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Family of Lawyer Patterson, Jr.


Lawyer Patterson, Jr.

A visit to any African-American cemetery in Matagorda County will reveal the handiwork of Lawyer Patterson, Jr. His custom-made concrete markers stand on hundreds of graves. His service provided affordable gravestones to families who wanted to mark the final resting places of their loved ones.

Mr. Patterson worked for the Steves family in Bay City, but as a sideline, he made affordable concrete cemetery markers in his garage. His hand-made markers can be found in most African-American cemeteries in Matagorda County as well as some adjoining counties. Their distinctive styles make them easy to recognize.

To make the inscription for the marker, Mr. Patterson fashioned boards into the size and shape of the face of the marker. He then formed the letters and numbers from rope. Each figure was attached to the wooden board with tiny nails in mirror-image as to appear correctly when finished. The board was then pressed into the face of the wet concrete. When the concrete was set, he painted inside the letters with black paint. Most of the markers he made were single upright markers, but examples of double markers exist in the county. The same shape was used in making most of the markers, but occasionally a different shape is found. The markers were durable and could be easily read from a distance. Only a few have cracked after years of exposure to various types of weather. A cemetery visitor might see a Patterson marker that has fallen over, but rarely will it be cracked.

Mr. Patterson tried unsuccessfully to interest younger men in carrying on his work, but found no one willing to accept the challenge. Tops of two of his molds have been preserved and are artifacts in the Matagorda County Museum.

He is buried at Matagorda Cemetery with a gray granite marker which stands near a handcrafted one he made for his own father.



Lawyer Patterson, Jr.

March 28, 1912 February 2, 1993

Funeral services for Lawyer Patterson, Jr., 76, of Bay City will be held 2 p. m. Friday at Mother Zion Baptist Church with the Rev. K. J. Griggs officiating. Burial will be at Matagorda Cemetery in Matagorda.

Visitation will be until 9 p. m. today at Duncan-Roberts Funeral Home.

Mr. Patterson was born March 28, 1916 in Matagorda to Lawyer and Wilhemena Lewis Patterson Sr. and died Feb. 2, 1993 at his home.

He was a member of the Baptist church and a former employee of Taylor-Steves Furniture Co. for many years.

Survivors include his wife of 53 years, Emma Martin Patterson of Bay City; a sister, Willie Mae Parker of Houston; a brother, John Patterson of Matagorda and a number of nieces and nephews.

He was preceded in death by his parents, a sister and a brother.

Pallbearers will be Thomas Edison, Odean Taylor, Jimmy Scott, Tommy Castilow and Preston Casey.

Honorary pallbearers are members of the Ushers Board, Nurses Board and the Senior Missionary Society #2.

Arrangements are with Duncan-Roberts Funeral Home in Bay City.

The Daily Tribune, February 24, 1993

Emma Patterson

March 16, 1914 - April 3, 2007

BAY CITY--Funeral services for Emma Patterson, 92, of Bay City, will be held t 2:30 p. m. Saturday, April 7, 2007, at Mother Zion Baptist Church in Bay City, with the Rev. Murray Martin officiating. Burial will follow at Eastview Cemetery.

Visitation will be 2 - 8 p.  m. Friday at Duncan-Roberts Funeral Home in Bay City.

Arrangements with Duncan-Roberts Funeral Home, Bay City, 979-245-5197.

The Victoria Advocate, April 5, 2007

Front of one of Mr. Patterson's molds for a single marker. Visible are pencil markings for spacing,
shapes of previous letters and holes of the small tacks used to secure the rope letters.

Reverse of same template with partially formed letters illustrating the process.

Malvenia A. & Ben Moore II - St. John's Cemetery in Van Vleck
Most of the markers made by Mr. Patterson were singles, but this top shows a double inscription.

Close up of the back showing the mirror image wording.

Close-up of showing the formation of the rope letters.

Examples of Lawyer Patterson Markers

Laura Williams - Matagorda Cemetery
This marker may an example of the original form used by Mr. Patterson


Sealie Fisher - Eastview Cemetery in Bay City
This appears to be one of the original forms used as many of the 1950's markers are this shape.


Arthur Davis - Eastview Cemetery in Bay City
Another example


McKinley Boone - Markham Cemetery
Typical single marker which is the form for most markers.

Arthur J. Moore - Markham Cemetery
Form rarely found.

Birdie L. Baugh - Eastview Cemetery in Bay City

Ella Nois ONeal - Union Cemetery in Ashwood
Some markers included phrases in addition to the name and dates.

Emanuel Morant Jr. - Union Cemetery in Ashwood
Another example with a phrase, but in a different location.

Andrew Rugeley - Union Cemetery in Ashwood
Rare example of a cracked marker


Copyright 2013 - Present by Carol Sue Gibbs
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Apr. 1, 2013
Apr. 1, 2013