James Patten (1755-1827) was born in Bedford, New Hampshire, to Matthew Patten (1719-1795) and Elizabeth McMurphy (1729-1817). In August 1778, James joined the local militia and served in Rhode Island. After farming in Bedford, New Hampshire, for a number of years, James Patten decided to move west to the Ohio country. Patten set out for Ohio in 1789 and spent nearly a year in the newly founded settlement of Marietta. He then traveled 30 miles north along the Muskingum River and, with 35 recent arrivals, established a small settlement at Big Bottom. The pioneers built a blockhouse and two cabins, but neglected to post guards or lookouts to protect the camp. On January 2, 1791, Delaware Indians traveling along their accustomed trail on the western side of the river spied the new settlement, and attacked the Big Bottom camp. The Indians captured James Patten and three other men, burned the settlement, and killed the rest of the settlers, with the exception of two men who escaped and spread the alarm to others along the Muskingum. The bodies at the blockhouse were badly burned, and Patten's family in New Hampshire believed he had died in the attack. Six months later, in June of 1791, his family learned from recently freed fellow captive Isaac Choate [Jr.], that Patten was alive. His family organized a subscription list, and recruited thirty-seven neighbors to pledge money toward a ransom offer (July 4, 1791). Patten's Indian owner, however, refused the money and Patton was not released until General Anthony Wayne's defeat of the Northwestern Indian Confederacy in 1795.
After his capture, Patten traveled for 25 days from the southeastern corner of Ohio into the heartland of the Northwestern Indian Confederacy in northwestern Ohio, near the present-day town of Defiance. He spent most of his captivity living in a Delaware Indian village on the Auglaize River near the juncture of the Auglaize and the Maumee rivers, where an intercultural community comprised of three Shawnee towns, a Delaware town, a Miami town, and a European trading town (with both French and English traders) was located. For the last two years of his captivity, Patten was owned by " Big Cat" [Whingwy Pooshies/Hengue Pushees], the civil leader of the Delaware Indian town. In March 1795, after four years of captivity, Patten was exchanged for an Indian prisoner. Financial difficulties kept him from returning to his family in New Hampshire. He purchased land and settled in the Belpre area of Ohio and did not visit his New Hampshire relations until 1817. He returned to Belpre, Ohio, in the spring of 1818 and died there in January 1827.