June 15: Thomas C. Patterson, M.D.
What happened in Lisbon, North Dakota, on June 14 in 1944, was almost like the script of a Hollywood movie. The townspeople celebrated what they called “Dr. Patterson Day.”
Lisbon sponsored the large celebration in Sandager Park in honor of Thomas C. Patterson, M.D., one of Lisbon’s “most prominent citizens.” The town held a picnic, a parade, and a dance to honor Dr. Patterson for his multitudinous contributions to the health and goodwill of the town and the neighboring countryside.
Highlighting the day was a baby parade that started in the Park, skirted along the beautiful, winding Sheyenne River, and then wended its way to Main Street. This baby parade was made up of the babies that Dr. Patterson had delivered over nearly 50 years. The oldest were in their forties, with the youngest being Vern Watts, only five-days-old.
This “very large parade” consisted of local “merchants, farmers, housewives, school teachers, teenagers, toddlers, and infants.” Some were in baby-carriages, some walked, and some were in old-fashioned horse-drawn-buggies. The high-school band led the way, much to the delight of 80-year-old Dr. Patterson and his wife, Lucy.
It was a glorious time, filled with reminiscences of how Dr. Patterson made middle-of-the-night house calls, even in his eighties, and thought nothing of “driving out into the country at 3 a.m., in below-zero weather, to bring a new baby into the world.”
It was on this date that townspeople of Lisbon reflected upon the previous-day’s parade, the day when local folks and those from out-of-town came to honor Dr. Patterson. Two of Patterson’s cousins from Minnesota provided details about the parade to the Minneapolis Tribune.
T.C. Patterson, born in Canada in 1864, came to N.D. in 1897, and later worked in Lisbon’s first hospital at the corner of Sixth and Main.
Dr. Patterson served as regimental surgeon of the N.D. National Guard, beginning in 1902, and later became “Commandant at the North Dakota Soldier’s Home in Lisbon” from 1946 until his death in 1948, at age 84.
Yet T.C. Patterson, M.D., was remembered most for his willingness to treat any illness, whether or not the patient could pay, and, of course, for the 50-years-worth of babies celebrated in the 1944 Lisbon “baby parade.”
Dakota Datebook written by Dr. Steve Hoffbeck, Retired MSUM History Professor
- “Laugh,” Minneapolis Tribune, June 17, 1944, p. 5.
- “Minneapolis Had a Distinguished Visitor This Week-End,” Minneapolis Tribune, December 23, 1945, p. 13.
- “Lisbon Health Care,” in Lisbon, North Dakota, 1880-2005: Quasuicenntennial (Lisbon: Lisbon History Book Committee, 2005), p. 24.
- Lisbon, 1880-1980: The History of Lisbon, A One-Hundred-Year-Old City Located in the Beautiful Sheyenne River Valley of Southeastern N.D. (Lisbon: Lisbon Centennial Committee, 1980), p. 52.
- “Commandant of N.D. Soldier’s Home Dies,” Bismarck Tribune, February 23, 1948, p. 12; “Home Commandant Dies,” Minneapolis Star, February 23, 1948, p. 17.