C.R Patterson, An Ex-Slave, And His Family Built Automobiles Before Henry Ford. They called Their Line “Patterson-Greenfield”

12 Posted by - May 27, 2021 - BLACK BUSINESS, BLACK INVENTIONS

The Pattersons of Greenfield, Ohio, were an African-American family who, beginning in 1915, manufactured automobiles, buses, and trucks. They called their line the ‘Patterson-Greenfield’ and produced vehicles until the 1930s, when they could no longer compete with the large Detroit companies.

The family was established by Charles Richard Patterson, a blacksmith who escaped from slavery in West Virginia just before the Civil War by running away to freedom in Ohio. He bought into a blacksmith business, took it over, and founded the Charles R. Patterson Carriage Co. which built various horse-drawn vehicles beginning in the 1860s.patterson family

When Patterson died, his son Frederick Douglass Patterson took over the company and decided to produce the new “horseless carriage,” an early name for automobiles. They manufactured their first car in 1915. It sold for $850.Without the financial ability to expand on a large scale, the company built only 150 cars and began to make specialized buses and trucks. Frederick Douglass Patterson died in 1937.You probably never rode in a Patterson-Greenfield, but the few rare surviving automobiles are now valuable collectors’ items, and you might just see one of these vehicles built by African Americans at an antique car show.

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  • Glyne Dawson February 21, 2015 - 2:07 pm

    We only know what we are told-monkey hear, monkey say; monkey see, monkey do. if we cannot use the sciences and engineering technologies and which craft like the rest of the tribes-we will continue to be laughing stocks

  • TaterSalad February 27, 2015 - 3:47 pm

    Those of us who are old enough remember being taught about the slave trade in the early years of the United States. American and European ships brought black Africans to our shores but who rounded up those slaves and brought them to the ships? Muslims.


  • […] C.R Patterson, An Ex-Slave, And His Family Built Automobiles Before Henry Ford. They called Their Li… […]

  • Adria Crouch September 8, 2016 - 6:41 pm

    Since Mr. Patterson built automobiles prior to Ford building them, do you know who invented the power system, like the motor and how to put them together to make the car run. What I want to know is who designed the working parts of an automobile.

  • Neil Smith October 4, 2016 - 12:34 pm

    great stuff this is a gem!

  • Keith January 9, 2017 - 9:11 am

    Howdid he make cars before Henry Ford if he didn’t build his first car until 1915? Ford been started building cars.

    • Chuck May 3, 2018 - 6:15 pm

      they need to check fact before other folks pass this misinformation on to someone else. Heck yes Ford was building cars in 1890.

    • Allen May 5, 2018 - 7:06 pm

      Ford didn’t invent the car, he start making his own in 1896 wasn’t a company at the time . but built his first at a Mack Avenue plant in 1906.
      It was A Swiss inventor, Francois Isaac Rivaz, who invented the car 1806. C. R Patterson was one of the first African car companies in the US.
      But C.R. Patterson was manufacturing at the time in 1860 what they called the horseless carriage ” automobile way before Henry Ford.
      So no where did it say C. R. Patterson was building cars before Henry Ford. I think you need to get your facts straight before post with a little research.

  • Erica Patterson March 2, 2019 - 3:47 am

    C.R. Patterson was my great grandfather 3x over. My grandfather Charles Patterson was named after him. Our legacy will be held on to throughout history and we are fighting for the rights we deserve

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