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PATTERSON, JOHN S. (1873–1916). John S. Patterson, banking official and murder victim, was born in Tennessee on March 23, 1873, and was educated at Winchester Normal College in Winchester, Tennessee, and Cumberland University in Lebanon, Tennessee. After moving to Texas in 1896, he lived in Waco and began the practice of law. Early in his legal career, Patterson met James E. Ferguson. After he and the future governor became friends and business partners, they organized and invested together in several banks, including the First State Bank of Moody. Patterson campaigned for Ferguson in the gubernatorial election of 1914 and afterward moved to Dallas, where he practiced law. In 1915, Governor Ferguson named Patterson commissioner of insurance and banking, a position of rapidly increasing responsibilities in the years following issuance of the Armstrong Committee report in 1906. In August 1916, Patterson traveled to Teague with one of his examiners, Eldred McKinnon, to examine the books of the Farmers and Merchants State Bank, which had been under investigation for some time. The president of the bank, T. R. Watson, and his sons, who served as vice-president and cashier, pleaded with Patterson for time to work out their problems. Patterson, having been presented with evidence that the bank had a serious shortfall of reserves, declined to compromise. He ordered McKinnon to post a notice of closure on the bank's front window. But Watson shot Patterson at point-blank range, mortally wounding him. McKinnon fled to safety despite being fired at three times by one of Watson's sons. Patterson died in Waco on August 30 and was buried in nearby Moody. Among his pallbearers were Jim Ferguson and Pat Neff. The murder trial of T. R. Watson in Waco attracted considerable attention. Watson, from a prominent family in Teague, was defended at trial by an all-star legal team that included L. T. Dashiell, future state legislator and speaker of the House of Representatives, and, oddly enough, by Neff. Despite such legal firepower, however, Watson was convicted of murder and sentenced to ninety-nine years in prison.

Austin American, August 29 and 30, 1916. Austin Statesman, August 29, 1916. Watson v. State, 205 S.W.2d 662 (Tex. Crim. App. 1918).
Bruce McCandless III

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Handbook of Texas Online, Bruce McCandless III, "Patterson, John S.," accessed October 20, 2017,

Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.