G. Trabue Pattison, most likely consumption
No event in our history is so much dreaded as Death.  Its fear is the bondage of the world from which Christ came to deliver us.  "That through Death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver them, who, through fear of Death, are all their life-time subject to bondage."  In this Scripture, you have the true commendation of the Gospel and its peculiar power.  There is in it, and nowhere else, deliverance from the fear of Death.  But few Christians have exemplified this more strongly than did Mrs. Sallie G. Pattison, who died at her residence in this city on the morning of the 1st inst.  Her maiden name was Trabue.  She was a native of Adair county, Ky., and became the wife of Col. George Pattison in 1831.  In 1837, she made a public profession of religion, and joined the Presbyterian Church in Clarksville, in this State.  She moved with her husband to Memphis in 1844, and soon after became a member of the Second Presbyterian Church, then having been a short time organized.  With the pioneer members of this Church, she labored most faithfully to build it up. But while she lover her own Church, because she was an intelligent Presbyterian, she loved to co-operate with Christians outside of and independent of her own household of faith.  She was one of the original founders of the Memphis Orphan Asylum and continued to the day of her death one of its most active and efficient patrons.  And it was truly pleasant to see the appreciation of her service in this behalf by the attendance of this institution distinctively at her funeral.

Mrs. Pattison was of a disposition naturally amiable, which, sanctified by the grace of the Gospel made her no ordinary woman in the social circle, and lovely in the family.  Her children lover her with the devotion of true and ardent affection.  She has left several sons and one daughter to mourn with their father, the bereavement of her death.  When her physician pronounced her dangerously ill, and expressed the opinion that she could not recover, her sons were scattered at different points in business, one in Washington City, one in New Orleans, and another in Philadelphia.  The telegraph soon summoned them to her bedside, and when they came she had the entire seven to encircle her bed upon their knees, and unite with her in thanksgiving to God for having spared her to see them all before she was taken.  With the calmness and composure of one setting out upon a pleasant journey, she gave to each one in a distinct and audible whisper, her dying message.  This was truly an interesting scene.  She set her house in order in regard to each and all her family.

Her illness was protracted, and during portions of it she suffered much, and for days before her death she could speak only in a whisper.  Yet she preached many sermons in this feeble condition to those who from time to time approached her bedside.  The burthen (sic) of exhortation and counsel was that they should live near to God.  Often she exclaimed in the beautiful language of the 102d Psalm.  "Bless the Lord, O, my soul, and all that is within me, bless His holy name."

For days before her death her pastor visited her daily; and well might he do it for his own sake, rather than hers.  Her sick room was truly a Bethel, where angels seemed to hover.  She had no fear of death, and was ll the time calm, peaceful and happy.  When the minister said to her, "You have performed the work of your mission; God has spared you to see all your boys, and you have given them all your dying charge, and now you have nothing to do but to die and go home to glory," she assented with a smile, and then motioned to speak, and said in an audible whisper, "All is well."  These precious words were her dying utterance to her pastor, save a reply to a question.  He said to her, "You have loved the Church, and labored with it much, and now have you no dying message for it?"  She answered, "Tell them to pray."  How true is it that in the beautiful language of the poet:

"Prayer is the Christian's vital breath,
  The Christian's native air--
His watch word at the gate of Death,
  He enters Heaven with prayer."

As she was dying, Mrs. Pattison looked up ecstatically, pointing with her finger and saying "Up," and then turning to her husband she threw her arms around, his neck, and placing her hands together, sweetly breathed her last, as if falling pleasantly asleep.  Thus peacefully and happily she went home to glory, and devout men carried her to her grave."

If the blood of the martyrs was the seed of the Church, so is the happy and triumphant death of the Christian now a demonstration of the divinity of her faith.  Such a death is a legacy to the Church of far more value tha silver or gold.    R.C.G.
Memphis, September 15, 1859
Originally posted in the Memphis Daily Appeal, September 18 1859

Death of son George Pattison Jr., consumption
On Sunday, November 13th, in the city of Brooklyn, at the house of Mr. William M. Junks, George Pattison, of this city, in the 22nd year of his age.

The city of Memphis has never lost a young man more generally beloved than was the subject of this brief notice.  When Col. Pattison, his fatehr, removed to Memphis, George was but a child, and having grouwn up in the city of his adoption, and become a porminent business citizen, he was extensively known and beloved by all who knew him.  But few young men of his age have ever developed business talents and formed a character equal to his.  He stood upon a par with the old and established business men of the city, with integrity un-impeached and credit as extensive as he wished.  

