One of the Earliest US Car Companies Was Founded by a Formerly Enslaved Man

One of the Earliest US Car Companies Was Founded by a Formerly Enslaved Man

C.R. Patterson & Sons, the first African American-owned auto manufacturer, didn’t produce many of its hand-built cars—by some estimates, only a few dozen between 1915 and 1918. The company’s signature Patterson-Greenfield car, advertised as a “sensibly priced” roadster with "every convenience and every luxury known to car manufacture,” had launched into some serious competitive headwinds.

Two years earlier, in 1913, automotive titan Henry Ford had introduced the moving assembly line at his Ford Motor Company. And by 1915, his mechanized factory was pumping out hundreds of thousands of Model T cars annually, priced far less than Patterson-Greenfield’s bespoke roadster, which sold for between $685 and $850. While the tiny Ohio firm created a beautiful, well-made vehicle, it couldn’t compete against Detroit’s burgeoning industry giants on efficiency, or on price.

But cars were just one part of the company’s ambitious entrepreneurial history. It started with Charles Richard Patterson, a Black man born into slavery on a Virginia plantation in 1833, who translated his blacksmithing skills into a thriving carriage-building business in Ohio. And it ended two generations later, during the Great Depression, with his grandchildren fulfilling regional and international contracts to fabricate bodies for buses and other larger utility vehicles.

READ MORE: 8 Black Inventors Who Made Daily Life Easier

From Enslavement to Business Ownership

While it’s unclear how C.R. Patterson obtained his freedom, he made his way to Greenfield, Ohio before the Civil War, and got work in the city’s carriage-building trade, where he earned a position as foreman. After the company he worked for was bought by another local carriage maker, he became a partner in that business. He eventually became the sole proprietor, reorganizing as C.R. Patterson & Sons.

At the height of its carriage business in the 1890s, C.R. Patterson & Sons employed a racially integrated team of 10 to 15 workers, who turned out 28 different styles of carriage vehicles, from simple, open buggies to more elaborate closed styles sold to doctors and other professionals throughout the South and the Midwest. Along the way, Patterson earned several patents for his innovations.

In a 1965 interview with the Pittsburgh Courier, Patterson’s daughter Katie Buster talked about the company her father had started nearly a century earlier. “We had built up a nice trade in the South for an especially built buggy for doctors,” she said. “The great majority of our employees were white, and we never experienced any labor trouble.”

READ MORE: Car Timeline History: From 3-Wheeled Buggies to Self-Driving Cars

From Carriages to Cars

After Patterson's death in 1910, his son Frederick saw opportunity in the growing popularity of automobiles. Frederick, who would become an early leader in Booker T. Washington’s National Negro Business League, had in 1891 been the first Black football player at Ohio State University. "In 1902, there was one car to 65,000 people, and by 1909 there was one vehicle for every 800 people,” Frederick told his board. “And with those kinds of figures, I believe it's time for us to build a Patterson horseless carriage."

Meanwhile, the carriage-building industry had collapsed—from 13,800 manufacturers in the U.S. in 1890 to fewer than 100 in 1920. One way C.R. Patterson & Company attempted to make the transition to auto manufacturing was by offering to repair the newfangled machines, from repainting and reupholstering to fixing engines and other mechanicals.

Frederick had come up with the idea for building new cars during trips with his sales manager, C.W. Napper, where he noticed the proliferation of horseless carriages that were fueled by gasoline and faster than horses. Frederick’s plan, he told Baltimore’s Afro-American newspaper, was to build a car that could travel farther on a gallon of gas than any car being manufactured at the time.

READ MORE: The Daring Disguise That Helped One Enslaved Couple Escape to Freedom

The Brief Life of the Patterson-Greenfield Car

The first Patterson-Greenfield rolled off the line on September 23, 1915, with many hallmarks of a luxury vehicle. Made in two models—Roadster and Touring Car, each with a 30-horsepower, four-cylinder engine—the custom-made vehicle boasted special features such as a full floating rear axle, demountable rims and an electric starting and lighting system. “The Patterson-Greenfield possesses every feature and convenience demanded by modern motoring,” said an advertisement. “It is a wonderful car, appealing for handsome appearance and enduring qualities.”

But Frederick was careful to not advertise the company as Black-owned out of fear that it would not receive the patronage of white customers—a common challenge for Black entrepreneurs during the era of Jim Crow segregation and discrimination. “[Frederick] is not in business as a Black man,” declared a 1911 column about him in Baltimore’s Afro-American. “He has never sold a Black man’s buggy. It is doubtful if in his talks to professional men in the South he has ever referred to the fact that he is a Black man in order to make a sale.” That said, the company did much of its consumer-facing advertising in Black-owned publications such as The Crisis and Alexander's Magazine.

READ MORE: Black Rosies: The Forgotten African American Heroines of the WWII Homefront

Transitioning the Business to Bus Bodies

However, because production of the Patterson-Greenfield car required significant capital investment that never materialized, the company never reached full production. Over a three-year period it rolled out an estimated 30 vehicles. In Detroit, meanwhile, Henry Ford’s moving assembly line had reduced the time to build a car from more than 12 hours to just 1 hour and 33 minutes, pumping out thousands of cars a day.

By 1919, the Patterson family, which had controlling interests in the company, had shuttered the car business and shifted to producing the bodies for buses, along with hearses, moving vans, delivery trucks and more. Rebranded in 1921 as the Greenfield Bus Body Company, the Pattersons’ firm first sold its buses to local school districts. Through the ‘20s, the family maintained a thriving business building mostly bus bodies, which were built on Chevrolet, Ford and General Motors chassis.

