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Peter Pat(t)erson was born after 1724. This birth date is deduced from the fact that on 11 Dec 1777 Peter appealed a tour of military duty based on hardship, rather than because he was over the age of 53--the age after which able-bodied men were not required to serve. (Egles’ Notes and Queries, Third Series, Vol. 1, IX, p. 42) And, since his wife, Agnes McCormick, was born abt. 1733 (according to her headstone in Rehoboth Presbyterian cemetery in Belle Vernon, Fayette Co., PA; see picture this chapter), we might suppose Peter’s birth date to be close to that of his (first?) wife.  We know Peter died abt. 1821 (See Peter’s will in this chapter; it was probated 1821) and we know that, according to Ellis, (History of Fayette County, Pennsylvania, p. 617) Peter died “at more than 90 years of age”-- all of which leads us to a more refined guess that Peter was probably born between 1725 and 1730.  (If he were born after 1730, he would not have been more than ninety years old at his death, as Ellis asserts.) 

At this time we do not know where Peter was born; he may have been born in Co. Antrim.   At this time we also do not know the names of Peter’s parents, though clues point to Peter being the son of a James and Mary Patterson. (Since these last two statements contain conjecture, they are further explored in a separate chapter; see “Who was Peter’s Father?”-- Chapter VIII of this paper.)


On April 1, 1755, in  the Paxtang (Paxton) Twp. meeting house, Lancaster Co. [later Dauphin Co.], PA, Peter married Agnes McCormick. * (Register of Marriages and Baptism Performed by Rev. John Cuthbertson 1751-1791 ed. by S. Helen Fields; originally published 1934 in Washington D.C. and reprinted 2001 by Heritage Books, Bowie, MD.; p. 11)


Agnes McCormick was b. abt. 1733 and she died 1807 in Washington Twp., Fayettte Co., PA.**. (Birth date calculated from headstone information at Rehoboth Presbyterian Cemetery: “died 1807, age 74”.)


Peter “Paterson” is listed as father of the following children (all as listed in baptism records of Rev. John Cuthbertson; source previously cited), which children agree with those listed in his will (excepting dau. Agnes, who predeceased her father):

1.                 James Paterson, bapt. 2 Aug 1756 Pequea meeting house, Lancaster Co., PA

2.                 Thomas Paterson, bapt. 11 June 1758, Middle Octoraro, Lancaster Co., PA

3.                 John Paterson, bapt. 8 June 1760, Paxtang meeting house, Lancaster Co., PA

4.                 Agnes Paterson, bapt. 5 Sept, 1762, Muddy Run meeting house, Lancaster Co., PA

5.                 Mary Paterson, bapt. 7 Apr 1765 in Paxtang meeting house, Lancaster Co., PA


*The marriage recorded was of “Peter Peters” to “Agnes McCormick”.  Cuthbertson often used abbreviations, and his spelling of the surname “Paterson” varied wildly.  For example, he recorded the marriage of “Han. Peterson” to James Mitchel on 14 Dec 1769.  This “Han. Peterson” is undoubtedly the daughter of Peter Patterson of Drumore Twp., Lancaster Co., PA; Peter Patterson of Drumore’s will was proved 1786 and listed daughter “Hannah, wife of James Mitchel”.  (Lancaster Co. will abstracts on-line at

** Vol. XIX, Baptisms 1701-1746, First Presbyterian Church, Philadelphia, p. 299, shows “June 2, 1735 – Agnes, born 20 Aprl. past, daughter of John McCormick.”  The dates don’t quite work, but it’s worth a mention. Maybe this record is of the birth of Peter’s wife—maybe not. It is also worth mentioning that in Verkus’ Compendium of American Genealogy, Vol. 6, p. 143 (or, rather, a Patterson & Pattison Family publication transcription of same), is listed a Peter Patterson who abt. 1756 m. “Agnes McCormick (1723-1807).” See, in this chapter, the photo of Agnes’ grave in Rehoboth Presbyterian Cemetery where her headstone says “died 1807, age 74.”  This makes Agnes b. abt. 1733, not 1723 as (allegedly) in Verkus.  Must be a typo—whether by Verkus or by the submitter to the Patterson & Pattison publication, I cannot say.


