The Family of Marie Catherine Fetterman Patterson
Marie Catherine Fetterman Patterson
"Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will." --Mohandas K. Gandhi
The Family of Marie Patterson Pics Our Memories Centralia Remembered Fetterman Pics Tracing Our Family Roots Other Links

Family is what this is all about. When I was young, I didn’t think about it much—I guess I just took it for granted. But as I have gotten older, I found myself thinking more and more about my family and my roots.

I am only the teller in this story of my Patterson family. When I was younger, I was one of those “little pitchers with big ears,” who sat around and listened to as much as I could before I was shooed away. Back then, I didn’t think of asking questions, but in the past few years, I have asked more and more. And just when I think I have one answer, along comes another question or two or three. In the last three years, I have had many talks with my one remaining aunt, one of my uncles, and also my mother to glean some of our family history. This brings not only a sadness to me but also an urgency to put as much information together as I could to hand down to future generations. The dedication of this site goes to my mother, aunt, uncles, and cousins and will continue as a work in progress as I update with any new information sent to me.

A Little History

While this paper talks mostly about the Patterson side of the family, on my grandmother’s side, we are descended from the Fettermans. Our beginnings date back to Balthasar Fetterman and Catharine Margaretha Heiszt. The name Fetterman was originally “Vetterman,” and there have been many spinoffs of the name since then.

Balthasar was born November 2, 1713, and came to this country from Neuhausen, Germany. He arrived in Philadelphia on the ship “Patience” from Rotterdam on August 11, 1750, with his first wife and their son Cassimer. His first wife died shortly after they arrived in this country. Balthasar settled in the township Laugenschwan or Longswamp, Berks County. It was here that he married Catharine, and they produced eight children. At the time of his settlement in this part of Pennsylvania, there were Indians in the territory, and many families were wiped out during their murderous raids. This has been documented in a book entitled the Genealogy of Joseph Fisher and His Descendants, and of the Allied Families of Farlee, Farley, Fetterman, Pitner, Reeder and Shipman, written by Clarence Woodward Fisher (1890). In spite of the lengthy title, the book makes for some interesting reading.

In July 2002, I did a little research, being the inquisitive person that I am, and located almost 1,200 Fettermans between the public phone directory in the United States and a website that I subscribe to called Classmates. I think this is awesome that we come from a very huge family.

Marie Fetterman, age 16Our Beginning

Marie Catherine, who is listed as Maria on her baptismal certificate, was the oldest of 12 children born to Charles Oscar and Jennie Toleatha Ressler Fetterman. She was born on June 18, 1898, in Centralia, Pennsylvania, a small mining town in the mountainous coal regions just about 60 miles north of Allentown. Most of the people who lived there were relocated when one of the coal veins caught fire forty-five years ago. The state paid the families for their homes but some continue to live there today despite the fact that the fires continue and the township’s destruction. Today, this and the surrounding areas are referred to as the Poconos.

Marie was the first child born to Charles Oscar and Jennie Toleatha Ressler Fetterman and was very spoiled by her grandparents, Lafayette and Anna Moaria Keller Fetterman. Her grandparents provided her with piano lessons.

In all the pictures I have seen of her as a young child, she almost always wore a bow in her hair—that was how her grandmother wanted to see her dressed. She wasn’t very tall and had very long hair that she finally cut off, it is said, because the weight of it gave her headaches.

Marie was very intelligent and should have been class valedictorian when she graduated from high school, but because she was a girl and the niece of a principal, that honor went instead to a young man.

John Erwin Patterson - February 28, 1880 - January 2, 1929Family folklore also has it that Marie wanted to go to business school after graduation from high school, but was refused, because “ladies didn’t do those things.” Her grandparents told her they would pay for her to attend finishing school but not business school. She reportedly stamped her feet in response to this and threatened to get married. Her grandparents probably would have sent her off to a secretarial school if she hadn’t become involved with John Erwin Patterson who was known simply as “Paddy.” This decision would later lead to great hardship for Marie and her family.

Marie married John Erwin Patterson on February 1, 1916. They were married by William J. Yorwarth, a justice of the peace in Centralia, Columbia, County, PA. John was born on February 8, 1880, so he was eighteen years older than Marie. It is said that his sisters disapproved of every young lady he brought home to meet his family, so they interfered until each relationship was destroyed. He married Marie and then brought her home leaving his family with little to do at that point.

Marie and John lived in Delano, Pennsylvania, where all of their children were born. John worked for the Lehigh Valley Railroad for 30 years. He held various jobs while working there with his last one as a gate tender at road crossing. He suffered a stroke when he was 42 and was paralyzed on the left side.

He died at home in Delano on January 2, 1929, just a month before his 49th birthday. John was “laid out” in the living room of his home. Aunt Lois, who was nearly five in February, remembered that she had to stand on a stool to view him, and she kept trying to open his eyes until some adult stopped her. She did not go to the cemetery when he was buried, because it was a cold stormy day with freezing rain.

After John’s death, Marie and the children moved from Delano to South Laurel Street in Hazleton, Pennsylvania, in December of 1929, where she rented a home for $35 a month.

