In the old Cass County Atlas published in 1874, by W. R. Brink & Co., on page 28 there is a biographical sketch of Dr. Tate dictated by himself, wherein he states that he was the son of Thomas and Elizabeth (Owings) Tate, who migrated to Miami County, Ohio, at an early day from Delaware, their native state; also that he was the fifth in a family of nine children, five sons and four daughters; and was born in Miami county, Ohio, on the 20th of February, 1810. When he was quite young the family moved from Ohio to Lancaster county, Indiana, and remained there twelve years. They then returned to Ohio and settled down on a farm in Montgomery county, where shortly afterward the father died, and then for about five years the care of his mother and younger children devolved upon Harvey, who never faltered in manfully discharging that trust.
At the winter terms of subscription schools in his neighborhood Harvey Tate mastered the elementary branches of an English education. He was very eager to learn, and gave to his books every spare moment of his time, with the result that when he arrived at man's estate in years he was fairly well qualified to assume the responsibility of teaching a country school himself. then came a dispersion of the family, his mother going to live with some of her relatives, and her younger children finding homes among other relatives. Harvey then secured subscribers for a sufficient number of pupils to make up a three months' school, and commenced the vocation of teaching. thus promoted from the cornfield to the station of school teacher he continued with zeal and earnestness, for five years the inexorable conflict with poverty and the world.
Many of the eminent men of our country - as Lyman Trumbull, Stephen A. Douglas, E. D. Baker, Gov. Deneen, and others - began their illustrious careers in that same way. Moved by the laudable ambition that wrought their elevation, young Tate aspired to a higher plane in life than that of a country teacher. Possessing none of the elements for success as a statesman, his natural philanthropy and benevolence inclined him to regard the medical profession as the noblest and most exalted calling of man; and he determined to make every effort possible to fit himself for it, and consecrate his life to the amelioration of human suffering - for adequate remuneration.
With that aim in view he applied such time as he could conveniently spare from the exacting duties of the schoolroom to the laborious study of a few borrowed medical books. In that way, aided and advised by Dr. Van Tyne a local physician, he pursued his studies, often by the light of the midnight lamp - or tallow dip - until he thought he knew enough of the healing art to engage in it as a practitioner. Not having the means to pay for securing further medical instruction in the college halls and dissecting room, he began practicing medicine without collegiate authority in order to earn enough to defray the expenses of obtaining that authority.
That was before the era of ornamental boards of health instituted chiefly for consuming taxes wrung from the people, by creating sinecures for favored political partisans. It was also before the foolish enactment of arbitrary medical practice laws based upon the senseless assumption that a diploma, or certificate from a fancy state board of health having a political pull, constituted a physician. The true physician is born with the especial gifts of genius and aptitude, not made by memorizing text books. With neither diploma or state board of health certificate, Dr. Tate had fairly average success in his practice, well sustained for ten years by faithful attention to his work.
He had wielded a free lance(t) as a country doctor for five or six years, when he met his fate - the inevitable fate of prosperous young men of those days, - appearing to him in the form of a handsome girl, named Rebecca Evans, a native, as himself, of Miami county, with whom he, of course, fell in love. the usual silly courtship followed and in due course of time, they were married on the 4th of August, 1836. In a modest cottage the doctor and his young bride began housekeeping with every prospect of enduring happiness and domestic bliss. His new incentives and added responsibilities animated him with higher hope, and determination to win the battle he was waging. but scarcely more than a year had passed since their wedding day when the sunlight of his home was suddenly dissipated by the death of his young wife. Despite his devoted care and attention, and his skill, and that of other physicians called to his aid, the icy hand of death was laid upon her and her new-born babe, and they were taken away and laid in the grave. That cruel blow shattered the doctor's faith - he had been taught from infancy - in the doctrine of personal supervision of mankind by a Divinity overflowing with goodness and mercy, and thenceforth he was very sensibly attributed such inflictions to purely natural causes.
He bore his great burden of sorrow with fortitude, and in continued work, and philosophical meditation sought relief for his depressed spirits. Then, time, that blunts the point of our misfortunes, by degrees assuaged the poignancy of the Doctor's grief. the clouds of gloom that enshrouded him were gradually lifted and wafted away, and once more there beamed upon him the rays of renewed hope. There also beamed upon him the smiles of Miss Marcy Windsor, a school teacher of his neighborhood, with whom he had been acquainted for some time. Her tender sympathies lightened the dreariness of his lonely existence so effectually that two years after the death of his wife, they were, by the usual wedding ceremony, joined in the holy bonds of wedlock, on the 15th of June, 1839.