No birth or baptism record for a son named Peter has been found. It does seem odd that Peter did not have a son named after himself.  According to “Scotch-Irish” naming patterns observed pretty rigously at that time, the first son was named after the father’s father; the second son after the mother’s father; and the third son after the father.  According to the above baptism records, Peter’s third son was named John, rather than Peter, as one might expect.  Was there possibly a son named Peter, born abt. 1759, between Thomas and John?  If so, did this son Peter die before he was baptized?  Could this explain why there is no baptism record for a son named Peter and also why our Peter does not name a son Peter in his will?


I must mention one other possibility. If Peter were born in 1724 (the earliest year of our estimated range of years), then he could have married a woman prior to marrying Agnes—say abt. 1745 (when he was about 21 years of age)) and he could have had three children between 1746 and1751, at which point his theoretical 1st wife could have died.   In this hypothetical scenario, the third child of Peter and his (theoretical) 1st wife could have been a son named Peter. It is true that Rev. Cuthbertson did not come to America until 1751, and until that time the “Covenanters” in America had no minister to attend to them, so there may not have been any baptism records of any Covenanter children prior to 1751.  Should future researchers find record of a Peter Patterson born between about 1746 and 1751 and cannot determine who the father of this Peter was, they should keep “our” Peter in mind.


I must also briefly mention the possibility that, if Peter had a wife before he married Agnes McCormick, then the name of this (theoretical) 1st wife is not known to me; therefore Peter could have married Ann Montgomery, as was stated by Ms. Espy in the D.A.R. magazine piece quoted above.  However, Ms. Espy does not seem to me to be a credible source of information about Paxtang Pattersons. She had the wrong names for the spouses of all but one of Peter’s siblings; she did not name Peter’s sister Mary; and she erroneously claimed that there was a Peter “Sr.” living in Paxtang Twp. who was old enough to have had four sons who were Revolutionary War soliders (William, James, Peter and Robert). At any rate, Ms. Espy’s incorrect information regarding Pattersons of Paxtang seems to be the source upon which incorrect D.A.R. lineages are based—lineages which claim that the father of the Mary Patterson who married George Espy was a Peter “Jr.” who was son of a Peter “Sr. and Eleanor (Lytle) Patterson of Paxtang.  We must reiterate: the Mary Patterson who married Revolutionary War soldier George Espy, was daughter of Peter and Agnes (McCormick) Patterson. This will be definitively proven below.


Another piece of information that just won’t “go away” is the fact that at in December 1777 Peter appealed his upcoming tour of military duty, claiming hardship, and he stated that he had “two sons already in the service at Camp in the seventh class.”  This information, combined with the information that a Peter Patterson was listed in the “seventh class” on the “Class Roll of Capt. McCoy’s Co., made out by Liet. Beaty [sic], the Capt. being Dead for the Years 1781 and 1782” (PA Archives, Series 3, Vol. XXIII, p. 797)…well, it gives one pause.  This Peter on Capt. McCoy’s muster roll was not “our” Peter.  Could this soldier be “our” Peter’s son? Future researchers might investigate where Capt. McCoy’s company was mustered, and find other Pattersons in the “seventh class” on other muster rolls, and find out where these companies were formed.


It’s worth a mention here that the “Peter Patterson Jr.” who witnessed Peter’s will, written in 1818, was not a son but a grandson.  This “Peter Patterson Jr.” was son of Peter’s


son James; Peter so states this relationship in his will. (See transcription of Peter’s will at end of this chapter)


Before proceeding to the other facts of our Peter’s life, we should note here that the baptism dates given above for Peter’s children may well be several years later than the children’s actual birth dates. Rev. Cuthbertson covered a wide area. S. Helen Fields, in the introduction to her book cited above, says that Cuthbertson traveled over 70,000 miles during his pastorate.  He wasn’t necessarily available to baptize a child within a few months or even within a few years of a child’s birth.  Also, Indian incursion into the Paxtang area in the 1750’s and 1760’s caused people to flee to safer territory for long periods, during which they perhaps temporarily lost contact with their Covenanter minister.