Sometime in 1930, she married a man who moved into the home she was renting on South Laurel Street. The marriage proved to be a disaster. This man was sentenced to a period of up to thirty years in the penitentiary for his criminal activities in 1931. During his trial, it was discovered that he was married to another woman, so he was charged and convicted of bigamy as well. The marriage to Marie was as if it had never happened, and there have been no records found of it as well. At the time, Marie, who had been working for the railroad cleaning coach cars, was laid off from this job.

Because she couldn’t properly care and provide for her children, all but Mary and Adah were placed in the Odd Fellows Orphanage in Sunbury, Pennsylvania. Marie’s husband was a member of the Odd Fellows, Asa Packer Lodge 328, in Delano, PA, when he died, and this entitled the children to be placed in that particular orphanage. However in order for the children to be placed there, it was necessary for Marie to sign away her rights to the children.

Mary and Adah were over the age limit of children taken into the orphanage, so they were sent to a corrective school for wayward girls even though they were not “bad” girls. Lois remembers that both Mary and Adah were emancipated in 1934.

Once the children were placed in the orphanage, Marie then moved into the YMCA in Hazleton. She found work as a housekeeper for an attorney in Hazleton until she left the area and relocated to Allentown.

When Marie first went to Allentown, she lived in a basement apartment at 105 North 8th Street. The back entrance of the apartment exited into an alley named Silk Street. Right across the alley was the Bell Telephone Building, and right down the street from her apartment was a chicken processing place. They used to watch the people kill the chickens by immersing them in scalding hot water. According to Lois, this didn’t even phase the kids. After that, Marie moved to the 100 block of Madison Street. The children never vacationed there.

Marie moved into her permanent home in the 1200 block of West Chew Street in 1934. She rented it for quite a few years and bought it in the 40s. It had a dirt cellar for many years, but in 1952, Lois’ husband Albert concreted the cellar. If you were to go there today, you can still see young Lois Ann’s handprint embedded in the floor along with the date. Albert also installed the oil burner and all the ductwork.

Marie took in other people’s laundry to earn a living. She spent all day washing and hanging out clothes, and there were lines and lines of clothing. How she kept everyone’s laundry separated was amazing. She did laundry for the Masonheimers and the Arronbergs who owned an undergarment and foundation store in downtown Allentown. She also did laundry for the Druckenmillers and Miss Albright, who was a school teacher, as well as other people.

Everything had to be just so, and Marie had an iron presser that she did the sheets and pillow cases, tablecloths, hankies, and other flat stuff with. Towels had to be folded just so. She was the only one who ironed the men’s shirts. When her daughters were home for vacation, they ironed the men’s colored undershorts and anything else that a young teenager could be trusted to iron. Marie suffered from rheumatoid arthritis, and for one period, she was so ill, she was bedridden. The girls had to prop her up in front of the ironing board so she could iron shirts, because she didn’t trust anyone else to do them!

Once each of the children reached the age of emancipation, they came back to live with Marie with the exception of Adah, who went to work for a family in Philadelphia. As the children graduated, if they were under the age of 18, Marie had to go to the Odd Fellows and have them petition on her behalf for their release back to her care. Once home, the children were expected to help their mother with her work, which they did, and they also turned over the bulk of their earnings to help with expenses.

She also took in boarders, and one that comes to my mind was a Mr. Paul Fritch. He lived there for many years until his death in the 1960s. He was a butcher by trade and he always brought home the best meats for Marie to cook for dinner. He was a very rotund man with rosy cheeks and glasses, and I can still see him sitting in the parlor smoking his pipe after dinner.

Marie’s brother Charles moved in with her and Mary Jane (Marie’s oldest daughter) after Mr. Fritch died. He told Marie that he would pay off her mortgage on the condition that she put the house in Mary Jane’s name, which she did. This was a small price to pay to rid herself of this debt. Charles lived there until he died on August 14, 1972, and left the bulk of his estate to Mary Jane.

Marie became a member of the Lady Lincoln Rebekah Lodge in Allentown. She went through all the chairs and that entitled her to join another branch of the Odd Fellows called the Ancient Mystic Order of Samaritans and Ladies of the Orient. Her lodge in that was the Amana Zuanna No. 101. She was the Division Ashayhi in 1952 when she attended a convention of the Mid–Atlantic Division at the Hotel Madison in Atlantic City, New Jersey, on June 22 and 23, 1962. She also attended yearly conventions that were held in various other states and Canada.

In her spare time, Marie loved to play cards, and she often attended public card parties. She was also an avid bingo player. Both Marie and Mary Jane loved to travel. They visited her sisters Kloma and Betsy, who had both moved to Arizona. They also traveled to Grass Valley, California, to visit Great Uncle Bill Ressler, Jennie Fetterman’s brother, and to Lake Tahoe, Canada, Nova Scotia, and other states as well. I also remember her boasting that she and Mary went to Woodstock. Apparently they were traveling to visit some relatives and wound up right in the midst of all the hippies!