Dr. Tate practiced medicine about ten years without a diploma; not deeming, for the first few years, the authority conferred by the parchment essential to his reputation as a practitioner. But popular education was year by year attaching a higher significance to the doctor's Latin-printed "sheepskin," and he saw that he would have to obtain one in order to keep abreast of advancing public opinion and professional ethics. Therefore, making arrangements to meet all contingent expenses, he went to cincinnati in the fall of 1839, and there was matriculated in the Ohio Medical College; from which institution, at close of the session, in March, 1840, he received the degree of Doctor of Medicine. Though the diploma then conferred upon him by the faculty, in point of weight and exalted professional authority, fell lamentably short of that of a modern state board of health certificate, its importance so inflated the young doctor with an increased sense of dignity, and self esteem as to cause him to become dissatisfied with his obscure country location. He suddenly discovered that he needed more elbow room, among more progressive people, to enable him to introduce certain reforms he had devised that inevitably would revolutionize the old time-worn methods of medical practice.
The fame of Central Illinois for beauty and unsurpassed fertility having spread far and wide a stream of immigration was steadily pouring into it from the older settled portions of the country to the east, south and north. The greater part of the newcomers came by wagon transportation by way of Shawneetown, Vincennes or Chicago. Those who came by way of the rivers found Beardstown to be the most convenient gateway to their destination. Having matured his plans deliberately, Dr. Tate left his rural home in the spring of 1841, with his wife and infant daughter, Marcy Rebecca, who was born on January 13th, 1841 - and is now Mrs. jasper Plummer - and began his migration westward. by which route of travel he reached Illinois is now not known; but most probably he left Ohio and Cincinnati by steamboat, thence rounded the point at Cairo, and on up to St. Louis, and up the Illinois river to Beardstown. That he landed at Beardstown is inferred by the fact that his first stopping place in Cass county was at a point on the road nine miles east of that place, now known as the Powell farm, a mile west of Cass Siding. It is altogether probable that he started for Virginia, but at that season the mud was so deep the team that hauled him out of Beardstown could get no farther. There was a little house and a stable there on a forty acres belonging to Joshua Crow, who owned, and lived on, the farm two and a half miles farther east subsequently owned by Mr. Wm. Campbell.
Located in that little house by the wayside, either from choice of compulsion, the Doctor "hung out his shingle" and commenced anew the practice of medicine. His professional services were at once required by the citizens of Monroe precinct, near by, whose confidence and friendship he gained and retained to the close of his life, and for years was the leading practitioner in all that territory. His nearest neighbors were the Proctor family living in a log house less than a mile to the northwest, comprising one son nearly of his own age and three or four daughters. His next nearest neighbor was Halsey Smith a prosperous farmer who built and occupied the two-story brick house now belonging to Daniel Biddlecome.
The Doctor did not long remain out there on the clay hills, having had enough of country life in his native state and Indiana. From the Cass county records we learn that on the 19th of July, 1841, he bought of Joseph Scott - who built it - a two story frame house, with lot 83, in the Public Grounds of Virginia, on which it stands, subject to a mortgage to secure a debt due to Dr. Hall. it is now known as the "Cherry house," a Portuguese harness-maker of that name, prominent in the Presbyterian church, having resided there for several years. There Dr. Tate established himself "permanently," and entered into active competition with Dr. Schooley who had located in the village the year before, and, recently married to Miss Kate Gatton, was residing on the same street about a hundred yards farther east. The antagonism of political parties was at that time characterized by much bitterness. personal animosities engendered in the extraordinary campaign of 1840, when the whigs elected their president, and the democrats carried Illinois and gained a large majority of both houses of the legislature, had not in the least abated.. In Cass county the whigs were in the ascendency, but gradually losing ground. Dr. Schooley was a whig and Dr. Tate a democrat. Immediately the patronage of the two physicians divided on party lines, and that division continued in a general way, and with more or less asperity, for several years.