In 1932, Frederick died at the age of 61, leaving a leadership void at the company. Challenges of scale and difficulty raising money to expand made it tough to stay afloat in the rapidly consolidating auto industry. “Detroit just got to be too much for us and we just couldn’t compete,” said Postell Patterson, a grandson of Charles Patterson, in 1939 when the family business closed for good.

WATCH: Full Episodes of The Cars That Built the World online now.

The Company’s Legacy

One of Greenfield’s last major orders was for three GMCbuses for the Haitian government, which was launching its first public bus system in 1936. These vehicles, built by a Black-owned company that had originated from the vision of a former slave, received a raucous welcome in the summer of ‘36 when they passed through the streets of Port-au-Prince. “Cheers rent the air and after stirring speeches by officials…the three aluminum buses glistening in the semi-tropical sun moved majestically off, packed with a fortunate group of passengers and the dream of an intrepid engineer became a reality,” reported Norfolk, Virginia’s New Journal and Guide.

More than 150 years after its founding as a carriage maker, C.R. Patterson & Sons remains the only Black-founded and Black-owned automaker in American history.

WATCH: Full episodes of 'The Cars That Made America' without signing in.

Barbecue is an American tradition – of enslaved Africans and Native Americans

B arbecue is a form of cultural power and is intensely political, with a culture of rules like no other American culinary tradition: sauce or no sauce which kind of sauce chopped or not chopped whole animal or just ribs or shoulders. And, if America is about people creating new worlds based on rebellion against oppression and slavery, then barbecue is the ideal dish: it was made by enslaved Africans with inspiration and contributions from Native Americans struggling to maintain their independence.

The common cultural narrative of barbecue, however, exclusively assigns its origins to Native Americans and Europeans the very etymology of the word is said to derive from both Carib through Spanish (barbacoa – to roast over hot coals on a wooden framework) or from western European sources (barbe-a-queue in French – “head to tail” – which fits nicely with contemporary ideas of no-waste eating and consuming offal). Some American barbecue masters have taken to attributing the innovation of barbecue to their German and Czech ancestors.

If anything, both in etymology and culinary technique, barbecue is as African as it is Native American and European, though enslaved Africans have largely been erased from the modern story of American barbecue. At best, our ancestors are seen as mindless cooking machines who prepared the meat under strict white supervision, if at all at worst, barbecue was something done “for” the enslaved, as if they were being introduced to a novel treat. In reality, they shaped the culture of New World barbecuing traditions, from jerking in Jamaica to anticuchos in Peru to cooking traditions in the colonial Pampas. And the word barbecue also has roots in West Africa among the Hausa, who used the term “babbake” to describe a complex of words referring to grilling, toasting, building a large fire, singeing hair or feathers and cooking food over a long period of time over an extravagant fire.

In the earliest colonial days, the West Indies served as a seed colonies for the presence of enslaved Africans in the New World especially because, within 10 years of European arrival, indigenous Americans endured mass, genocidal losses due to the introduction of diseases common in Europe. With only a few remaining Carib and Arawak indigenes, Africans quickly became the majority on the islands and, eventually, the Southeastern coast (where many island colonists resettled in the late 17 th and early 18 th centuries, often with their enslaved people in tow).

In Jamaica, maroon rebels who resisted slavery and formed their own settlements forged ties with rebellious indigenous islanders in the West Indies and Latin America (leading, eventually, to the modern form of barbecue known as jerking). Similar ties were established in the first areas of the United States to see the arrival of enslaved Africans, which occurred in 1526, after Spaniard Lucas Vasquez de Ayllon died in an effort to establish a colony in what we know now as South Carolina. Ayllon’s political successors abandoned the area, leaving behind the enslaved Africans and the Native Americans who had guided them there. With the Spanish had come pigs, which became feral and to this day infest Southern woodlands. It was in that context that barbecue made its debut on what is now American soil.

Enslaved Africans and Native Americans had a lot in common, culinarily-speaking: they had been cooking and eating in similar ways. despite an ocean between their civilizations. It only makes sense that, when their foodways, crops, cooking methods and systems of preservation, hunting, fishing and food storage collided, that there would be deep similarities and convergences of technique, method and skill. And West and Central Africans had always had their own versions of the barbacoa and spit roasting of meat. While living in a tropical climate, salting, spicing and half-smoking meat upon butchering was key to ensuring game would make it back to the village with minimal spoilage. Festivals were marked by the salting, spicing and roasting of whole animals or large cuts of meat.

Thus, in colonial and antebellum North America, enslaved men became barbecue’s master chefs: woodcuts, cartoons, postcards and portraits from the period document the role that black chefs played in shaping this very American, and especially Southern staple. Working over pits in the ground covered in green wood – much as in West Africa or Jamaica – it was enslaved men and their descendants, not the Bubbas of today’s Barbecue Pitmasters, that innovated and refined regional barbecue traditions. If anything, German, Czech, Mexican and other traditions in South Carolina, Missouri and Texas were added to a base created by black hands forged in the crucible of slavery.

In some ways barbecue is true Independence Day food. As European Americans acclimated themselves to the custom of forsaking utensils and even plates to eat more like enslaved Africans and Native Americans – from spareribs to corn on the cob – they used their hands in an unprecedented break with Old World formalities. It is not without some irony that enslaved people, the earliest barbecue pitmasters, were called upon to avail slaveholders and politicians with Fourth of July barbecues meant to win over neighbors and constituents. When they obtained their own freedom, the formerly enslaved celebrated Juneteenth with none other than their favorite freedom food – barbecue.

Barbecue is now widely recognized as a staple of the American culinary canon – so much so that at least three national holidays (Memorial Day, Independence Day and Labor Day) are associated with it. Barbecue is laced with the aspiration of freedom, but it was seasoned and flavored by the people who could not enjoy any freedom on Independence Day for almost a century.

Daimler AG

Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft (DMG) was founded in 1899. In 1926, it merged with Benz & Cie. to become Daimler-Benz AG.

