Born in Pennsylvania, Patterson emigrated to Kentucky in 1775. He served in the Kentucky militia in the western theater of the American Revolutionary War. He took part in George Rogers Clark's celebrated Illinois campaign in 1778, and fought in many other actions during the war. He was a captain of the Fayette County militia in the Battle of Blue Licks, the last major battle of the war in the west. He was, along with Daniel Boone, one of the few senior officers to survive that disastrous battle.
In 1786 he was severely injured in Logan's Raid in the Northwest Indian War. Patterson moved north from Kentucky into the Northwest Territory in 1788, and was one of the three founders of Cincinnati, a river port along the north side of the Ohio River across from Kentucky.
Patterson then moved to Dayton, Ohio, in 1802 and continued his military service as a quartermaster during the War of 1812. Patterson's farm, Rubicon, was located two miles south of Dayton where he and his wife Elizabeth (Lindsay) raised eight children. Their land is currently part of the University of Dayton and stretched from there west to the Old soldiers' home (presently the Dayton VA Medical Center).
One of Patterson's grandchildren, John H. Patterson, became a prominent Dayton citizen and founded the National Cash Register Company (now NCR Corporation) in 1884.
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