Employed so promptly and with so much unanimity by the democrats Dr. Tate very naturally became impressed with the belief that his popularity was due as much, or more, to his acuteness and prominence in politics as to his skill and success as a practitioner of medicine. That delusion stimulated his ambition to attain an official position entailing more dignity and distinction than that of the village doctor's station. though party lines were rigidly drawn neither party hd yet adopted the convention system for nominating county candidates, and no restrictions were imposed upon any who chose to run for office. the general state election of 1842 presented the chance Dr. Tate was looking for, and he offered to serve the people of Cass county in the capacity of county judge. He was, however, not permitted to make the race for it alone, as, in a short time Alex Huffman, another moss-back democrat, and pioneer settler of Monroe precinct, announced himself a candidate for it also. Then Robert G. Gaines, son-in-law of Jos. McDonald, and a whig, seeing two democrats in the field, went in the race to beat them both. And, as it was a free for all dash, Ezra Dutch of Beardstown, a democrat, and one John Richardson, of now unknown party proclivities, offered to make the personal sacrifice and serve the people in that judgeship.
The election was held on Monday, the first day of August, 1842, resulting in a sweeping victory of the democrats, who elected Thomas Ford governor by over 8000 majority, and a large majority of both houses of the legislature. In Cass county John W. Pratt, a whig, was elected to the legislature, and "Uncle Alex Huffman" was chosen county judge, receiving 240 votes to 158 for Gaines, 153 for Dr. Tate, 37 for Dutch and 28 for Richardson. For the next year or so Dr. Tate paid closer attention to his practice than he did to politics; but yet, he was always loyal to his party. On the 4th of September of the next year, 1843, the special county seat removal election was held, and Virginia was defeated. The loss of the county seat was a crushing blow to Virginia, and its actual removal, on the 5th of February, 1845, so seriously depressed the prospects of the town that many of its citizens, losing all hope for its future, deserted the place and south their fortunes elsewhere. This calamity to the village was only to a minor degree detrimental to Dr. Tate'[s business, as his practice as almost altogether among the surrounding farmers. but, following so closely his own defeat, very much discouraged him. That, with the operation of certain other influences, decided him to abandon Virginia too.
A few months before, one Dr. George W. Stockton made his appearance in Virginia, proposing to remain here as one of its practitioners of medicine. There was nothing about Stockton, either in personal appearance, or acquirements, to cause any physician to fear his competition; nor did Dr. Tate fear it; but the presence of Stockton gave him the pretext he desired to get away. He sold his house and lot - the mortgage on it still unpaid - to Dr. Stockton, and closing up his business, left Cass county in the fall of 1843, moving to Nauvoo, the Mormon city on the Mississippi. he had two objects in view in going there - as he repeatedly told the writer of this sketch; the one was the hope of benefitting his wife's health by the change; the other was to study the Mormon religion. His wife, formerly Miss Marcy Windsor, a native of Massachusetts, was a well educated and cultured lady, who having fitted herself for teaching as a life vocation, had gone to Ohio for employment. On coming to Illinois her health failed manifesting unmistakable symptoms of consumption. It has been attested - but with what degree of truth, if any - is not definitely known that on going to Ohio she was, for awhile, associated with the Mormons at their Kirtland settlement near Cleveland, and was partially converted to their creed, and it was by her persuasion that the doctor determined to take her back to Massachusetts and try the effect of a higher latitude and the ocean air in arresting the ravages of disease.
They traveled in the eastern states for some months, the Doctor paying their expenses, it was said, by delivering public lectures on phrenology, physiology and kindred subjects. But she continued to decline in health, and died, in 1845, from exhaustion, among her kindred at her birthplace. Dr. Tate and his little motherless daughter then returned to Virginia where they secured a temporary home at the village hotel then managed by Mr. Wm. Armstrong. Dr. Stockton had in the meantime "played out" and departed for Schuyler county leaving behind him a very unsavory reputation. He, of course, failed to pay the debt due on the "Cherry house", which, after foreclosure proceedings and decree of county, was sold by the master of chancery, and purchased by Dr. Hall on the 19th of October, 1845.