In moral character he was truly a model young man.  He was strictly temperate, pure and guileless.  He loved his domestic circle better than any other society, and was deovted ot his noble mother, the grief for whose death no doubt hastened his own.  It was to recruit from the prostration of this affliction that he ahad taken a recuperative trip, from which he was brought to us a corpse.

But more than all, there is good reason to believe that he was truly a Christian, and that the grace of God had fully prepared him to go and be again with his sainted mother.  but a short time before he left upon his trip, he said to a pious friend of his mother's, that he would like to join the church, "but," said he, "I am afraid lest, like many professors, I should disgrace my profession by doing nothing for Christ."  With his mother and his only sister he loved privately to talk upon the subject of religion.

Though he died far away from home, it is unspeakably comforting to his family to know that he was not among strangers, but at the house of a friend where he had every kind attention which he could have had at home.  Before sending his remains from New York, funeral services were kindly performed by Rev. Dr. Krebs and Rev. Dr. Porter, and through the special kindness of friends East and the Adams Express company, his remains came to us looking as natural as if he had died but the hour before.

His remains were received here with many tokens of respect.  The young men of the Hook and Ladder company, to which he belonged, turned out in a body at his funeral, and a very large concourse of citizens assembled at the appointed hour at the residence of his father, where appropriate funeral services were performed by the pastor of the second Presbyterian church, whose ministry he attended.  We have scarcely seen a longer funeral procession, and well might it ben so, for the people had met to bury no ordinary young man.  May such a death be made of God a blessing to the surviving brothers, and to the young men of Memphis.  G.
Presbyterian Sentinel please copy
Originally appeared in the Memphis Daily Appeal Dec. 4 1859

Interred December 18th -- Geo. M. Pattison, 25 years, consumption
Originally appeared in the Memphis Daily Appeal Dec. 25 1859

Elmwood Records show that two un-named Pattison's are brought from Morris Cemetery for reinterment at Elmwood.

Death of son Oliver Garnett Pattison, Battle of Shiloh.
Was killed on the battle-field at Shiloh, on the 6th of April, Sergeant Oliver Garnett Pattison, aged twenty-two years and two months, son of Col. George Pattison and member of the Bluff City Grays, 154th regiment.

After several hours of the desperate conflict his regiment had stormed and taken a large battery, with three guns and horses, when following up the enemy they were fired upon by a regiment in ambush, with white powder, that made no report; the first intimation was the whistling of the bullets.  They were ordered to lay down.  After a short time he, in rising up, received the fatal ball.

The last words he spoke was before lying down, when he remarked to one of his brothers that they should be very thankful, that there were three brothers in the fight and all had been protected thus far from harm. A fourth brother was at Island No. 10 who has made good his escape; a fifth is connected with the home defenses in New Orleans, who is now in bad health.  His father, by the kind efforts of Rev. Wm. Haskill, Lieut. Lake and his brother, procured the body and returned with it Sunday morning.  In the afternoon it was interred in Elmwood cemetery by many sympathizing friends.
Originally posted in the Memphis Daily Appeal April 18 1862

Death of W.B. Mitchell, Battle of Shiloh
Bankhead's Battery.--Killed: W.B. Mitchell
Originally posted in Memphis Daily Appeal April 24, 1862
***This is not the W.B. Mitchell that married Annie E. Pattison due to the fact that there are several premature births/deaths and burials listed at Elmwood attributed to W.B. Mitchell that are interred in the Pattison family lot.  I included him here in case someone else researches and also believes, as I did at first, that he was the Mitchell that married Annie.  

Death of son Robert Trabue Pattison, consumption most likely
In Boston, Massachusetts about two weeks since, Robert T. Pattison, eldest son of Col. George Pattison, of Memphis, Tenn.
Originally posted in the Memphis Daily Appeal, August 16 1862

Obituary - Died, at the American House, Boston, Massachusetts, on Sunday, July 20, 1862, Robert Trabue Pattison, son of Col. George Pattison of Memphis Tennessee, aged thirty years and two months.

He had been residing for several years in New Orleans; was in bad health for some time, and was paroled to return home to die.  He arrived at Boston on the 26th of June, and could get no further.  His aged father arrived on the 21st in time to see his remains.  Alone and in a land of strangers, he was comforted by the sympathetic tear mingled with his at the last resting place of his first born.  It is comforting to the family of the deceased to know that in his last days he had all the attention that kindness could bestow from many, and the tender sympathies of females around him, although a stranger, particularly the family at the American House. This is an affecting Providence.  Mr. P. had a brother killed in the desperate conflict on the field of Shiloh, and has three more brothers in the army, who are now called to mourn the loss of their senior brother.--Boston Post.
Originally posted in the Memphis Daily Appeal, August 28 1862.

