John M. Patton’s name seldom appears in Hannibal’s historic annals, but the legacy he left behind when he died in 1898 at the age of 59 remains significant.
Patton’s work during the quarter century of his tenure as contractor, builder and millworker collectively changed the face of Hannibal following the Civil War.
Buildings still stand as a testimony to his high standards of skill and craftsmanship.
Among the structures to his credit, as identified by the Historic Inventory compiled by Esley Hamilton during the 1980s:
The John RoBards house, 215 N. Sixth, was designed by Patton and built in 1871.
The J.O. Green house, 214 N. Fifth, built circa 1895.
The A.J. Settles house, 225 North Maple, built in 1872.
The Hock Building, 312 Center, built in 1872.
In addition, J.M. Patton was administrator of the William Hubbard estate in 1892, and oversaw the establishment of Hubbard’s Addition in the St. Mary’s Avenue area.
John M. Patton learned the carpentry trade at the side of his father, Thomas Patton of Virginia.
When he was 18, John left home and headed west, working in Illinois and Iowa before moving to Hannibal. Here he met his future wife, Sarah A. Hubbard, the daughter of William Hubbard, one of the area’s earliest settlers. John and Sarah married in 1859, and for a few years he worked in the tobacco trade. During the Civil War, he went west and north, to Nevada and Montana, returning to Hannibal at war’s end.
Back in Hannibal, he started out in the contracting and building trade. In 1873, he expanded his business dealings, partnering to enter into the sash, door and blind business. By 1875, he was operating a mill on Collier street, which manufactured sash, doors, blinds, moldings, stairs, railings and anything else required for the woodwork of a house.
In 1879, Hannibal’s city directory listed the following men working for J.M. Patton:
A.S. Allison, carpenter for John M. Patton, bds 308 N. Third
Harman Andrews, carpenter Patton, res Market near Arch
George Billings, carpenter Patton, res 217 Fourth, SH
Adam Breneman, machinist Patton, res near terminus of Chestnut
John A. Campbell, machinist and carpenter, Patton, res 801 Church
William Eaton, carpenter Patton, res 1231 Riley Row SS Lyon
William H. Fletcher, plainer, Patton, res corner 3d and Broadway
Horace Greeley, laborer, Patton
Harman Henning, plainer, Patton, res Lyon between Maple and 11th
James O’Hara, carpenter, Patton, res corner Church and 8th
Peter A. Palmer, planer, Patton, res Gerald
Peter A. Parker, planer J.M. Patton, res Gerald
George W. Pratt, planing mill J.M. Patton, res 6th between Bird and Center
C.H. Searers, carpenter for Patton, res Chestnut near Vine
In 1888, Patton’s company was located on the southwest corner of Ninth and Lyon, where Mark Twain Architectural Salvage Supply Company is now located. (Gordon Harrison, whose company owns the building, said that he has seen a photo of corbels and other moldings stored on the second floor of this building, which was later damaged by fire. The second floor was ultimately removed and the ceiling lowered, he said.)
John and Sarah Patton had seven children, but only four lived to adulthood:
• Lizzie Patton, (born 1863) was a Hannibal school teacher. After teaching in Hannibal, she moved to Pueblo, Colo., and resumed her profession. Her mothers and sisters followed her to Colorado. She taught in Pueblo at least through 1920.
• Charles Patton, (born circa 1871) worked as a bookkeeper for his father in Hannibal. He eventually moved to Seattle, Wash., where he worked as a real estate salesman. He died in 1942 in Seattle.
• Aurelia (Rhae) Patton (born 1877) was married to Clarence Simonson Sept. 4, 1902, at Pueblo, Colo. She died Jan. 1, 1905, at the age of 26, at the home of her inlaws, Hannibal Superintendent and Mrs. R.B.D. Simonson. The deceased is buried near her father in Section G54, Riverside Cemetery. Clarence Simonson, his parents’ only child, remarried, but died in 1914 of TB.
• Jessie Patton (born 1874) was married to the Rev. Corry S. Baird, who served as pastor of the Pilgrim Congregational church in Hannibal in 1891. The marriage took place in September 1902, in Pueblo, Colo., two weeks after Rev. Baird traveled in order to conduct a marriage ceremony for his wife’s sister, Rhae. The Bairds had two daughters, Mary E. and Ruth E. Baird. Jessie preceded her husband in death.
The Pattons lived in several houses during their life in Hannibal, but most significant is the house (still standing) located at 1046 (later renumbered 1120) Broadway.
Esley Hamilton included this house in the Historic Inventory he compiled for the State Historical Survey and Planning Office, Jefferson City, in 1882. It was compiled from notes made by Roberta Hagood from Portrait and Biographical Record, 1895, page 236.
“William A. Hunt bought this lot in 1869 and was living here by 1873. He was cashier of the Saving’s Bank of Hannibal and a steamboat agent. In 1875 financial reverses caused him to leave Hannibal, when the house was bought by Sarah N., wife of Louis F. Keebaugh. He was a clerk for the Hannibal and St. Joseph Railroad. In 1883 they sold to Samuel A. Drake, a merchant associated at that time with J.O. Farmer, who had just moved to 215 North Maple.
Drake sold in 1887 to John M. Patton (1837-1898), a contractor and mill owner who was key figure in the post-war look of Hannibal. After his death his widow moved to Colorado and the house was sold to William J. Roth (1858-1934). He was president of the Hannibal Trust Company and very active in real estate.”