Corvine Patterson was an early leader in the African American community. He was a political elder statesman and a pioneering businessman as well. He was born in 1848 in Howard County, Missouri, and arrived in Wyandotte at the age of 20 after serving in the Union Army during the Civil War. For several years, he worked as a laborer for the railroad and from the time of his arrival took an active interest in his church and community. He lived in the 500 block of Nebraska, a few doors down from the First Baptist Church where he was originally a member (he later became one of the founders of the Metropolitan Baptist Church).

Sometime in the early 1870s, he opened a grocery store and succeeded as a businessman. His most striking successes, however, were in politics. In 1872, he was elected to a position on the Board of Education, and was subsequently re-elected to serve a second term. He was appointed street commissioner in 1889, and held the post of city marshal and deputy sheriff. He reportedly gave up his grocery business not long after the Exodus in order to devote full attention to politics, although he retained ownership in several valuable parcels of land between 5th and 6th on State Avenue and Nebraska. Late in the 19th century, he established a cesspool and vault cleaning service, which he operated with his son-in-law, Ernst Gayden Sr.

The son of slaves and largely self-educated, Corvine Patterson became a successful and influential individual within the city even before the Exodus occurred. He was one of the main figures in organizing efforts to assist the Exodusters, and he later took a leading role in preventing the demise of Freedman’s University. In view of the fact that African Americans represented no more than a quarter of the electorate at any time during his career, his political achievements were truly remarkable.

–From The Afro-American Community in Kansas City, Kansas, by Susan Greenbaum