By Leland Burdine Tate

By Leland Burdine Tate

From 1743 to 1772, John Tate was born, reared, married to Mary Bracken, and lived in places as yet unknown to the writer, a seventh generation descendant.

In late November, 1772, at age 29, John and his family settled in the Moccasin Valley of present Russell County, Virginia, about 15 miles southwest of present Lebanon. He told the time of settlement in a deposition of 1810 for the court case of George Fugate vs. Nancy Mahon and others. 

As a resident of the Moccasin Valley, John lived in four frontier counties:

(1) Botetourt Co., late November and December, 1772 - less than two months
(2) Fincastle Co., January 1773 to January 1777 - four years

(3) Washington Co., January 1777 to May 1786 - over nine years

(4) Russell Co., May 1786 to December 1828 - over forty-two years

John's first tract of land of 145 acres from the Loyal Land Company of Virginia was surveyed December 12, 1774, by John Floyd, Deputy to Col. William Preston, Surveyor of Fincastle County, who lived at present Blacksburg. The date and description of that survey is in the former Fincastle County records, Montgomery County Clerk's Office, Christiansburg, VA.
About 1776 or before, John and his neighbors built a fort on his land for protection against hostile Indians. It was known as Tate's Fort, and is mentioned by early emigrants to both Kentucky and Tennessee. In Shane's Historical Collection of Kentucky papers, Volume 1, page 224, and in Williams' Early Times in Tennessee, and perhaps alluded to by John Tate in his deposition of 1810 for the case of Fugate vs. Mahon, where he is quoted as saying that Frances Fugate (deceased), who lived five miles from him, "did as the rest of us did, defend our land and families, and lived on the land in dispute (1772-1781) except for the time forted."

In October 1780, John as militia-man of Washington County, participated in the successful Revolutionary War battle of King's Mountain, South Carolina, and his name as a participant is recorded by Lewis Preston Summers in his History of Washington County and Southwest Virginia. (In command at King's Mountain was Col. William Campbell, whose wife Elizabeth was a sister of Patrick Henry, and after Campbell's death, the wife of General William Russell, for whom Russell County was named.)

In November 1781, John was appointed with others to appraise the estate of Francis Fugate (deceased), who was killed by a fall from his horse. The other appraisers were William Huston, John Wood, and Robert Tate, another ancestor of the writer, who lived about three miles below John in Moccasin Valley.

In February 1782, John was appointed with others to view and cut out the road down Moccasin Valley from Little Moccasin Gap in Clinch Mountain on present U. S. 19 between Abingdon and Lebanon to Big Moccasin Gap on present U. S. 23 near Gate City. Also in 1782 his second tract of land of 100 acres was surveyed and recorded in the records of Washington County at Abingdon.

In May 1786, with the formation of Russell County, John was appointed an overseer of the poor, a constable, and a Lieutenant in the militia.

In 1787, John became a "Gentleman Justice" on the Russell County Court or governing board, by appointment of the Governor of Virginia, where he served with great devotion to duty for most of his remaining life of 41 years. Again and again he rode his horse to successive places of county government meetings at Castlewood, Dickensonville and Lebanon; served many times, one to three days per month, sometimes presided over and wrote the minutes of the meetings, and signed them more than 150 times with a bold and attractive signature. By virtue of his position as Justice, he was often referred to as John Tate, Gent., or John Tate, Esq. In 1787 he was also appointed Captain in the upper militia of the Moccasin Valley; and that year he took the Oath of Allegiance to the newly drafted Constitution of the United States.

In 1789, John became Captain in the 2nd Bat., 72 Reg. Of the Virginia Militia, and also served as Superintendent of an election in his locality.

In 1795, John became Major in the 2nd Bat., 72 Reg. Of the Virginia Militia.

In 1800, John had his cattle mark recorded, and the Russell County Court ordered that no person in the county have the liberty of marking with a swallow fork in the left ear, except John Tate.

