BIOGRAPHY - David Patton

HON. DAVID PATTON, in whose honor the township of Patton was named, is the oldest surviving member of the Ford County Bar and was in practice in the territory which is now Ford County, which was then a part of Vermilion County. Judge Patton located at what is known as Ten Mile Grove, situated about three miles southwest of Paxton, in October, 1849. He was born in Clark County, Ky., in 1806, and accompanied his family to Butler County, that State, in 1810.

When eighteen years of age, Mr. Patton began the study of law in the office of Oliver H. Smith, at Connersville, Ind., and while so engaged taught the district school to earn money to defray his current expenses. He was admitted to the Bar in 1828 and entered upon the practice of his profession at La Fayette, Ind., where he secured a large and lucrative practice. Frank, upright and generous in disposition, he was held in high esteem by the people and regarded as a leading lawyer by his brethren at the Bar. His unguarded liberality, however, proved a snare to him financially, and his earnings for ten years were soon swept away in the payment of debts for his friends, and he was compelled to start anew in life. With this object in view, he came to Illinois and located four hundred acres of land at Ten Mile Grove, then in Vermilion, now Ford County. The country was but sparsely settled, affording little, if any, field for business in the line of his profession, hence he turned his attention to farming and stock-raising, occasionally practicing in justice courts, not a few of the leading lawyers of Vermilion County expressing surprise at being outgeneraled and beaten by the farm lawyer. To his efforts the passage of the act of the Legislature creating Ford County was largely due. At a special election held in 1859, he was elected Judge of the County Court by a large majority over his opponent, Gideon Camp, and he was re-elected at the succeeding elections of 1860-64-68. Before the close of his fourth official term, the weight of years and his extensive personal interests decided him to decline further public service. The monetary panic of 1873 and 1875, in connection with his losses as surety for some of his friends, again stripped him of nearly all his worldly possessions, but notwithstanding his misfortune in this particular, he has the higher and better consolation of having merited the esteem and confidence of his fellow-citizens by an active and useful life in their midst for more than thirty years. He was a good lawyer, a quaint, entertaining speaker, and at all times a kind and indulgent parent; a friend to the poor and needy, and an enterprising and public-spirited citizen, and above all, a steadfast lover of justice and humanity. Judge Patton still makes his home in Paxton, where he settled in 1865, but is in feeble health, and his advanced age of eighty-six years admonishes his friends that his end is not far distant. The writer is under obligations to the publishers of the late County Atlas for the facts above stated.

Extracted 28 Mar 2020 by Norma Hass from Portrait and Biographical Record of Ford County, Illinois, published in 1892, page 266.

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