Death of infant of Pattison and W.B. Mitchell, stillborn/premature
The Shelby County Register of Deaths recorded the death of an infant of Pattison on August 26, 1866. Elmwood records the event as the infant of W.B. Mitchell.  Cause of death listed as stillborn/premature. The infant was interred in the Pattison Family Lot at Elmwood.

Death of son Thomas Pattison, consumption
Funeral Notice
Pattison-The friends and acquaintances of Col. Geo Pattison and family are respectfully invited to attend the funeral of his son, Capt. Thomas F. Pattison at the Second Presbyterian Church, this Thursday afternoon, at 4 o'clock.  Services by the Rev. T.D. Witherspoon.  Hacks at J.C. Holst & co.
Originally posted in the Memphis Daily Appeal, April 2 1868

Cause of death was consumption.  Source: Elmwood Burial Records

Death of Son Reuben K. Pattison, firework accident.
Shocking and Perhaps Fatal Accident.  A Young Man Shot and Mangled by a sky rocket.  Another Sevrely Injured.  A most lamentable accident occurred yesterday evening, by which a well known and highly respectable young man of this city was dangerously if not fatally wounded-certainly maimed for life-and another very seriously hurt.  A skyrocket of the largest size was discharged from the sidewalk near the store of Podests & Cazassa, under Odd Fellows' Hall, Main street, and instead of being fired vertically, it shot across teh street and struck Mr. Reuben Pattison, son of Col. Geo. Pattison, just below the knee, tearing the leg almost entirely off and of course mangling it in the most horrible manner imaginable.  The deadly missile then struck another man (whose name we did not learn) in one leg, cutting a deep gash across it, and lodged against the other leg, where it exploded with a report like that of a heavily loaded musket, injuring him severely, and burning his pantaloons nearly off.  We did not learn the extent of his injuries, as he went or was taken away immediately; whatever they were, they did not prevent him from dancing about in his blazing breeches, and cussing with the vim and earnestness of very profane trooper.

The unfortunate Mr. Pattison, who is quite a young man, was taken as speedily as possible into Oak Hall. He was "bleeding like a sacrifice," and would soon have been a corpse had not some gentlemen present skilfully applied an impromptu tourniquet with a handkerchief, and in a great measure stopped the flow of teh crimson current.  Drs. Erskine, Woodward and Mitchell were soon in attendance, and did all that was possible for his safety and relief, but at a late hour last night it was considered doubtful whether he could rally and recover from the terrible shock and loss of blood.

No accident like this could occur, save through grossly criminal carelessness and disregard for human life. The chances are that a skyrocket fired vertically will do no harm, although the stick might descend upon some unfortunate head; but when it is discharged horizontally, a missile flies forth as deadly within its range as the bullet from a musket or rifle, and the cases on record of fatal "accidents" from this cause are numberless. Among the city ordinances is one making the discharge of firearms within the city limits punishable as a misdemeanor.  We are not aware that any exception is made in favor of holidays in this prohibition, yet the city authorities and the police seem to think that long custom sanctions its constant violation on such occasions.  This is wrong; it is an evil which should be speedily and entirely corrected.  That which is a nuisance to quiet people, and dangerous to life and property, is quite as much so on a holiday as on any other, and should not be tolerated at all.  Today is Christmas, and another holiday is near at hand.  Generally on these occasion the constant discharge of guns, pistols and powdercrackers all over the city, sounds like the first notes of a battle.  We call upon the police to suppress, promptly and sternly, the celebration of these holidays in this improper and dangerous manner, even if every lockup in the city shall be filled to overflowing with the offenders.  In the category of explosives that are a nuisance or dangerous and should be forbidden, we class everything above the caliber of the sugar plums charged with fulminating powder.  Even powder crackers, by many deemed harmless, are not so sometimes when fired in one's face, as they often are at night by thoughtless and mischievous boys.  The police should understand that law abiding and tax paying citizens look to them for security of life and property against the lawless acts of reckless men and boys as much during the holidays as on ordinary days.

To our mind a holiday had better be allowed to pass unobserved than be celebrated at the imminent risk of life and limb.
Originally posted in the Memphis Daily Appeal December 26, 1868.

Death of Mr. Reuben Pattison, Was it an Accident?  This unfortunate young man wounded on Thursday evening by a skyrocket, died on Friday morning about 5 o'clock.  he had lost so much blood, and the physical system had sunk so low, that amputation was not attempted.  The vital forces could not rally from the terrible shock, and he expired, after everything possible had been done to save his life.