Peter lived in the area of Paxtang (Paxton) Twp., Lancaster [later Dauphin] Co. at least between the years 1755 and July 1778.  (Peter’s marriage in Paxtang recorded in Cuthbertson’s journal 1755; and Paxtang Twp. tax list 1770 as seen in First & Second Series Egle’s Notes and Queries, Vol. 1, XXVI, p. 179; and “Paxton” tax list 1771 as seen in PA Archives, Series 3, Vol. SVII, p. 75; and  “Paxton” tax list 1772 as seen in PA Archives, Series 3, Vol. XVII, p. 317; and “Paxton” tax list 1773 as seen in PA Archives, Series 3, Vol. XVII, p. 380; and Peter’ military appeal in Paxtang 1777 as seen in Egle’s Notes and Queries, Third Series, Vol. I, IX, p. 42; and Peter’s military appeal in Paxtang 21 July 1778 as seen in Egle’s Notes and Queries, Third Series, Vol. 1, XI, p. 61)


There was another Peter Patterson living in Lancaster Co. at the same time as our Peter. This Peter lived in Drumore Twp. On the 1771 Lancaster “14th Eighteen-Penny Tax” list are seen: Peter Patterson of Dromore [Drumore] Twp. as well as Peter Patterson of Paxton [Paxtang] Twp. (our Peter).  Because this 1771 tax list establishes that two different Peter Pattersons were living in Lancaster Co., I then cannot say with certainty that any Peter Patterson listed on certain earlier records was “our” Peter.  For example, a Peter Patterson warranted 80 acres of land in Lancaster Co. on 18 Dec 1748. (PA Archives, Series 3, Vol. XXIV, p. 501)  Also, a Peter Patterson is on a list of “Early Land Applications for 1765 in Lancaster Co.” (transcription of microfilm #0984245 by Catherine and Carl Paystrup posted on rootsweb Aug 2001)  Also, a Peter Patterson is listed on the 1757 Martic Twp., Lancaster Co. Provincial tax list (History of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania by Ellis & Evans, Chapter LXVI, p. 967)  Are any of the Peters Pattersons of these earlier records “our” Peter of Paxtang, or do any of these records pertain to Peter of Drumore?  I cannot say.


In 1776, Peter enlisted in Captain James Cowden’s Co. of Col. James Burd’s 4th Batt. of the PA Militia, as did his brothers William and James. (PA Archives, Series 5, Vol. VII, p. 337) This company was formed from Paxtang area men*, and there is no record of any Patterson men, other than “our” Peter and his brothers, living in Paxtang at this time.  Captain Cowden was himself a “Paxtang” man.  A bio in Commemorative Biographical Records of Washington County, Pennnsylvania (on-line at says: “He [Cowden] was one of the leading spirits in the meeting at Middletown [in Paxtang Twp.], June 9, 1774, of which Col. James Burd was chairman, and whose action, in conjunction with those of Hanover [township, Lancaster Co.], nerved the people of Lancaster in their patriotic resolves. Suiting the action to the word, Mr. Cowden and the young men of

*I have examined the nearly 120 names of the men in Capt. Cowden’s Co. and have found over half of them on tax rolls (1770’s) in either Paxtang or Hanover townships



