More than 225 men from Lenox participated in the Revolutionary War and those they left at home sacrificed as well. So there was no shortage of heroes from Lenox. However several stand out — particularly Major General John Paterson.
John Paterson was born in 1744 in New Britain, CT (then called Farmington) of another John Paterson who died of yellow fever while fighting for England in the Carribean. His ancestors are said to have fled from Scotland to escape the tyranny of James II.
Son John graduated at age 18 from Yale in 1762 – the same year his father died in Havana. He came home to settle his father’s estate, look after his mother and sisters and study law. He became a justice of the peace shortly after he started practicing law and supplemented his income by teaching school. He married Elizabeth Lee, also of Farmington, in 1766.
It is not clear why John Paterson moved his family (including his father in law) to Lenox in 1774 but here’s what his biographer and grandson has to say (page 7 The Life of John Paterson):
“It may have been that among the people living there was a General Joseph Paterson, whose name appears on the town records of Lenox as early as January, 1765, or it may have been his desire to be on the frontier. He became at once identified with the interests of that town, and his abilities as a leader of men were soon recognized. Almost as soon as he arrived he was chosen Clerk of the Propriety.”
This would be the first of a lifetime of civic responsibilities assumed by John Paterson in Lenox and in his future home in New York. In July 1774 he represented Lenox at the Berkshire convention to discuss the non-importation agreement and to the state government meeting in Salem under the auspices of the Committees of Correspondence — and in protest of the royal government.
By April 20th, 1775, news of the Battles of Lexington and Concord had come to Lenox via express couriers who had ridden all night. Paterson and the recruits he had assembled from Lenox and the rest of the county were ready — by the next morning they were armed, equipped and on their way to Boston. They may have been responding to an earlier alarm – but they had certainly been prepared to carry out their role as Minute Men led by John Patterson.