The better known Mercedes brand name dates back to 1900. Daimler dealer, Emil Jellinek, raced the company's models under the name Mercedes, in reference to his daughter's name. Competition success led to Mercedes appearing on the radiators of Daimler road cars in 1902.

Daimler AG has its headquarters in Stuttgart, Germany.

The company has quite a complicated corporate structure. Daimler owns:

Pabst Brewing Company (1844)

The first brewery in Milwaukee started off as the Empire Brewery and then Best and Sons, named after its founder Phillip Best. When Best died in 1889, his daughter's husband Frederick Pabst took over and changed the name. For more than 200 hundred years, Pabst Blue Ribbon has been the brewery's most famous beer. By the way, the "blue ribbon" doesn't refer to awards, but instead to the blue ribbon that was tied around the bottle's neck to separate it from its competitors. The brewer, however, has won awards, including 2015 Brewer of the Year at the Great American Beer Festival.

Additional reporting by Adam C. Uzialko. Some source interviews were conducted for a previous version of this article.

Tesla, Inc.

Our editors will review what you’ve submitted and determine whether to revise the article.

Tesla, Inc., formerly (2003–17) Tesla Motors, American electric-automobile manufacturer. It was founded in 2003 by American entrepreneurs Martin Eberhard and Marc Tarpenning and was named after Serbian American inventor Nikola Tesla.

Tesla Motors was formed to develop an electric sports car. Eberhard was Tesla’s chief executive officer (CEO) and Tarpenning its chief financial officer (CFO). Funding for the company was obtained from a variety of sources, most notably PayPal cofounder Elon Musk, who contributed more than $30 million to the new venture and served as chairman of the company, beginning in 2004.

In 2008 Tesla Motors released its first car, the completely electric Roadster. In company tests, it achieved 245 miles (394 km) on a single charge, a range unprecedented for a production electric car. Additional tests showed that its performance was comparable to that of many gasoline-powered sports cars: the Roadster could accelerate from 0 to 60 miles (96 km) per hour in less than 4 seconds and could reach a top speed of 125 miles (200 km) per hour. The lightweight car body was made of carbon fibre. The Roadster produced no tailpipe emissions, as it did not use an internal-combustion engine. Tesla Motors found that the car attained efficiency ratings that were equivalent to a gasoline mileage of 135 miles per gallon (57 km per litre). The vehicle’s electric motor was powered by lithium-ion cells—often used in laptop-computer batteries—that could be recharged from a standard electric outlet. Despite a federal tax credit of $7,500 for purchasing an electric vehicle, the Roadster’s cost of $109,000 made it a luxury item.

In late 2007 Eberhard resigned as CEO and president of technology and joined the advisory board of the company. It was announced in 2008 that he had left the company, though he remained a shareholder. Tarpenning, who was also vice president of electrical engineering, supervising the development of electronic and software systems for the Roadster, also left the company in 2008. Musk took over as CEO. In 2010 Tesla’s initial public offering raised some $226 million.

In 2012 Tesla stopped production of the Roadster to concentrate on its new Model S sedan, which was acclaimed by automotive critics for its performance and design. It came with three different battery options, which gave estimated ranges of 235 or 300 miles (379 or 483 km). The battery option with the highest performance gave an acceleration of 0 to 60 miles (96 km) per hour in slightly over 4 seconds and a top speed of 130 miles (209 km) per hour. Unlike the Roadster, which carried its batteries at the front of the car, the Model S had its underneath the floor, which gave extra storage space in front and improved handling because of its low centre of gravity. The Tesla Autopilot, a form of semiautonomous driving, was made available in 2014 on the Model S (and later on other models).

Beginning in 2012, Tesla built stations called Superchargers in the United States and Europe designed for charging batteries quickly and at no extra cost to Tesla owners. Later versions of those stations were called Tesla Stations and also had the capability of complete replacement of the Model S battery pack.

Tesla released the Model X, a “crossover” vehicle (i.e., a vehicle with features of a sport-utility vehicle but built on a car chassis), in 2015. The Model X had a maximum battery range of 295 miles (475 km) and seating for up to seven. Because of demand for a more inexpensive vehicle, the Model 3, a four-door sedan with a range of 220 miles (354 km) and a price of $35,000, began production in 2017.

The company also branched out into solar energy products. A line of batteries to store electric power from solar energy for use in homes and businesses was unveiled in 2015. Tesla bought the solar panel company SolarCity in 2016. In 2017 the company changed its name to Tesla, Inc., to reflect that it no longer sold just cars.


The City of Buffalo, formerly known as Buffalo Creek, received its name from the creek that flows through it. However, the origin of the creek's name is unclear, with several unproven theories existing. Early French explorers reported the abundance of buffalo on the Eastern shore of Lake Erie, but their presence on the banks of Buffalo Creek is still a matter of debate, although American Bison did range into western NY state at one time. Neither the Native American name Teyohoseroron (the Place of the Basswoods) nor the French name Riviere aux Chevaux (River of Horses) survived, so the current name likely dates to the British occupation which began with the capture of Fort Niagara in 1759.

Another theory holds that a Seneca Indian lived there, either whose name meant buffalo, or who had the physical characteristics of a buffalo, and was translated as such by the English settlers. The stream where he lived became Buffalo's Creek. Unlike other nearby creeks such as Scajaquada Creek and Smoke's Creek which were named after actual historic figures, there is no known reference to any Native American named Buffalo. Also given credence by local historians at one time was the possibility that an interpreter mistranslated the Native American word for "beaver" as "buffalo," the words being very similar, at a treaty-signing at present-day Rome, New York in 1784. The theory assumes that because there were beaver here, the creek was probably called Beaver Creek rather than Buffalo Creek.