Marie had many men friends throughout the rest of her life but never married again. There were even some that proposed marriage, but she declined those proposals. As long as I can remember from a small child on, she had the same boyfriend, a man by the name of Edward Schlagle, up until her death.

Marie passed away in the morning of August 9, 1975. She had eaten breakfast and gone upstairs to dress for the day. She told Mary Jane that she didn’t feel well, and sat down on the bed and died. It was found that she had suffered a heart attack. Her funeral was very well attended, and she is buried in Union Cemetery, Weatherly, PA, beside her husband John.

The Children

Marie had nine children: Mary Jane, Adah Catherine, Elizabeth Myrtle, Naomi Ruth, Lois Mae, John Emeral, George Oscar, Peter Trexler, and Richard Bigelow. Of these nine, Naomi, Lois, George, Peter, and Richard are surviving. The story continues.

Mary Jane Patterson

Mary Jane Patterson

Mary Jane was the oldest daughter and first child born to Marie and John. She was born on August 25, 1916. Among the keepsakes of Mary’s that Lois found after her death was a certificate of completing the eighth grade in 1933. Because learning did not come easy to Mary Jane, she returned home to Allentown at the age of seventeen.

Mary Jane was a spinster who lived with grandmother for most of her life. Mary Jane was my godmother, and I was given her first name of which most people outside of the family are not aware.

Mary Jane worked both as a nanny and domestic for Attorney Eugene Twining and his wife Martha, who was a school teacher. The Twinings had four children: Virginia, Michael, Stephen, and Patricia. Mary Jane was with them when they started their family and looked upon these kids as being her own.

In 1959, the Twinings divorced, and as Mrs. Twining had come from a rather well-to-do family, her family helped her to settle in Rancho Santa Fe, California, with her children. Mrs. Twining asked Mary Jane to go with her, so she did, but she was so homesick she stayed only nine months. Mr. Twining had paid for Mary Jane to travel to California, but she paid her own way back home. Mrs. Twining and the children always remembered Mary Jane at Christmas time and her birthday.

After she returned to live with her mother in Allentown, she did housework for various people, working in a different house each day from Monday through Friday. One of her clients was Mr. and Mrs. Jim Honochick, who was an American League umpire. She worked for them for more than thirty years. Mary also worked for a Mrs. Fulligar until she passed away. Mrs. Fulligar remember Mary in her Will.

Mary was a member of Christ Lutheran Church in Allentown, where she regularly attended both Sunday School and Church services. She was also a member of the Girl Scouts of America and she was an Assistant Girl Scout Leader for years with a Mrs. Peters at the St. Paul's Lutheran Church. Among her other activities, she was a member of Lady Lincoln Rebekah Lodge in Allentown, and when it folded, she transferred her membership to Lady Lillie Best Rebekah Lodge in Schnecksville. She was also a member of Ladies of the Orient Amana Zuanna of the Odd Fellows in Allentown.

Mary also had gentleman friends throughout her life that she saw from time to time but none she cared to marry.

One thing Mary truly enjoyed was her car. She didn’t learn to drive until she was 56 years old after her Uncle Charles Fetterman passed away. And she drove the same car until it finally died in 1996—after that, she was lost. She wouldn’t learn to use public transportation even though she could ride the bus for free between the hours of 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. Lois got her all of the bus schedules from the public library, and there were also signs posted as to where one could get on a bus, but Mary never made the effort to learn. Because of that, she did a great deal of walking and lost a lot of weight. She always walked alone and was mugged at least twice, both incidents occurring near her home and both in daylight hours.

Mary suffered a bilateral cortical hemorrhage and passed away on September 23, 1999, at the age of 83. She was buried beside her parents in Union Cemetery, Weatherly, PA, on September 27, 1999.

Adah Catherine Patterson Ressler Kelly

Adah was born on November 10, 1917. As mentioned earlier, she did not come directly home when she left the correctional school but instead went to work for a lady by the name of Smith in Philadelphia of whom she was very fond. After she returned home to Allentown, she went to work at Leh’s Department Store as a salesclerk.

Adah married Thomas G. Ressler on October 30, 1937, in Allentown, PA. Tom worked for the Maryland Biscuit Company and the railroad during World War II. Afterwards, he worked for the Cook Coffee Company, where he was transferred from town to town until he was promoted to manager.

He and Adah moved around from Allentown to Shenandoah, Reading, Germantown, Norristown, Upper Darby, back to Allentown, and then Vera Cruz. Tom felt that he could not make as much money being a manager as he could being a salesman, so he left the Cook Coffee Company after they moved to Vera Cruz. He worked as a car salesman and finally went into trucking as an owner-operator. In spite of all this moving, Adah and Tom managed to have four children: Mary Ann, Carolyn, Elinor, and George. They moved back to Allentown just around the corner from Marie after Tom’s mother passed away in 1951.

Adah was a homemaker and an excellent seamstress. She made all of her children’s clothes for many years, even after the girls had married. Tom passed away December 27, 1969, from cancer.

