Patterson’s in China – Two Generations of Mission

Brown Craig Patterson [1865-1953]. The picture shows him standing on the steps of his home in Tengxian, probably in the mid-1930s.
Brown Craig Patterson [1865-1953]. The picture shows him standing on the steps of his home in Tengxian, probably in the mid-1930s.
A few weeks ago the Cambridge Centre for Christianity Worldwide put me in touch with Robert G. Patterson in the United States. Two generations of Robert’s family served as  missionaries in China and Robert and his late father (also Robert G. Patterson) have put together a valuable collection of material to document their family history. Robert has kindly agreed to allow me to host these books, so that they reach a wider readership. The following annotations are adapted from one of Robert’s e-mails and explains more about the collection. Please note that the file size of some of books is quite large.


Robert G. Patterson, ed., Craig Patterson in China. B.C. Patterson’s Memoirs, Supplemented by Selections from His Other Papers, with Photographs Added. Memphis, TN: Self-Published, 2006. pp.154.

Robert G. Patterson, ed., Anne H. Patterson., M.D. Memphis, TN: Self-Published, 2002. pp.46.

Brown Craig Patterson [26th June 1865 – 18th Sept. 1953] was my great-grandfather, who served in China during 1897-1940. Anne Houston Patterson [25th March 1867 – 9th Feb. 1954] was his wife and also a physician and founder of the hospital in Suqian. (Still operating today.) They both wrote memoirs and there were other missionary pamphlets that made it into the Anne Houston book.

Robert Glasgow Patterson, Frances Glasgow Patterson 1899-1975. Memphis, TN: Self-Published, 2010. pp.157.

Frances Glasgow Patterson [25th Jan. 1899 – 12th Jan. 1975] was my grandfather’s wife. This book provides perhaps a somewhat different perspective on the events of “My China That Was”. More of a history of her life than a memoir, it draws on letters and writings of both her and my grandfather.

Margaret Patterson Mack [1906-2005], My Heart’s Recollections. Memoirs of an American Woman Born and Raised in Early 20th Century China. Self-Published, 1999. pp.96.

“My Heart’s Recollections” is the memoir of my grandfather’s sister, Margaret Mack [19th June 1906 – 7th Nov. 2005]. It has many recollections of her childhood in China and then her work as a missionary in the Philippines. So far as I can remember, my father was no more than a technical consultant on this book. It was written and prepared by Margaret and her daughter.

Craig Houston Patterson [1897-1990], My China That Was. From the Boxer Rebellion to Pearl Harbor, 1st edn. Harrisberg, VA: Self-Published, 1990. pp.167.

Craig Houston Patterson [1897-1990], My China That Was. From the Boxer Rebellion to Pearl Harbor, 2nd edn. Memphis, TN: Self-Published, 1993. pp.194.

My father (a Robert G. Patterson like me) was very much an unacknowledged ghost writer for “My China That Was”. I detect his fingerprints particularly in the more scholarly sections, such as the descriptions of native Chinese religions, writing, and language. (These were his professional specialty as a college professor. I heard him talk about them many times while I don’t recall my grandfather ever mentioning them.) Nevertheless, the form of the text in the first edition had the full participation and approval of my grandfather. The 2nd edition seems mostly to be the same text rearranged with some stylistic emendations and formatted as a proper book.

Robert G. Patterson, Partnership in the Gospel. From the Junkin’s First Days in China to the Suqian Three-Self Church. Memphis, TN: Self-Published, 2005. pp.168.

Besides “My China That Was”, the other book I think you’ll find most interesting is “Partnership in the Gospel”, the history of Bill [26th Dec 1870 – 27th May 1947] and Nettie Junkin [28th April 1878 – 2nd Nov 1957] in China. These were family friends and fellow missionaries with B.C. and Anne Houston. Perhaps because it’s not particularly a family history, my father brought all his scholarly arts to bear. The version here appears to have been the result of three or four complete rewrites (with different working titles) at 2-3 year intervals over about 8-10 years. It still wasn’t complete. In the preface he stated the intention to add maps and photographs. But apparently he never got back to it after 2005. Nevertheless there is a large cache of Junkin photos on my Dad’s hard-drive, so he at least started the project.

Robert G. Patterson, Tirzah’s Packet. Willson, Patterson, and Blackwood Family Letters, 1837 to 1929, Collected and Preserved by Tirzah (Willson) Patterson. M.D. Memphis, TN: Self-Published, 2007. pp.134.

I’m not sure how much interest you’ll have in “Tirzah’s Packet”. Tirzah was my great-great-grandmother. (B. C.’s mother.) The book is my father’s presentation of a collection of 19th-century letters she had that came down to him. But it is also very relevant to the history of the Presbyterian Church in the Valley of Virginia of the 1800s.