Another theory holds that the name is an anglicized form of the French name Beau Fleuve (beautiful river), which was supposedly an exclamation uttered by Louis Hennepin when he first saw the Niagara River. This is a relatively recently proposed theory (1909) and is unlikely, as no period sources contain this quote. The earliest known name origin theory is an anecdote told to Captain Daniel Dobbins by Cornelius Winney in 1795 and also found with variations in Sheldon Ball's History of Buffalo (1825) and other sources, about a party of hunters whose guide shoots a horse and passes it off as bison meat, thereafter the origin of the term "buffaloed."

Despite many years of speculation and garbling of previous debate, more recently available sources indicate that the name Buffalo Creek was in common use on the Niagara Frontier by 1764, as John Montresor referenced 'Buffalo Creek' in his journal of that year. [2] The name may have originated with an English speaking person sometime between 1759 and 1764, possibly after seeing animal bones, thought to be bison but possibly elk or moose or domesticated cattle, at the salt lick called Sour Springs located at the head of navigation about 6 miles up the creek.

An alternate explanation put forward in late 2020, is that the origin comes from the French “Riviere du Bois Blanc” meaning “River of White Wood” being used to describe the creek. Bois Blanc pronounced “Boblo” or “Bob Low” around the Great Lakes , morphed into “Buffalo” when the British took control of the region in 1759-1760.

Amerindian Crossroads Edit

The first inhabitants of New York State are believed to have been nomadic Paleo-Indians who migrated after the disappearance of Pleistocene glaciers during or before 7000 BCE. [ citation needed ] The societies of the Native Forest dwellers we know as Native Americans, Amerindians, or First Nations made highways of the Great Lakes, streams and were far more social than their reputed penchant for warfare, cruelty, and collecting scalps would suggest. Their canoes were built from lightweight birch bark, or far more often, Elm, the farther south the tribe, the more likely Elm was the material used for many purposes including the canoes. Buffalo, near the throat of the Niagara River, was a popular campsite for voyaging tribesmen, in a culture which often went on walk-abouts, touring neighboring lands and conducting the widespread practice of boy-meets-girl, trading of regional commodities. [a]

Prior to European colonization by French settlers, the region's inhabitants were an Iroquoian-speaking tribal offshoot called the Wenro people or 'Wenrohronon', who lived along the south shore of Lake Ontario and east end of Lake Erie and a bit of its southern shore. The population of the Wenro was small by comparison to other Iroquoian tribes the French encountered and reported upon, possibly because they'd only recently split off from other groups or because they'd suffered the misfortunes of war. They were possibly (most likely) a sub-group of the main Neutral Confederacy which had colonized the opposite shore, or possibly relatives of the great abutting neighboring Erie Nation, [b] which extended southwesterly through most of present-day Ohio, Western Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

The American Heritage Book of Indians points out there are opposing (on the surface) contradictory theories [c] of the origination and the migration of the Iroquois and Iroquoian peoples that came to inhabit the region around Buffalo and the Niagara River. [d]

The French found the Neutral groups helpful in mediating disputes with other tribes—in particular the League of the Iroquois which became sworn enemies of the French from their first meeting in 1609. [e] By comparison, the Huron also an Iroquoian people, were often at odds with the Iroquois once European traders offered highly desired goods for furs, especially water proof Beaver pelts [f] About 1651 the Iroquois Confederacy declared war on the Neutrals by 1653, the Confederacy, particularly the Senecas, had practically annihilated the Neutrals [3] [4] and the splinter tribe of Wenro people. The Wenro's area was subsequently populated by the Seneca tribe.

Also in 1653 the large and populous Erie tribe, having taken in survivors of the Huron, Neutral, Wenro, and Tabacco peoples—Iroquoian peoples one and all, with traditions of adopting outsiders—received demands to send Neutrals to the Iroquois and instead launched an preemptive attack on the League, kicking off three years of desperate warfare that eventually shattered the Erie and bled the Iroquois of much of their strength. [g] Ohio and Western Pennsylvania became nearly vacant Iroquois hunting grounds, exploited for furs, but ten years later the Iroquois, having also adopted tribal members of peoples they'd recently thrashed, found themselves in a new war with the Susquehannocks who lived down below the Allegheny Front, the escarpment above most of today's central Pennsylvania along the Susquehanna River valleys—another people believed to have significantly outnumbered the Iroquois [h] —so warring along the Susquehanna Valley from lower New York to Maryland through central Pennsylvania. In 1667-68 the Susquehannocks nearly wiped out two of the Five Iroquois people. At that point the Susquehannock's suffered one or more horrendous plagues, losing up to 90% of their population and military capabilities, and by 1672 the Iroquois became the proverbial 'Last Man Standing' in the Northern Beaver Wars.

First Europeans, 1758–1793 Edit

Most of western New York was granted by Charles II of England to the Duke of York (later King James II & VII), but the first European settlement in what is now Erie County was by the French, at the mouth of Buffalo Creek in 1758. Its buildings were destroyed a year later by the evacuating French after the British captured Fort Niagara. The British took control of the entire region in 1763, at the conclusion of the French and Indian War. In 1764, British military engineer John Montresor made an inspection tour of Buffalo Creek before determining on a site for a fortification on the opposite shore. After the 1779 Sullivan Expedition, the British settled Seneca refugees in several villages on Buffalo Creek in the spring of 1780.

The first white settlers along the creek were prisoners captured during the Revolutionary War. [5] The first resident and landowner of Buffalo with a permanent presence was Captain William Johnston, [6] a white Iroquois interpreter who had been in the area since the days after the Revolutionary War and who the Senecas granted creekside land as a gift of appreciation. His house stood at present-day Washington and Seneca streets. [7] Former enslaved man Joseph "Black Joe" Hodges, [8] [9] and Cornelius Winney, a Dutch trader from Albany who arrived in 1789, were early settlers along the mouth of Buffalo Creek. [10] They set up a log cabin store there in 1789 for trading with the Native American community. The British retained control of the area and prevented further settlement by Americans until their evacuation of Fort Niagara in 1796.

