Phillip Van Patten, M.D.

Phillip Van Patten, M.D. So reads the sign that noisily swings to and fro on its rusty hinges, attracting the passersby on one of the principal streets of Forrest City. The busy little notice is given only a momentary thought by its many readers, but the reputation of him who it represents, an efficient and popular physician, will survive him many years.

Born in Schenectady County, NY, in 1827, Dr. Van Patten's boyhood days were passed in carving his name in wonderful designs on his desk and making pictures, much to the delight of his schoolmates, but aside from all his fun, he was a good scholar, and won the approbation and affection of his teachers. When only 13 years old he was deprived of his father's love and protection, death claiming him while on business in Michigan. Phillip then moved with his mother to Iowa, the mother afterward going to Denver, where she passed away in 1885, at the age of 86 years.

His literary education was received in Iowa, he taking a classical course, under the able instruction of Father Pelamargues, a Catholic priest, of Paris, France. His studies extended to a course in Latin, Greek and Hebrew, the former being so thoroughly instilled in his mind, that he read Caesar some four years ago without consulting his Lexicon but six times. He made it a rule to regularly demonstrate a certain number of mathematical problems every morning, and now devotes a half hour daily to the study of classics.

Entering the Medical University of Iowa when 21, he graduated with honors in 1853, and first announced himself competent to alleviate the sufferings to which flesh is heir, in DeWitt, Iowa, where he practiced for one year in association with Dr. Asa Morgan. During the year 1861 he chose for the partner of his joys and sorrows the daughter of Col. John Miller, of Batesville, Arkansas, father of the late Governor Miller. One child, Hattie L., born to Dr. and Mrs. Van Patten alone survives. She is now a student of art in Memphis.

During the war between the States, Dr. Van Patten was surgeon of the Thirteenth Arkansas Volunteer Infantry, Col. Tappen in command. He was afterward promoted to brigade-surgeon, and subsequently to the position of division-surgeon. For a short period he served as brigade-surgeon for Old Frank Cheatam, and was for two years in the Trans-Mississippi Department, under Gen. L. Polk, in Tennessee, Kentucky, Missouri and Mississippi, also being surgeon of Fort Pillow, in 1861. He was present at the battlefield of Shiloh, and made division-surgeon by Gen. Polk on the battlefield, in the presence of Albert Sidney Johnston and Beauregard. He was obliged to resign before the war closed, on account of nervous prostration.

In 1858 Dr. Van Patten was elected to the State Senate but was kept out of the office by fraud, perpetrated in the clerk's office in Poinsett County. In 1860 he was elected county representative from Poinsett County, and afterward State Senator of the Thirteenth District. He was also acting surgeon of the United States Army, of the Sixteenth United States Infantry, at Little Rock for a short time. Upon the close of hostilities he resumed his practice in his old county, and then went to Little Rock, where he acted as secretary of the Board of Health, and was also physician and surgeon for the State Penitentiary. In February of 1885 the doctor came to Forrest City and formed a partnership with Dr. J.B. Cummings. He has been United States pension agent and president of the Board of Health here for two years. In societies he is associated with the AF&A and the K&L of H.

A genial companion, the essential characteristics of Dr. Van Patten as a gentleman and scholar mark his demeanor and his numerous noble acts. Though perhaps a trifle philanthropic in his way, only serve to endear him in the hearts of his many friends and acquaintances. When on the battlefield, with men who were experienced and older in years, he was heard to remark to one of them that he felt more like a son to a father, than a superior officer to his subjects.

His father's (John P. Van Patten) immediate ancestors came direct from Holland and settled on Manhattan Island. [See information at the conclusion of this article.] The paternal grandfather and maternal grandfather were private soldiers under George Washington in the Revolutionary War. A grand uncle was a colonel, and took charge of the prisoners at the surrender of Burgoyne. Dr. Van Patten's children have inherited his own studious propensities, and have been endowed by nature with unusual capabilities. Eva Lillian graduated in higher mathematics at the age of 14 yers, under Prof. D.L. Thompson of Wittsburg, the course extending through Calculus. After thus having her reasoning powers developed far beyond the height attained by even some of the most brilliant women of our country, in order to give her the proficiency in language, literature and the fine arts, which she had already attained in mathematics, and understanding that a harmonious development of all the facultieis is requisite to attain perfect personal and intellectual culture, Dr. Van Patten wisely sent her to Notre Dame, Indiana, to the female school there, made famous the world over by the Sisters of Mercy. After having well improved opportunities afforded her she again returned to her home an even more devoted student than before. During her leisure hours she was found poring over the works of writings and criticizing contradictory statements appearing on different pages. In mathematics, literature, language, art and every other branch, her mind searched eagerly for knowledge, and she daily meditated on many of the great questions which have from remote ages vexed and perplexed the minds of our greatest thinkers. She was the constant companion of her father, and with him discussed all questions. Her greatness of heart was unlimited, and she had charity for the faults of all. Such women are priceless gems, but her physical constitution could not stand the draft on her intellect and paralysis of the brain caused her death. Such an affliction is certainly to be lamented by more than her family, and it is to be hoped her young soul, freed from its encumbrance of clay, can see, without effort, into all the mysteries she was continually investigating here. Hattie L., now the wife of Eugene Parrish of Paragould, was on the point of graduating from Notre Dame, when the breaking out of diphtheria caused her sudden return home, and prevented her receiving a diploma. Her paintings and her music show the touch of an artist. She paints from nature with absolute perfection, and her portrait gems, which have been examined by many, are pronounced worthy of an artist of national reputation. She is an excellent English scholar, and proficient in Latin, French and German. She was married November 2, 1889.