his neighborhood* took measures toward raising a battalion of associators, of which Col. James Burd was in command, and a company of which was intrusted [sic] to Captain Cowden. His company, although not belonging to the Pennsylvania Line, was, nevertheless, in several campaigns, and did faithful service at Fort Washington, in the Jerseys, at Brandywine [11 Sept 1777], and Germantown [4 Oct 1777], and in the war on the northern and western frontiers, defending them from the attack of the savage Indian and treacherous Tory.”  Egle, in his Notes and Queries, Vol. 1, XXXVII, p. 259, writes: “During the campaign of the year 1776, they [Cowden’s Co.] were in active service—quite a number were captured at Fort Washington**, and several lost their lives. Many of the younger portion subsequently enlisted in the Pennsylvania Line, remaining in the patriot army until its close.” The length of Peter’s service in Captain Cowden’s company has not been determined, but we know that by 11 Dec 1777 Peter was back in Paxtang. On this date he appeared at Garber’s Mill, Paxtang Twp., to appeal a tour of military duty. (Egles’ Notes and Queries, Third Series, Vol. I, IX, p. 42)  Quoting from this record: “Personally app’d Peter Patterson and complains he’s unfit to do his own business, but has to hire a man 7/6 p. day to fatten his Cattle and has 2 sons already in the service at Camp in the seventh class.  He’s exempted this Tour.”  Also, on the same day, on 11 Dec 1777 Peter’s brother William appeared: “Personally appeared Wm. Patterson and complains of Inability of Body and says he is overage, tho’ he cannot prove it. Thought capable of performing garrison duty.” I am assuming that William did not lie to get out of his tour of duty; therefore I believe William to be Peter’s older brother. (More of this in William’s chapter.)


            In 1778 Peter took an Oath of Allegiance in Paxtang.  His name appears of a “list of Person’s Names who took the Oath of Allegiance before Joshua Elder, one of the justices for Lancaster County, from the 28th of January, 1778 to the 7th of January, 1779.”   Peter’s name is found in the section of the list said by Elder to have been “sworn and subscribed since the first day of June, 1778.” (Egles’ Notes and Queries, First & Second Series, Vol. 1, XXXII, p. 228)  It is surprising that Peter signed his name on this list.  Covenanters were loathe to swear allegiance to any person or entity other than their God.  Another comment about this list of people who signed the oath of allegiance: this list is not alphabetized, so the


*One reason I believe that Florence Mercy Espy might have assumed the existence of a Peter “Sr.” of Paxtang—father of “our” Peter-- is that Peter and his brothers, William and James, were definitely not “young men” when they enlisted in Captain Cowden’s company.  In 1776, Peter’s older brother, William, was most probably over fifty years old; Peter was probably between the ages of 46 and 51; and Peter’s brother James was about 49.  Researchers not aware of all the facts, seeing a Peter Patterson listed on a tax list in the early 1770’s, might wrongly assume that this Peter on the tax list was the father of the Peter who enlisted in Cowden’s Co.

*A Peter Patterson was captured by the British and imprisoned on the prison ship “Jersey.” (List of prisoner compiled in 1888 from papers of the British War Department by the “Society of Old Brooklyites”)  Other Pattersons listed as prisoners on the “Jersey” were: Edward, Hance [sic], John, John, “W.,” and William.  It is of course possible that this Peter Patterson on the “Jersey” was our Peter, but as the “Jersey” was first brought to shore in April of 1778, and since by 21 July 1778 our Peter was back in Paxtang where he appeared at a military appeal, it seems unlikely.  As to the identity of the William Patterson on this list, in D.A.R. Lineage Book Vol. 73, p. 44, Mrs. Mary E. Patterson Elliott (member #72120), a descendant of Peter’s brother William, does claim that “our” Peter’s brother, William, who enlisted in 1776 in Capt. Cowden’s Co., was “afterwards on the prison ship ‘Jersey.’” Mrs. Elliott was a great-grandaughter of Peter’s brother William, and was still living in Fayette Co., PA at the time she applied for D.A.R. membership.  She may have been privy to familiy stories about her grandfather’s imprisonment on the ‘Jersey’—or, she, too, may have read the 1888 list of prisoners published by the “Society of Old Brooklynites” and then simply decided that this William was her ancestor.  Who knows.



names surrounding Peter’s might well be those of his neighbors and friends.  The 4th name after Peter’s is “Elijah Stewart.”  Elijah was originally from Paxtang, and was also in Capt. Cowden’s Co. Elijah Stewart married Peter’s sister, Mary; and Elijah’s sister, Mary Stewart, married Peter’s brother Robert. (More of this in Robert’s chapter and in Mary’s chapter.)


