Christopher Nelson’s The C. R. Patterson and Sons Company Book Shares the Incredible True Story of Black Pioneers in the Vehicle Building Industry

In C. R. Patterson and Sons Company: Black Pioneers in the Vehicle Building Industry, 1865 – 1939, author Christopher Nelson shares the inspiring true story of how the Patterson family broke color barriers in business, education, sports and politics, and experienced successes at the local, regional, and national level.

Christopher Nelson is the award-winning author of The C.R. Patterson and Sons Company: Black Pioneers in the Vehicle Building Industry, 1865-1939. Mr. Nelson has a background in Archaeology and History and has worked in those fields for nearly two decades. He has a strong interest in the history of transportation, particularly during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries and has worked on multiple projects within this topic during his career, from both a historical and an archaeological perspective.

Mr. Nelson has taken a recent interest in expanding his storytelling activities. This has come through various stages of involvement in filmmaking. Mr. Nelson is serving or has served in the role of Executive Producer or Associate Producer on several films including both feature length and short films. In addition, plans are currently underway by a film production company to bring the Patterson story to the big screen.

This one-on-one interview shares Mr. Nelson’s background and experience in writing The C. R. Patterson and Sons Company: Black Pioneers in the Vehicle Building Industry, 1865 – 1939.

Tell us about The C. R. Patterson and Sons Company: Black Pioneers in the Vehicle Building Industry, 1865 – 1939.

The C. R. Patterson and Sons Company conducted business in Greenfield, Ohio, from 1865-1939. Founded by Charles Richard (C.R.) Patterson, this company passed through three generations of the Patterson family. Throughout its history the company transitioned from building carriages, automobiles, trucks, and then buses, to keep up with the rapidly changing demands and technology of the transportation industry during that period.

When C. R.’s son, Frederick, began producing automobiles in 1915, he became the first and only Black manufacturer known to have built an automobile. By 1915, the Patterson Company was recognized as the largest Black-owned manufacturer in the United States.

This is a story of a family and company overcoming obstacles that stood in their way and making the most of every opportunity that was earned — never given. This is a story of achieving success against all odds.

What inspired you to write The C. R. Patterson and Sons Company?

Growing up near Greenfield, Ohio, I often heard stories about the Patterson family. Their story became a popular topic of discussion once again in 2003 while the old Patterson factory was demolished. It was during this time that I became much more familiar with the story of the family and company, and found it quite intriguing.

As an Industrial Archaeologist and Historian, I decided to build upon the traditional story and include as many details as possible about the technical specifications of the Patterson carriages, automobiles, buses, and trucks, as well as the factory and its setup.

As I delved into the research looking for new information, I began to discover an entirely different story than the traditional version that had circulated over the past few decades. Once this newly discovered side of their amazing story started to develop, the research became a passion project for me and grew into the book, The C. R. Patterson and Sons Company.

How did your background and experience influence your writing?

As an Archaeologist and Historian that studies the industrial past, the biography (or history) of the Patterson company fell right in line with my training and interests.

The Patterson story allowed me to build on my interest in nineteenth and early twentieth century transportation, including everything from buggies and carriages to automobiles, buses, and trucks.

What is one message you would like readers to remember?

The Patterson story is one of overcoming obstacles and achieving success despite the odds.

Like many small businesses during their time, the family faced many roadblocks along the way. However, unique to their story were the additional challenges placed on those engaged in Black businesses, which makes their story of success even that more inspiring.

The Patterson story will challenge readers to never give up and keep pushing forward against all odds. Where there is a will, there is a way!

Purchasing the Book

Imbued with striking emotionality and conveyed with impeccable storytelling, The C. R. Patterson and Sons Company: Black Pioneers in the Vehicle Building Industry, 1865 – 1939 is an astonishing artifact of history; Christopher Nelson promises and delivers an invaluable perspective.

Available for sale on Amazon, readers who want to experience a valuable piece of history brought to life are encouraged to purchase their copy today:

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