This Former Slave Was Making Cars More Than 100 Years Ago!

Charles Richard Patterson, first Black manufacturer of automobiles

Henry Ford is definitely the father of the American automobile industry, but many people don’t realize that one of the first manufacturers of automobiles in America was also a former slave named Charles Richard Patterson from Ohio.
Getting started

Patterson was a slave in West Virginia before he escaped to freedom in Ohio prior to the Civil War. Once in the north, he bought into a blacksmith business before ultimately taking over control of the company.

Their line of horse-drawn carriages began production in the late 1800s, and Patterson continued his work on carriages until his passing. After his death, his son, Frederick Douglass Patterson, took the reins.

From Horse Carriages to Automobiles

As early as 1902, they shifted their focus to automobiles according to an article published by Ferris State University. Their first car rolled off the production line in 1915.

Although the small size of Patterson Automobile Company prevented it's growth to the mass-production levels which saw Henry Ford grow into a household name, the company did expand out to the manufacturing of trucks and buses as well.

Due to the limited production of Patterson-Greenfield automobiles and their unique history, they are now highly sought after additions to any classic car collection.