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Lebanon, Ohio (1855-1917)
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Rev. Henry Wister Tate

Born in Slavery, but by his own
Strenuous Exertion, he has
Achieved Some Greatness
A Prominent A. M. E. Minister.

The above cut of the Rev. Henry W. Tate, of Lexington, Ky., now appointed to Flemingsburg, was born of a slave mother at Hayesville, Clay County, North Carolina, Dec. 6, 1855. His father was Wister Tate, Doctor of Medicine a Caucasian. His mother was a mixture of Indian, African and Caucasian. She only lived to see her son fourteen years of age, she died Jan. 26, 1869. The subject of our sketch has no brothers or sisters, and is a self made man under many adverse circumstances. Being endowed with great energy he never failed to accomplish his chosen plans. Mr. Tate was a slave boy until eight years old. He resolved at that early age to run away when old enough to secure his freedom. The only book he remembers of seeing before freedom was an “Elementary Speller” in which he learned his letters. When Mr. Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation went into effect in his native state Jan. 1, 1853, he with his mother left the old slave home and started a foot for Tennessee, a distance of eighty miles walk. They came to Cleveland, Tenn. And from there to Chattanooga, remaining in these cities three and one half years, during which time his mother was married to a colored soldier by the name of George Pleasant, of Ohio. In the summer of 1866, with his mother and stepfather, he came to Troy, Ohio. There he attended the Troy Colored schools five and one half years, during which time he advanced from the Primary to to the Intermediate Department of the white schools where he was admitted as the first instance of a Colored boy in that place to learn with the whites. No little excitement followed that was usual for those times. Subsequently the white friends with whom Mr. Tate lived removed to Dayton, Ohio, in the fall of 1871 and he went with them where he engaged in binding almanacs during the day and attended night school two miles from his home. The first of January 1872 he entered the National Normal University at Lebanon, Ohio, where he studied the Normal and Scientific courses. Having but thirteen dollars, when he entered he acted as janitor, office boy and librarian, to make his way through school. Having graduated here he was intending to go South and teach, but the K. K. depredations were so great at that time that he remained in Ohio. He began to teach in Troy, Ohio, in 1874 and continued there three years, from thence he accepted a position at Chambersburg, Ohio, where he taught two years. Next he taught one year in Wilshire, Ohio, and one year at Bridgeport, Ohio. In March, 1880, Mr. Tate joined the Lexington Conference of the M. E. Church, then in session at Paris, KY. Ever since then he has been successfully holding charge in the following places: Bellaire, Bridgeport and Martins Ferry, O., 1880. Bridgeport, Martins Ferry and Mount Pleasant, O., 1881. Stevensville, O., Latimer Chapel, 1882. Springfield, O., Wiley Chapel, 1883, 1884 and 1885. Stevensville, O., Latimer Chapel, 1886. Lexington, Ky., Asbury Temple, 1887, 1888, 1889. Flemingsburg, Ky. 1890.
Success has attended pastor Tate in all his charges, and he has made many friends in the fields he has labored. Rev. Tate received theological training in Wittenberg College, Springfield, Ohio, while pastor there. Since then he has studied the Pastor’s Theological courses of the Central Tennessee College, during his active work on his charges. Rev. Tate has served his Conference two years as the assistant, and six years their secretary in which capacity he edited and published their minutes very creditably seven successive years. He was elected the first ministerial reserve delegate to their last M. E. General Conference of 1888 at New York, and is prominently spoken of as a delegate for 1892. He is a ready and forcible speaker. He frequently contributes to his church papers and to the secular press. In the subject of our sketch we find a studious, progressive man, deeply interested in this race of people. A Republican in politics. Married. A member of the G. U. O. O. F. He surely vindicates that a poor Colored boy can rise to distinction. Two of his favorite lectures are “The Possibilities of an Humble Birth,” and “The Afro-American, Past, Present and Future.” He owns property both in Ohio and Kentucky.

“Rev. Henry W. Tate,” The Appeal (St. Louis, MO), Saturday, May 24, 1890, p. 2 c.4
[This article is available from the Chronicling America website at]

Submitted 16 Mar 2017 by his great grandson Henry Burton Tate Jr. of Baltimore, Maryland who writes,

  • There is some repetition when compared to his obituary but HWT was likely interviewed for this "sketch" while he was living with details not known before today by family.
  • Ohio Death Certificate #41142 (1927) for Poebe Ann Tate viewed at The correct spelling of HWT's wife was Phoebe Ann Tate.
  • Rev. Tate was always a M. E.(Methodist Episcopal) minister not an A. M. E. (African Methodist Episcopal) minister as the heading of the sketch indicates.
  • We are still perplexed about who is his father? It was concluded that it was Samuel Caldwell Tate, M.D. Now we see "Dr Wister Tate." We know of Samuel Caspar Wister Tate, a lawyer, and Robert N. C. Tate, a physician, who relocated to Gonzales, TX before 1855.