Peter was still in Paxtang as of 21 July 1778.  On this date Peter again appeared at Garber’s Mill, Paxtang Twp., to appeal a tour of duty. (Egle’s Notes and Queries, Third Series, Vol. 1, XI, p. 62) Quoting the record: “Personally appeared Peter Patterson and says he is ab’t to remove to Westmoreland [County, PA] immediately [emphasis mine], and his sons are there already. Is excus’d in case he removes in less than two months; if not is liable to his Tour or Substitution.” Before leaving the subject of Peter’s military service, it should be stated that “our” Peter Patterson did not ever apply for a pension for Revolutionary.  The Peter Patterson who in 1834 in Fayette Co. began the pension application process was NOT “our” Peter; this was a Peter Patterson from New Jersey who had moved to Fayette County sometime after “our” Peter had arrived there.*


Consistent with Peter’s intentions as stated in the 21 July 1778 military appeal, Peter Patterson was indeed in Westmoreland Co. , PA (part of which became Fayette Co. in 1783) by 3 Aug 1779.  A Deed from Annis & Samuel Perry and Mary, his wife, of Westmoreland, to Charles Hurrah of the same place, refers to a tract of land “lying in the forks of Youghiogania and Monongahala rivers, bounded by the lands of William Moore, Peter Patterson, Isaac Green, and ‘others’…”  (Recorded 20 Apr 1781, Westmoreland Co. Deed Book A, Part 1, p. 231)


In the autumn of 1779, Rev. Cuthbertson made his one and only trip across the mountains, to the area known as the “Forks of the Yough.” His journal entry for 7 Oct 1779 reads: “rode 14 miles, 6 to Sam Wilson’s; preached 51:1—preached Hebrews 13:14 and baptized Elizabeth to S. Wilson John and Margaret to Sa. Scot, then rode 8 miles to Peter Paterson’s, Red Sto. [emphasis mine].”


*I believe that researchers (in particular, Florence Espy), who were seeking facts about “our” Peter Patterson, confused him with the Peter Patterson from NJ who applied for a pension 10 Sept 1834 in Fayette Co., PA.  I received from the D.A.R. library the entire contents of this other Peter’s pension application file (#R8008). This other Peter had enlisted in Monmouth Co., NJ and was age 80 in 1834, so was b. abt. 1754. At the time of his application his deposition shows that he was living in the “poorehouse” in Uniontown, Fayette Co.   Fayette Co. census records show that in 1800 “our” Peter was the only Peter Patterson in Fayette Co., but that in 1810 another Peter Patterson appears, in Union Twp. This other Peter is also in Union Twp. in 1820.  This other Peter “disappears” in 1830, but perhaps this is because by 1830 he was living in the poorhouse and wasn’t “counted.” At any rate, I wonder if this other Peter died in 1840 and if previous researchers (Ms. Espy) grafted this other Peter’s death date onto “our” Peter.  The D.A.R. membership of Mrs. Genevieve Morrison Smith (member #37550) is based on “our” Peter’s service, as well as on the service of “our” Peter’s son-in-law, George Espy.  However, Mrs. Smith  gives Peter’s birth date as 1739 and death date as 1740, both of which are most assuredly incorrect. (D.A.R. Lineage Book Vol. 38, p. 198)  She claims Peter lived “to a phenomenal age.”  She also incorrectly claims that George Espy’s wife, Mary Patterson, was the daughter of Peter and _____ Montgomery.  Where could Mrs. Smith have gathered all this incorrect information?  Turning the D.A.R. Lineage Book Vol. 38 to the previous page, to the details of member #37549, is enlightening.  Member #37549 is Florence Mercy Espy who, like Mrs. Smith, lived in Fort Madison, IA.  Florence Mercy Espy is the author of the piece in the D.A.R. magazine which was transcribed in full at the beginning of this paper and which seems to contains a myriad of errors (as does Mrs. Smith’s D.A.R. lineage).  What is very, very interesting (getting back to the pension application of this other Peter, who had enlisted in New Jersey) is the fact that included in this other Peter’s pension file (the complete contents of which I have a copy) is a letter from Florence Espy, written 4 Mar 1900, addressed to the Commissioner of Pensions in Washington, D.C.:


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Linda Hansen
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