Holland Land Purchase, 1793–1825 Edit

On July 20, 1793, the Holland Land Purchase, including the land of present-day Buffalo, was completed with land being acquired from the Seneca Indians and brokered by Dutch investors from Holland. [12] The Treaty of Big Tree removed Iroquois title to lands west of the Genesee River in 1797. [13] Although other Senecas were involved in ceding their land, the most famous today is Red Jacket, who died in Buffalo in 1830. His grave is in Forest Lawn Cemetery.

In the fall of 1797, Joseph Ellicott, the architect who helped survey Washington, D.C. with brother Andrew, [14] [15] was appointed as the Chief of Survey for the Holland Land Company. [16] Over the next year, he began to survey the tract of land at the mouth of Buffalo Creek. This was completed in 1803, [17] and the new village boundaries extended from the creekside in the south to present-day Chippewa Street in the north and Carolina Street to the west, [18] which is where most settlers remained for the first decade of the 19th century. [ citation needed ]

Starting in 1801, parcels were sold through the Holland Land Companies office in Batavia, New York. The settlement was initially called Lake Erie, then Buffalo Creek, soon shortened to Buffalo. Although the company named the settlement "New Amsterdam," the name did not catch on, reverting to Buffalo within ten years. [19] [18] Buffalo had the first road to Pennsylvania built in 1802 for migrants passing through to the Connecticut Western Reserve in Ohio. [20]

In 1804, Ellicott designed a radial grid plan that would branch out from the village forming bicycle-like spokes, interrupted by diagonals, like the system used in the nation's capital. [21] It is one of only three radial street patterns in the US [ citation needed ] . In the middle of the village was the intersection of eight streets, in what would become Niagara Square. Several blocks to the southeast he designed a semicircle fronting Main Street with an elongated park green, formerly his estate. [22] [23] This would be known as Shelton Square, [24] at that time the center of the city (which would be dramatically altered in the mid-20th century), [25] with the intersecting streets bearing the names of Dutch Holland Land Company members, [26] [i] today Erie, Church and Niagara streets. [22] Lafayette Square also lies one block to the north, which was then bounded by streets bearing Iroquois names. [17]

In 1804, Buffalo's population was estimated at 400, similar to Batavia, but Erie County's growth was behind Chautauqua, Genesee and Wyoming counties. [27] Neighboring village Black Rock to the northwest (today a Buffalo neighborhood) was also an important center. [22] Horatio J. Spafford noted in A Gazetteer of the State of New York that in fact, despite the growth the village of Buffalo had, Black Rock "is deemed a better trading site for a great trading town than that of Buffalo," especially when considering the regional profile of mundane roads extending eastward. [27] Before the east-to-west turnpike [ further explanation needed ] was completed, travelling from Albany to Buffalo would take a week, [28] while even a trip from nearby Williamsville to Batavia could take upwards of three days. [29] [j]

According to an early resident, the village had sixteen residences, a schoolhouse and two stores in 1806, primarily near Main, Swan and Seneca streets. [30] There were also blacksmith shops, a tavern and a drugstore. [31] The streets were small at 40 feet wide, and the village was still surrounded by woods. [32] The first lot sold by the Holland Land Company was on September 11, 1806, to Zerah Phelps. [33] By 1808, lots would sell from $25 to $50. [34]

Although slavery was rare in the state, limited instances of slavery had taken place in Buffalo during the early part of the 19th century. General Peter Buell Porter is said to have had five slaves during his time in Black Rock, and several news ads also advertised slaves for sale. [35]

In 1808, Niagara County was established with Buffalo as its county seat. In 1810, the Town of Buffalo was formed from the western part of the Town of Clarence. Also in 1810, a courthouse was built. By 1811, the population was 500, with many people farming or doing manual labor. [36] The first newspaper to be published was the Buffalo Gazette in October that same year. [34]

On December 30, 1813, during the War of 1812, British troops and their Native American allies first captured the village of Black Rock, and then the rest of Buffalo. On December 31, 1813, most of Buffalo and the village of Black Rock were burned by the British after the Battle of Buffalo. [37] [38] The battle and subsequent fire was in response to the unprovoked destruction of Niagara-on-the-Lake, then known as "Newark," by American forces. [39] [40] On August 4, 1814, British forces under Lt. Colonel John Tucker and Lt. Colonel William Drummond, General Gordon Drummond's nephew, attempted to raid Black Rock and Buffalo as part of a diversion to force an early surrender at Fort Erie the next day, but were defeated by a small force of American riflemen under Major Lodwick Morgan at the Battle of Conjocta Creek, and withdrew back into Canada. Consequently, Fort Erie's siege under Gordon Drummond later failed, and British forces withdrew. Though only three buildings remained in the village, rebuilding was swift, finishing in 1815. [41] [42]

Buffalo gradually rebuilt itself and by 1816 had a new courthouse. In 1818, the eastern part of the town was lost to form the Town of Amherst. Erie County was formed out of Niagara County in 1821, retaining Buffalo as the county seat.

