Colonel Abraham Morhouse was an adventurer and land speculator. His travels led him to the Baron de Bastrop. The Baron was eager to sell his land in Louisiana and Morhouse was eager to buy. The problem was he didn’t make sure it was legal with the Spanish authorities. A compromise was reached after years of litigation, and Morhouse became the proud owner of several thousand acres of land in Northeast Louisiana. Morhouse settled down on his land and married a wealthy young woman named Eleanor Hook in 1799. They would go on to have five children together. Morhouse died in Selsertown, MS on October 16, 1813.
Eleanor began proceedings to settle her husband’s estate. From out of nowhere came a man named Andrew Young Morhouse claiming to be Abraham’s son from a previous marriage! This caused uproar in the local citizens. It later came to light that Abraham had left behind in New York a wife named Sophie and two sons: George and Andrew. Andrew had received word of his father’s death and came to settle the estate. The locals resented his presence. He made very few friends in Louisiana.
The afternoon of October 14, 1815, several local men, including Andrew, were drinking whiskey at Dr. Barlow’s home. Within a few hours they were all very drunk. A slave girl of one of the men came to tell her master, Conrad Linderman, that a local man named Thomas Patten needed to see him about some legal matters. As Linderman rose to go, Andrew loudly proclaimed that Patten should have come to Linderman. He then stumbled out the door to confront Patten. Linderman went on his way. Linderman met Patten at his store to discuss the legal matter. Needing some materials from his own office, Linderman left the store only to run into Andrew. In his hand he carried a whip. He was going to use it on Patten. Linderman warned him not to fight near his home and sent him on his way. A little while later Linderman returned to Patten’s store, only to find Andrew whipping Patten and yelling at his slave to get a rope to hang him with! Patten managed to escape. He was angry and wanted revenge.
Andrew owed a local man named Thomas Lewis a debt. Patten convinced him to file a court paper demanding the debt be paid. After Patten left, Andrew showed up on Lewis’ doorstep threatening to whip and kick Patten. Lewis admonished him to stop the nonsense, but it only made him angrier. While this confrontation was happening, Patten was at the home of Dr. Barlow to draw up Lewis’ court papers for him. The two men began to walk back to Patten’s store.
While walking along the road, Dr. Barlow told Patten just to ignore Andrew. He was drunk and wasn’t responsible for his actions. That didn’t stop Patten from strapping a gun to his hip. As the two men were walking back from Patten’s store, they spotted Morhouse on the side of the road leaning against a fence post sick. The two men were spotted by Andrew and he mounted his horse to gallop towards them. Again Barlow told Patten to ignore him. He spotted some friends ahead and thinking Patten was right behind him, walked over to talk to them. When Barlow reached his friends, a woman in the group screamed that two men were trying to gouge each other’s eyes out. It was Patten and Andrew. Patten managed to draw his knife. Before the two men could be separated, Patten had stabbed Morhouse five times. Within minutes, Andrew Young Morhouse was dead.
Patten was placed on trial in December for the murder of Andrew Young Morhouse. The jury reached the verdict of “not guilty” by reason of self-defense. It is not hard to imagine that most residents who knew Andrew shed few tears over his grave!
Patten lived a little over four more years before dying in 1820 at the age of fifty-one. His estate sale brought in almost two thousand dollars. Some of the items sold were six and a half gallons of whiskey, guns, silk, and books such as “Ovid’s Art of Love” (bought by Grammont Filhiol for thirty cents) and “Treaties Upon Distilling” which sold for the princely sum of two dollars. Patten’s descendents are spread all over North Louisiana. Their patriarch’s mortal remains lie buried in Monroe’s Old City Cemetery marked with a faded tombstone which reads: “Mr. Thomas Patten, a Native of Watertown, Mass., Who departed this life, Feb’y 20th, 1820, age 51 yrs.”