Dr. Tate resumed his slavish professional drudgery with vigor and enthusiasm speedily regaining his former circle of practice. but with a small child to care for, and no fixed home his situation was neither pleasant or satisfactory. he had drained the cup of sorrow to its dregs in the deep affliction visited upon him by the loss of his two companions in their morning of life. they were gone, and mourning could not restore them; so he sensibly concluded that, as it is not well for man to be alone, - more especially a medical man - he would look around for another life partner to share his fortunes and misfortunes. With that object in view he remembered his old friendly relations with his early neighbors, Mr. Thomas Proctor and family, and making for that purpose many visits out there not altogether professional, and not charged up in his ledger. Those gratuitous visits, however, were settled for in full when, on the 23d of February, 1848, he was united in marriage with Miss Lydia E. Proctor, a young lady of rare amiability and admirable personal qualities.
As a country doctor, Dr. Tate had seen and experienced all the beauties and grandeur of the business, and was getting tired of its physical labors. He began to long for something to turn up, or some opening to offer, that he could engage in, that would contribute to lighten the burdens of his daily life. running at the beck and call of the public at all hours of the day and night had become very monotonous, and he felt that he would like to have an easier job than the one he had. A few months after his last marriage he thought he saw a chance for relief by buying a drug store offered for sale at Lacon, in Marshall county. the prospect was so alluring that he left Virginia, with his wife and daughter, to find a new home in Lacon. For some unknown reason he failed to consummate the trade for the drug store, but did something in the line of his profession, which, no doubt, would have increased had he remained longer. But he had formed an attachment for Virginia, and his wife, very naturally preferring to be near her relatives, they returned to Cass county the next summer, that of 1849, bringing with them their first-born, a son named Thomas, who came into this cold, heartless world there amidst the Marshall county mosquitoes.
In Virginia once more - to stay there until the end - the Doctor rented a house on the southwestern corner of Beardstown and Job streets and settled down to his same old routine work. the premises he occupied were lots 11, 12 and 13 of Hall's addition to the Public Grounds. And he purchased that property on the 24th of January, 1850, lots 11 and 12 of Alexander Naylor, and lot 13 of Ulysses Naylor. He was there situated only sixty yards from his old competitor, Dr. Schooley, who, however, was gone to California to get rich quickly. His vacancy was supplied by Drs. Lord and Hathwell, and the next year Schooley returned. But Dr. Tate stuck to his post; and was still there long after Schooley, Lord and Hathwell had left Virginia, and long after every physician who was in Cass county at the time he (Tate) first came into it had passed to his final reckoning where pills and powders, and petty professional jealousies, are unknown forever.
The last change of residence made by Dr. Tate in Virginia was in 1867, when he moved from his old home on the corner lots to the premises formerly improved and occupied by Richard S. Thomas on Job street a few yards farther south, which he bought of Samuel Vance, described on the town plat as block No. 1 of the Hall and Thomas addition, less a strip of 90 feet in width off the north end previously sold to Isaac Bell. There, with ample room for his garden and live stock, and his children growing up around him he was well situated to pass the evening of life serenely.
Dr. Tate was always duly interested in public affairs, and, without ostentation or parade, was public spirited enough to willingly bear his share of the public burdens unavoidable in the regulation and advancement of the community. He served the town for years as one of its Board of Trustees. invariably a friend and promoter of education, he was a long time one of its most efficient school directors, often visiting the schools and exercising over them practical personal supervision. In politics he was a primeval Jeffersonian-democrat, but not a noisy, pernicious partisan. Yet, he was well posted on all questions of public policy, able and ready to defend his views, and usually considerably concerned in the management and fortunes of his party. In 1869, he was nominated by the democratic county convention a candidate for superintendent of public schools. His opponent on the republican ticket was James L. Dyer, a teacher of the Arenzville schools and a gentleman of very respectable attainments. At the election on November 2d, Dr. Tate was elected to succeed Hon. J. K. Vandemark, receiving 905 votes and Mr. Dyer 527.
His bond having been filed and approved, Dr. Tate commenced his official career on the first Monday of December in 1869. In order that he might have more time to devote to that career, in 1871 he entered into partnership in the practice of medicine with Dr. C. M. Hubbard, a bright young physician fresh from the same medical college in Cincinnati where he himself had graduated thirty-one years before. There are few avocations in life in which partnerships are so seldom satisfactory as in the medical profession. That partnership was not an exception to the general rule. In the course of a year it was dissolved by mutual consent, without friction or ill-feeling, the younger member of the firm withdrawing and setting up shop for himself.
