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Hugh Tate
(June 15, 1772 - March 27, 1816)

The following excerpts were taken from:
Phifer, Edward William, Jr. Burke: The History of a North Carolina County, 1777-1920: Revised Edition. 1982.
Plyler, Mattie Adams. "Samuel Pinkney Tate Family Records" May 1960. 60-65, 74-79.
The National Cyclopedia of American Biography. James T. White and Company. Vol. XXVI. 1950. 86-87.

 

Note: N.C. Senator Sam J. Ervin, Jr. was the great-great grandson of Sheriff Hugh Tate (***please see below for lineage information).

 

Hugh Tate belonged to the family of Tate's who arrived from Ireland and eventually settled in Burke County, NC and Pennsylvania. His French Huguenot ancestors emigrated from France to Ireland to escape religious persecution, where they became ship builders and owners. In 1763, Hugh's father sailed his own ship from Londonderry, Ireland to Philadelphia, where the family eventually settled in York County, Virginia and finally in Burke County, North Carolina.

 

Hugh Tate, son of Samuel 'Rock' Tate* (b. May 24, 1730 in County of Derry Ireland, d. March 23, 1815 in Burke County, NC buried at Quaker Meadows Presbyterian Church) and Elizabeth Caldwell Tate (b. Nov. 29, 1735 in County of Derry Ireland, d. Jan. 8, 1818 in Burke County, NC buried at Quaker Meadows Presbyterian Church), was born in Pennsylvania on June 15, 1772.

 

He moved to Burke County, North Carolina, around 1790 with his family at the age of 18. His 8 siblings include: (1) Robert Tate; (2) Samuel Tate; (3) John Tate; (4) William Tate; (5) David Tate; (6) Catherine Tate; (7) Elizabeth Tate; and (8) Margaret Tate.

 

He was married on February 1, 1798 to Margaret "Peggy" Erwin (b. Nov. 24, 1777 in Burke Co.; d. June 16, 1850 in Burke Co.), a daughter of Colonel Alexander Erwin and his first wife, Sarah Robinson. Hugh and his wife Margaret had nine children, six sons and three daughters, all raised in the Presbyterian faith.

 

Their children are as follows:
Samuel Tate- born Nov. 19, 1798 in Burke Co.; became a physician in Morganton, NC where he married his first wife, Elizabeth Tate Gilliland (widowed daughter of Samuel Tate), and second wife was Martha Jones. He lived on S. Green Street in Morganton and died, January 28, 1873.
Elijah Tate- born March 11, 1800 in Burke Co., and died two weeks later.
Robert Tate - born June 4, 1801 in Burke Co., where he eventually became a major in the State militia and died a bachelor. He is buried in Quaker Meadows Cemetery.
James Harvey Tate - born March 9, 1803 in Burke Co., and died two months later.
Sally Robinson Tate - born August 22, 1804 in Burke Co., died December 6, 1805.
Hugh Alexander Tate - born October 8, 1806 in Burke Co., married first wife, Fatima Ellen Forney on January 1, 1828 and had 11 children; then married second wife, Sarah M. Alexander. He died September 20, 1877 in McDowell Co.
William Caldwell Tate - born Dec. 25, 1808 in Burke Co., where he eventually became a well known physician in Morganton, married his first wife, Laura Wilson Polk (widow of Marshall Polk, youngest brother of President James. K Polk), became a major and surgeon-general of the Fifth Division of the NC Militia, and voluntarily aided the Confederacy. He died on March 11, 1869. Elizabeth Ann Tate - born June 20, 1811 in Burke Co., where she married her first husband, Samuel C. Tate, her first cousin (Samuel was the son of William Tate, brother of Hugh Tate), and second husband, William S. Spencer.
Margaret Secilia Tate - born June 27, 1814 in Burke Co., and died July 3, 1817.

 

Hugh Tate established his home on the old Tate or Presnell farm situated on the Catawba river, about a mile and a half north of the courthouse in Morganton, where he was a farmer. His home was located on a hill, overlooking the lands adjacent to the river. The house, which was demolished around 1937, was built with nails wrought by hand. During his time period there were a considerable amount of slave cabins that were located around the area. These premises were eventually given by Hugh Tate to his son, Dr. William Caldwell Tate. Hugh Tate was a wealthy man, made evident through his purchase of lands and slave holdings. He also seemed to understand the value of education, making sure his children received advantages in this sector.

 

He served as sheriff of Burke County from July 1806, until January 1808, and from January 1811, until January 1813. His returns on official papers, on file in the courthouse at Morganton, bear testimony to the high quality of his penmanship. Hugh died in Burke County on March 27th, 1816 at the age of 44, and was buried in the Quaker Meadows Cemetery. His gravestone reads: Sacred to the Memory of Hugh Tate, who died March 27th, 1816, aged 44 years. Adieu to all both far and near Farewell my wife and children dear For my immortal soul is fled I must be numbered with the dead.

 

* Note: Hugh's father-in- law, Col. Alexander Erwin (b. June 6, 1750) became a very prominent citizen of Burke County. Upon his arrival to Burke he amassed an impressive amount of land in and around the Upper Creek valley. When Burke County was created in 1777, he became the first appointed Clerk of the Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions, and retained that position for quite sometime. History and tradition point out that he was a Revolutionary Patriot who was a Lieutenant at the Battle of King's Mountain, and a later attained rank as Colonel in the militia. He became so trusted that he was named a District Auditor for six counties and a commissioner for the newly established town of Morganton.

 

Hugh's brother, Samuel Tate, although not specifically indicated, was most likely Burke County's Sheriff from 1829-1830 (dates and family ties suggest this). Hugh's brother, William Tate, married Mary Bowman, the only daughter of Captain John Bowman, Burke County's second sheriff (1779-1780). Hugh's brother, David Tate, was the paternal grandfather of the prestigious Samuel McDowell Tate (Hugh's great nephew) during the Civil War.

 

S.M. Tate became a captain of the Co. D, 6th Infantry Regiment, NC state troops which were the first troops to proceed to battle in Virginia. His regiment was involved in the first battle of Manassas, Gaines Mill, second Manassas, Sharpsburg, and Fredericks, to name a few. Following the second battle of Manassas, S.M. Tate was promoted to major where at the battle of Gettysburg he commanded the regiment which drove the Union forces from Culp's Hill. Following this victory, he was promoted to lieutenant colonel. He was wounded three times during his illustrious career, at the battle of Rappahannock Bridge, Va., in 1863, seriously wounded at Cedar Creek in 1864, and the battle of Petersburg in 1865. He later became president of the Western North Carolina Railroad in which he oversaw the building of the railroad from Salisbury to the French Broad River. In 1874 he was elected to the house of the state legislature and became chairman of the finance committee. The establishment of the now Broughton Hospital and the North Carolina School for the Deaf were due to his efforts. In 1886, he was appointed national bank examiner for the district from West Virginia to Florida. In 1892, he became treasurer of North Carolina. (White. 86-87)

 

*** Senator Ervin's Ancestry: His mother, Laura Powe who married Samuel James Ervin, Sr., was the daughter of William Ellerby Powe. William was the son of Catherine Elvira Tate, who was the daughter of William Caldwell Tate, MD. William Caldwell Tate was the son of Sheriff Hugh Tate.

 

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