Dr. Van Patten's Roots

Added by the White County Historical Society in February, 2000:

Leon Van Patten, treasurer of the White County Historical Society, provided
information indicating that Dr. Van Patten's parents were John P. Van Patten (1786-1840) and Jane Bradford (1792-1885), who were married in 1810. John Van Patten's parents were Philip Van Patten (1743-1812) and Deborah Viele (1743-1816), daughter of Clara Bose and Cornelis Viele,who were married in 1764. Philip's parents were Fred Van Patten (1712-1741?) andElizabeth Groot (1715-?), daughter of Sarah Peek and Philip Groot, who were married in 1737. Fred Van Patten was the son of Nic. Van Patten and Reb. Groot and grandson of C.F. Van Patten and A.E. Bradt. Jane Bradford's parents were Rebecca Van Patten and John Bradford (1769-1848). Rebecca's parents were Jannette Vrooman and Simon Van Patten. Simon was the son of Rebecca Groot and Nich. Van Patten.

Thus, Jane Bradford and John P. Van Patten shared Rebecca and Nich. Van Patten as great great grandparents.

George Franklin Caperton

This is a report of my grandfather, George Franklin Caperton, and his family who lived in Bald Knob when raising his family. He is found on the 1920 Census. My dad, George, says that his dad, George, was a great man. He could do anything that he needed to do. He was the town veterinarian in Bald Knob and Russell. He delivered many calves with his arms tucked way down into the momma to pull them out. He restored many run down farms to productivity as he rented and worked them. Many times he was broken in spirit because the promise of owning the farms if he worked them well didn't come to fruition. But he would just move on and start over. He grew strawberries, potatoes, cotton, wheat throughout his farming career. He made swamps into productive land. He cleared treed and overgrown land. He loved to race horses and was quite a horse trader. My dad recalls that the train always brought fresh fruit thru town and they always bought a big huge bunch of bananas that they hung up above the table. A fresh banana was an arm reach away. To this day my dad always has a banana for breakfast. Dad said that the slow trains coming through town would pick up anything that was waiting along side the tracks to be delivered to another town like chickens, goats, produce. People would just leave it there unattended til the train came by and picked it up. No one would bother it or take it. They could also catch a ride to wherever they needed to go as long as they were undetected by the Bulls that guarded the train for hobo's. They often did that when there was out of town job opportunities.

1920 Census for Bald Knob Township

74-78 Caperton, George F, Farmer, m, w, 36, Tx

Mickie T, wife, f, w, 37, Ar

Elva L, daughter, f, w, 13, Ar

Ruby P, daughter, f, w, 11, Ar

Dorothy M, daughter, f, w, 9, Ar

Adolph J, son, m, w, 7, Ar

George F, son, m, w, 5, Ar

Dad tells a story of living out on Indian land somewhere. They were thinking about staying and maybe getting a share of the land. Micca, she was called Mickie, would be home while George was out working and suddenly feel like someone was watching her. Standing in the door would be an Indian or two. She was a little afraid. She watched and they would look around and see things they liked. They would walk over and pick it up and set it in front of her as if to say, can I have it? Micca would just pick that thing up and put it back where it came from. Then they would try it again and again. Finally they would leave. Micca wanted OUT. No Indian land for her. I never got to know my grandmother. I wish I could have. We lived too far and travel was not an option because of the expense and you needed a good car, etc. I don't know why we didn't write. So sad sometimes. Elva died as a young mother in childbirth. Dorothy was a school teacher in rural schools as a young girl. Graduated from college at age 50.
Uncle Buddy, Adolph, grew up in Bald Knob. Moved to California in 1936. Main occupation was a painter. He worked at Herlong, a military base in California. He lived in Arizona from about 1970 til 1999. He was an Elder in the Morman church there. George grew up in Bald Knob, Arkansas. As a young man, my Dad, George, and Uncle Buddy,Adolph, sang on the radio and for any occasion that they were invited and were billed as the Caperton Twins. People couldn't tell them apart. As a young man, dad sang at school events, church and community events sometimes at a moments notice. He had a wonderful voice and I always thought he sounded just like Bing Crosby. He played the guitar, mandolin, fiddle and piano beautifully and by ear. He said he learned to read and play music by shaped notes. On a music sheet, the notes had shapes that corresponded with the line and space it was on. I think it was a difficult way to learn, but it was good for him. As a young boy, he recalls working on the land his dad was farming. My personal favorite story is the one about plowing a field with a black man that worked for his dad. They were walking along with the plowhorse, furrowing up the ground. My dad looked at his companion's feet and noticed the soles were flapping and there were holes in the leather. He asked, "Why do you have holes in your shoes?" His friend answered that he liked them that way because the dirt could just fall out.
Dad and Uncle Buddy used to make money by pulling there wagon through the fields and picking up fieldstones, big flat rocks that covered the ground in Arkansas. They would get a load and drive into town and sell the rocks to people to build buildings. Many buildings still exist today near Bald Knob that are constructed of those beautiful fieldstones. As a young man dad was Sunday School superintendent and lead the singing at the Bald Knob Methodist Church. One Sunday he invited a Methodist minister to be guest speaker. The guest speaker brought the Bald Knob School superintendent and his wife,Mr. and Mrs. Jerome Johnson, along as guest. The singing was led as usual by George. At school the following day, for the usual morning assembly, the superintendent got up and said that he had found someone to lead the singing. It was George Caperton. He told the surprised young man that it was a job that he just hated and now he had the perfect replacement. So George did it happily. For the first song, George noticed no one singing but him, when he finished, he said, "so now you have heard me sing, let me hear you all now." George was in construction the main part of his life.

Hoping I might be able to get in touch with familys that still resides in the area. Extended family names that I know are Gordon, Wilcox,Felton, Staggs.

Marcia Caperton Behnke (KCBehnke@aol.com)