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Scots and Scots Descendant in America
Part V - Biographies
James Kennedy Patterson, Ph.D., LL.D.


JAMES KENNEDY PATTERSON was born in Glasgow, March 26, 1833, the oldest son of Andrew and Janet Kennedy Patterson. His father, a calico printer of Glasgow and Manchester, the son of James Patterson and Ann Langwill, was born in Bonhill, Dumbarton, 1801, and descended on both sides from well-to-do ancestry. His mother (married, 1832) was born in Alexandria, Dumbarton, 1806, daughter of William Kennedy, of the Kennedys of Ayrshire, and Helen MacFarlane, of Glen Luss, Loch Lomond, and was one of a family of four sons and seven daughters. Dr. Patterson has one brother, Walter K., living: three brothers, William K., Andrew M. and Alexander L., are deceased.

An injury at the age of four interfered with Dr. Patterson’s early education in Scotland. In 1842, he came to America with his parents, who settled in the wilderness of Indiana. The nearest school of any value was in Madison, though but seventeen, he was given a school to teach, and a year later, 1851, entered Hanover College, where he led his class through the entire course. One of Dr. Patterson ‘s boyhood friends playfully relates that he was so persistent and thorough in his studies that, when in Madison, he memorized the spelling, pronunciation and definition of all the words in Webster’s School Dictionary.

Dr. Patterson was graduated from Hanover College (A.B., 1856; A.M., 1859). He was Principal of Greenville Presbyterian Academy, Muhlenburg Co., Ky., 1856-1859; Professor of Latin and Greek, Stewart College (now Southwestern University), Clarksville, Tenn., 1860-1861; Principal Transylvania High School, Lexington, Ky., 1861-1865; and from 1865 to 191.0, Professor of Latin, Civil History and Metaphysics in the State University of Kentucky (until 1908, the State College), Lexington. When he became President Emeritus in 1910, Dr. Patterson had been President of the State University for forty-one years. Through his efforts its income had increased from $9,900 yearly to $145,000, and grounds and equipment from absolutely nothing to $930,000. Many distinguished men passed under his instruction, including Professors Morgan, of Columbia, and Smith, of Tulane, Speaker Clark, James Lane Allen, Dr. Benjamin B. Warfield, and Dr. Ethelbert Dudley Warfield; but his greatest single service to his state and to the university was his militant leadership, crowned finally with success, in the long fight to sustain the constitutionality of the act levying tax for the support of higher education. Dr. Patterson is not alone an organizer and a courageous fighter, not alone a student and master in a wide variety of subjects, the friend and correspondent of Tyndall, Sir John Lubbock, the historian Freeman, Professors Mausel and Williams, of Oxford; M. Ferdinand Maury, Librarian of the Tuilleries, Dr. Charles Rogers, and a host of notable men in this country and abroad, but a man of deep sympathy and human understanding. At the commemorative exercises, on the 40th Anniversary of his presidency, June 1, 1909, former students and men from all walks of life paid tribute to Dr. Patterson, as a man and a scholar. The addresses on this occasion were distributed in a printed volume by the University. Dr. Patterson received the honorary degree of Ph.D. from Hanover, 1875, and that of LL.D. from Lafayette, 1896, and the University of Vermont, 1910. He was a delegate to the International Geographical Congress, Paris, 1875; and the British Association for the Advancement of Science, Bristol, 1875, and Leeds, 1890. He is a fellow of the Royal Historical Society of Great Britain and the Society of Antiquaries, Scotland; a trustee of Hanover College, State University of Kentucky; Vice-President of the American Civic Alliance; member of the American Geographical Society, American Historical Association, American Academy Po litical and Social Science, National Association of State Universities, and International Tax Association.

From 1871-1875, Dr. Patterson wrote editorials on foreign politics for the Louisville Courier-Journal. These were of exceptional interest and were quoted throughout the country. He is considered by his contemporaries the best public speaker in the State of Kentucky, and has delivered commencement and other addresses at many colleges and universities. He is a member of the Filson Club, Louisville; Beta Theta Pi Club, New York; and Authors Club, London. Through careful and temperate living, he is still hale and hearty. His favourite recreations are horseback riding and walking. He has travelled extensively in America and Europe.

He married, December 27, 1859, Lucelia, daughter of Capt. Charles F. Wing, of Greenville, Ky. Mrs. Patterson, a woman of fine character and great culture, was a descendant of the Wings of New Bedford, Mass., and on her mother ‘s side from the Russells and Campbells of Virginia. She died September, 1915. Their children were: Andrew, born April 12, 1868; and Jeannie Rumsey, born February 9, 1870. Both are deceased.


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