Franklin Patton was born near Richards [Richwoods] in Washington County, Missouri, on the 5th day of January, 1820. Died at Dardanelle, Arkansas, March 4, 1895. His family on his father's side, was of Scotch Irish, Presbyterian stock. His great grandfather, John Patton, emigrated from near Belfast, Ireland to Allegheny City, Pennsylvania when his grandfather, John Patton Jr., was about 14 years of age. The latter was carefully educated and, when quite young, enlisted as a soldier in the Revolutionary army and at the battle of Plattsburg was promoted for gallant conduct. After the war, he settled in Lancaster, Pennsylvania and married Nancy Governeur, a great niece of the great English commander, Lord Nelson, of Trafalgar fame. Eight children were the fruit of this union, of whom Charles, the father of the subject of this sketch, was the eldest.
Charles Patton was educated and graduated as mechanical engineer. About the beginning of the present century the family moved to Kaskaski, Illinois and some years afterward to the vicinity of Richwoods in Washington County, Missouri. In 1808, Charles Patton married of Susannah Rogers of Bonhomme settlement, in St. Louis county. Of this lady nothing is known save that when her son, Franklin, was an infant, she professed religion and joined the Methodist church, his father at that time not being a professor of religion. Dr. Patton was the fifth of a family of seven children of whom only one, Mrs. Rebecca, wife of Peyton Johnson, of Franklin county, Missouri, survives.
Dr. Patton's first teacher was the Hon. Austin Clark of South Carolina, whom he always remembered as a most saintly man. To reach this school he crossed the Meramec river with his brothers and sisters in a canoe. When six years old, he was sent to board with an uncle living farther up the Meramec river. Here he was fortunate in his teacher and made good progress in his studies. The scenery around his uncle's home, which was picturesque and beautiful, seems also to have left an abiding impression on his nature young as he was and in after years he composed a poem in which he recalls and describes its beauties. Sometime after this his father removed to Franklin County where he shortly afterwards died. When this sad bereavement occurred Franklin was still a mere child, being only in his tenth year. From this time until he was fifteen he helped on the farm, attending school occasionally as he had opportunity. Among his teachers during these five years was Mrs. Gillam of Virginia, sister of Judge Bishop of St. Louis, and a most estimable lady. During this time he walked five miles to Sunday school, wading the Bourbeuse river on the way.
When 15 years old, he was employed for time as a clerk in his uncle's store in Union, the county seat of Franklin County. After this, he alternately taught and went to school, pursuing his studies while he taught. At twenty, he entered Marion College. This was in 1840. Among the professors at that time were David Nelson and Potts. It was here, during his second year in college under the influence of these devoted men and associated with them of like character and spirit that he led to make a public profession of faith in Christ and join the Presbyterian church. Whether this was the actual beginning of his Christian life, we will not undertake to determine. For we have testimony that his first serious religious impressions dated back to a much earlier period of his life. He completed the prescribed course of study at Marion in 1844.
After graduating, he went south to Mississippi and taught for several years, two or more at Holly Springs in Marshall County. During these years he studied theology privately under Rev. A. W. Young. At the fall meeting of Chickasaw Presbytery in 1846, he was taken under its care as a candidate for the Gospel ministry. The following year he went to the Western Theological Seminary, Allegheny, Pennsylvania, where he remained one session. Returning to Mississippi, he was licensed to preach in April, 1848, by Chickasaw pastor of Hopewell church. From 1849 to 1857, he served for a time Hopewell and Lebanon churches, and afterwards Sarepta church was added to the group.
In 1871, he moved to Tupelo, Mississippi, where he resided and preached with great acceptableness and usefulness for ten years.
In 1881, he accepted an invitation to come to Helena, Arkansas, and take charge of the church there. Here he remained one year and then removed to Clarendon in Monroe County, Arkansas and took charge of the Clarendon and Holly Grove churches. His ministry in this field lasted three years; during which he greatly endeared himself to the people, and the churches were straightened and build up. While here, he was called to pass through one of the sorest trials of his life in the death of two of his children and one of his grandchildren within a short time of each other.
In 1885, he removed from Clarendon to Dardanelle in Yell County and Morrilton church in Conway county. This arrangement continued for about a year when Morrilton church, becoming strong enough and desiring to secure a minister for the whole of his time, withdrew and Dr. Patton gave the whole of his time to the Dardanelle and Russellville, Arkansas churches.
Dr. Patton was now becoming an old man. But his bow abode in strength. Though his health was feeble and his physical strength declining, his ministry grew in exuberance and power to the end. The last ten years of his ministry were among the most useful of his life. His life and ministry have left a profound impression upon the communities in which he labored; and the fruits of his work there are still being reaped and will continue to appear for a long time to come. He was a constant and faithful attendant upon the courts of the Church and no minister in all our bounds was more profoundly interested in all the missionary operations, both of the whole Church and of his own Synod and Presbytery. He was ever ready to do what he could to help struggling young churches and to carry the Gospel into the unoccupied regions beyond. The towns and communities in the vicinity of his home field will bear testimony to his zeal and faithfulness in these respects.
In 1852, Dr. Patton was married to Miss Martha McCord of Mississippi, who survives him. Seven children were born to them, only three of who still live: who are Mrs. Bettie Ervin, wife of Rev. S. B. Ervin, of Mexico, Missouri, Dr. Joseph A. Patton, of Evansville, Arkansas, and John W. Patton, who remains with his mother.
Dr. Patton was a man of quiet, even humble, deportment conspicuously modest yet capable of brave and vigorous self-assertion when principle or the interests of the Master's cause demanded it. His piety was deep and earnest and he was constant and diligent in his efforts to do good to others. He was a diligent student all his life and his reading was wide and varied. His naturally fine powers thus improved by study and sanctified by grace made him a most attractive and edifying preacher. His sermons were uniformly of a high order and without a suspicion of sensationalism were in the truest and highest sense popular. His ministrations grew upon those who heard him and were attended wherever he preached by rich and precious spiritual results.
He had filled up the measure of his days and was like a shock ripe unto the reaping, but his taking away will leave a gap in the ranks of our ministry that will be difficult to fill and long and sadly felt by his brethren who are left behind.
Other children of the family were: Charles, an infant, buried at Cape Giradeau, Missouri; Sue, wife of Dr. J. H. Wiley, died at Dardanelle, Arkansas; Frank, died at Clarendon, Arkansas, aged 23 years; Idlette, died at Clarendon, Arkansas, aged 10 years.
Mrs. Ervin died at Sallisaw, Oklahoma, February 20, 1911. Her mother, widow of Dr. F. Patton, followed her to their heavenly home in March 4, 1911. Their interment is at Stilwell, Oklahoma. Dr. J. A. Patton died at Stilwell, Oklahoma, in November, 1931.
This memorial appeared Christen Observer of Louisville, Kentucky. This page was taken from a document "Printed at Wilson, Oklahoma November, 1935, by J. W. Patton, only surviving member of the family".