Accession Number: 100
Bulk Dates: 1850-1859, 1865-1892
0.8 linear feet.
Series I - Correspondence
Series II - Financial and Business Documents
Series III - House Bills
Series IV - Real Estate Politics
Series V - Miscellaneous
Access and Use
This collection was purchased and processed by
Berea College Special Collections & Archives. There are no restrictions
placed on this collection other than federal copyright regulations.
Col. Samuel McDowell Tate Collection, Berea
College Special Collections & Archives, Berea, Ky.
This collection consists of two manuscript boxes containing Samuel McDowell Tate's
correspondence and financial documents from his many years as a banker. An engraving
of Samuel McDowell Tate by F.E. Kernan, a small number of House Bills Tate had
prepared, and miscellaneous publications are also included. There is no material
from Tate's time in the Civil War.
Samuel McDowell Tate (September 6, 1830- June 25, 1897), born in Morganton,
NC, was described as a “quiet, old-fashioned Jeffersonian Democrat; sound,
logical, practical, and worthy to be carefully considered.” (The Legislative
Biographical Sketchbook of 1883.) After his father, who had represented Burke
County in both houses of North Carolina’s General Assembly, died in 1836,
Samuel attended private schools in North Carolina and Pennsylvania. After graduating,
he was successful in Philadelphia as a merchant, but then returned to Burke
County in 1850 and set up a thriving general merchandise business there. In
1854, Tate was recruited by Colonel Charles Fisher of Salisbury to work under
Fisher as an agent and manager of the Western North Carolina Railroad Company’s
financial interests. While working for the railroad company, Tate also became
a federal census taker for Burke County and served as the postmaster of Morganton,
beginning in 1856. In addition, he was justice of the peace for twenty-five
When war began in 1861, Tate volunteered for service in the Confederate army
and became captain of Company D, 6th North Carolina regiment. He was then promoted
to the rank of major on May 20, 1862, and was again advanced to the rank of
lieutenant colonel on July 2, 1863 in Gettysburg. Tate led the troops of the
Sixth North Carolina Regiment in the battle on East Cemetery Ridge after the death
of Colonel Isaac E. Avery. He remained in command of the Sixth Regiment until
the Civil War ended.
Following the war, Tate returned to Morganton, where he was elected president
of the now bankrupt and highly disorganized Western North Carolina Railroad
Company. He set out to restore the railroad to its former glory. Removed from
presidency in 1865, returned in 1866, and removed again in 1868, Tate continued
to act as the financial agent of the stockholders and as a trustee for payment
of debts. In 1874, as he embarked on his political career, he sold his stock
and removed all ties he had to the railroad company.
In 1874, Tate was elected to the North Carolina House of Commons from Burke
County. During his term in the General Assembly Tate sponsored a bill that
allowed state control of the Western North Carolina Railroad. After the bill
passed, Tate was elected commissioner to reorganize the railroad. Another bill
he authored was to provide convict labor on works of internal improvement;
he also was elected the overseer of such convict labor in 1875. Yet another
accomplishment in his first term was the founding of the Western Insane Asylum
in Morganton. In addition to the railroad commission, he was also on the committee
for internal improvement, the rules committee, and the finance committee, of
which he was elected chairman in 1880, 1882, and 1884.
In 1886 Tate was appointed the examiner of national banks in the district from
West Virginia to Florida. In 1891, he brought the North Carolina School for
the Deaf to Morganton. The next year he was appointed state treasurer of North
Carolina to replace the recently deceased Donald W. Bain. He served to the
end of the term but was not re-elected in 1894.
During his campaign for state treasurer, Tate was accused of pressuring the
legislature to secure the sale of bonds for railroads. He was torn apart by
the press, investigated twice by legislative commissions, his bank books were
examined, and he lost the election, but he was not found to be guilty of any
wrongdoing. After this, Tate retired from public life.
In 1866, Tate had married Jennie Pearson, the daughter of a bank president
and merchant in Morganton who was the first president of the Western North
Carolina Railroad Company. Together the Tates had ten children. Tate died in
Morganton in 1897 and was buried in Forest Hill Cemetery.
1 Manuscript Box
While there are some family-related letters in this series, the
bulk of it is correspondence related to financial or political
issues dating 1850-1902.
- No Date
|| Financial and Business Documents
|| Boxes 1-2
Composed of receipts, bills of sale, and legal contracts, this
series dates from 1811-1941. Also included in this series are personal
account books of Samuel McDowell Tate and blank receipts of the
sort Tate used regularly.
Box 1, continued
- No Date
- 1880-May 1886
- May 1886-1889
- 1890-March 1892
- April 1892- April 1941
- Account Books
- Blank Receipts
This series contains bills created and put before the North Carolina
House of Commons during Tate’s career as a representative.
- House Bill 331; “An Act Relating to Roads and Highways”
- House Bill 360; “An Act to Amend the Public School Law…”
- House Bill [Number Unknown]; “An Act to Amend the Charter of… Morganton,
||Real Estate Politics
As a representative of Burke County, a president and financial
agent of a railroad company, and a census taker, Tate was very
involved in matters of real estate and property taxes. Contained
in this series are documents related to taxation and buying of
- Southern Real Estate Investment
- “The Experience of Other States with the Valued Policy Law”
This series is composed of an engraving of Samuel McDowell Tate and empty
addressed envelopes (stamps attached).
- Picture of Samuel McDowell Tate
- Empty Addressed Envelopes
Home > Special
Collections & Archives > Southern