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Representative Nat Patton

Born on a farm near Tadmor, Texas, on February 26, 1881, Nat Patton was the third child of Francis Marion and Elizabeth Patton, who had a total of eighteen children. His father, Francis, briefly moved the family to Brown County, Texas, in the mid-1880s, but in 1889 they returned to rural Houston County. There, young Nat attended local schools, including one at Cedar Point. His primary instructor was an Oxford graduate, Sir John Noble Herbert, who initially came to visit the United States, but ended up opening his own school in East Texas.

After studying with Herbert, Patton moved to Huntsville, Texas, and enrolled at Sam Houston Normal Institute. He then became an educator himself and taught on and off from 1899 to 1918 in Houston, Dickens, Fisher, and Trinity counties. Patton also continued to farm during this period, never giving up on his East Texas roots.

In 1907, Patton married Mattie Taylor and together they raised four children: Bessie Louise, Weldon Taylor, Nat Jr., and Bonnie Beatrice. The young family man was popular in his rural area and successfully ran for and served two terms, from 1913 to 1917, as a state representative in the Texas legislature. He also attended law school at the University of Texas during this period and was admitted to the Texas bar in 1918. That year, he began practicing law in Crockett County and also served as the Houston County Judge from 1918 until 1922. These efforts brought further recognition, and Patton won election to and served in the State senate from 1929 to 1934.

Following his time in the Texas legislature, Patton made a successful run in 1934 to serve as the representative of the Seventh Texas Congressional District in the U.S. Congress. Taking up residence in Washington D.C. in January 1935, he took the oath of office and began a 10-year period of service. As a congressman, Patton became known, in Lady Bird Johnson’s words, as “a professional East Texan.” He dressed in a white suit and bow tie, referred to everyone -- even Mary Pickford and Queen Elizabeth -- as “cousin,” and generally addressed the rural farming issues of the day. Historian Robert Caro referred to Patton as an “ultra-conservative,” but the congressman was not afraid to support Franklin D. Roosevelt when he agreed with president. In fact, President Roosevelt appreciated Patton’s flair and good-nature, referring to the congressman as everyone else did, by calling him “Cousin Nat.”

In 1944, with a mixed legislative record that included aid to farmers, anti-strike legislation, resistance to poll-tax reform, and support for Social Security, Patton faced challenger Tom Pickett in the Democratic primary. Pickett made much of the fact that three of Patton’s family members had received jobs in Washington via the congressman, and defeated “Cousin Nat” to secure his party’s nomination. That November, Pickett won the Seventh District seat, and Patton went to work for the Veteran’s Administration before returning to his law practice in Crockett, Texas, where he lived until 1957. Nat Patton was buried in Evergreen Memorial Park Cemetery in Crockett.


Representative Nat Patton (D)
Representative Nat Patton (D) Source: Personal photo collection of James Patton, grandson of Nat Patton.
Home of Nat Patton - Crockett, Texas
Home of Nat Patton - Crockett, Texas Source: Personal photo collection of James Patton, grandson of Nat Patton.
Ratcliff School - School Teachers
Ratcliff School - School Teachers Nat Patton, in this picture of school teachers, is seated to the left. Ratcliff, is one of the several schools where he taught. He also taught in rural towns such as Spur, Rotan, and Volga, Texas. Source: Personal photo collection of James Patton, grandson of Nat Patton.
Nat and "Cactus Jack"
Nat and "Cactus Jack" Rep. Nat Patton (left) and John Nance Garner of Texas, the Vice President of the United States under Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Source: Personal photo collection of James Patton, grandson of Nat Patton.
Patton Explains
Patton Explains Rep. Nat Patton has an idea that he desires to impart to Rep. John J. O'Connor, chairman of the House Lobby hearing at its Thursday session. Patton has been "on the spot" at the hearings since testimony inferred that he had received something more or vastly different from cigars from a Utility lobbyist prior to the first "Death Sentence" holding company vote in the house, 8/1/35 Source: Library of Congress
Crocket, Texas
Crocket, Texas Nat Patton, on the left, with an unidentified man. Nat Patton was instrumental in getting a post office built in town of Crockett. Source: Personal photo collection of James Patton, grandson of Nat Patton.
Royal Couple Visits the United States
Royal Couple Visits the United States Rep. Nat Patton gained nationwide fame when he approached the visiting Queen of England and said, "Howdy Cousin Elizabeth, I'm glad to see you. You're much prettier than your picture in the newspapers, but not quite as pretty as the girls back in Texas." Cousin Nat also thanked King George, saying, "You know King George, your grandmother, Queen Victoria, was responsible for me being a member of Congress." Patton was referring to his boyhood instructor, Dr. John Noble Herbert, who received a scholarship to Oxford from Queen Victoria. Source: Personal photo collection of James Patton, grandson of Nat Patton.

Byrd, Sigman. "What Crockett's Cousin Nat Really Said to Her Majesty," Houston Chronicle, September 9, 1956.
Texas Representation in Washington
Texas Representation in Washington Rep. Nat Patton is pictured on the bottom right. Also pictured are Representatives Martin Dies, Wright Patman, Luther Alexander Johnson, as well as Senators Thomas Connnally and Morris Sheppard. Both Dies and Patton were on FDR's hit list of Congressman he hoped to purge for opposing some of his New Deal programs. Source: Personal photo collection of James Patton, grandson of Nat Patton.
An Early Version of Instant Messaging
An Early Version of Instant Messaging Martin Dies, a friend and former colleague of Rep. Nat Patton provided his condolences through this telegram when news came to him of the passing away of the Congressman. Source: Personal photo collection of James Patton, grandson of Nat Patton.
Patton Nearly Shot in Court Room
Patton Nearly Shot in Court Room In this newspaper clip, Ben Ellis, the nephew of the slain J.M. Ellis, sought justice himself by shooting the suspect - African-American man named Frank Brisby - in a crowded courtroom. It is interesting the tone of the writer, who stated that the shooter "Then calmly lit a cigarette, handed the pistol to the Sheriff and waited for the commotion to cease." The writer noted too that "The bullet that killed the Negro narrowly missed State Senator Nat Patton, defense attorney, and several other lawyers." Source: New York Times, April 24, 1934, pg. 18.



Scott Thormaehlen, “Representative Nat Patton,” East Texas History, accessed July 17, 2024,