Just Stepped Out, Robert Patton of Burke County

The Hutchinson Homestead at Stone Mountain State Park is an example of the type of farm Patton may have lived on. Image from N.C. State Parks.On October 2, 1866, 17-year-old Robert Logan Patton filled a pillow case with bread, sweet potatoes and his belongings and ran away from his Burke County home.

Patton’s mother encouraged her young son to attend winter school sessions where he learned vocabulary, mathematics, and geography, sparking in Patton a deep appreciation for education. Following a short stint in the state’s home guard in the spring of 1865, he day dreamed of attending Wake Forest College. His father, however, expected him to remain home and help run the farm and support the family.

Robert Patton When his father woke him two hours before sunrise to bring in wood for the fires on that October day in 1866, Patton simply threw his bag over his shoulder and slipped away into the darkness with only five cents to his name. Over the course of the next ten years, Patton received a teaching certificate, attended Phillips Exeter Academy and graduated from Amherst College.

The college graduate then returned to Burke County, gathered the fire wood for which he had been sent so many years earlier and brought it into the house. Patton stayed in Burke and dedicated his entire life to teaching.

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