Henry J. Patterson was born on December 19, 1839, in Franklinville, Cattaraugus County, New York, the son of John and Sally (Winslow).
His father John had worked as a tailor and after he died at Rushville, New York, Henry, although still quite young, was put out on a farm in New York until he was 16 years old, “thoroughly acquainting himself with every detail of farm life, and taking advantage of every opportunity for acquiring knowledge.”
Some years following the death of her husband, Sally took her family to New Berlin, New York, and she eventually settled in Michigan. Henry came to Michigan in 1856 with William Strong, a farmer for whom he had been working in New York, where he worked in the summer at farming and attended school in the winter.
Henry returned east in 1858 to attend school in Pennsylvania, but came back to Michigan and by 1860 was a farm laborer working for and/or living with William Diets, a wealthy farmer in Watertown, Clinton County.
Henry was still working as a farm laborer in Watertown, Clinton County when he married Michigan native Margaret A. Shadduck (1842-1898) in January in Wacoustra. They had at least four children: Minnie (b. 1868, Mrs. Streeter), Blanche (also Mrs. Streeter), Ambra and Iva.
Henry stood 6’1” with hazel eyes, auburn hair and a light complexion and was 21 years old and residing in Clinton County when he enlisted in Company G on May 13, 1861. He was a Regimental hospital nurse from July of 1862 through January of 1863. He reenlisted on December 24, 1863, at Brandy Station, Virginia, crediting Ann Arbor First and Second Wards, Washtenaw County, was presumably absent on veteran’s furlough in January of 1864 and probably returned to the Regiment on or about the first of February. He was on detached service in May and was still detached when he was transferred as a Musician to Company F, Fifth Michigan infantry upon consolidation of the Third and Fifth Michigan Regiments on June 10, 1864. Henry was reported on detached service probably in the Division hospital through September of 1864. In January of 1865 he was absent on furlough in Michigan, absent on leave in June, and was mustered out on July 5, 1865, at Jeffersonville, Indiana.
After the war Henry returned to Watertown and purchased a farm of some 160 acres. Owing to failing health he sold that business and took up the study of law in 1870 under Randolph Strickland in St. Johns, Clinton County. (That same year he was listed as working as a farmer -- with about $2500 worth of real estate -- and living in Watertown, Clinton County with his wife and daughter.) He was admitted to the state bar at St. Johns in 1878, and to the bar of the United States courts in 1882.
Henry eventually settled in Clinton County where he worked mainly as a pension attorney, and he played a large role in the well-known Smith vs. Alpine pension case. Patterson himself explained the case:
“In 1864 our state legislature said, by an act passed on the 4th day of February, that every soldier who would enlist and was mustered into United States service, and properly credited where he was enrolled, should received $100 as a state bounty. In the month of July following, Gov. Blair said, by his proclamation, that no more bounties could be paid, as the money raised for that purpose had been exhaused [sic]. Consequently hundreds of our boys in blue, who left their families, homes and comforts to save the Union, with the sacred promise of the people of the state that, besides caring for their families, they should receive the bounty if they would enlist and save others form the draft, have been carrying for 26 long years these promises, in the form of certificates, and while our state has done many generous acts toward the care of the unfortunate, she never to this day has honored the sacred obligations, a law passed by a Republican Legislature, and who have, as a party, posed for 26 long years as the friend of the soldier, and who for all this long time failed to give the subjects a passing notice.
“A. J. Smith, a crippled soldier, and for whom I had contended for over 20 years that he should be paid his bounty, made his petition to the Supreme Court, calling upon that court to compel the Auditor-General to credit and allow his claim. This proposition was met, opposed and sneered at by every state official, excepting Judge S. B. Daboll, then acting quartermaster-general, and I met the grand spectacle of a Republican law unwilling to pay bounties to Michigan soldiers, resisted by Republican officials, and Republican lawyers setting up among other things the unconscionable plea of ‘statute of limitation’. April 18, 1890, I presented the case to the court, and Judge Champlin [John W. Champlin, brother General Stephen Champlin formerly of the Old Third], with his master mind, permeated with its love of justice and its high regard for the honor, dignity and equity of the law, wrote the opinion, elaborately and profoundly, deciding that the state must pay.”
By 1884 Henry had settled in Wacoustra, Clinton County where he was living in December of 1886 when he became a member of the Old Third Michigan Infantry Association (he served as president of the Association in 1903 and again in 1906). He was still residing in Wacoustra in 1888 and in 1890 when he was elected Prosecuting Attorney for Clinton County. (He was a member of the Democratic party.) By late 1892 Henry had returned to St. Johns where he resided for many years.
In 1889 Henry applied for and received a pension (no. 458743).
At the Old Third Michigan Infantry Association reunion in December of 1896, according to the Grand Rapids Democrat on December 17, “One of the features of the banquet was the recitation by Miss Iva Patterson of St. Johns ‘On the Rappahannock’, with musical accompaniment by [Wurzburg's] orchestra. Miss Patterson was so warmly encored as to be obliged to respond with another selection, this time a German dialect version of ‘Barbara Fritchie’, with very artistic effect.” He was a witness for Orville Ingersoll’s pension.
Henry was living in St. Johns in 1898 and in 1900 when he spoke at the Association annual reunion in December. “Every member of the Old Third always did his duty,” Henry told the Democrat, “and was still willing to do his duty. A degree of sadness came to the heart of every old soldier as he attends the reunion of the Old Third and thinks of the change in the men of the Old Third from the smooth-faced youths to the gray-bearded, bald-headed veterans.”
He was still living in St. Johns in 1903 and from 1906 probably through 1911. By 1915 Henry was residing in Grand Ledge, Eaton County. At the Association banquet in June of 1911, following the unveiling of the monument dedicated to those Michigan Regiments which were organized at Grand Rapids, Henry “spoke of the encampment at Cantonment Anderson. He told of parties of young girls coming to the camp and singing in the night and possibly at this banquet. In conclusion he gave a laudatory eulogy of the mothers of the boys who went to the front in the war and asked that a monument be erected on the state capitol grounds in their honor.” By 1920 he was living in Oneida, Eaton County with his second wife, Michigan native Mary (b. 1851).
Henry died in Ann Arbor hospital on August 15, 1922, and was buried in Wacousta cemetery.
In 1922 his widow applied for and received a pension (no. 927091).