The routine official work of the superintendent's position gave Dr. Tate genial employment without seriously interfering with his medical practice. It accorded well with his tastes and habits of thought, at the same time affording him opportunities for ventilating some of his reform ideas of teaching. He felt much pride in properly discharging the duties of the position, which he did for four years with credit, and to the general satisfaction of the people. But about the close of his term a temporary realignment of political parties in the county, based upon the county seat removal contest, rendered his re-election impracticable. Dependent then upon his professional work altogether, with sharp competition all around, and the slowing up of vitality by reason of advancing age, impelled him to again devise some means to mitigate the rigorous struggle.
His intimate knowledge of medicines naturally suggested the drug business as the one he could more readily mange, with but moderate capital, and the least preliminary preparation. In the spring of 1873 a neat little drug store was established, in the old Allard corner building, by Rufus Rabourn and Dr. Jeffries, a local dentist, neither of whom had any practical knowledge of the drug trade. They both soon tired of the enterprise and offered it for sale on liberal terms. It was just what Dr. Tate was looking and wishing for, and he bought it, in the spring of 1874. Installing his son, John, as chief clerk, he successfully conducted the store for four years, in connection with his practice, when, growing tire of it himself, he sold the establishment to a man named Sprague, in the summer of 1878. While in the drug business the Doctor concocted a patent nostrum known as "Dr. Tate's Celebrated Anti-Bilious and Liver Pills," warranted to be purely vegetable in composition, and "certain, safe, mild" in action. After disposing of his stock to Mr. Sprague he lived a more returned life at home, still manufacturing his pills which for several years had considerable reputation and sale. He also continued the practice of medicine until forced by decrepitude of age to abandon it.
In stature Dr. Tate was five feet ten inches tall, with well-proportioned figure neither stoop-shouldered or corpulent, having an average weight of about 160 pounds. His complexion was fair and eyes gray, with hair - in early life - of dark sandy color. Until his last days he retained an almost full set of sound natural teeth. His regular features habitually wore a pleasant, benevolent expression, and his smoothly shaved face, in repose, had a reverential look that seemed to index sentiments of piety and devotion. Any stranger would have pronounced him a preacher. He walked with a somewhat shambling gait, his left arm usually partially flexed at the elbow by force of habit, not anchylosis. His voice was soft - almost feminine, his language chaste and grammatically correct; but his conversation and public addresses were void of eloquence and monotonous. Of strict moral character, unexceptional personal habits and deportment, he was temperate in all things, to the degree of total abstinence from the use of liquors, tobacco and profanity. With domestic tastes, much attached to his wife and children, the quietude of his home, pervaded by an atmosphere of affection and filial regard, constituted his sphere of earthly happiness.
He did nothing rashly or hurriedly, was cautious, slow and deliberate in thought, speech and action, and always very considerate of his own ease and comfort - in fact, was very partial to ease and comfort. If called professionally to the country before breakfast he generally remained there until after supper - if the cooking suited him and his horse was well fed. An expert in dietetics and an epicurean, he was usually the last one to leave the table - teaching by example one of his hobbies, the proper and perfect mastication of food. Kind and charitable, abhorring vice, depravity and vulgarity, his natural impulses all tended to the good of the human race, and the elevating and purifying of society. He was not a financier, too lenient to his delinquent patrons and other debtors; too negligent of business affairs; generous with his means, he lived well, and raised a large and expensive family, but accumulated no wealth. In all ordinary transactions he was strictly honorable. As a physician he was as honest and as truthful as the ethics of his profession would permit; for all doctors are compelled to lie and practice deception in self-defense, often to conceal their ignorance.
Many persons of intelligence - some who are well educated - from habitual concentration of thought, or natural eccentricity, adopt hobbies which they advance on all favorable occasions. those whose hobbies are so persistent as to dominate the mind are styled "cranks". Dr. Tate's hobby that brought him in the verge of crankism was "reform". He constantly advocated reform, not only of medical practice, but of society, churches, modes of worship, political parties, and methods of education. He professed to practice the "Eclectic system of medicine, claimed by him to be a vast improvement on the old Allopathic school and a startling reform. In his characteristic style he displayed that idea in a professional card he inserted in the Cass County times, in 1851, as follows:
"H. TATE, M.D.