Adah later married Robert F. Kelly and moved to his home in Old Greenwich, CT. This was Bob’s first marriage. She enjoyed gardening and the people she befriended while living there. She and Bob also enjoyed traveling. At the time of Bob’s death (February 3, 1993), Adah was suffering from macular degeneration, and it was more difficult for her to get around by herself. Losing her eyesight was a difficult cross for Adah to bear, because it denied her three pleasures she had always cherished—sewing, reading, and driving.

Shortly after, she sold their home and moved to a rancher in Slatington, PA, where she could be closer to her children and grandchildren. Adah died on January 25, 2002, at the age of 84, leaving behind her four children, 16 grandchildren, 12 great-grandchildren, and one great-great-granddaughter. At the time of her death, she was a member of St. John’s United Church of Christ. Adah was cremated, and her ashes were divided and buried with both her husbands.

Mary Ann married and had two children. Carolyn became a nurse and later moved to Massachusetts where she married and had three children. Elinor went to college after high school, and married shortly after her graduation; she had five children. After serving in the Navy, George went to college and then became a teacher until his retirement. George never married, but he adopted six children.

Elizabeth Myrtle Patterson TurnerElizabeth Myrtle Patterson Turner

Liz was born April 18, 1920. After she graduated from Upper August Township High School at the orphanage, Liz returned home to live with her mother. Because she graduated before she turned eighteen, her mother went to the Asa Packer Lodge of the Odd Fellows and had them petition the courts for release back to her mother.

She did housework in the Allentown area and also helped her mother with the laundry. Liz had a boyfriend named Perry Baus, who worshiped her. He was kind of a “milktoast” type of man, but he had a car which was important to a girl in those days.

She had previously met her husband Ralph Lee Turner (born February 18, 1921) at the orphanage. Ralph went by the nickname of “Hymie.”

Hymie’s father was killed in a motorcycle accident, and it was necessary for his mother to go to work. She found work at the Danville State Hospital but was required to live there, so she placed both of her children at the orphanage. He left the orphanage upon emancipation, and he didn’t see Liz again until he went to Bethlehem, PA, to work for Howard Mantz. Howard Mantz was a beer distributor at the time, and Hymie was only 20, and it was illegal to work around alcoholic beverages at that age. It was at that time that he and Liz got together.

Liz was 22 and Hymie 21 when they were married on January 31, 1942, in Harrisburg, PA. After he went into the Navy, Hymie was stationed in the Armed Guard on a merchant ship. He got home every six to eight weeks. Liz went to live with Adah in Upper Darby which is close to Philadelphia. She got a job in W. T. Grant's 5 & 10 store as a sales lady.

After Hymie’s discharge from the Navy, he and Liz moved to Marysville, PA, where they bought a home and lived until their deaths. He worked for the Pennsylvania Railroad, which later became Conrail. He worked there until he retired. They had two children: Ralph Lee, Jr. and Elizabeth Ann, and five grandchildren. Betsy graduated from college and later went on to earn a two-year degree in medical records.

Liz died June 27, 1988, after suffering for a long time from emphysema. She was cremated, and her ashes were buried with her mother-in-law. Ralph died shortly thereafter on January 19, 1989.

Naomi has spoken of how witty Liz was and how she could write the most beautiful letters. She felt that Liz could have been a writer of books, she made everything so descriptive and interesting.

Naomi Ruth Patterson George

Naomi Ruth Patterson George

Naomi was born on July 31, 1922. As Lois related, “Naomi was very protective of me. One time I told someone that Mim Capwell had the ‘itch’—the ‘itch’ being a skin condition that I guess was passed off to others. We would be embarrassed to be a victim. Somehow, this got back to Mim, and she came and slapped me across the face. At that time, I was about 12 and Naomi was 14 and Mim might have been 15. Anyhow, Naomi came to my defense and beat Mim up.

“Naomi was a scrapper. She and Mim Hartman always competed in school. Mim was a scrapper, too. Mim had no parents—at least we had one.”

Naomi had fond memories of spending time at her grandparents farm where the kids would head for the barn and then jump into the haystacks. Then her grandfather would discover the kids in the barn and shoo them right out. She also related how when her grandfather would take to drinking, he would chase her grandmother Jennie around and she would hide in the fields until it was safe to come back to the house. When Oscar sent Jennie to buy him a bottle of liquor, she would always water the whiskey down before she got home.

Naomi was a good student and after she graduated from high school in Sunbury, she started nurses’ training, which she never completed. On August 8, 1942, she married Albert L. George, Jr., of Sunbury, PA. She had first met Albert in Sunday School when she was eleven years old. She went to live in Baltimore, Maryland, where Albert was working on the Pennsylvania Railroad until he became disabled due to a chronic phlebitis condition with his legs in 1966.

Naomi had five children: Patsy, Polly, Eloise, Adrian, and Keturah. Adrian graduated from college and went on to receive national certification in blood banking. Keturah earned an associate of arts degree in Japanese Studies from the University of Maryland when she and her husband were stationed in Okinawa.

