All About Lieutenant General, Army of The United States George Smith Patton, Jr. (03)…
George Smith Patton was born in San Gabriel Township, California (in what is now the city of San Marino), to George Smith Patton, Sr. (1856–1927) and Ruth Wilson (1861–1928). Although he was technically the third George Smith Patton, he was given the name Junior. The Pattons were an affluent family of Scottish descent.
As a boy, Patton read widely in classics and military history. Patton’s father was an acquaintance of John Singleton Mosby, a noted cavalry leader of the Confederate Army in the American Civil War who served first under J.E.B. Stuart and then as a guerrillafighter. The younger Patton grew up hearing Mosby’s stories of military glory. From an early age, the young Patton sought to become a general and hero in his own right.
Patton came from a long line of soldiers, including General Hugh Mercer of the American Revolution. A great-grandfather, John M. Patton, was a governor of Virginia. His grandfather, Colonel George S. Patton, was killed during the Battle of Opequon. Colonel Patton was promoted to brigadier general by the Confederate Congress, but, at the time, had already died of battle wounds, so that the promotion was never official. A great-uncle, Waller T. Patton, died of wounds received in Pickett’s Charge during the Battle of Gettysburg. Two other great-uncles, John M. Patton and Isaac Patton, served as colonels in the Confederate States Army, while yet another great uncle, William T. Glassell, was a Confederate States Navy officer. Another relative, Hugh Weedon Mercer, was a Confederate general.
His seventh great-grandfather was Louis Dubois, a French Huguenot immigrant, who with 11 others founded the town of New Paltz, New York. Another of Patton’s ancestors was Francis Gregory, a first cousin of George Washington. Gregory married Francis Thornton III, a first cousin twice removed from James Madison and three times removed from Zachary Taylor.
Patton’s paternal grandparents were Colonel George Smith Patton and Susan Thornton Glassell. Patton’s grandfather, born inFredericksburg, graduated from Virginia Military Institute (VMI), Class of 1852, second in a class of 24. After graduation, George Smith Patton studied law and practiced in Charleston. When the American Civil War broke out, he served in the 22nd Virginia Infantry of the Confederate States of America.
Patton’s grandfather left behind a namesake son, born in Charleston, Virginia (now West Virginia). The second George Smith Patton (born George William Patton in 1856, changing his name to honor his late father in 1868) was one of four children. Graduating from the Virginia Military Institute in 1877, Patton’s father served as L.A. County District Attorney and the first City Attorney for the city of Pasadena, California and the first mayor of San Marino, California. He was a Wilsonian Democrat.
His maternal grandparents were Benjamin Davis Wilson, (December 1, 1811 to March 11, 1878), the namesake of Southern California’s Mount Wilson, and his second wife, Margaret Hereford. Wilson was a self-made man who was orphaned in Nashville, Tennessee, came to Alta California as a fur trapper and adventurer during the Indian Wars before marrying Ramona Yorba, the daughter of a Californio land baron, Bernardo Yorba, and made his fortune through the wedding dowery, receiving Rancho Jurupa, settling what would become California’s San Gabriel Valley, after the Mexican American War.
Patton married Beatrice Banning Ayer (January 12, 1886–September 30, 1953), the daughter of wealthy textile baron Frederick Ayer, on May 26, 1910. They had three children, Beatrice Smith (March 19, 1911–October 24, 1952), Ruth Ellen Patton Totten (February 28, 1915–November 25, 1993), who wrote The Button Box: A Loving Daughter’s Memoir of Mrs. George S. Patton, and George Patton IV (December 24, 1923–June 27, 2004), who rose to the rank of major general. A cousin of George S. Patton was Democratic Congressman from Georgia Larry McDonald, who was aboard Korean Air Lines Flight 007 when it was shot down by the Soviets just west of Sakhalin Island on September 1, 1983.