Rev. H. W. Tate. - Graduated in 1873

The subject of this sketch is the newly appointed pastor of Cory M. E. church.  The congregation is well pleased with him.  He was appointed here by the recent session of the Lexington M. E. conference in Louisville, Ky., as the successor of Rev. E. A. White, who takes the pastorate of Ninth Street A. M. E. church, Cincinnati, O., of which Rev. Tate was pastor the past three years.  The reverend gentleman began his labors here Sunday, the 29th of March, and the efforts of that day and since have been highly complimented by all who have heard him.  He comes highly recommended from Cincinnati.  He is well qualified for the work committed to his charge.  For 11 years he was connected with the secretaryship of his conference.  He taught school for seven years before entering the conference.  He graduated from the National Normal University at Lebanon, O. in 1873 and afterwards took a full course in the theological department of Central Tennessee college at Nashville under Dr. J. Braden.  He is now president of the Ohio district of the Epworth League.  Mr. Tate's characteristic feature is energy.  This combined with his painstaking carefulness is sure to place him in the front ranks of those who are advancing the Negro's condition in our midst.  A grand reception will be tendered Rev. Tate and family April 23.
Source:  undated clipping from unnamed newspaper submitted on 10 Aug 2009 by Penny Rucker who writes,
"I have recently been doing some research on a gentleman by the name of H.W. Tate. I have found an old newspaper article with information of Mr. Tate graduating from National Normal University in 1873. Then attending Central Tenn. College in Nashville. Mr. Tate is an African American. I have searched your 1870 census and am unable to find any mention of African Americans attending. I began my search on Mr. Tate after my Mother bought a very old history book belonging to Mr. Tate, inside tucked in the pages was a drawing of a cabin with the heading stating "The cabin in which I lived, when a slave in Clay Co. N.C." This is an original drawing very old and very fragile. Just thought you might be interested in this information. I am attaching the newspaper article that states his graduation date and place. If you find any information on him please let me know."
Funeral Program (outside front & back) submitted 16 Jan 2010 by Penny Rucker who received it from his Great Grandson Henry Burton Tate Jr.
Rev. R. L. Braxton Rev. D. M. Jordan
Rev. L. R. Simmons Rev. L. E. Jordan
Rev. J. M. McKinney Rev. W. H. McCallum
John E. Owens Walter Chenault
J. F. Delaney Rev. J. H. Payne
Rev. L. R. Fletcher  
In Memoriam
The Rev. H. W. Tate
Mt. Zion M. E. Church
Tuesday, March 17th, 1931
Fifty Years in the Ministry
Funeral Program (inside) submitted 16 Jan 2010 by Penny Rucker who received it from his Great Grandson Henry Burton Tate Jr.


Rev. Henry Wister Tate was born in Hayesville, Clay County, North Carolina, December 6, 1855, during the dark days of slavery. His mother was a slave, and his father a Caucasian and medical doctor. Being endowed with great energy, he never knew the word fail. He was a slave until he was 8 years of age. The only book he ever saw was an elementary speller, in which he learned his A, B, C’s. With his mother and stepfather, George Pleasant, he settled at Troy, Ohio, in 1866, and received training in the Colored school there, until he was promoted to the white public school, he being the first Colored boy ever admitted. This made no small stir at the time. At 18 yearss he graduated from the National Normal University at Lebanon, Ohio, under Prof. Alfred A. Holbrook, in 1873. For two years he attended the Theological Seminary at Wittenberg College, Springfield, Ohio, while pastoring Wiley M. E. Church there. He studied and graduated in the Theological Department of Central Tennessee College, Nashville, Tenn. in 1889. For seven years Rev. Tate taught in the public schools of Ohio with marked success at Troy, Chambersburg, Willshire and Bridgeport. Yielding to the impression of his call to the ministry, he was licensed to exhort by Rev. D. W. Heston and to preach by Rev. Marshall W. Taylor, D. D., in 1878. He united with the Lexington M. E. conference in March, 1880 in Paris, Ky., at the age of 24, and served his conference faithfully ever since. He also served in the secretaryship of his conference eight years and three years as statistician, president of the Conference Epworth League eight years, and he represented his conference at three International Epworth League Conventions, viz.: at Toronto, Canada, in 1897; Indianapolis, Ind., in 1899; and Detroit, Mich., in 1903. For seven years he was the efficient treasurer of the conference. We find in him the possibilities of an humble birth. He was left an orphan at 14, but he struggled to acquire an education at a disadvantage. Though poor and an orphan boy, he proved that one can come to distinction by energy and close application to study. It was through the wisdom of the conference at Paris, 1907, after twenty-seven years’ work in the pastorate, to appoint him the Presiding Elder of the Louisville District, a much deserved recognition to a man made from start to finish by the conference. Rev. Tate always went to the charges assigned him cheerfully, and he remained until moved by the Bishop, and he labored to make each place better than he found it. He was a lecturer as well as a minister, and as such was earnest and impressive. Among his favorite topics were “Afro-American, Past, Present and Future,” “The Colored Man in Comparison with Other Races,” and “The Possibilities of an Humble Birth.”
During the fifty years of his ministerial work, he pastured several charges in Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana. About eleven months ago he retired from his activities, the last charge being St. Marks, this city. Because of his ambitious make-up, he continued to be active until he was stricken by illness about the middle of December last, from which he never fully recovered. As well as public worker, he was a home man, devoted to his family and was always planning for their welfare. He was good natured, jolly and always sociable to all classes of people. He departed this life on Friday, March 13, 1931 at 5:50 P. M. at his home at 920 Lincoln Ave. He leaves to mourn their loss his widow, Cora V. Tate; his sons, Elias W., Henry E., and Robert E. Tate; and his daughter, Mrs. Minnie Booker; also five grandchildren. He lived a full life as shepherd of his flock and friend of humanity and left this life in the full triumph of faith, having gone to receive his Heavenly Reward.

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