6. James Tate (1782-1861)

V. JAMES TATE (1782-1861) 

James Tate, a son of John Tate, Sr. and Nancy Tate, was born on March 8, 1782, (26) in Spartanburg County, South Carolina. Years later, on February 12, 1853, he recorded that he had witnessed the marriage of Lydia Holden to Harvey Pearson by a Baptist minister named Roberts in Spartanburg County, S.C. in 1796. (27) His name appears first on record in Amite County, Miss., where on December 14, 1809, he took out a marriage license with Abigail Holden (1793-1861), a daughter of Thomas Holden, Sr. (b. May 8, 1749), a Revolutionary War veteran from Laurens County, S.C., and his wife, Margaret (Spurgeon) Holden (m. December 25, 1773), who had moved to Mississippi Territory about 1805. Holden signed a note to the clerk to let his daughter have the license. 

There is an oddity here, in that within the previous two months, "Abby" Holden and two other suitors had applied for marriage licenses in Amite County, first on October 13, 1809, with James Graham, and next on October 28, 1809, with Robert Kilcrease, in the latter case with a note from Thomas Holden to issue the license to Kilcrease to marry his daughter. In neither of the first two cases was there a return on the marriage. (28) 

One descendant suspects that either Abby was one hell of a flirt, or else there may have been a shotgun marriage searching for a party of the second part! However, one must also bear in mind that the Tates and Holdens knew each other back in South Carolina. So, widow Nancy Tate and her sons are found in the earliest list of settlers in September 1810 in St. Helena Parish, La., along with their land claims for land on Cools Creek, a tributary of the Tangipahoa River which flows into Lake Pontchartrain. There she claimed land, as did her sons, John Tate, Jr. and Charles Tate, the latter's being land his brother James Tate transferred to him in 1812, and her son-in-law Noah Westmoreland. (29) 

What possessed this Tate family to pull up stakes, to leave upland South Carolina for the flat plains of Spanish West Florida, 650 miles and six weeks away, at an average speed of 15 miles a day, much of the journey through the Creek and Choctaw Indian Nations, the former suspicious of the white man, though the latter generally friendly? The answer is land. The red clay soils of Piedmont, South Carolina did not wear well under cultivation, especially after 1800, when an emergent upland cotton culture depleted soil much quicker than had subsistence food crops or pasturing. Spanish West Florida extended from the Mississippi past the Pearl to the Perdido Rivers between Mobile and Pensacola, and from the Gulf of Mexico north to the 31st Parallel, the Demarcation Line with the U.S. Mississippi Territory. After 1798, American families had been settling south of the Line, usually with Spanish approvaL However, in 1810 some Americans had rebelled against Spain and set up their independent Republic of West Florida, but U.S. President James Madison ignored it and annexed the province to the United States. However, before Americans could settle the Coastal Borderlands in considerable numbers, there came the War of 1812, on the American side a reaffirmation of independence from Great Britain, a defense of the Louisiana Purchase which the British did not recognize, an attempt to spread the new American Empire around the Gulf of Mexico, a drive to expel Spain from both Floridas, and a campaign to remove the civilized Indian nations from the Southeast. The latter resulted in the Creek War of 1813-1814 in Mississippi Territory, a war within a war. The climax of this struggle, with momentous consequences for the development of the United States, came when a Scots-Irish native of the South Carolina Waxhaws, Major General Andrew Jackson, led his ragtag little army to a smashing victory over British soldiers who had helped defeat Napoleon, on the Eighth of January 1815 on the Chalmette Plain at the Battle of New Orleans. 

Jackson had mobilized all available American manpower in the thinly-settled Old Southwest to defend New Orleans. All of Widow Nancy Tate's sons served in the campaign, except Jesse, then only 15, and son-in-law Noah Westmoreland, who was probably over military age. Son Charles Tate was the first to serve, in Captain John K. Goffs Company, Colonel Alexander Declouet's Drafted Regiment, Louisiana Militia in September 1814, while James, John, and Harvey Tate, along with their future brother-in-law Isaac Lindsey, all served in Captain Thomas Bickham's Company of Colonel Abner Womack's Consolidated 12th/13th Regiment, Louisiana Militia, recruited from the Florida Parishes. They all enlisted in the Tchefuncta Navy Yard at the mouth of the Tchefuncta River on Lake Pontchartrain's north shore, at Madisonville, James on December 23, 1814, and the others at about the same time. Their regiment was part of Brigadier General Robert McCausland's 3rd Brigade, Major General Philemon Thomas's 2nd Division, Louisiana Militia. After the American victory, McCausland's command, including the 12th/13th, was ordered on January 12th to reinforce the right bank of the Mississippi River, and the, as the British withdrew, was posted at Chef Menteur. (30) James Tate was mustered out of active service on March 10, 1815, at the Lake Pontchartrain Navy Yard, as were his brothers. He left his mother's family in St. Helena Parish, La., and by 1816 had moved east across Pearl River to Hancock Co., Miss., the year before Mississippi attained statehood. (31) There he was assessed $1.12 in taxes in 1817 for a 500-acre grant on Pearl River and for one slave. (32) 

