Skip to main content

Tate and Wilson families papers

Identifier: MS0196

Scope and Contents

This collection documents the life and ancestry of Sarah Wilson Tate, and, to a lesser extent, John Austin Tate. The collection is organized by the major families contributing to Tate's background. Each family is further divided into three categories. The legal documents section consists of such items as wills, birth certificates, marriage certificates, land deeds, and contracts. The history section contains family trees and in some cases published material that documents the family. The final category contains correspondence, both recent letters searching for information and contemporary letters providing letters.


  • Creation: 1765 - 1992


Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Some material may be copyrighted or restricted. It is the patron's obligation to determine and satisfy copyright or other case restrictions when publishing or otherwise distributing materials found in the collections.

Biographical / Historical

The Tate family had a long-time involvement with the textile industry in North Carolina. During the 1830s, Henry Humphreys built in Guilford County one of the first textile mills in the South to use power looms. Humphreys's son-in-law, Thomas Randolph Tate built, in 1848, the Mountain Island Mill, the first mill in Gaston County, on the Catawba River using the machinery from the Mount Hecla Mill. Tate's sons, F. A. and George K. Tate, assumed operation of the mill in 1872. George K. Tate also owned the Mecklenburg Mill in Charlotte. John Austin Tate was born at Mountain Island in Gaston County, N.C., on January 21, 1879 to Alice Lindsay Goodloe and George K. Tate. He spent two years at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, where he was a member of the baseball team. After several years as a sales representative for Charlotte Supply Company, he became a member of the firm Young & Tate, cotton merchants and brokers, with offices in Charlotte and Gastonia, N.C. He was a deacon at First Presbyterian Church in Charlotte and held memberships in the Charlotte Country and Southern Manufacturer clubs. He married Sarah White Wilson (1892-1978) on October 29, 1913. She was the daughter of Mary Elizabeth Witherspoon (1853-1933) and George Edward Wilson (1849-1920). Her brother George Wilson Jr. served as mayor (1929-31) and as postmaster (1942-57) of Charlotte. Sarah and John Tate had four children: Betsy Witherspoon, John Austin Jr., George Wilson, and Sarah Lindsay. John A. Tate, Sr., died in 1934 in Charlotte.


2 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



Primarily papers of Sarah Wilson Tate (1892-1978), including travel diaries, correspondence, financial records, and reminiscences of Christmas-time visits to Coldstream plantation in Sumter County, S.C. Also includes business correspondence of her husband, John Austin Tate (1878-1934); commonplace book of Mary Louise Phifer Wilson; estate records of Joseph Harvey Wilson (1810-84) and Eliza Morehead Lindsay (ca. 1840-ca. 1933); and genealogical and other material about the Erwin, Phifer, Tate, and Wilson families of North Carolina and the Witherspoon family of South Carolina. Also includes photographs of Coldstream plantation and of the Wilson and related families.


The collection is arranged into six series, one of which (Photographs) is further divided into subseries. The six series are: Sarah Wilson Tate (1909-1979), Tate Family (1871-1992), Lindsay Family (1840-1946), Wilson Family (1765-1975), Phifer, Erwin and Witherspoon Families (1884-1979) and Photographs (1870-1910). There is also one file (Charlotte, N.C. history, 1934) that does not belong to any series.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of John A. Tate Jr., 1992.

Related Materials

History of the English Language Class Collection of Transcriptions (ms303)


[For further information, see: Anne King Gregorie, History of Sumter County, South Carolina (1954); Adelaide McKinnon Lore and Eugenia W. Lore, We Have Identified Thousands. Enough! A Compilation of White and Allied Families (1967); Jos. G. Wardlaw, Genealogy of the Witherspoon Family, With Some Account of Other Families With Which It Is Connected (1910); Charles Henry Phifer, Genealogy and History of the Phifer Family (1910); Alice Lindsay Tate Papers, UNC Charlotte; Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission Reports, "Wilson-Shelton House" (1985); and genealogical information filed in this collection.]

Processing Information

Processed by Robert A. McInnes, 1993; encoded by Robert A. McInnes, 2009.

Tate and Wilson families papers
Robert A. McInnes
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Manuscript Collections, J. Murrey Atkins Library Special Collections and University Archives, UNC Charlotte Repository

Atkins Library, UNC Charlotte
9201 University City Blvd
Charlotte NC 28223 United States

About this Site

Finding aids are guides to archival collections, including manuscripts, university records, and oral history collections. These guides help you find physical collections which can be viewed in the Dalton Reading Room on the 10th floor of Atkins Library. A small number of finding aids link to digital content online. Please contact us to learn more or to schedule an appointment:

Special Collections and University Archives
J. Murrey Atkins Library, UNC Charlotte
(704) 687-1170
Schedule an Appointment