Steven Butler's Family History Website



Isaac Henry Tate

By Steven R. Butler, Ph.D.

Isaac H. Tate: His Early Years

My great-grandfather, Isaac Henry Tate, who usually signed his name "Isaac H. Tate" or simply "I. H. Tate," was born on October 31, 1844 at Lafayette, Chambers County, Alabama. He was the second son and third child of Harrison Tate and his wife Mariah Elizabeth Hill Tate.

Isaac had five brothers: James Madison, born about 1840; William H., born about 1847; John Henry, born about 1849; and Thomas L., born about 1858. Their only sister, Minerva Jane, was born September 10, 1842. All were natives of Alabama except James, who was born in neighboring Georgia.

Isaac's father, Harrison Tate, was born on a farm near Greenville, South Carolina on May 27, 1814. Orphaned in childhood, he later removed to Georgia, where in 1836 he served briefly as a private in the Georgia militia, aiding General Winfield Scott in the removal of a band of Creek Indians from Alabama. At the time of his second son's birth Harrison Tate was a farmer but in later life he went into public service as a sheriff and a judge. He also served at least one term as mayor of Columbia, Alabama. Isaac's mother, Mariah Elizabeth Hill, was born in Harris County, Georgia about 1823. Her parents were Isaac and Isabella Cox Hill. On November 27, 1838 she and Harrison Tate were married in Harris County, Georgia. About five years later they moved across the Chattahoochee River to neighboring Alabama.

When Isaac Tate was sixteen years old three events significantly affected his life. The first was the beginning of the Civil War in mid-April 1861. Alabama had been among the first states to secede from the Union and in point of fact, the first capital of the newly formed Confederate States of America was Montgomery, Alabama, where on February 18, 1861 (only ten days after Alabama joined the Confederacy) former Senator Jefferson Davis of Mississippi was sworn in as president. A few months later, after Virginia likewise seceded, the Confederate capital was moved to Richmond.

The second event was more personal. On October 9, 1861 Isaac's mother died. Mariah Tate was only thirty-eight years old. The cause of her death is unknown. At the time, the family resided in the Wacoochee Valley in Russell County, Alabama. She was laid to rest in a small graveyard adjacent to the Concord Baptist Church, near the town of Notasulga, in is what is now Lee County, Alabama.

The third event that affected young Isaac Tate's life was his father's second marriage to Mrs. Mary Caroline West, a young widow who reportedly had been a friend of Mariah Tate. According to family lore, Mary had been at Mariah's bedside when the unfortunate woman died. At that time, Mary had been a widow since 1858. Having endured the loss of her husband William, Mary was no doubt understanding of Harrison Tate's grief, offering him the consolation and sympathy he must have needed following his wife's untimely death at the age of only thirty-eight. In a short time, their friendship blossomed into a stronger affection. Only eight months after Mariah's death, Mary West and Harrison Tate were married. The event took place on May 26, 1862 in Russell County. The new Mrs. Tate brought to her new home the children of her marriage to William R. West: a son named Henry and two daughters. The eldest-eleven-year old Sarah-was to someday play a very important role in the life of Isaac H. Tate.

Continue to: Isaac H. Tate in the Civil War: Introduction and Commentary


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