Naomi never worked outside the home after she married although she did do laundry for the godmother of one of her children. Her husband felt there was no need for her to work as he earned enough to support the family. She sewed like a dream and made all of her children’s clothes as well as her own. One of her daughters still has a dress that she made for her as a baby. It was made entirely by hand and is all smock-embroidered at the top. She also did incredibly beautiful needlepoint and embroidery and continued with this activity until a few years ago.

After Albert got sick, she went to work cleaning the Moose Lodge for a number of years. At one time, she and Albert were both active members of the Moose Lodge, the Veterans of Foreign Wars, and the American Legion. Naomi was also active in the Rebekah Lodge for a number of years. Albert passed away on September 14, 1987, and he was cremated. Naomi passed away after a lengthy illness on Monday, March 14, 2005, and her cremains were laid to rest with her parents and sister Mary Jane at the Union Cemetery in Weatherly, PA, on May 4, 2005. In addition to her children, she was survived by nine grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

Lois Mae Patterson TomekLois Mae Patterson Tomek

Lois was born February 16, 1924. She returned home from the orphanage on her eighteenth birthday to take her sister Liz’s place so Liz could get married. She finished her senior year at Allentown High School but hated the school as it was so big.

After high school, she briefly worked for a factory and then went to work in the circulation department of the Call-Chronical Newspapers for $12 dollars a week. Her wages were frozen during World War II, and at that time she was earning $16 a week. Lois stayed in that job for 14 years, and by the time she left there, she was earning $56.88 a week.

On a Sunday in July of 1942, the rest of the family decided to take a car trip to visit Adah who was living in Norristown at the time. Because it was so hot, Lois chose to stay home and go swimming at the Fountain Park Swimming Pool. It was there that she met her husband-to-be, Albert Tomek. He called her several times when she was working, but she had no way of getting back in touch with him as there was no telephone in his family’s home. She didn’t see him again until January 1943 when she ran into him on her way home from work. They dated up until he left for the U.S. Naval Sea Bees on June 19, 1943. Lois wrote faithfully to Albert every day after he was stationed in Scotland.

In October 1944, Albert was sent home to participate in the V12 program to become a Naval officer. He took six weeks preparatory school at a seaside town in New Jersey and then he was shipped to Bloomsburg State College. In December 1945, he was discharged from the Navy as he had enough points to get out and he had two parents to support. Lois and Albert became engaged on her 22nd birthday in 1946. They were married April 19, 1947, in Allentown, PA.

After discharge, Albert went to work for Mack Trucks where he worked until he retired. Lois continued to work on and off up until February 1959 when she went to work for the Allentown School District. She worked there for over 27 years until she retired at the age of 62. Since her retirement, Lois has enjoyed traveling to Scotland where she met up with a penpal from the war. She has also traveled with both of her granddaughters to the British Isles, Ireland, Paris, and to Majorca. Lois is very interested in her family genealogy, and has taken genealogy classes and done much research in this area.

Lois and Albert have three children: Lois Ann, John, and Daniel. Lois Ann graduated from college and is married with two daughters. John and Daniel are single. Lois Ann later returned to school after her children were older, and she is now a chiropractic.

Albert and Lois continue to live in the Emmaus area, outside of Allentown.

John "Jack" Emeral Patterson

John Emeral Patterson

While Jack was known as “Pat” to most of his friends, to his family, he was simply called “Jack.” Jack was born on June 12, 1926, and he was called “Mush Mouth” which was later shortened to “Mush,” a name his caretaker at the orphanage gave him because she said he talked like he had a mouth full of mush. He was about seven years old at the time, and he sucked his thumb and sort of had protruding teeth which eventually pushed back when he learned to play the trumpet.

Jack served in the U. S. Navy during World War II, and he was stationed on a submarine. Jack’s submarine was involved in several battles in the South Seas, and they also rescued others from American ships in distress.

While in port in Hawaii, he met up with two boys from the orphanage, Robert Turnbull and George Eyster. When in port in Philadelphia, he met up with John Glenn, who was another boy from the orphanage. After Jack was discharged from the Navy, he went to work at the Naval yard.

On August 2, 1946, in Allentown, Jack married his childhood sweetheart, Arlene Mae Bohner, who was also raised at the orphanage. Arlene was born April 8, 1929. Lois and Albert acted as attendants at their wedding. They went to live in Treverton, PA, when they were first married, and at that time Jack worked in a coal mine.

He later heard about the Naval Depot at Mechanicsburg, PA, applied and got a job there. At that time, he and Arlene moved to Duncannon where they raised their family. He worked in photography as this was what he did during his service in the Navy. After he had enough time in with the Navy, he retired from the Naval Depot. He then took a job with a magazine publishing company in the area. When Mount St. Helen’s exploded, Jack did all the color work of the pictures that appeared in a magazine. When the publishing company updated their production with modern tecnology, Jack felt that computer technology was too difficult to learn at his age, and he retired for good.

They had four boys: Gregory, John, and identical twins Timothy and Thomas. Arlene died in June 1987 from cancer, and Jack never remarried. He remained very close to his sons throughout his life. He was an avid bowler in his younger years and enjoyed golfing tremendously. He was also an active member of the Masons.

