Who was Robert N. Patterson, Publisher of the Bryan Democrat?
By Pamela Pattison Lash (updated 2010)
In 1863 the population of Bryan, Ohio, was close to 1500 people. This community and its nation were in the midst of the Civil War. In the spring of 1863 Robert N. Patterson traveled to Bryan and established a weekly newspaper, which came out each Thursday. This paper known as the “Bryan Democrat” missed only three printings from its inception to 1882 – once later in 1863 for repairs, once in 1865 when the office was moved, and once in 1871 for a holiday vacation. The first issue was printed on 30 April 1863 above Samuel Will’s grocery store located on the southwest corner of Butler and Main Streets. Samuel White, a hatter, owned this two-story frame building.
Robert Patterson, born 19 Jan 1831, Delaware, OH, the son of Andrew H. and Roxanna Vining Patterson, began his early training as a printer for the “Buckeye Eagle” in Marion, OH. [Father Andrew H. Patterson died of consumption in Bryan, Ohio, on 30 Aug 1863 @55Y 4M.]. As editor and proprietor of the “Bryan Democrat”, he served in that capacity from 1863 to 1900 when he retired. A biographical sketch of Patterson can be found in Weston Goodspeed’s History of Williams County, Ohio, 1882, p583-584; however the biography stops short of many accurate personal details. It states that he was married to an E.J. Fulkerson in 1852. [Her name was Eliza Jane Fulkerson and she appears to be a native of NY, b. 1831 according to the 1870 Bryan, Pulaski Twp federal census p27 (print); Eliza Jane died in Dec 1910.].
It tells that the couple had six children but only names the surviving four. [These children appear to be Cora Z 1854 – May 1919; mar Andrew Obrist, 19 Jan 1876, Wms Co, OH (V4 p444); Addie 1858-?; Madera M. (male) 1863 – Aug 1931, mar. Cora Mason, 15 May 1892, Wms Co, OH (V6 #690); and Mary Margaret 1868 – Feb 1901; mar. Olin Root, 6 Aug 1899, Wms Co, OH (V8 p49).] A more recent history of the county states that Patterson died in 1901. [His obituary appeared in the “Bryan Democrat” on 7 May 1903 p1, 14 May 1903 p4, and 18 June 1903 p7-8. County death records show his demise as 4 May 1903 (V3 p105). His estate was probated here on 17 July 1903 (#4471).]
What is also interesting about a man who for 37 years was one of the major journalistic and political voices of the county is that he was buried in Fountain Grove Cemetery, Bryan, Ohio, without any tombstone inscription or stone; the same is the case for his wife and several children.