Mary Denison Patterson

MARY DENISON PATTERSON, for whom the Campground was named, was born Mary Denison. She was a descendant in the sixth generation from William Denison, a native of England, who settled in Roxbury, Mass., in 1631. Her father, Col. Nathan Denison, was one 0f the original forty settlers 0f Wyoming Valley, served as second in command at the Battle of Wyoming, July 3, 1778, and was later one of the leading citizens of the Valley. His marriage to Elizabeth Sill in Wilkes-Barre on April 1, 1769, was the first wedding of white persons ever held in Wyoming Valley. Mary was the third of their seven children. She was born January 2, 1779, at “Paxton, Hanover Township, Dauphin County, Pa.” -now Paxtang, about three miles east of Harrisburg – where her mother had found refuge after fleeing down the- Susquehanna following the battle and the massacre. Returning in due course to Wyoming Valley, the Denisons reestablished their home on Wyoming Avenue, Forty Fort, near Abraham’s Creek and the “Stone Bridge”. There in 1790 the Colonel replaced their log cabin with the large frame house that stands today – a relic of the past now owned and preserved by the Wyoming Historical and Geological Society.Col. Denison and his wife became members of the Methodist Episcopal Church soon after its establishment in Kingston in 1788; and in the years following they often entertained traveling Methodist clergymen in their home. As teenagers, about 1794 to 1795, Mary and her older sister, Elizabeth – they were then known as “Polly” and “Betsey” – actively participated in Methodist services, some of which were highly emotional.

Betsey in 1797 became engaged to a young Methodist preacher, Michael Roy Hines Wilson, an invalid whom Col. Denison had taken into his home; but the romance ended with Wilson’s death the following year. About the same time, in 1797, a young Scotch-Irish Presbyterian, Thomas Patterson, came to Kingston. Having escaped in disguise from the British forces after participating in an uprising in Northern Ireland, he had arrived in Philadelphia earlier that year. Thomas, who was well educated for his time, and particularly so in mathematics, taught school in Kingston for a number of years; and his students almost certainly included some of Col. Denison’s children.

On Thursday, November 25, 1802, in the parlor of the Denison home, he and Mary Denison were married. For the next five years the couple made their home in Kingston, where Thomas taught school, probably also engaged in farming, and in 1805 served as constable of Kingston Township.

In November 1807 they bought from Lloyd Marshall the farm at Harveyville now known as Patterson Farm. In April 1808, a month after the birth of their third surviving child, they moved from Kingston to the farm; and there they made their home for the rest of their days, rearing a family of eight in all.

Thomas served as schoolmaster in Huntington Township, in Plymouth, and perhaps elsewhere in Luzerne County, and also operated the farm, until his death, which occurred on April 29, 1844. Mary survived him by fourteen years, rounding out fifty years of living at the farm and of faithful membership in the Methodist Episcopal Church in Huntington Township. She died at the farm June 10, 1858.

Mrs. M. L. T. Hartman, historian of Huntington Valley, who had known Mary personally, wrote of her in 1886 in these words: “The wife of Thomas Patterson was worthy of such a husband; was a woman of rare excellence of character, exemplifying all the graces of a firm, consistent piety in her family, and also in all the duties of a long, honored life. She now lies by her husband in the Pine Grove burial ground, near the graves of many who esteemed her rare worth, while enjoying the associations of many years.” The eight of their children who grew to maturity were as follows (six of them have descendants living today): (1) Nathan, born September 5, 1803; (2) Thomas, Jr., born February 15, 1806; (3) Elizabeth Denison, born March 17, 1808; (4) Ezekiel Montgomery, born May 6, 1810; (5) Mary Ann, born January 22,1812; (6) Robert Sill, born May 22,1816; (7) Sarah (Sally), born June 27,1819; (8) John Denison, born December 23, 1821.