Jack passed away on April 12, 1999, as a result of an aneurysm that burst in his stomach. Jack and Arlene are buried in Northumberland County Memorial Park in Stonington, PA. John is married to Pam, and they have two daughters. Greg, Tim, and Tom are both single.

George Oscar PattersonGeorge Oscar Patterson

George was called “Peanut” because he was so small for his size. That later became “Peasy,” which he is still called today by alumni members in his age group. George, Harry Hollenbach, and David Viola also became known as the “Three Musketeers,” as they were the youngest kids in the home at the time. A picture of them was taken in the bath tub together and was published in Bugle Notes, a 1935 edition. It was later republished in the June 1940 edition that Lois still has. Peasy always used to pester anyone and everyone for any junk you might have that you didn’t want.

George was born on May 18, 1928, in Delano, PA, and he also served honorably in the Navy during the Korean War as a Hospital Corpsman Second Class from 1951 to 1955. After his service, George married Lorraine Yost in Allentown, PA, and they had four children: Bernadette, Yvette, Jennifer, and George, Jr.

Lorraine was a hairdresser, so George went to beauty school to learn that profession. Afterwards, he was hired to work in the salon of the Hess Department Store in Allentown. George was never one to use “fluff” with people, and it was against his grain to always do what the customer wanted, so he did not stay in the cosmetology profession for long. Once he left that job, he went to work for an insurance company where he worked until his retirement. After retirement, he continued to live with his wife in the Allentown area, and he worked at various jobs. As a hobby, he enjoyed building and repairing clocks.

George passed away February 3, 2010, after a long, courageous battle with prostate cancer, and he was laid to rest in Greenwood Cemetery in Allentown, PA.

Peter Trexler Patterson

Peter Trexler Patterson

Peter was born September 21, 1932, and he was drafted into the Army during peacetime where he served for two years. He was stationed in Germany.

After the service, Peter worked briefly for himself in the TV repair service. He has been married to Helen Brown since January 31, 1953, and they have four children: Susan, Michael, Steven, and Valerie. Peter and Helen took many trips while he was teaching school.

He then worked at Western Electric and stayed there for a number of years until he decided to go into teaching.

He taught electric at a vocational school in Lansdale. Because of his work experience, he didn’t have to take a full four years of college, however, he did have to take teaching credits to become certified. He took those through Temple University.

Peter retired from the school system at age 62 and has since taken up side jobs. He is very active on the church council at Christ Lutheran Church. He also installed their electrical system when the church remodeled several years ago, and he tapes the church services, and he is there should anything go wrong. He also continues to work at an appliance store in Fogelsville where he repairs items brought into the store.

Peter and Helen also live in the Allentown area.

Richard Bigelow PattersonRichard Bigelow Patterson

Dick was born January 9, 1934, and he was named after a lawyer that Marie worked for. Being a sickly infant, he spent some time in a hospital.

He remembers playing with matches one Sunday and almost burning down the house . . . of being vaccinated and starting kindergarten at the McKinley School in 1938 . . . and of “peeing” his pants during recess. From there, he went to the Franklin School in Allentown. Around the holidays, they used to sing Christmas carols on the steps and stairway. He met a friend and lost him when the child was killed sleigh riding at night, run over by a car.

He and Peter would go home for lunch where they went across the street to Skinner’s for bologna and bread. Around this same time, Marie bought her first Frigidaire that she paid for by putting quarters in a box attached to it.

He also remembers being slapped on his rear and standing in the corner for what seemed to be hours whenever he misbehaved. Also listening to all the popular shows on the radio of that time...his first girlfriend, Mary Lou Haas, who was a blonde...playing with all the neighborhood kids in the back alleys off Chew, 13th, and Jefferson Streets, and riding his wagon around on all the sidewalks.

Of his childhood, he also remembers his brothers and sisters getting together every summer, his Schwinn bicycle, a cousin named Gloria (Fetterman), the Boy Scouts, and Mr. Fritch, who was his mentor. He remembers Boy Scout camp (five years) and spending time at Grandmam Fetterman’s; the Great Allentown Fair and steamed clams! And attending Raub Junior High which was even further away that the high school, to which he either walked or rode his bike back and forth.

When he was old enough, Dick obtained an afternoon paper route where he saved $7 in pennies to take Barbara Ann Fritch (no relation to Mr. Fritch) to the Junior Prom when they were both sophomores. Her father drove them to the prom which was held at the Ballroom at Dorney Park. He also remembered the senior scouts having a Halloween party, and he took Barbara to the party. He described her as being “just the prettiest gal, looked like the actress, June Powell.” He also spoke fondly of Cedar Beach, where they went swimming every summer and buying pretzel sticks with mustard. And of course, Promised Land Lake and the Poconos...hiking the Appalachian Trail with the scouts and going on tour to Valley Forge, a penitentiary in Philadelphia, Gettysburg, Hershey Chocolate Factory, confirmation, and Christ Lutheran Church.

