Anne Wilson "Nita" Patton, Patton's sister. She was engaged to
John J. Pershing
George Smith Patton Jr. was born on November 11, 1885 in
San Gabriel, California, to
George Smith Patton Sr. and his wife Ruth Wilson. Patton had a younger sister, Anne, who was nicknamed "Nita". The family was of
Welsh ancestry. His great-grandmother came from an aristocratic Welsh family, descended from many Welsh lords of
Glamorgan, which had an extensive military background. Patton believed he had former lives as a soldier and took pride in mystical ties with his ancestors.
 Though not directly descended from
George Washington, Patton traced some of his
English colonial roots to George Washington's great-grandfather.
 He was also descended from England's
King Edward I through Edward's son
Edmund of Woodstock, 1st Earl of Kent.
 Family belief held the Pattons were descended from sixteen barons who had signed the
 Patton believed in reincarnation, and his ancestry was very important to him, forming a central part of his personal identity.
 The first Patton in America was Robert Patton, born in
Ayr, Scotland. He emigrated to
Culpeper, Virginia, from
Glasgow, in either 1769 or 1770. His paternal grandfather was
George Smith Patton, who commanded the
22nd Virginia Infantry under
Jubal Early in the
Civil War and was killed in the
Third Battle of Winchester, while his great-uncle
Waller T. Patton was killed in
Pickett's Charge during the
Battle of Gettysburg. Patton also descended from
Hugh Mercer, who had been killed in the
Battle of Princeton during the
American Revolution. Patton's father graduated from the
Virginia Military Institute (VMI), became a lawyer and later the
district attorney of
Los Angeles County. Patton's maternal grandfather was
Benjamin Davis Wilson, a merchant who had been the second
Mayor of Los Angeles. His father was a wealthy rancher and lawyer who owned a thousand-acre ranch near
As a child, Patton had difficulty learning to read and write, but eventually overcame this and was known in his adult life to be an avid reader.
[Note 1] He was tutored from home until the age of eleven, when he was enrolled in Stephen Clark's School for Boys, a private school in Pasadena, for six years. Patton was described as an intelligent boy and was widely read on classical
military history, particularly the exploits of
Joan of Arc, and
Napoleon Bonaparte, as well as those of family friend
John Singleton Mosby, who frequently stopped by the Patton family home when George S. Patton was a child. He was also a devoted
Patton married Beatrice Banning Ayer, the daughter of Boston industrialist
Frederick Ayer, on May 26, 1910 in
Beverly Farms, Massachusetts. They had three children, Beatrice Smith (born March 1911), Ruth Ellen (born February 1915), and
George Patton IV (born December 1923).
Patton never seriously considered a career other than the military. At the age of seventeen he sought an appointment to the
United States Military Academy. Patton applied to several universities with
Reserve Officer's Training Corps programs. Patton was accepted to Princeton College but eventually decided on VMI, which his father and grandfather had attended. He attended the school from 1903 to 1904 and, though he struggled with reading and writing, performed exceptionally in uniform and appearance inspection as well as military drill. While Patton was at VMI, California's Senator nominated him for West Point.
In his plebe (first) year at West Point, Patton adjusted easily to the routine. However, his academic performance was so poor that he was forced to repeat his first year after failing mathematics. Patton excelled at military drills though his academic performance remained average. He was cadet sergeant major his junior year, and cadet adjutant his senior year. He also joined the football team but injured his arm and ceased playing on several occasions, instead trying out for the sword team and
track and field, quickly becoming one of the best swordsmen at the academy. Ranked 46 out of 103, Patton graduated from West Point on June 11, 1909 and was
commissioned as a
second lieutenant in the
Cavalry Branch of the
United States Army.