Biographical Sketch of Katherine B. Funk Patterson

Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920

Biography of Katherine B. Funk Patterson, 1860-1949

By Charlotte Rohrbough, undergraduate student, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM

Katherine B. Funk was born around 1860 on a farm in Shelby County, Illinois, to parents Lemuel and Mary Funk. The Funk family moved to Tarrant, Texas, by 1880, and Lemuel had remarried Alivia O. Funk. At some point, Katherine, sometimes Catherine, Funk married Wint Patterson. Katherine Patterson survived all three of her children. In 1900, she lived in Las Vegas, New Mexico, with her father, and by 1910, she was a widow, taking up residence in New Mexico with her also widowed sister, Minnie H. Byrd. The 1920 census places the sisters in Oklahoma City, but newspaper reports have them in New Mexico throughout the 1920s. In all of the censuses, Katherine Patterson was labeled as “literate” and with her “own income.”

Patterson was active in New Mexico politics and women's suffrage. According to the state report in the History of Woman Suffrage, she advocated for woman suffrage in New Mexico. In 1915, Patterson helped promote suffrage in New Mexico by joining a group of women who invited Alice Paul and the Congressional Union to attend a state convention. She was mentioned in the Albuquerque Morning Journal for her suffrage and political work.

Patterson believed woman suffrage to be a tangible way for women to press for temperance reforms; she focused her efforts with the Woman's Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) at the national, state, and local levels. She was in charge of the WCTU's Legislative Department of the at the 1915 state convention. She also promoted the blue ballot amendment to what became the New Mexico state constitution, and she supported anti-gambling measures along with the temperance work. Patterson produced and distributed Spanish-language temperance material for the local and national WCTU. In July 1920, Patterson and her sister, Minnie H. Byrd, arranged for land to be sold and the money used to help build the Frances E. Willard Industrial School for Girls, which was opening the following September in Belen, New Mexico. Patterson also served as a national officer for the WCTU. The Patterson-Byrd Union was a local WCTU branch in New Mexico named after the sisters. They also founded the Anna Gordon WCTU in the state. According to a 1946 article in the Albuquerque Journal, Patterson was known as the “Frances Willard of New Mexico.”

In 1930, Patterson and Byrd lived in Amarillo, Texas, with Richard Byrd as the head of house. In August 1931, the sisters had returned to New Mexico. Minnie Byrd died in 1943. Katherine Patterson died in 1949 and is buried with family in Fairview Memorial Park in Albuquerque.


Caption: Mrs. Katherine B. Patterson.
Credit: “Early-Day Residents Honored.” Albuquerque Journal (Albuquerque, N. Mex.) April 17, 1946, p.7.


“Early-Day Residents Honored.” Albuquerque Journal (Albuquerque, N. Mex.) April 17, 1946, p.7.

Find a Grave. Katherine B. Patterson. Accessed October 4, 2018.

Harper, Ida Husted, ed. “New Mexico.” Chapter XXX in History of Woman Suffrage, vol. 6: 1900-1920. New York: National American Woman Suffrage Association, 1922, 434-439. [LINK]

Sanchez, Sabrina, “Pardoning Breadwinners, Constructing Masculinities,” New Mexico History. New Mexico Office of the State Historian. Accessed December 19, 2018.

“Services Today for WCTU Head, Mrs. Patterson.” Albuquerque Journal (Albuquerque, N. Mex.). August 26, 1949, p.6.

“State Convention of W.C.T.U. Opens in Presbyterian Church,” Albuquerque Morning Journal (Albuquerque, N. Mex.). October 12, 1917, p. 2.

“Suffrage Meeting Will Be Held Here; Alice Paul to Speak.” Albuquerque Journal (Albuquerque, N. Mex.). June 1, 1915, p.8.

United States Census 1860, 1880, 1900, s.v. “Lemuel Funk.” HeritageQuest.

United States Census 1910, 1920, 1930, 1940, s.v. “Katherine Patterson.” HeritageQuest.

“W.C.T.U. Day at Chautauqua Is a Big Success.” Albuquerque Journal (Albuquerque, N. Mex.). July 31, 1914, p.3.

“W.C.T.U. Plans for Convention are Shaping Up,” Albuquerque Morning Journal (Albuquerque, N. Mex.). July 5, 1915, p. 8.

“W.C.T.U. to Have Institute.” Albuquerque Journal (Albuquerque, N. Mex.). August 11, 1929, Society Section, p.2.

“White Ribboners Seeking a Constitution Day.” Albuquerque Journal (Albuquerque, N. Mex.). September 8, 1910, p.2.

“Willard Girls' School Reopens September 15th.” Albuquerque Journal (Albuquerque, N. Mex.). May 4, 1926, p.3.

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