We hear this affair spoken of frequently as an "accident."  If a man, careless of consequences, discharges a musket loaded with ball and buckshot into a crowd, and somebody is killed, is it an "accident?"  No.  The act by which young Pattison lost his life was one of criminal recklessness and disregard of life.  The guilty wretch who perpetrated it knows and feels full well that no excuse of "accident" could palliate the deed, and hides himself away, trembling with fear of exposure and punishment.  Can he not be ferreted out?  Shall a wretch who thus trifles with human life go unwhipped of justice?  This reporter, in his relations to the public as a journalist, is necessarily opposed to lynch law, but it would not grieve him personally to see a scoundrel who thus tampers with public safety swinging by the neck from a lamp post.  no one could fee otherwise who saw that unhappy young man lying upon his back in a pool of gore, bleeding his life away and looking with despairing eyes upon the pitying faces about him, while the heart-broken father and brother stood by in agony deeper than any tears and lamentations could express.  We pray never to witness so sad a spectacle again.
Originally posted in the Memphis Daily Appeal December 27, 1868.

He was interred at Elmwood in the family plot on December 27, 1868.

Death of twins of Annie E. Pattison and W.B. Mitchell, premature birth
An infant boy and girl died on December 13 1868 and interred in the Pattison Family lot on December 14 1868.  They appear in the mortuary report on Dec. 21 1868 as being the infants of W.B. Mitchell and also in Elmwood Burial Records. 

Captain Holmes A. Pattison, a well known Memphian, is hydraulic engineer on the Government dredge-boat Essayous, at Southwest Pass, taking soundings, with a view to removing the bars and obstructions from the channels at the mouth of the Mississippi
Originally appeared in the Public Ledger February 13 1871.

Death of only daughter, Annie E. Pattison Mitchell, consumption
DIED- Mitchell, at the residence of Mrs. L.A. McAnally, Shelby Street, Sunday, August 18, 1872, at 3 p.m., Mrs. Annie E., wife of William B. Mitchell, and only daughter of Colonel Geo. Pattison.  

Funeral Services at the Second Presbyterian Church this Monday afternoon, August 19th, at 4 o'clock, by Rev. W.E. Boggs.  Carriages at the Church.

Death of daughter-in-law Maggie Pattison, wife of John H. Pattison, consumption
DIED-Pattison At quarter past ten o'clock Saturday night, August 28th, in the twenty ninth year of her age, Maggie, wife of John H. Pattison.  (Ottawa Canada papers please copy)

Cause of death: Consumption. Source: Elmwood Burial Records

Death of Col. George M. Pattison, patriarch of the family, apoplexy
Died suddenly at Covington in this State, on Monday morning, Colonel George Pattison, aged 76 years. Funeral services at the Second Presbyterian church corner Main and Beal streets, this Tuesday morning, at 10 1/2 o'clock.  Friends of the deceased are invited to attend.
Originally posted in the Memphis Daily Appeal September 4 1877

Death of son John H. Pattison, consumption
DIED-Pattison, near Brackettsville, Kinney County Texas June 25 1879 of consumption in his 37th year, John H. Pattison formerly of this city.
Originally posted in the Memphis Daily Appeal July 5 1879

Death of their daughter-in-law, Anna Holmes Pattison, wife of Thomas F. Pattison, old age
She was born January 28 1844 and died July 4 1921 in Covington Tennessee.  Her parents were Dr. James Holmes (Pennsylvania) and Sarah Van Wagenen/Wagener.  Considering many of the Pattison family succumbed to consumption Anna was fortunate to live so long and to die of paralysis and old age as stated on the death certificate.

Death of George Pattison Mitchell, son of Annie E Pattison and William Mitchell, myocarditis
George was born April 5, 1862 in Tennessee.  The death certificate listed him as single.  He was a stock clerk at Mulford Jewelry store.  He died November 24, 1932 and was interred at Elmwood Cemetery.  On the death certificate his father is listed as Wm. P. Mitchell rather than the W.B. which has been on every other record.


  1. I was very moved reading about the death of this devoted Christian woman. A pair of portraits of George and Sarah Pattison which descended in their family have been consigned to my company's Jan. 21, 2017 auction. Let me know how I can send you photos and I'd be happy to do so.

    1. Thank you so much for writing. I would love to add pictures of the Pattison's to this blog entry. My email address is marymoran.at.home@gmail.com

      I look forward to hearing from you.