By 1801, John became Sheriff and Collector of Revenue for Russell County, and served two years. His securities were Henry Dickenson, County Clerk; Nathan Ellington, Dickenson's deputy and son-in-law; John M. Estill and Harry Smith. His deputies were John and Zachariah Fugate, Cummings Gilmer, George Powers, John Sewell, and Andrew Williams. 

In 1801, John was appointed with Samuel Ewing as one of the commissioners for Russell County to meet with the commissioners for Lee County to superintend and run the dividing line between the two counties. (Lee County had been formed from part of Russell County in 1792.)

In 1802, John became Lt. Col. Commandant of the 72 Reg., 3rd Division of the Virginia Militia, and since has been known to many as Col. John Tate. His appointment was by James Monroe, Governor of Virginia, and later President of the United States.

In 1809, John again became an overseer of the poor, and served by re-appointments 15 or more consecutive years.

In 1813, John and several other persons, including a teacher, Thomas Birch, sent a petition to the Legislature of Virginia, requesting that a school already in operation with thirty students be established officially as Amity Hall Academy. John and nine other ancestors of the writer were signers: John and three other ancestors of the writer were trustees. The petitioners said they were "duly impressed by the consideration that in all free states intelligence was the life of liberty, and that they were desirous to cooperate with other counties in the state to promote the grand cause of education."

In 1819, John and his grandson Robert Fugate, became Executors of the estate of Colbert Fugate (deceased) who married John's daughter Hannah, and who had been a farmer, part-time county official, and three times a member of the Virginia Legislature.

In 1825, John, as the senior Justice among 31 present for a special meeting in Lebanon, helped to appoint unanimously James P. Carrell the second Clerk of Russell County; thereby promoting a very able and interesting person who, with limited formal schooling but with training experience and the skillful use of books, became one of the best clerks in Virginia, a part-time Methodist Minister, song-book compiler and publisher, land buyer and seller, money lender, patron of education and benefactor of students. (In 1836, James P. Carrell gave five times the usual gift of $100 to help start Emory and Henry College, ten miles east of Abingdon at Emory, VA; and Carrell's help to John A. Kelly, an Emory and Henry student of the 1830's, led to a gift of nearly two million dollars for Emory and Henry College in the 1960's from the Carrell-aided student's grandson, Frederick Kelly. To the writer, this is a very significant series of creative historical events stemming from James P. Carrell's appointment by John Tate and other justices in 1825.)

In 1826, when over 80 years old, John again became Sheriff and Collector of Revenue for Russell County, and served two years, which apparently reflects his stamina and stability as a person, his dynamic interest in public affairs, and the esteem which he had as a senior citizen. His Securities were Charles Carrell, James Dixon, Zachariah Fugate, Harvey Gray, John Jessee, Benjamin Sewell, and John Smyth - the last three of whom are other ancestors of the writer. One of his deputies was his grandson, John Fugate, who later moved to Missouri.

Col. John Tate died December 15, 1828, at 85 years of age, and is buried in a Tate and Burdine cemetery in the Moccasin Valley, 15 miles southwest of Lebanon on some of his former land now owned by the writer and his brother, Thomas E. Tate of Haleyville, Alabama.

Col. John Tate's wife, Mary Bracken, died in 1817, and is buried near him. The children of John Tate and Mary Bracken were:

Robert Tate, 1768-1844, who married Winnie Atkinson and moved to Pulaski Co., KY.

Hannah Tate, 1772-1844, who married Colbert Fugate and lived in Russell County, Virginia, just southwest of her parents in the Moccasin Valley.

Samuel Bracken Tate, 1775-1845, who married Jane Owens and moved to Pulaski County, Kentucky.

Jane Tate, 1770s-1823, who married Henley Haddix and moved to Kentucky.

Martha Tate, 1780-1847, who married John Buster and moved to Kentucky

Isaac Tate, 1780s-?, who married Peggy Walton of Pulaski County, Kentucky in 1809, and lived in Russell County until 1833, then in Kentucky and Missouri.

Lydia Tate, 1785-1854, who married William Fugate and lived in Russell and Scott Counties, Virginia

Numerous descendants of Col. John Tate and Mary Bracken and their children have lived and still live in various parts of the United States.

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