George W. Patten, miller, postmaster, state representative, and businessman, was born in Patten’s Mill, Washington County, New York, on March 24, 1827. He was the youngest son of James W. and Narcissa (Colvin) Patten. Patten was raised in Washington County and as a youth assisted his father’s flour milling business. Upon reaching maturity he became an official partner in the family business, which had grown to include a freight shipping concern operating on the Hudson River. During the late 1850s, however, this business struggled to remain solvent in the face of competition from expanding railroad lines. George’s older brother Julius Patten traveled ahead to Texas to scout out a place for the family to settle. He chose 640 acres of land located on Hickory Creek approximately seventeen miles northwest of the new town of Waco.
About 1859 the family dismantled its mills and immigrated by ship to Texas; they arrived at Indianola. The family then hauled its milling equipment to northern McLennan County. They constructed a dam on the creek to make a pond and established their flour mill and gin. George’s father James and his brother Julius both died in 1861, and George and his brother Nathan took over the business. The Patten Ranch, located between Waco and the community of Aquilla and just inside the Hill county line, became known as Patten’s Mill. During the Civil War the mill continued to operate and played a significant role in the economy of the area—a fact that tempered local residents to some degree who suspected the Pattens as newly-arrived Yankees with Unionist sympathies. George Patten continued to work the mill while his brother Nathan worked as a freighter and hauled cotton to Mexico. In 1864 and 1865 George served as postmaster for McLennan and Hill counties, and after the Civil War, he also operated a general store at the mill.
During the Reconstruction period, George Patten was a leader in the Unionist faction of McLennan County, and his brother Nathan has been credited as an early organizer of the Republican Party in Texas. In 1870 George won election as representative, on the Republican ticket, for McLennan, Falls, and Limestone counties to the House of the Twelfth Texas Legislature. He served from January 20, 1871, to January 14, 1873, and his committees included Commerce and Manufactures, Internal Improvements, and Public Debt. As a result of his political inclinations, Patten was often in conflict with the members of his community. The Patten mills were burned on four occasions, and, following an accidental fire in 1884, George Patten gave up this business pursuit. In 1881 he entered into the ginning business in partnership with James McGee and eventually moved to Aquilla and co-owned and operated a gin there. He never married, and resided with his brother Nathan back on the Patten Ranch by 1892. George Patten died sometime after this date.