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.
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.