R. Van Patton (Van Patten)
Sheriff of Houston, Texas
Who is R. Van Patton / Van Patten ???
Is this photo of R. Van Patton (Van Patten) or another Houston, Texas Sheriff ???
Correct photo of Houston, Texas Sheriff: R. Van Patton (Van Patten) or NOT ???
Portrait of a City Marshal by Barr & Wright, 1870-1880, catalog number 77.43.1678.
In 1873, during the Civil War reconstruction period, R. Van Patton was appointed City
Marshal in Houston, Texas. It was during his tenure that the force hired its first black
The officer compliment at this time (1874) was 12, with about an even number of black
and white officers. The second-in-command Deputy Marshal was the first black officer to
hold that position among those hired. During this year, the “Manual of the Houston Police
Force” was written and the salary was set at $60 a month where it would stay until 1915.
1894 was the year where the department hired its first two police detectives and purchased
a patrol wagon. The term “Wagon call” is still used to this day when it is required to
* Per the 1873 Houston City Directory, R. Van Patten is City Marshal and residing at the
corner of Hamilton and Congress Streets.
** "Perhaps may likely to be Alexander Erichson, who was a much more popular and long term City
Marshal than Van Patton (actually more often spelled Van Patten).
Van Patten was from the Radical party and Erichson was a Democrat. Van Patten only served one term
after Henry C. Thompson and it appears that he was accused of bribery and was also accused of being
involved in a swindle. I think Van Patten was City Marshal from 1873-74.
Alexander Erichson seems to have been very popular and was something of a crusader against all the
“low” places in Houston such as Vinegar Hill. I believe it was Erichson that drove the Queen of Vinegar
Hill, Caroline Riley out of the area.
Erichson was of German ancestry."
Source: Blog from 2010.