Medical science and schools were the objects he insisted required reform most urgently, but almost everything in which the public was interested came in for its share. To be sure, some of those things needed considerable reforming; but his theories were so vague and disjointed, and his reform measures so visionary and impracticable that he failed to impress the people with the wisdom of his notions, and he proved no more successful as a reformer than he did as a financier.
For some years the practice of medicine in a wide circle around Virginia was divided between Dr. Tate and Dr. Schooley, each hotly trying to surpass the other in popular favor. They were not only strenuous rivals in business, but bitter personal enemies. As Dr. Schooley for some years had no diploma Tate pronounced him a quack, a half-Indian adventurer who had picked up a little smattering knowledge of medicine while feeding and currying Dr. Chandler's horses. Schooley retaliated by referring to Tate as a root and herb peddler, an old granny and ignoramus. Each had his friends and admirers loyal to his interests and ready to disparage and abuse his rival.
The two men were totally dissimilar in every particular. In their systems of practice, in religious views, politics, temperament, tastes and dispositions they had scarcely an idea in common. Yet, both were good men, the best of citizens, and reputed by their respective friends to be fine physicians. In one particular trait the contrast between them was well marked. Dr. Schooley possessed the Indian's passion for hunting; the savage desire for killing - that he enjoyed as "sport" - fortunately restrict to dumb animals and birds. Dr. Tate, too compassionate and tenderhearted to kill evan a snake or rat, was never known to handle, or fire, a gun. With Goldsmith's Hermit he could well have said:
"No flocks that range the valley free
To slaughter I condemn;
Taught by that Power that pities me,
I learn to pity them."
For all humanity he also entertained heartfelt compassion and charity; never purposely harming or injuring anyone; never speaking evil of his neighbor, (Excepting Schooley;) never retailing malicious gossip or slander, and ever ready to throw the mantle of charity over the faults and frailties of the weak and erring. Finally Dr. Schooley abandoned the field; but too late for Dr. Tate to profit by his victory; as the brisk competition of younger rivals, and the decrepitude of advanced age had rendered himself one of the "old implements" relegated to the "fence corner."
As a physician Dr. Tate was much esteemed by a large class of people, and, in the main, was quite successful. At no time a profound scholar or student, his "book-learning" was superficial and desultory. Therefore, in his practice, he relied but little on theoretical deductions, and depended upon his knowledge gained from experience and precedents; on attentive nursing, and largely on the vis medicatrix naturae. He was a cautious, conservative, practitioner, aiming to check the progress of disease and allay suffering by aiding physiological processes with harmless remedies, avoiding heroic treatment and doubtful experiments. In the sick room he was - as elsewhere - slow, deliberate and methodical, very explicit in his directions to the nurses, and exact in his remedies, carrying with him a pair of prescription scales and small graduated measure by means of which he compounded his medicines to the required grain or drop. he claimed such precision to be scientific reform; but in reality it was stage play more for effect upon the patient and bystanders than from any solicitude on his part for absolute correctness. The element of Eclectic reform and advancement in his system of practice, of which he so loudly boasted, and was his employment of Merrill's "concentrated vegetable extracts," manufactured in Cincinnati, really meritorious remedies, quite popular for a long time, and in use by all progressive physicians. As another phase of his great reform, the Doctor professed to abjure all mineral therapeutical agents as being deleterious to the human system, or covert poisons; yet, when he salivated a hapless patient with his "purely vegetable" (reform) remedies - as occasionally was the case - gravely explained the "complication" away to the attendant relatives in such a satisfactory way as to gain high credit for having saved the victim's life. He never attempted operative surgery, and in minor surgery was timid, bungling and awkward.
Dr. Tate was essentially a good man, actuated in eery walk of life by motives of benevolence and sympathetic kindness. He was naturally a religious man with devotional bent of mind, and ever-present sense of responsibility to Omnipotence. His belief in immortality was fixed conviction - not merely a hope or conjecture. In the old graveyard in the Hall field near Virginia is a child's grave with headstone bearing this inscription: "Charles W. Tate, son of Dr. H. and Lydia E. Tate. Passed by the second birth to bloom in the second sphere, August 29th, 1854. Aged 19 months."