When old enough, he went to work at Kresge’s 5 & 10, and then the Wentz Monument Company. He graduated from West Park in 1951 and was working at the A&P on South 12th Street. At this time, he met another friend, Charlie Jordan, who told Dick to take his car—an old, old Plymouth coupe—on Thursday, his day off and ride around to do his errands. Dick said that he was a real nice guy who died in Korea.

Dick also went on to say, “October 5, 1953, I finally cut the apron strings, left to join the Navy . . . boot at Bainbridge . . . EM School at Great Lakes . . . Tin Can in Newport . . . ah, the Old Navy, round-the-world cruise . . . Panama Canal, Tijuana, Mexico, San Diego, Pearl Harbor, Midway Japan . . . OH YES Phillipines, Korea, Hong Kong, Singapore, etc., Suez Canal, Med Sea, etc., etc. Met a lot of nice guys, some bums, too. Became good friends with this shipmate from Michigan. Went on liberty, got bombed a lot together. He was going with this gal from Taunton, married her. I was an usher at his wedding and met this gal from Dighton at the reception. This was October 1, 1955. Ruth and I were married May 6, 1956.” They honeymooned at Niagara Falls and Pennsylvania and lived in a third-floor apartment while the ship was in Newport. His mother came up to visit and then Ruth moved back with her mother when the ship left on a 3 1/2-month training cruise to the Mediterranean. At that time, Ruth was pregnant with their first child, Donna.

He related that there was trouble over there, b and the cruise was extended. The Suez Canal was closed and the ship had to get to the Indian Ocean and the Persian Gulf. They steamed around Africa and spent Christmas or the day after in Capetown, South Africa. It was here that he learned to enjoy Scotch.

Dick says “When the ship returned to Newport, I was met by this Lady with a big belly. Donna Ruth was born on Wednesday, Memorial Day, May 30, 1957. Ruth came down with gall bladder problems and had to have it removed. She got out of the hospital the day before I got out of the Navy—September 23, 1957 (I think). Of the almost four years I spent in the Navy, I spent three years, three months, and 11 days on the USS Charles H. Roan DD853 and DAMN proud of it.”

Their second daughter was born November 19, 1959, six weeks premature with birth defects and lived only a week. At that time, he was working in a steel mill in East Providence, Rhode Island. In March of 1961, Kathy Marie was born while Dick was working at Raytheon and still living in East Providence, RI. They found a second-floor apartment in North Dighton, MA, and moved there. He was laid off and picked corn and painted houses when their third child, Joanne Elizabeth was born in October 1963.

Dick says he had many jobs after being discharged from the service: the Post Office during Christmas rush, in a window factory steel mill, electronics, railroad for six weeks, three years installing footings and foundations for glass-lined steel silos all over New England and upstate New York. At that time, he was never home. He then worked in an aluminum fabrication shop making storefronts for another three years which then led to a job with a glass company doing the same type work. He moved up to estimating and retired from his last job after 26 years.

He then goes on to say, “We managed to get all the girls married off, all are doing well. We’re grandparents to seven, ranging in age from fourteen to a year old. Donna has Alan and Logan, Kathy has Andrew and Matthew, and Jo has Ryan, Alexander, and Meaghan Elizabeth.”

“Being retired has its drawbacks, but having a part-time job and a hobby, I’m managing very well to enjoy it.” (Editor’s note: Dick also enjoys working with wood. His nickname is “Pat Junkwood.”)

After a valiant fight with lung cancer, Dick passed away March 27, 2015.

Memories of Life at the Orphanage

Aunt Lois states, “I don’t know if I can contribute much in the line of folklore because at the orphanage we were separated. We were admitted to the orphanage June 8, 1931, and we Pattersons didn’t have to go back to school for two weeks. We were already finished with school in Hazleton. Naomi, George, Jack and I were placed in the Annex Building in ’31, and Liz was placed in the Main Building. As we aged or “Uncle Herm” came to visit (menstruation), we were transferred to the next category. You had to be twelve years of age to go to the Main Building. Liz resided in the East Hall with girls of her age, and Naomi and I were placed in the Annex Building. Jack and George were in the Main Building Boys. We saw each other every day, but you didn’t have that closeness like you would have in a family situation.

“In 1935, the midst of the Depression and also the reduction of kids entering the Home, the Annex was closed and all the kids were sent to the Main Building. There were two dormitories . . . the kids up to the age of 12 remained in one dorm and the 12- to 14-year olds lived in the other dorm. Those aged 15 to 18 resided in the East Hall. The same setup applied to the boys, too.

“We had our own school on the grounds. I started in second grade when school resumed in 1931. Miss Kathryn Engle was the teacher of the first and second grades. I sat behind Joe DiRisio in the second row from the blackboard. One time, I had to stand up at the blackboard with my nose in a small ring for misbehaving. Another time, I had to stand out in the hall with a ‘Baby’ sign hung around my neck. Then the bigger kids exchanged classes and I had to be embarrassed because they saw me. Grades one and two were in the school house, three and four and five and six were in the Main Building.

