|CHARLES H. PATTON
With no intention of minimizing the justly earned fame of the many distinguished citizens who have figured in the history of Jefferson county, it can be truthfully stated that among their honored names none occupied a more prominent position, achieved greater success or were better beloved by their fellows than the late Charles H.Patton,of Mount Vernon, for manyyears one of the leading lawyers of Southern Illinois and admittedly the peer of any of his contemporaries of the state in legal acumen and professional ability. Few men of his day were as widely and favorably known. none exceeded him in those sterling qualities which make for noble manhood and a high standard of citizenship and when the historian of the future contemplates the good and the great whose deeds and influence contributed to the progress of Illinois and gave the state her proud position among her sister commonwealths, his name will occupy no minor place in the category.
In the life current of Charles H. Patton flowed the best blood of a long line of sturdy New England ancestry and to a marked degree he combined the sterling qualities and attributes for which his antecedents for many generations were distinguished. On the patemal side his people were among the early English settlers of Connecticut, the maternal branch of the family being traceable to a remote period in the history of Vermont. Eliphalet W. Patton, the father, was born October 5, 1805, in Hartford county, Connecticut, and when a young man married Miss Ladora A. Griswold, whose birth occurred in Burlington, Vermont, in the year 1814, and who became the mother of six children, the subject being the oldest of the family. Charles H. Patton, who was also a native of Hartford county, Connecticut, was born May 19, 1834, and the year following was taken by his parents to Ashtabula county, Ohio, where the family remained until removing in 1862 to Jefferson county, Illinois. On coming to this state Eliphalet Patton purchased land in Dodds township and engaged in farming which vocation he continued with gratifying success until his death on December 5th of the year 1881.
The early life of Charles H. Patton was spent on a farm in Ashtabula county, Ohio, where he grew to manhood under excellent home influences and while still a mere youth gave evidence of the strong mental and moral force which formed such a marked and influential characteristic of his more mature years. His father provided for his educational training by procurring for him the advantages of an academic course at Kingsville, Ohio, the preceptor being Zwinglass Graves, afterward president of the Female College of Lebanon, Pennsylvania, under whose direction he pursued his studies until acquiring a tolerably thorough knowledge of the ordinary branches and an acquaintance with the classic language, meanwhile he assisted in the cultivation of the farts, and by reason of being the oldest son, not a few of the responsibilities of the family naturally fell to him. After remaining with his parents until his eighteenth year he severed his home ties and shipped as a sailor on the Great Lakes, which vocation he followed during the three years ensuing and in which he acquired a valuable practical knowledge besides meeting with many interesting and not a few thrilling experiences.
On attaining his majority Mr. Patton quit the lake service and turned his attention to teaching, which line of work he followed for a few years for the purpose of fitting himself for a more permanent profession. His early predilections were in favor of the law and with this in view he exercised the strictest economy until saving sufficient from his earnings to defray his expenses while pursuing a preliminary course of reading in the office of Hon. L. A. Leonard, of Pierpont, Ohio, a prominent lawyer of that place and one of the distinguished jurists of the state. Under the able instruction of this learned Judge Mr. Patton made commendable progress and in due time was sufficiently advanced for admission to the bar, which formality took place on March 12th of the year 1862. The year prior to that date, however, he came to Jefferson county, Illinois, to look after his fathers purchase until the latter could remove his family to the new home in the West, and in the winter following his admission to the bar, he taught school in Jefferson county, meanwhile maturing plans for engaging in his profession as soon as practicable.
On the arrival of the family in 1862 to take charge of the farm, Mr. Patton began the practice of law at Mount Vernon in partnership with judge James M. Pollock, the firm thus constituted lasting until 1865, when the junior member was elected County Clerk,which office he held with ability and credit for a period of four years. Resuming his profession at the expiration of his official term in 1869, Mr. Patton practiced alone until the following year when he formed a partnership with Judge Thomas S. Casey, which continued until 1873, and during that time was not only one of the strongest law firms in Jefferson county but among the ablest in Southern Illinois, with a reputation by no means confined to state lines. Severing his connection with his associate in the year indicated, Mr. Patton again maintained an office of his own, and rose to a prominent position among the distinguished men of his profession in the West, his name for a number of years appearing in connection with the leading cases tried in the courts of Jefferson and neighboring counties while his services were frequently in demand in causes demanding a high order of legal talent, in other jurisdictions. By the unanimous approval of the Mount Vernon Bar, he was chosen Master in Chancery, this signal mark of confidence on the part of his professional brethren bearing eloquent testimony to his eminent legal ability and to the high esteem in which he was held as a man and good citizen.
Mr. Patton s career as a chancery and corporation lawyer gave him an honorable reputation in legal circles throughout the state and brought him in contact with some of the greatest men of his profes sion in various parts of the Union. Wherever known his talents commanded respect and for a number of years his name occupied a prominent place among the great legal minds of the Middle West as stated above, winning recognition in other and remoter parts of the country. He possessed in a marked degree those traits and abilities' by which men make themselves masters of their fates. It is difficult to discover and define the hidden forces that move a life of ceaseless and varied activities; little more can be done than to note their m ifestations in his career; Mr. Patton mounted rapidly from one sphere of usefulness to another, always acquitting himself most honand Otto Charles Patton, who served as an officer in the Illinois National Guard, and with his company was among the first to enter the United States service in the late war with Spain. He took an honorable part in that struggle and at its close resigned his commission and returned to his home in Mount Vernon where he has since resided.
Mr. Patton was a prominent member of the Masonic fraternity and rose to high rank in the order, Patton Commandery of Mount Vernon having been named in his honor. He was also actively identified with the Knights of Honor, did much for the success of the order in the state at large and exemplified in his relations with his fellow men the beautiful and sublime principles upon which both the above organizations are founded. Indeed he aided to the extent of his ability all organizations and enterprises having for their object the advancement of the community and the material, social and moral welfare of his fellow men, contributed liberally to various charitable and humanitarian projects and gave his influence to every worthy movement for the benefit of the race. His career was filled to repletion with activity and usefulness, and the limited space of this review does not permit of a detailed account of his distinguished professional success or of the faithful services uniformly rendered to the many friends of the city of his residence, the state and nation. Few men lived such a happy life or were so blessed in their family and surroundings or had such absolute control of themselves while serving with distinction their day and generation. Of pleasing presence and dignified demeanor he had massive mind and a heart in proportion thereto, and although a natural leader of men his kindly nature made him the friend and well wisher of the humblest of his fellows.
The death of this eminent lawyer, able public official and distinguished citizen, occurred on the 23d day of December, 1901, and was not only a loss to his county and state but the nation as well. Mrs. Patton, who is still living, resides in Mount Vernon, and is highly esteemed by the best people of the city for her many estimable qualities of mind and heart.
"History of Jefferson County" By: John A. WALL
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