WILLIAM H. PATTEN, of Canastota, a leading member of the firm of Patten & Stafford, manufacturers of the New York Champion Wheel Rakes, is a worthy representative of a large and important industry.
The manufacturing industries of a country may always be ranked as among its greatest blessings, the benefits resulting therefrom extending to all classes, every industry, art, and science being under obligations to the skill of the manufacturer and mechanic as well as to the genius of the inventor, the latter being stimulated to the highest exercise of his faculties by the opportunities afforded by the former.
Mr. Patten was born in Westmoreland, Oneida County, N.Y., February 17, 1837, and is a son of Osmond Patten, who was born on the same farm in 1802, the father of the latter and grandfather of our subject, William Patten, having settled thereon toward the close of the last century. William Patten married a Miss Phelps, who lived to be over ninety years of age, and died at Vernon, Oneida County, in 1847. He was one of three young men who settled in an early day in Westmoreland, the other two being a Mr. Cone and a Mr. Bowen. At the time all were young and vigorous, and ambitious to carve out for themselves a home and a fortune. They jointly selected and took up a tract of one hundred and eighty acres of land, dividing it into three equal parts, Mr. Bowen, who was a manufacturer of potash, giving a potash kettle to the others for the first choice of the divisions. William Patten and his wife were the parents of five sons, namely: Alton, who died, unmarried, in early life; William, who owned a carding and fulling mill, and died in old age, leaving a son and daughter; Osmond, the father of the subject of this sketch; Silas, a farmer of Walworth County, Wisconsin, who died in his eightieth year about 1883, leaving a family of four sons and two daughters; and George, a man of frail health, who was a book-keeper and accountant, and who died at the home of our subject in middle life. Osmond Patten married Betsy Bradford, who was born near Westerly, Conn., and was a daughter of William Bradford and his wife, the latter, previous to her marriage, having been a Miss Dickens. They had but one son, the subject of this sketch, and two daughters, namely: Mary Ann, who married J. J. Bonney, of Westmoreland; and Elizabeth, who became the wife of Martin Parson, of the same place. Osmond Patten died at Westmoreland about 1870, under very peculiar circumstances, being at the time in full health and vigor. Soon after eating a hearty meal he was stung on the temple by a honey-bee, and lived but three hours afterward, his strange death being commented upon by many of the newspapers in the country. His widow survived him some three years, and died at the age of seventy-two. Mr. Patten was a successful and progressive farmer, and a man of much general information. He was a great reader of newspapers, and an ardent admirer of Henry- Clay. His entire life was spent on the farm upon which his father settled when first corning to this State. He was a man greatly respected throughout his life, and deeply mourned at death.
William H. Patten, the subject of this sketch, during his youth lived at home upon the farm, acquiring the rudiments of education in the district schools, and perfecting his studies at an excellent academy at Westmoreland, N.Y. At the age of twenty-eight he removed to Clockville, where he engaged in the manufacture of wheel rakes, a business in which he has ever since remained. He was at first associated with J. L. Mansfield & Co. This was in 1866. Two years later the name of the firm was changed to Patten, Clarke & Co.; and in 1872 it became Patten & Stafford, thus remaining until 1882, when John E. Myers became a member of the firm, and the name was then changed to Patten, Stafford & Myers. In 1892 Mr. Myers retired; and the firm then became Patten & Stafford, under which name it is now known.
Mr. Patten has always been closely identified with the interests of the village of Canastota, and, although averse to public office, was Chief of the Fire Department of the village for years, and was also one of the prime movers in securing the fine system of gravity water-works established in 1885, and of which the village is justly proud. He was also one of the organizers of the State Bank, of which he is a stockholder and President at the present time. It was also through the energy of Mr. Patten that in 1878 the Electric Light Plant was established at this place, he being one of the leading spirits in its incorporation. The capitalization of the company is twenty thousand dollars; and Mr. Patten owns over one-half the stock, being at the same time its Secretary and Treasurer. This business enterprise is conducted on a sound basis, and its value and utility are much appreciated by the citizens of Canastota. Mr. Patten is also a member and one of the promoters (being now Vice-President and a Director) of the Justin Projectile Company of Syracuse, N.Y., which firm, established in 1891, manufactures a shell that can be fired with high explosives in any rifled cannon, the peculiar construction of the shell having the effect of overcoming its inertia, which is regarded as the prime difficulty in the firing of high explosives. An exhibition and test given in Perryville, N.Y., June 20, 1892, before the full Board of Ordnance and Fortification, including Major General Schofield, Colonel Henry Mabbott, Colonel Henry W. Closson, Major Clifton Conly, General Byron H. Cutcheon, and Captain C. C. Morrison, of the Ordnance Department and Recorder of the Ordnance Board, was considered highly satisfactory. A second and similar test was made in September, 1893, at Sandy Hook, with similar results, and with the effect of securing the approbation and recommendation of the military authorities.
The Wheel Rake Manufacturing Company of Patten & Stafford is the leading industrial establishment of the village of Canastota, and is, in fact, one of the leading industries of this part of the State of New York. The plant covers about two acres of ground, the buildings being three-story frames, two hundred feet long by forty wide. The company turn out about eight thousand five hundred rakes per year, as compared with one hundred and fifty the first year it started. These rakes are worth at wholesale about twenty dollars apiece. The firm employs six travelling men; and their trade covers a territory extending over New York, Pennsylvania, New England, and the North-western States. One of the first horse dump rakes made was manufactured under the patent of Smith & Cowles; but it was left to Mr. Patten, by his inventive genius, while working in the Smith & Cowles shops, to improve and perfect this comparatively crude implement for gathering hay. The rake now manufactured by his company has been on the market for many years, and is generally considered to be the best of the kind made. The business of the firm is well established, and is based upon the sterling character of the company for integrity and honest business methods, and upon the substantial and reliable nature of the article manufactured. Few men have more or warmer friends in the business world than the gentlemen composing the firm of Patten & Stafford.
Mr. Patten was married first in 1869 to Miss Gertrude Smith, of Westmoreland, a daughter of William Smith and a sister of the former wife of Mr. Stafford, Mr. Patten's partner. She died in 1878, leaving no children, her sister, Mrs. Stafford, having died in 1876. Mr. Patten was married the second time to Miss Louise M. Cady, a daughter of George B. and Nancy (Way) Cady, of Clockville. Mrs. Patten is a refined and highly cultivated lady; and her true womanly qualities make her a general favorite in society. She and her husband are the centre of a large circle of friends. Mr. Patten is a man of a generous disposition, and is quick to respond to appeals in behalf of every worthy cause, giving liberally of his large means to such enterprises as are designed to benefit the community at large.
It has been said that he who makes two blades of grass to grow where but one grew before is a benefactor to mankind, and it will be acknowledged that no country can claim pre-eminence over the United States in the degree of inventive genius possessed by its citizens. Mr. Patten, therefore, can surely be counted among those who by their natural talents and life-work have been of useful service to their fellow-men; and it is as a representative of such that the publishers of this volume take pleasure in presenting their readers with the portrait that appears in connection with this biographical sketch.
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