As a boy, Mike Patterson would ask his mother, Doris, to take him to the Fort Worth library so he could study genealogy.
“She would take me at 9 a.m. and pick me up at 6 p.m. when it closed,” said Patterson, 63.
Through the years, Patterson, who grew up to become a teacher in the Birdville school district for 18 years, delved into his heritage that included the discovery that his great-great-grandparents arrived on the Grape Vine Prairie in 1868.
His studies included pursuing a passion of marking the graves of Confederate soldiers. He went to work in the monument business to learn to engrave and install granite monuments so he could put his hands as well as his heart into his work.
While he is passionate about the graves of soldiers, he also has worked to honor the women of the Civil War era.
In honor of Mother’s Day, Patterson, an officer with the Col. E. W. Taylor Camp #1777 of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, and others recently held a ceremony in the Grapevine Cemetery honoring 20 pioneer women who had sons, sons-in-law or grandsons who served in either army during the Civil War.
Grapevine Mayor William D. Tate, who has parents, grandparents and siblings buried in Grapevine Cemetery, paid tribute to the women “buried in our community who endured the hardships of the Civil War.”
He paid homage to their courage, determination, sacrifice and suffering, as well as their ability to adapt to a changing situation, learn new skills and assume new responsibilities.
“We honor all of the women of that terrible war,” the mayor said. “Those who had to take over and run family businesses and family farms. Those who had to milk the cows, plow the fields and reap the harvest. Those who had to become nurses and administer to wounded soldiers. Those who had to knit the socks, sweaters and coats and weave the blankets for the troops. All of those who assumed these new roles while at the same time raising kids, educating them and seeing that they were clothed and fed.”
Flags mark graves
Their graves were marked with appropriate flags showing the number of family members they had in the conflict and their allegiances. At the conclusion of the ceremony, which included members of the Bedford-based Taylor Camp and Grapevine Historical Society, muskets were fired to honor the women at the cemetery at North Dooley Street and Wildwood Lane.
Patterson said his research has shown that every other pioneer cemetery in Northeast Tarrant County, except one, contains the grave of at least one Confederate soldier, and many of them have dozens. Hurst’s Arwine Cemetery has several Civil War veterans, but every single one of them was a Union soldier.
“Researchers have confirmed that 53 men buried in Grapevine Cemetery were Confederate soldiers,” Patterson said. “…Ten Union veterans who came to this community after the war are also buried in Grapevine Cemetery.”
Patterson said Sons of Confederate Veterans members discovered during research for the project that “three of the ladies were lying in unmarked graves.”
“With the cooperation of family members, those ladies received new granite headstones in short order,” Patterson said.
He said the 20 women honored will be further highlighted soon in a detailed brochure that will be produced with photographs of the women and their soldier sons, headstones, documents and other information. It will be made available online.
Patterson said his efforts at Grapevine Cemetery are one way of paying homage to his family’s longtime tenure in the area. Kin have been living in what is now Colleyville for eight generations, the last seven of them where he lives now on Glade Road.
He attended the old Pleasant Run School in Colleyville and graduated from Grapevine High School in 1970. He drove a truck and forklift for several years before becoming a teacher in the Birdville school district for nearly two decades.
“I taught Texas history mostly,” Patterson said.
Patterson marked his first Confederate grave in 1964 with a stone he got from the Veterans Administration. He was too young to drive, so his grandfather loaded the stone and Patterson into his pickup and they installed it in Bear Creek Cemetery in Euless.
Patterson’s great-great grandfather was Cpl. Harvey R. Sparger (1833-1914) of Company K, 12th Georgia Cavalry, a Confederate veteran who came to this community in the fall of 1879. His home farm is now occupied by the Tara Plantation development in Colleyville. Patterson’s home is about a mile away.
He is the “Sparger” of the busy Cheek Sparger Road on the Bedford-Colleyville border.
“One of my great-grandmothers lived with us until she died in 1965,” Patterson said. “Her father, Harvey Sparger, was a Confederate soldier, and we talked about him nearly every day.
“Many of the people who came to visit in our home were children or grandchildren of Civil War soldiers, too. They were interesting old folks, and that’s where I got my love of genealogy and history.”
Marty Sabota, 817-390-7367
Women honored at Grapevine Cemetery
Mary Taylor Levisee 1791-1867
Eleanor Haynes Lowrance 1792-1869
Mary Burch Wallas 1792-1872
Mary Kimbro Coble Williams 1805-1888
Nancy Moselle Stanley Dunn 1806-1878
Ann Marie Geiger Burgoon 1809-1888
Elizabeth Coleman Corbin 1811-1887
Angeline Levisee Starr 1812-1903
Millicent Harris Scrivener Lipscomb 1817-1904
Rebecca W. Davidson Proctor 1817-1900
Annie Elizabeth St. John Simson 1817-1909
Lucinda Wallas Saunders 1819-1883
Sally Shannon Morehead 1822-1905
Frances Staples Estill 1824-1908
Minerva Green Pearson 1825-1909
Sarah Mathis Morrow 1826-1908
Elizabeth Virginia Mouser Nash 1828-1925
Charlotte Ellender Dunn Jenkins 1828-1872
Sally Trimble Foster 1832-1909
Susan L. Baker Hudgins 1838-1895.