Erie Canal, 1825–1850 Edit

On October 26, 1825, [43] the Erie Canal was completed, formed from part of Buffalo Creek, [44] with Buffalo a port-of-call for settlers heading westward. [45] Buffalo became the western end of the 524-mile waterway starting at New York City. At the time, the population was about 2,400. [46] By 1826, the 130 sq. mile Buffalo Creek Reservation at the western border of the village was transferred to Buffalo. [47] The Erie Canal brought a surge in population and commerce, which led Buffalo to incorporate as a city in 1832. [48] [49] The population in 1840 was 18,213. [50] The canal area was mature by 1847, with passenger and cargo ship activity leading to congestion in the harbor. [51]

On 1 June 1843, the world's first steam-powered grain elevator was put into service by a local merchant, Joseph Dart, Jr., and an engineer, Robert Dunbar. The "Dart Elevator" would remain standing until 1862, when it burned down. During the 1840s and 1850s, more than a dozen grain elevators were built in Buffalo's harbor, most of them designed by Dunbar. [52]

As the anti-slavery movement grew in the U.S., Buffalo also emerged as a gathering place for abolitionists. In 1843, the city served as the site of the Liberty Party [53] convention and the National Convention of Colored Citizens. [54]

The mid-1800s saw a population boom, with the city doubling in size from 1845 to 1855. [55] In 1855, almost two-thirds of the city's population were foreign-born immigrants, largely a mix of unskilled or educated Irish and German Catholics, who began self-segregating in different parts of the city. The Irish immigrants planted their roots along the railroad-heavy Buffalo River and Erie Canal to the southeast, to which there is still a heavy presence today German immigrants found their way to the East Side, living a more laid-back, residential life. [56] Some immigrants were apprehensive about the change of environment and left the city for the western region, while others tried to stay behind in the hopes of expanding their native cultures. [57]

Fugitive black slaves began to make their way northward to Buffalo in the 1840s, and many of them settled on the city's East Side. [58] Buffalo was a terminus of the Underground Railroad, an informal series of safe houses for African-Americans escaping slavery in the mid-19th century. Buffalonians helped many fugitives cross the Niagara River to Fort Erie, Ontario, Canada and freedom.

In 1845, construction began on the Macedonia Baptist Church, a meeting spot in the Michigan and William Street neighborhood where blacks first settled. [59] Political activity surrounding the anti-slavery movement took place in Buffalo during this time, including conventions held by the National Convention of Colored Citizens and the Liberty Party and its offshoots. [60] Buffalo was a terminus point of the Underground Railroad with many fugitive slaves crossing the Niagara River to Fort Erie, Ontario in search of freedom. [61]

During the 1840s, Buffalo's port continued to develop. Both passenger and commercial traffic expanded with some 93,000 passengers heading west from the port of Buffalo. [62] [ better source needed ] Grain and commercial goods shipments led to repeated expansion of the harbor. [ citation needed ] In 1843, the world's first steam-powered grain elevator was constructed by local merchant Joseph Dart and engineer Robert Dunbar. [63] "Dart's Elevator" enabled faster unloading of lake freighters along with the transshipment of grain in bulk from barges, canal boats, and rail cars. [64]

Millard Fillmore, who had taken up permanent residence in Buffalo in 1822 and represented the area in Congress on and off from 1832–42, became the first chancellor of the University of Buffalo upon its founding in 1846, now known as SUNY University at Buffalo. Fillmore would be elected Vice President in the election of 1848 and would eventually become the 13th President of the United States upon the death of Zachary Taylor in 1850.

Railroads and industry, 1850–1900 Edit

By 1850, the city's population was 81,000. [49] In 1853, Buffalo annexed Black Rock, which had been Buffalo's fierce rival for the canal terminus. During the 19th century, thousands of pioneers going to the western United States debarked from canal boats to continue their journey out of Buffalo by lake or rail transport. During their stopover, many experienced the pleasures and dangers of Buffalo's notorious Canal district. The Erie Canal's peak year was 1855, when 33,000 commercial shipments took place.

In 1860, many railway companies and lines crossed through and terminated in Buffalo. Major ones were the Buffalo, Bradford and Pittsburgh Railroad (1859), Buffalo and Erie Railroad and the New York Central Railroad (1853). [65] During this time, Buffalonians controlled a quarter of all shipping traffic on Lake Erie, and shipbuilding was a thriving industry for the city. [66] Later, the Lehigh Valley Railroad would have its line terminate at Buffalo in 1867.

Buffalo was part of and the seat of Niagara County until the legislature passed an act separating the two on April 2, 1861. [67]

Grover Cleveland lived in Buffalo from 1854 until 1882, and served as Buffalo's mayor from 1882 until 1883 before eventually becoming the 22nd and 24th President of the United States, winning the popular vote in 1884, 1888, and 1892.

City of Light, 1900–1957 Edit

Around the start of the 20th century, Buffalo was a growing city with a burgeoning economy. Immigrants came from Ireland, Italy, Germany, and Poland to work in the steel and grain mills which had taken advantage of the city's critical location at the junction of the Great Lakes and the Erie Canal. Hydroelectric power harnessed from nearby Niagara Falls made Buffalo the first American city to have widespread electric lighting yielding it the nickname, the "City of Light". Electricity was used to dramatic effect at the Pan-American Exposition in 1901.

The Pan-American was also notable for being the scene of the assassination of United States President William McKinley. He was shot by Leon Czolgosz on September 6, 1901 at the Exposition, and died in Buffalo on the 14th. Theodore Roosevelt was then sworn in on September 14, 1901 at the Ansley Wilcox Mansion, now the Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural National Historic Site, becoming one of the few presidents to be sworn in outside of Washington, D.C.

In 1918, the upgrade of the Erie Canal into the New York State Barge Canal meant that the canal now ended where Tonawanda Creek met the Niagara River. The advent of powered tugboats meant that barges could more easily move upstream in the upper portion of the river. As a result, the final section of the old canal, which had run alongside the river from Tonawanda to Buffalo – and which had been so critical to the city's growth nearly a century earlier – became obsolete and was gradually filled in over time. [68]

The opening of the Peace Bridge linking Buffalo with Fort Erie, Ontario on August 7, 1927 was an occasion for significant celebrations. When it opened, Buffalo and Fort Erie each became the chief port of entry to their respective countries from the other. The bridge remains one of North America's important commercial ports with four thousand trucks crossing it daily.

