IAGenWeb Project

Audubon County


1915 Bios Index


Some of the largest personal successes on record have been to some degree a matter of accident; not that a successful business itself is built upon accident, but that accident may turn the course of a man's career from a vocation he either does not like or would not pursue with success, to one in which he would become very successful. Misfortune, as often happens, is the omen of better things to come. Theodore Patty, one of the best-known citizens of Audubon county, for some years was a mail carrier, and then, following a long period of illness, turned his attention to the insurance business, in which he has been extraordinarily successful, having had at the present time thirty years' experience in this line in this locality. In the beginning of his insurance career, he specialized in fire and tornado insurance and represents the best companies, not only in this country, but abroad. Among these are the Continental, of New York; the Queen, of New York; the Fidelity-Phenix, of New York; the Hanover, of New York; the Springfield Fire and Marine; the Connecticut, of Connecticut; the Fireman's Fund, of San Francisco; the German-American, of New York; the Farmers, of Cedar Rapids; the National, of Connecticut; the Iowa State, of Keokuk; the Security, of Davenport; the Hartford, of Connecticut, and the Firemen's, of Newark, New Jersey. In his career as an insurance man, Mr. Patty has paid out in excess of thirty thousand dollars in losses, and has thus contributed to the well-being of hundreds of his fellow citizens. He believes thoroughly in insurance, talks insurance and is capable of making his fellows believe as he does.

Theodore Patty was born on September 13, 1853, in Newton, Miami county, Ohio, the son of David and Mary (Coats) Patty, the former of whom was a native of Ohio and the latter of Knightstown, Indiana. But little is known of the early generations of the Patty family. It is known, however, that Theodore's maternal grandfather, George Coats, was born in North Carolina, on October 9, 1806, and that he died at Le Mars, Plymouth county, Iowa, on March 13, 1883. During his life he followed many vocations, having been a minister in the Christian church, a merchant and a farmer.


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David Patty followed farming most of his life and in 1855 the family came west from Ohio, locating at Irving, Benton county, Iowa, where they lived until 1869, when they moved to Carroll county, Iowa, driving through with five yoke of oxen. When they located in Carroll, it was a town of about two or three hundred population. David Patty purchased and sold live stock and conducted a meat market. During the two years that the family lived at Carroll, Theodore, then a mere lad, started the first dray line in the town, doing his hauling with a one-horse wagon.

Theodore Patty is the eldest of eight children, the others in the order of their birth being: Mary L., born on October 2, 1857, who is the wife of William S. Bush, and lives at Fairfax, South Dakota; Esmeralda, May 13, 1860, who married Horatio S. Wetherell and is now deceased; Charles M., June 15, 1862, who lives on the old home farm; William, June 6, 1864; Emma A., November 10, 1867, who died on February 23, 1890, taught school in Audubon county from the time she was sixteen years old; Edward E., October 31, 1875, died on September 21, 1878, and Ella E., September 1, 1878, who married Andrew P. Petersen and lives at Hamill, Tripp county. South Dakota.

In April, 1871, in company with several companions, Theodore Patty came to Audubon county, locating in Exira, and in September of the same year his father, on his way to Kansas, drove through Exira, and after reaching there gave up the idea of going farther west and purchased eighty acres of land in Greeley township, where he spent the rest of his life, with the exception of two years, 1873-1875, which the family spent in Benton county, Iowa.

When Theodore Patty first came to Audubon county, he worked as a farm hand, and about 1875, upon his return from Benton county, began carrying the mail from Atlantic, the nearest railroad point, to Exira, continuing in this service until the railroad was built through Exira in 1879. Owing to a long period of illness, he was unable to work for the next two years. In the meantime he took up a careful study of the insurance business, and on February 2, 1881, he wrote his first risk, and has been continuously in the business in Exira ever since, having paid out over thirty thousand dollars in losses. His business is confined to fire, tornado and liability insurance.

On September 2, 1887, Theodore Patty was married to Mamie B. Winchell. who was born on May 4, 1869, in Cascade, Dubuque county, Iowa, and who died at Estancia, New Mexico, on September 19, 1913. She was the daughter of Charles and Hattie (Bucknam) Winchell, who came to Audubon county about 1879. To Theodore and Mamie B. (Winchell) Patty was born one child, Ida Irma, who was born on April 16, 1889. After attending school at Council Bluffs, Winfield, Kansas, and Muskogee, Indian Territory, and after having learned the Spanish language at the latter school, Ida Irma Patty went to Socorro, New Mexico, where for some time she taught school and was in demand as an interpreter for the Mexicans. While living in New Mexico, Miss Patty homesteaded one hundred and sixty acres of land in Torrence county, and at her mothers death inherited the latter's claim of one hundred and sixty acres, making a total of three hundred and twenty acres which she now owns.

Theodore Patty is a member of the Knights of Pythias, having joined this order on August 31, 1887, a charter member of the Exira lodge, and is also a member of the Pythian Sisters. He also is a member of the Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, the Order of the Eastern Star and of the Knights of the Maccabees, of which latter lodge he has been record-keeper for over ten years. Mr. Patty attributes his success in business somewhat to the fact that he has never mixed in politics and he has never held office, thus never having permitted politics to interfere with his personal and private business. The Christian church is the ancestral church of the Pattys, and Theodore Patty is a member of this church, as was his wife and is his daughter. He is a man of most pleasing personality, honest, conscientious and straightforward in all of his dealings, a man upon whom the people of Audubon county rely absolutely for the truth, not only about insurance, but about anything whatsoever represented by him.

Transcribed from History of Audubon County, Iowa Its People, Industries and Institutions With Biographical Sketches of Representative Citizens and Genealogical Records of Many of the Old Families, by H. F. Andrews, editor, Indianapolis: B. F. Bowen & Company, 1915, pp. 448-450.
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