HISTORY AND LOCAL AREA INFORMATION:
The area currently known as Patterson was first visited by Pennsylvania Dutchmen who boarded a sailing vessel in New Orleans and made their way to the lower Atchafalaya River, also known as Bayou Teche. The original names for the community was Dutch Settlement, Dutch Prairie, and Dutch town. Patterson became a major producer of cypress lumber and boasted the largest cypress sawmill in the world at one point. Patterson was also the site of important advances in aviation. Today, Patterson is home to approximately 6,500 citizens. Oilfield related businesses, sugarcane, and seafood products now support the area.
Hattie Watts Elementary was named in memory of an African American teacher in Patterson who dedicated much of her life to the education of children in the community. Mrs. Hattie Ann Tibbs Watts was born on December 1, 1882 of slave parents who had been freed in the late 1860's following the Civil War. Mrs. Watts married and had six children before her husband died in 1916 in a logging accident in the swamp. She never remarried and raised her family on the little money she made as a teacher. She always took time to teach and care for her children and others that she saw in need. The residents of Pattersonville had constructed a wooden two-story building in 1896 which was moved in 1912 to the present site of Hattie Watts School and was renamed the Patterson Colored School. In the late 1920's she was one of the first teachers to start adult education classes and went out of her way to help young and old alike to read, learn and grow.
The work and dedication of Mrs. Hattie A. Watts was so important to the community that when the St. Mary Parish School Board constructed a new school on the old site, they named it in her memory. She would be very proud to know that her name is still a part of education today, and she would no doubt remind every one to keep reading and learning.
Hattie Watts Elementary has undergone many additions throughout the years. Construction began May 2010 to add a new wing to house 4th graders and expand the cafeteria. The 2011-12 school year welcomed 4th grade students and teachers to the Watts family, making the Watts campus home to preschool through 4th graders, approximately 700 students. 2015 brought the start of construction of a much-needed Multi-Purpose building that houses the gym, two classrooms, a stage, and seating. Watts is now the largest elementary school in the parish, and the second largest school in St. Mary Parish. Watts Elementary is a vital part of the Patterson community and will continue to grow.