General consensus says that Patton was born in 1891, although there have been hints that his birthdates may have been anywhere from 1881 to 1887 as well. Hinds County, Mississippi was his birthplace; only a 2 hour drive from Dockery Plantation, and a similar time (with today's cars) to Clarksdale, which would soon be a stomping ground for Patton. Although he was born to Bill and Annie Patton, it's said that Henderson Chatmon was the one who raised Patton. Henderson Chatmon was also the father of musicians of the Mississippi Sheiks like Sam Chatmon.
Not long afterwards, his family moved north to Dockery Plantation for work in 1897. From this time and onwards, Patton began to craft his musical identity, likely meeting his mentor Henry Sloan around this time as well. Sloan was born in 1870, so 20 years Patton's senior (almost the age of Patton's father most likely), and moved to Dockery around the same time, between 1901 and 1904. As Tommy Johnson and Son House said, Patton "dogged every step" of Sloan's. Patton's father would actually get mad at Charley for following Sloan around, but later accepted his son's path and actually bought him a guitar. His sister, Viola Cannon, said that "he couldn't really pick a guitar" until he began apprenticing with Sloan. Soon though, Sloan departed for more optimistic vistas, leaving for Chicago around 1918. By this time though, Patton, about 28 years old, had probably already crafted his musical conceptions from his learnings.
At this time, Patton would perform at Dockery and other areas close by, also playing with and mentoring other musicians, such as Tommy Johnson, Son House, Willie Brown, Robert Johnson, and Howlin' Wolf. From gritty blues, to emotional spirituals, to actual country and western, Patton was a professional and was quite well-known in his community. For musicians such as Willie Brown and Son House, they would actually use some of his guitar riffs directly, using the same IV chords in Spanish tuning for example, and the same descending bassline ideas; for example, the bass-note riff on Revenue Man Blues and Future Blues by Willie Brown.
After tours and engagements throughout the late 20s and into the early 30s, even to other cities such as Chicago and New York City, Patton and his wife Bertha Lee eventually settled down back in Holly Ridge, Mississippi, in 1934, just south of Dockery Farms. Passing away just months later in April 1934, Patton was laid to rest in Holly Ridge. His grave lacked a headstone for decades, but, with the aid of John Fogerty and the Mt. Zion Memorial Fund, a headstone was placed at last at his grave.