Photo Credit: Historial Society of Greenfield Ohio
Did You Know?: Although Henry Ford is often regarded as the creator of the American automotive industry, many people are unaware that one of the country's earliest vehicle manufacturers was a former slave named Charles Richard Patterson from Ohio. Patterson was a slave in West Virginia before fleeing to Ohio before the Civil War. Once in the north, he invested in a blacksmith shop before eventually taking over the company and began making horse-drawn carriages in the late 1800s. Patterson worked on carriages until his death and Frederick Douglass Patterson, his son, took over. They redirected their attention to automobiles as early as 1902, and their first car came off the assembly line in 1915. Although the Patterson Automobile Firm's tiny size hindered it from reaching the mass-production levels that helped Henry Ford become a household brand, the company did expand into the production of trucks and buses. Patterson-Greenfield autos are now highly sought after additions to any antique car collection due to its restricted production and unique history.