“We had sandboxes—one for the boys and another for the girls. They were on opposite sides of the building. During the summer months, we spent about a half hour every day in the sand.

“My first Christmas at the home, I truly believed there was a Santa Claus. We had to write letters to Santa. My request was for a doll and a carriage which I got. The doll was new, but the carriage was secondhand. I never knew the difference. That year, my Aunt Adah gave me a piece of pongee fabric which was later made into a dress for me. She came to visit only once and brought her Pekingese dog with her and carried it like a baby. She didn’t come for her nieces and nephews. With the exception of Adah and Mary, the rest of us didn’t exist.”

(Editor’s Note: To the right is a letter that was written to Naomi from Mr. Henry Dobbin the second year at the orphanage. She received a letter from him every year until she finally left the orphanage.)

“Miss Harriet Roberts was my third and fourth grade teacher, Miss Pearl Eves was my fifth and sixth grade teacher. I was a rather good student, but she gave me a 64 on my report in sixth grade in Geography in which I excelled. I could never understand that, and I still have that report card.

“I remember at the time our house mother had a radio, and she used to listen to the Breakfast Club which was broadcast from Chicago every morning. I remember a song that was poplar at the time was Did You Ever See a Dream Walking?

“Seventh and eight grades were together. In seventh grade, Harold Lehman was the principal and also my teacher. By eighth grade, Lehman left for a better position, and Mr. Reitz was my 8th grade teacher. In 8th grade, I represented our school in the Northumberland County School contest competing with other county students in geography. I placed third out of 15 students.

“By the time I was promoted to 9th grade in the 1938-39 school term, we were transported to Sunbury Junior High and High School by bus. We arose at 5 a.m. to get ready for school as the bus arrived at 7:30 a.m. We had to do our chores and make something like 50 lunches for the orphanage kids to take with them to school. We learned to do things very efficiently and had our schedules down pat to make that bus. School started at 8:30 a.m. and lunch was from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

“After we ate our lunches and drank our milk, we then walked up town and toured the five and tens—Woolworth, Penney’s, and W.T. Grant. We window shopped the other stores. A pound of cookies could be bought for a dime. You could buy a pair of socks for $.25. Oh yes, we had to wear cottonlyle stockings to school. Once we were on the bus, we took them off and put on socks so we would look like city kids. When we got on the bus at 4 p.m. to return to the orphanage, we put the stockings back on.

“Our Christmases were always wonderful. We didn’t get much but enjoyed what we got. Sometimes our names were distributed to various lodges, and we got gifts from total strangers. (We got post cards from the Home to send thank you notes.) I believe it was 1932 that all the girls seem to get ‘Blue Waltz’ perfume, a Five and Dime product, and it was such stinking stuff. We all joked about it and perfumed everyone with it. We hung stockings, too, and got the usual orange, nuts, toothpaste, and comb. Each kid got a one-pound box of candy. It was kept in the storeroom with our names on the boxes. Once a week, we got four pieces of candy from our box until it was gone.

“Easter time, each kid got a basket with the usual stuff in it. It too was kept in the ‘storeroom’ and doled out to us.”

Summary and Conclusions

At one point in my questions, I stated to my Aunt Lois that I found it simply amazing that not one of Marie’s family tried to help her to keep the children together knowing of her dire straits and the fact that her grandparents were well to do and could have helped. Lois told me that by the time her father died, Marie’s grandparents were both dead. As I thought more about this, I also realized that Marie’s parents had at least five other children still at home at this time and all of this occurred during the Great Depression. My mother Naomi also said that her mother stated to her that she would not go back home. Apparently, Marie’s father, Charles Oscar was a difficult man to live with, and Marie was very independent and proud.

Also in talking with my aunts, uncles, and cousins, none of the children were unhappy living at the orphanage. They probably received more than they ever would have had they remained home with Marie. It may be that Elizabeth was affected more so upon arrival at the orphanage than the other children as she was separated from them being that she was older, but she also had many positive memories of her life at the orphanage. Lois said that she always felt that she was only half a person because she had no father and always wondered what it would have been like to have had both parents.

Of one thing I am certain is that Marie had an incredible will to survive, and she did what she needed to in order to make a living. She struggled to make a living for her children, and her remarriage after John’s death was part of her attempt to make it. She did the best she could to keep her children together, but the Depression and attitudes toward women and their proper role in society prevented her from making a decent living. She used what she had—her feminine wiles—to get herself and her family together, but she also felt she had to use her children’s earnings to make it as well. Some might regard her as a villain, but she was as much a victim of the time as her children. Had society’s values and mores been different and had women been given equal access to work and education, her life and that of her children might have been quite different.

Despite all these obstacles, she lived her life to the fullest and she rose up to meet the challenges put before her and overcome them. She had an incredible work ethic that continued until her death and instilled that ethic in all of her children. Her children were raised to be independent, and they have all provided their families with a sense of stability that in a sense, they did not have in their early years.

If you would like to be a contributor or to clarify information presented, please click here.
Home | Patterson Pics | Fetterman Pics | Memories | Centralia Remembered | Other Links