BEFORE THERE WAS A MODEL T., THERE WAS C.R. PATTERSON AND SONS COMPANY

It is no accident that most of us have never heard of Frederick Douglas Patterson. He was an American entrepreneur known for the Greenfield-Patterson automobile of 1915, built in Ohio. He later converted his business to the Greenfield Bus Body Company.

Built by the first African American-owned automobile manufacturer, The C.R. Patterson & Sons Company, the Patterson-Greenfield automobile (pictured here) debuted in 1915, cost $850 and had a four-cylinder Continental engine, comparable to that of the Ford Model T. It’s not a coincidence that the model T is taught in elementary school but Frederick Douglas Patterson was Not! They have done their best to steal everything from us!

While in college at Ohio State University, he was also the first African American to play on its football team. He returned to Greenfield to join his father in his carriage business, which became C.R. Patterson and Sons. The younger man saw opportunity in the new horseless carriages and converted the company in the early 1900s to manufacture automobiles, making 150 of them. Later he shifted to making buses and trucks and renamed his company as Greenfield Bus Body Company. After Patterson’s death in 1932, his son kept the business going through much of the Great Depression, finally closing it in 1939.

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