The Great Depression of 1929-39 saw severe unemployment, especially among working-class men. The New Deal relief programs operated full force. The city became a stronghold of labor unions and the Democratic Party. [69] Buffalo's City Hall, an Art Deco masterpiece, was dedicated on July 1, 1932.

During World War II, Buffalo saw the return of prosperity and full employment due to its position as a manufacturing center. [70] [71] As one of the most populous cities of the 1950s, Buffalo's economy revolved almost entirely on its manufacturing base. Major companies such as Republic Steel and Lackawanna Steel employed tens of thousands of Buffalonians. Integrated national shipping routes would use the Soo Locks near Lake Superior and a vast network of railroads and yards that crossed the city.

Suburbanization and decline, 1957–2010 Edit

The city's population gradually began to decline in the decades after World War II. A key cause was suburban migration, which was a major national trend at the time. Race riots rocked the city in 1967., [72] and while the city's population declined in the 1960 census for the first time in its history, Erie County as a whole continued growing through the 1970 census.

Another factor was the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway in 1957. Goods which had previously passed through Buffalo could now bypass it using a series of canals and locks, reaching the ocean via the St. Lawrence River. Lobbying by local businesses and interest groups against the St. Lawrence Seaway began in the 1920s, long before its construction. [73] Shipbuilding in Buffalo, such as the American Ship Building Company, shut down in 1962, ending an industry that had been a sector of the city's economy since 1812, and a direct result of reduced waterfront activity. [74] The city, which boasted over half a million people at its peak, saw its population decline by some 50% by 2010 as industries shut down and people left the Rust Belt for the employment opportunities of the South and West. Erie Country has lost population in every census year since 1970.

The post-war rise of the automobile also saw the city's landscape re-shaped. The Buffalo Skyway opened in 1953 and the first portion of the Niagara Thruway opened in 1959, using much of the route of the old Erie Canal alongside the river. Meanwhile, the region obtained a professional football franchise, the Buffalo Bills, that began play in 1960, and a professional hockey franchise, the Buffalo Sabres, that began play in 1970. A basketball franchise, the Buffalo Braves, called the city home from 1970–78, and the city opened a new baseball stadium in 1988 in an unsuccessful effort to attract a major-league baseball team.

On July 3, 2003, at the climax of a fiscal crisis, the Buffalo Fiscal Stability Authority was established [75] to oversee the finances of the city. As a "hard control board," they have frozen the wages of city employees and must approve or reject all major expenditures. After a period of severe financial stress, Erie County, where Buffalo resides, was assigned a Fiscal Stability Authority on July 12, 2005. As a "soft control board," however, they act only in an advisory capacity. [76] Both Authorities were established by New York State.

In November 2005, Byron Brown was elected Mayor of Buffalo. He is the first African-American to hold this office.

Signs of recovery, 2010–present Edit

As of 2020, there are significant signs that Buffalo's decline may have bottomed out over the past decade, and there are increasing signs of growth in the city and region.

The area was not as significantly affected by the Great Recession from 2007-2009 as much of the nation, in part because the city never experienced the major housing bubble that other cities did. The Canalside neighborhood started developing in 2010, with an uptick in construction projects including the LECOM Harborcenter. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced the Buffalo Billion initiative in 2012 to help change the "psychology" in the region, and Tesla now operates the Giga New York factory that was completed in 2016-17. The Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus has become a significant employer in the city.

The city has also apparently had more success in recent years in retaining or attracting younger residents, with the low cost of living being seen as a factor. As of 2018, population estimates suggest that the city's population decline, although still down slightly from 2010, may be leveling off. [ citation needed ] A survey of Western New York residents in December 2018 found that a remarkable 87 percent of residents believed the area was generally headed in the right direction. [77]

The Brief Life of the Patterson-Greenfield Car

Advertisement for the Patterson-Greenfield Automobile in The Greenfield Republican's 1902 Holiday Edition

Courtesy of the Historical Society of Greenfield

The first Patterson-Greenfield rolled off the line on September 23, 1915, with many hallmarks of a luxury vehicle. Made in two models&mdashRoadster and Touring Car, each with a 30-horsepower, four-cylinder engine&mdashthe custom-made vehicle boasted special features such as a full floating rear axle, demountable rims and an electric starting and lighting system. &ldquoThe Patterson-Greenfield possesses every feature and convenience demanded by modern motoring,&rdquo said an advertisement. &ldquoIt is a wonderful car, appealing for handsome appearance and enduring qualities.&rdquo

But Frederick was careful to not advertise the company as Black-owned out of fear that it would not receive the patronage of white customers&mdasha common challenge for Black entrepreneurs during the era of Jim Crow segregation and discrimination. &ldquo[Frederick] is not in business as a Black man,&rdquo declared a 1911 column about him in Baltimore&rsquos Afro-American. &ldquoHe has never sold a Black man&rsquos buggy. It is doubtful if in his talks to professional men in the South he has ever referred to the fact that he is a Black man in order to make a sale.&rdquo That said, the company did much of its consumer-facing advertising in Black-owned publications such as The Crisis and Alexander's Magazine.

Slavery in Texas

African American life after Texas Independence was shaped by new and existing legal constraints, enslavement, and violence. Free blacks struggled with new laws banning them from residence in the state, while the majority of black Texans remained enslaved.

The Texas Constitution of 1836 gave more protection to slaveholders while further controlling the lives of enslaved people through new slave codes. The Texas Legislature passed increasingly restrictive laws governing the lives of free blacks, including a law banishing all free black people from the Republic of Texas.

