George Washington Patterson was born in Londonderry, New Hampshire, on November 11, 1799, the son of Thomas Patterson and Elizabeth Wallace. After graduating from the Pinkerton Academy, he moved to New York in 1818, where he manufactured fanning mills. He later settled in Leicester, New York, where he continued to make mills and other agricultural implements. On February 24, 1825, he married Hannah Whiting Dickey (1800-1886); they had two children, George Washington (1826-1904) and Hannah Whiting (1835-1894). In 1841, Patterson took charge of the Chautauqua County land office in Westfield, New York, where he lived until his death on October 15, 1879. Patterson held several political offices throughout his life, serving as a member of the New York State Assembly (1832-1833, 1835-1840), a delegate to the New York Constitutional Convention (1846), New York lieutenant governor (1848-1850), a delegate to the Republican National Convention (1856, 1860), and a United States representative (1877-1879), among other local appointments.