Bedford County TN Biographies


A man of great energy, intensity of pur­pose, and of strong convictions, Mr. James Alexander Tate, head of the Tate School, in. Shelbyville, is not only distinguished as an educator, but is widely and favorably known as an enthusiastic advocate of tem­perance in every form. Taking an active interest in temperance while a lad in his teens, Mr. Tate’s first effective work in that cause was in Carter county, Tennessee, in 1887. During the campaign of that year he organized the temperance people of that county, doing such efficient work that Carter proved to be the Banner Prohibition county of Ten­nessee in the amendment campaign.

Mr. Tate was soon recognized as an orator of unusual ability and force, and ever since that time he has been prominently identified with the temperance cause, not only of this state, but of the nation. Active in public matters, he was a delegate at large to the National Convention held in Indianapolis in 1888; to the Cincinnati Convention of 1892, and served as one of the six National Executive Committeemen of the Prohibition party. Mr. Tate founded the “Pilot,” a prohibition paper published in Nashville, and later established the “Citizen,” which was merged with the “National Prohibitionist,” and is now published in Franklin, Pennsylvania, as the “Vindicator.”

In 1884 Mr. Tate cast his first presidential vote, giving it to John P. St. John, the candidate on the Prohibition ticket, and during the cam­paign immediately following stumped the country from one end to the other. He has always been at the forefront in every prohibition cam­paign in the state, and under the auspices of the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union canvassed the whole of Tennessee in the interests of Mr. (Jarmack and a temperance legislature in 1906. When Honorable Robert L. Taylor was a candidate for senator, and the opposition was endeavoring to lead the people to believe that he was a whiskey candi­date, Mr. Tate introduced him to the audience in Nashville, thus giving the lie to the would-be traducers of Mr. Taylor.

James A. Tate was born February 26, 1860, in Maness, Scott county, Virginia, a son of John M. Tate. His paternal grandfather, Wiffiam Tate, was born in Virginia, of English and Irish ancestry. Removing with his family from Virginia to Tennessee, he bought land in Hancock county, and was there engaged in agricultural pursuits until his death, when well advanced in years. He married Phoeba Fugate, also a Vir­ginian by birth, and they reared three sons and one daughter, Elijah, John M., Robert, and Martha.

John M. Tate was born in Wise county, Virginia, in 1839, and was there brought up and educated. Coming to Tennessee a few years after his marriage, he settled with his family in Sneedville, where he con­ducted a general store for a time. Returning then to Virginia, he estab­lished a store at Fairview, and in addition to his mercantile business was also engaged in farming, and dealt extensively in horses, buying them in Virginia and selling them in the Southern markets at a good price. He spent his last years in Lee county, Virginia, his death occurring in 1899. He married Martha Rose Maness, who was born in Scott county, Vir­ginia, and died May 21, 1908. Two children blessed their union, namely:

James Alexander, the special subject of this brief biographical record; and Laura, who married L. C. Garber.

Coming with his parents to Hancock county, Tennessee, in 1866, James Alexander Tate acquired his early knowledge of books in the public schools of Sneedville, and in 1874 entered his father’s store as a clerk, and remained thus employed for three years. Ambitious then to further advance his education, he entered Milligan College, in Milligan, Tennessee, and was there graduated in 1882, with the degree of Master of Arts. The ensuing eight years Mr. Tate was one of the corps of in­structors in his alma mater. Locating then in Fayetteville, he established a private school, which he conducted successfully for five years, after which he was similarly employed in Dyer for three years. In 1908 he established the Tate School in Shelbyville, and in its management has met with characteristic success, it being now one of the best known and most popular educational institutions of the kind in this section of the state. Mr. Tate married May 17, 1887, Laetitia La Rue Comforth a native of KY and they are the parents of two children - Rose Eleanor and James A. Tate Jr. He and his family are valued members of the Christian church.

Source: TENNESSEE AND TENNESSEANS written by Will Hale - 1913

James Alexander Tate, teacher and speaker; born Maness, Scott County, Va., February 26, 1860; English and Irish descent; son of John and Martha Maness Tate; father was a merchant and farmer; paternal grandparents William and Phoebe (Fugate) Tate; maternal grandparents Loftus and Lucinda Maness; educated Milligan and Sneedville College; graduated B.A. Milligan College May 20, 1882; received A.M. degree 1885; began career as teacher and lawyer; married Letitia LaRue Cornforth May 17, 1887; professor in Milligan College from 1882 to 1890; Principal Fayetteville Collegiate Institute from 1890 to 1897; was lawyer and editor in Nashville for two years; President of West Tennessee College, Dyer, Tenn. from 1897 to 1900; National Prohibition Organizer from 1900 to 1902; President American University, Harriman, Tenn. from 1902 to 1907; Principal Dixon Academy 1907 to present time; Chairman Prohibition State Committee from 1894 to 1904; Secretary National Prohibition Committee from 1894 to 1904; member of the Christian church.

Source: Who’s Who in Tennessee, Memphis: Paul & Douglass Co., Publishers, 1911; transcribed by Kim Mohler

Back Home