Did You Know About the First and Only Black Owned Automobile Company?

by | Dec 21, 2016 | Did You Know | 1 comment

Charles Richard Patterson was born into slavery in April of 1833 in Virginia.  In 1861 he settled in Greenfield, Ohio to escape slavery and start anew. He used his blacksmith skills to gain employment at a carriage building company.

In 1873 he took the skills he gained from working at a carriage-building company to partner with another Greenfield-based carriage building business, J.P. Lowe. Patterson and Lowe create top of the line carriages for over twenty years until Patterson decide to buy Lowe’s out and turn their carriage company into a family business.

Patterson revamped the business and named it C.R. Patterson & Sons. Their company produced amazing carriages but had to switch gears as automobiles began to dominate the transportation industry.

Charles Patterson passed away in 1910 leaving the thriving business to his son who quickly transformed the business to accommodate to changing market. Their first car hit the market in 1915 and sold for $850. Although the cars were comparable, it is rumored that Patterson’s cars were actually better than the Ford Model T.

Patterson produced and sold over 150 but due to the company’s small size they could no longer afford to compete in the market and switch gear to start producing utility vehicles. Although they did well in this new market the Great Depression negatively affected a lot of businesses including Patterson-Greenfield Automobile (C.R. Patterson & Sons).

After Frederick’s death in 1932 the company moved to Gallipolis, Ohio, changed the name to Gallia Body Company and eventually completely closed in 1939. The small company could not keep up with manufacturing capabilities of larger companies like Ford, Chrysler, and General Motors.

Did you know the story of the first and only black owned automobile company? Share this story, share our history. Maybe the second time around we’ll use our trillion dollar buying power to make sure the company sticks around for years to come!


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1 Comment

  1. Chris Novack

    I frankly dont see where it says Mr. Patterson was making cars before Henry Ford. Am I missing something?


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