Edwin Howard Norton Patterson


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Sections:  Biography    Letters    Bibliography


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E. H. N. Patterson

Carte de Visite of E. H. N. Patterson, taken in the Summer of 1875.
 
Courtesy of History Colorado (scan # 10027537, provided in August 2012).


E. H. N. Patterson

The grave of E. H. N. Patterson, Alvarado, CO.
 
Photograph provided by William Yates, taken in October of 2010.

(Born: January 27, 1828 - Died: April 21, 1880)

American journalist and editor. He was born in Winchester, VA. In 1835, his father, John B. Patterson, moved to Oquawka, IL, where he founded the Oquawka Spectator. In 1836, Edwin and his mother, Mahala Jane Norton, joined his father. On his 21st birthday, Edwin inherited control of the Spectator. He corresponded briefly with Poe in 1849, ultimately agreeing to assist Poe in establishing the Stylus, but Poe died before the plans could be finalized or Poe’s dream magazine became a reality. Although sources state that in 1859, Patterson moved to Colorado, where he remained until his death, the US Census for 1860 lists “Edwin H. N. Patterson” as a printer, living in Oquawka. (He is noted as having $1,800 in real estate, and $3,000 in personal property. Three children are listed: Harry, aged 7; Metta Jane, aged 4; and Norman L., aged 1. Metta Jane was later Metta V. Darch.) According to the US Federal Census Mortality Schedules for 1880, which lists the month but not the full date, the cause of death was “brain disease.” (His obituary from the Colorado Miner gives the cause of death as “softening of the brain.”)

In the Spring of 1850, E. H. N. Patterson went to California, presumably to try his hand at panning for gold, but with no success, he quickly diverted his attention to travel, crossing the Isthmus of Panama and briefly visiting Cuba before returning home to Oquakwa. E. H. N. Patterson married Laura Phelps, Jan. 1, 1852, in Henderson, Co., IL. She was born May 11, 1832 and died Sept. 25, 1867. She is buried in the Oquawka Cemetery. At least one source erroneously lists his name as Edward. The Poe Log gives his middle names a Horton Norton, but this seems highly unlikely. (Another undocumented source gives the first middle name as Hamilton.) The Henderson Family geneology (pp. 104-106) states that E. H. N. Patterson went to Colorado in 1875, and became editor of the Colorado Miner (Georgetown, CO). According to the obituary printed in that newspaper on April 24, 1880, he took the helm of the Miner in 1873. He is buried in Alvarado Cemetery, near Georgetown, CO. His tombstone confirms his birth and death dates, but unhelpfully gives his name only as E. H. N. Patterson. His tombstone also prominently features the symbol of the square and compass, proudly indicating that he was a Mason.

An account of his funeral (printed in the Colorado Miner for May 1, 1880) shows that Patterson was an extremely popular person: “On arriving at the depot it was found that the five passenger coaches forming the train were not sufficient to accommodate all who wished to attend the guner, and a flat car had to used for this purpose.” The same article states that the church was filled to capacity, and that procession included eighty members of the A. F. & A. M. Masonic Fraternity, of which he had been a member, and “hundreds of citizens desirous of paying their last respect to the honored dead.”

As a journlist, Patterson sometimes used the pen name “Sniktau,” which also became a nickname, sometimes shortened as “Snik.” He claimed that it was a name given to him by Indians, but it seems more likely that he adopted it from a fellow journalist named W. F. Watkins, who created the pen name “Sniktaw” by reversing the order of the letters in his last name. Whatever the origin of the name, Mount Sniktau (one of many peaks in the Rocky Mountains, near Denver, CO), is named in honor of Patterson.

The only two known portraits of Patterson are in the collection of History Colorado (in Denver, CO). Both show him with a dark and bushy beard, although the other portrait clearly shows him as much a younger man. History Colorado also has a small collection of material by and about Patterson (MSS.481), donated in 1919 by his son, Norman L. Patterson.

 
 

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Letters:


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Bibliography:

  • Anonymous, “Death of E. H. N. Patterson,” Colorado Miner (Georgetown, CO), vol. XII, no. 50, April 24, 1880, p. 2, col. 1 (obituary, possibly written by his co-editor, Bellamy, Charles T., or W. H. Kelley, who assumed responsiblity for the Miner as of May 1, 1880, with several items apparently quoted from the Denver Tribune) (The entire issue is printed with black borders, indicative of mourning)
  • Anonymous, “Earth to Earth: The Funeral of the Late Editor of the Miner,” Colorado Miner (Georgetown, CO), vol. XII, no. 51, May 1, 1880, p. 2, col. 1 (possibly written by W. H. Kelley, who assumed responsiblity for the Miner as of May 1, 1880)
  • Field, Eugene, ed. Some Letters of Edgar Allan Poe to E. H. N. Patterson of Oquawka, Illinois. Chicago: Caxton Club, 1898. (Reprinted from “Poe, Patterson, and Oquawka,” America, April 11 and May 16, 1889, 2:45-50 and 208-210.)
  • Heartman, Charles F. and James R. Canny, A Bibliography of First Printings of the Writings of Edgar Allan Poe, Hattiesburg, MS: The Book Farm, 1943.
  • Higgins, Francis, “The Man From Oquawka,” 519-533.
  • Mabbott, Thomas Ollive, ed., The Collected Works of Edgar Allan Poe (Vols 2-3 Tales and Sketches) , Cambridge, Mass.: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1978. (Second printing 1979)
  • Thomas, Dwight and David K. Jackson, The Poe Log: A Documentary Life of Edgar Allan Poe 1809-1849, Boston: G. K. Hall & Sons, 1987.

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[S:0 - JAS] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - People - E. H. N. Patterson