Ordinary People. Extraordinary Lives. The Untold Story.

The Patterson History

By Alma Patterson Stokes


Riverside became part of the Patterson’s family life in 1932. Rev. T. A. Patterson, his wife, Ruth and children began a lifetime of associations and friendships with wonderful, caring and beautiful people that made up the Black population. The AME Church connections transferred Rev. Patterson from Presiding Elder of the Puget Sound Conference in Spokane, Washington to Allen Chapel AME Riverside.


Nine children shared the Parsonage. They had to build an extra room at Tenth and Sedgewick. Toussaint Jr., Ruth V., Samuel, Nelson, Naoma, Esther, Alma, Emmanuel James and Patrick (born in Riverside).


Rev. and Mrs. Patterson became a viable part of the total Riverside Community. Rev. Patterson belonged to the Knights of Pythias, Odd Fellows, Masonic Lodge, Eastern Star, Grand Chaplain, Shriners, a 33rd Degree Mason, Elks, NAACP, the Ministerial Alliance and he was often the National delegate to the conventions.


He was constantly working for Civil Rights.  One fight – to stop the gerrymandering of the School Districts boundaries. The Patterson children ended up at Longfellow School instead of Irving Elementary School.


Ruth Patterson was involved in the Community, Lodge and church work, putting on programs like the “Tom Thumb” weddings and concerts. She was a musician along with Edna Williams. She formed a singing group with five Patterson children, Samuel, Nelson, Naoma, Esther and Alma, (ages 4-13), who sang spirituals in Churches and groups.


Rev. Patterson had a reputation for being a great, the best, marrying preacher, one whose “knots” never came untied. It was said that many young girls made a pact to have him perform their ceremonies.


In the early days, everyone in the community was “kin” somehow except for three ministers, Rev. Thomas, Rev. Moss and Rev. Patterson. They were treated so well that they felt kinship. Aunt “Dutch” (Duchess) and Mr. Walter Williams use to throw annual birthday garden parties in May and would include all those born in May, like my mother, Ruth. It was one of the social events of the year.


Rev. Patterson was transferred to St. Paul AME in San Bernardino which enabled the Patterson’s to keep close ties to Riverside. Rev Patterson founded Allen Chapel AME in San Bernardino in 1949.


Keeping his home in San Bernardino, he pastored churches in Salt Lake City, Utah, Pueblo, Colorado, Flagstaff, Arizona, and Richmond, California. He was the presiding Elder of Northern California, Santa Barbara, California and Fairbanks, Alaska.

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