The Old James Tate Claim can still be seen on Pearl River Co., Miss. (formed from Hancock and Marion Counties in 1890) land maps along Pearl River, as two irregularly shaped Sections 6 of Township 2 South Range 18 West and 38 of Township 2 South and Range 17 West, 7.6 miles north of the Crossroads and two miles south of Wesley Chapel on the Old River Road (State Highway 43) that ran from Columbia to Bay St. Louis. None of the earliest claims on the Pearl River were the standard square 640-acre sections, as were the later ones inland. His claim was entered on April 20, 1824, when the earliest claims were first recorded. In the U.S. Census of 1820, James Tate was listed as head of household in Hancock Co., Miss. (as he had been in the 1816 Census), with one male under ten years old, two males 26 to 45, two females under ten, one female ten to 16, one female 16 to 26, and one female 30 to 40. (33) His and Abigail's children who grew to maturity were: 

Nancy, b. ca. 1810, m. William Smith. 
Louisa, b. ca. 1812 in St. Helena Parish, d. March 20, 1876, m. 1. Willis Bonner, 2, Patterson Bass, 3. Robert Price Evans after 1858 (whose wife was Asenath Willis, 1820-1858), and lived in Copiah Co., Miss., where they lie buried in the County Line Baptist Church yard, four miles north of Crystal Springs. 
Lydia, b. ca. 1813 in St. Helena Parish, m. James A. Amacker ca. 1834, both d. in their house fire in 1890 in Pearl River Co., Miss., and are buried in the Kennedy Cemetery near the Buck Branch Community. 
Susannah Layton, b. ca. 1818 in Hancock Co., Miss., m. Pierson Hugh Holden, lived in Marion Co., Miss. 
Thomas Willis Andrew Jackson, b. September 30, 1828, in Marion Co., Miss., m. Mary Matilda Byrd in 1850, d. March 9, 1904 in Pearl River Co., buried at Byrd's ChapeL 
Eastman Rankin, b. February 5, 1836, in Marion Co., Miss., m. Martha Ann Wheat (January 21, 1840-0ctober 12, 1922) on January 18, 1855, in Hancock Co., where he d. January 18, 1897. 
Asenath Mary Martha, b. May 9, 1839 in Marion Co., Miss., m. Thomas J. Fomea January 26, 1854, lived in Marion Co., Miss. He d. May 19, 1879; she d. February 19, 1919 in Poplarville, Miss.

According to early census records, there apparently were two more sons and a daughter who did not live to maturity. (34) 

In 1821 James Tate was assessed in Hancock County for his Spanish land grant of 200 [sic] acres; in 1830 he owned eight slaves; in 1834 he was assessed for 1,280 acres on Pearl River in Marion Co., Miss. (the Hancock-Marion county line had been moved to the south); in 1840 he had 15 slaves; in 1846 he was assessed for 16 slaves and 25 cattle, also in Hancock for merchandise (he had a store in 1845 at R. Burks's) (35) and for 11 laves as an estate administrator. In 1835 he had bought 640 more acres; in 1846 another 640 adjoining his land; and in 1848 yet another 640. Thus, at one time he owned a known total of 2,560 acres, four full sections of land. In 1854 he was assessed for 14 slaves and 15 cattle, and paid the taxes for two more slaves he had given his l8-year-old son Eastman. In 1857 James Tate was assessed for 16 slaves and 20 cattle; and in 1860 for 21 slaves and 50 cattle, by slaves and land a member of the small planter class. (36) Sometime before May 24, 1856, he suffered a paralytic stroke so that he could no longer write his name. (37)

When State Geologist Eugene W. Hilgard made a statewide survey in 1860, travelling down the Old River Road, he mentioned the rich Pearl River bottoms and hummocks around Spring Cottage and "Mr. Tate's place" as having a very productive soil. (38) 

James Tate died June 20, 1861 at age 79, and he and his wife, who died that same year, are buried at the Holden (or Thompson) Church yard (off the Texas Flat Road on the Jordan River south of Kiln, Miss. Between 1855 and 1857 James and Abigail Tate had deeded land to their children: to T.W.A.J. Tate 360 acres, to Eastman R. Tate 640 acres, to Lydia M. Amacker 320 acres, and unspecified amounts to Susannah L. Holden and Asenath M. M. Fomea. (39) Earlier, in 1840, they had deeded Lydia Amacker 40 acres, or a total of 1,360 acres specified. On Dec. 17, 1861, their heirs T.W.A.J. Tate, Eastman R. Tate, Louisa Evans, Susannah Holden, Asenath Forena, and their respective spouses filed to administer James Tate's estate, which included 20 slaves. (40)