Search billions of records on


 Biographies Index  



California Genealogy and History Archives

Sonoma County


Azel S. Patterson

This patient, persistent pioneer labor that pushed the limits of civilization further toward the setting sun typifies the westward emigration of frontiersmen and the gradual removal of the center of population from the shores of the Atlantic to the valley of the Mississippi. In the western migration the Patterson family bore a part. Numerous descendants of the original colonial stock contributed their quota to the task of transforming the virgin soil into fertile farms. Established in New England at a very early day, from the state of Vermont the parents of Azel S. Patterson removed to New York and settled at Potsdam near the St. Lawrence river in the county of that name, where he was born March 14, 1824. The next removal took the family still further toward the west and into a region then giving no evidence of future worldwide greatness. As early as 1834 they settled in what is now Chicago, then known as Fort Dearborn, near which place he remained for ten years, going from there to Milwaukee to make his home with a sister. It was not possible for him to enjoy educational advantages such as are common to the present generation. Indeed, his entire schooling through all the period of his childhood and youth did not total an aggregate of one year, but through indomitable perseverance he acquired a fund of information equaling that possessed by many a college-bred man.

Various occupations filled the early maturity of Mr. Patterson, his first employment having been that of clerk in a grocery, from which work he passed on to kindred pursuits. After he left his sisterís home in Milwaukee he returned to Chicago and there was united in marriage, October 4, 1848, with Miss Mary Elizabeth Wilson, a native of Ohio and a woman of truehearted worth, wise in counsel, affectionate in disposition and patient in the heavy bereavement occasioned by the death of many of their children. Out of their family of fifteen only three are now living, namely: William W., born in 1853 and now employed on the railroad, with headquarters in Sonoma county; James Henry, born in 1855, now married and living in Sonoma county; and Martha, born in 18 62, now the wife of William H. Bones, of Sonoma county. The wife and mother was taken from the home by death in 1889, and Mr. Patterson died at the home of his daughter, Mrs. Bones, March 1 8, 1911, aged eighty-seven years and four days. His remains were interred in Bloomfield cemetery.

When the discovery of gold attracted thousands of Argonauts to the west Mr. Patterson was among the number who determined to try his fortune in California. Young, ambitious and brave, the hardships of the journey did not daunt him and the possibility of disastrous results did not quench his enthusiasm. During the spring of 1850 he joined a party of emigrants who crossed the plains in wagons and completed a tedious but uneventful journey by arriving at Georgetown in the early autumn. Mining for gold did not prove profitable and soon he turned his attention to other means of earning a livelihood. The year 1853 found him a pioneer of Sonoma county, where the remainder of his life was passed. Destitute of means, it was not possible for him to purchase land even at the low prices then prevailing, but he took up leasehold and began ranch pursuits. For a long period he continued as a renter, but in 1880 he invested his savings in forty-five acres of land, which he held until 1910. In that year he retired from agriculture cares and placed his money on interest. It was his privilege to witness the gradual development of Sonoma county from a wild region, inhabited principally by Indians, into a beautiful and prosperous country, the abode of a progressive people and the center of broad agricultural activities.

History of Sonoma County, California
Biographical Sketches of The Leading Men and Women of the County Who Have Been Identified With Its Growth and Development from the Early Days to the Present
History By: Tom Gregory
Historic Record Company, Los Angeles, California (1911)

Transcribed by Peggy Hooper 2011