Texas's enslaved population grew rapidly: while there were 30,000 enslaved people in Texas in 1845, the census lists 58,161 enslaved African Americans in 1850. The number had increased to 182,566 by 1860.

Most enslaved people in Texas were brought by white families from the southern United States. Some enslaved people came through the domestic slave trade, which was centered in New Orleans. A smaller number of enslaved people were brought via the international slave trade, though this had been illegal since 1806.

Most enslaved African Americans in Texas were forced into unskilled labor as field hands in the production of cotton, corn, and sugar, though some lived and worked on large plantations or in urban areas where they engaged in more skilled forms of labor as cooks, blacksmiths, and carpenters. While there were no large-scale slave insurrections in Texas, enslaved people resisted in a variety of ways, the most common being running away. Enslaved people made personal connections, and established family relationships wherever possible despite the odds, which was made more difficult by the changing nature of Texas and its white population.

De slaves was about de same things as mules or cattle, dey was bought and sold and dey wasn't supposed ter be treated lak people anyway. We all knew dat we was only a race of people as our master was and dat we had a certain amount of rights but we was jest property and had ter be loyal ter our masers. It hurt us sometimes ter be treated de way some of us was treated but we couldn't help ourselves and had ter do de best we could which nearly all of us done.

&ndashMollie Dawson, enslaved in Navarro County, Texas

Automotive industry in the United States

The automotive industry in the United States began in the 1890s and, as a result of the size of the domestic market and the use of mass production, rapidly evolved into the largest in the world. The United States was the first country in the world to have a mass market for vehicle production and sales and is a pioneer of the automotive industry [1] and mass market production process. [2] [3] During the course of the 20th century global competitors emerged especially in the second half of the century primarily across European and Asian markets, such as Germany, France, Italy, Japan and South Korea. The U.S.A is currently second among the largest manufacturer(s) in the world by volume.

American manufacturers produce approximately 10 million units annually. [4] Notable exceptions were 5.7 million automobiles manufactured in 2009 (due to crisis), and more recently 8.8 million units in 2020 due to the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic that originated in Wuhan, China. [4] [5] While production peaked during the 1970s and early 2000s at levels of 13–15 million units. [6] [7] [8]

Starting with Duryea in 1895, at least 1900 different companies were formed, producing over 3,000 makes of American automobiles. [9] World War I (1917–1918) and the Great Depression in the United States (1929–1939) combined to drastically reduce the number of both major and minor producers. During World War II, all the auto companies switched to making military equipment and weapons. However, by the end of the next decade the remaining smaller producers disappeared or merged into amalgamated corporations. The industry was dominated by three large companies: General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler, all based in Metro Detroit. Those " Big Three" continued to prosper, and the U.S. produced three quarters of all automobiles in the world by 1950 (8.0 million out of 10.6 million). Imports from abroad were a minor factor before the 1960s. [7] [8]

Beginning in the 1970s, a combination of high oil prices and increased competition from foreign auto manufacturers severely affected the companies. In the ensuing years, the companies periodically bounced back, but by 2008 the industry was in turmoil due to the aforementioned crisis. As a result, General Motors and Chrysler filed for bankruptcy reorganization and were bailed out with loans and investments from the federal government. But according to Autodata Corp, June 2014 seasonally adjusted annualized sales is the biggest in history with 16.98 million vehicles and toppled previous record in July 2006. [10]

Prior to the 1980s, most manufacturing facilities were owned by the Big Three (GM, Ford, Chrysler) and AMC. Their U.S. market share has dropped steadily as numerous foreign-owned car companies have built factories in the U.S. Toyota had 31,000 direct employees in the U.S. in 2012, meaning a total payroll of about $2.1 billion, compared to Ford's 80,000 U.S. employees supplying their 3,300 dealerships and Chrysler's 71,100 U.S. employees supplying their 2,328 dealerships. [11]

The first Black-owned car company was C. R. Patterson and Sons

C. R. Patterson and Sons may not be a familiar name to many, but this small automobile manufacturer is the first and only African American-owned car company. Charles Richard Patterson was born enslaved on a Virginia plantation in 1833. Twenty eight years later, in 1861, Charles escaped the plantation and traveled to Greenfield, Ohio, to begin a new life. In 1873, he partnered with carriage manufacturer J.P. Lowe and began the successful business of manufacturing horse carriages. Charles then bought out Lowe’s shares of the business and re-established the company as C. R. Patterson and Sons in 1893, with his oldest son, Frederick, taking on more of an ownership role.

In 1910, Charles Richard Patterson died and left the business to Frederick, who quickly began converting the company into an automobile manufacturer. The hard work of shifting the scope of the business culminated in the introduction of the Patterson-Greenfield automobile in 1915. It was sold for $685 and featured a four-cylinder Continental engine that competed with Ford’s Model T.

Unfortunately, like many smaller automobile manufacturers of this time, C. R. Patterson and Sons could neither match the speed of Ford's manufacturing nor its economies of scale. This led to another strategy change for C.R. Patterson and Sons, which started creating trucks and buses using Ford and General Motors chassis for the next several years. In 1939 after the Great Depression, C. R. Patterson and Sons was forced to close its doors for the last time.

Although the story of C. R. Patterson and Sons is not widely known, it was a multi-generational success story, securing Charles’ and Frederick’s place in the automotive history books. Unfortunately, the Smithsonian reports, there aren’t any known Patterson-Greenfield automobiles that have survived to 2020, as it was estimated that only around 150 were ever built, but the Greenfield Historical Society does have a C. R. Patterson buggy which looks to be kept in great condition. You can learn more about the business and these inspiring individuals by checking out the National Museum of African American History and Culture and The Smithsonian or by checking out the book "The C. R. Patterson and Sons Company: Black Pioneers in the Vehicle Building Industry, 1865-1939".