The epitaph on that stone expressed the Doctor's entire creed. Beyond the portals of death was the second birth; beyond that all was chaos and confusion. He meditated deeply upon the much discussed question of man's final destiny, and prayed for divine help to light his bewildered way. In his early manhood he examined into the new cult founded by Alexander Campbell in 1811; but to him it appeared little more than a rope of sand. In 1843, he went to Nauvoo and investigated Mormonism. By his detractors he was accused of becoming a member of that abominable hierarchy, but he denied it. At any rate, he returned as much unsettled in beliefs as before. After his marriage to Miss Proctor - the Proctor family all being Methodists - he was persuaded to join that fold, and he earnestly tired to accept its creed. With the zeal of the new proselyte, he is said to have attempted to preach it; but perhaps his efforts were only to exhort sinners to repentance. But that too failed to satisfy the yearnings of his soul; for, in reality, he was deficient in faith - as defined by the church. Belief of the supernatural and impossible was not his difficulty - it was the essence and nature of that supernatural agency that staggered him. He was convinced that the activity of that agency, or force, was present in life, and not deferred to the "second sphere." Consequently he believed firmly in premonitions, omens, presentiments, and other esoteric phenomena.
He often told that one day during a hot, dry summer he rode his tired horse into a shallow slough for water, stopping near a large dead tree that stood in the water. The thirsty animal had scarcely commenced to drink when the Doctor was suddenly seized with an urgent impulse to get away from there immediately. No sound was heard and not a breath of air was astir. Giving his horse a sharp cut with the whip the startled creature sprung forward several feet. At that moment a large decayed limb of the tree, weighing perhaps half a ton, came crashing down on the spot where he stood an instant before. Again; about the middle of the night, on another occasion, he had just issued his medicines and directions at the bedside of a patient, a few miles from Virginia, when he felt a sudden command, which he could not resist, to return home at once. Rushing to the gate he mounted his horse, and in a sweeping gallop soon reached the village. Arriving at his home he saw an unusual light that, on nearer approach, he discovered emanated from fire rapidly spreading over the rear end of the kitchen, caused by the careless dumping of ashes there early in the evening. Springing from his horse he seized a bucket near by, which happed to be full of water, and with that and more he pumped, extinguished the fire before apprising anyone of the impending danger.
Dr. Tate was an idealist and dreamer, rejecting the rubbish of orthodox theology though sanctioned by the credulity of ages. He looked beyond that for a more rational philosophy to satisfy his soul's aspiration. He was deeply interested in the Harmonial hypothesis of Andrew Jackson Davis in its day - so deeply impressed with it that he named a daughter Harmonia; - and was charmed with the visionary idealism of Emanuel Swedenborg; but he was so totally wanting in application, and the power to concentrate and systematize his ideas that they remained confused and without definite form or order. Had he lived long enough to have become a member of the Society for Psychical Research he would have found in modern Spiritualism removal of all doubts, and satisfactory solution of the many occult problems that sorely perplexed him. he kept aloof from all secret societies, and after having passed the meridian of life, affiliated with no church, willing to rest his case before the Eternal Arbiter of the universe, upon the broad principles of Christian morality, and the consciousness of having done his work to the best of his ability.
His failing strength and faculties compelled him at length to retire from the practice of medicine, to which he had devoted all the best years of his life. Then followed a few more years of involuntary seclusion to which he could reconcile himself. He knew that he had reached the limit - that his course was run; but he was reluctant to depart. The world still appeared to him bright and beautiful. he loved his home, his family, his friends, and clung to life with pathetic tenacity; but exhausted vitality forced him to surrender, and he quietly passed away on the 21st of June, 1891, aged 81 years, 4 months and 1 day.
His wife did not long survive him. After a brief illness she died on the 8th of November 1893, at the age of 66 years, 3 months and 12 days.
Of their children four sons and three daughters are still living. A grown son - the one born at Lacon - and a married daughter, Mr. R. W. Mills, some years before, preceded them to the grave.
A young man named Dunlap studied medicine with Dr. Tate, and "rode" with him, ultimately graduating at one of the St. Louis medical colleges, and located at Arenzville. He there made a promising beginning of a professional career, but too free indulgence in "the cup that both cheers and inebriates" prostrated him in public esteem and confidence, and ruined his prospects and usefulness. He left Illinois about 1867 for some unknown destination, and Cass county heard no more of him.