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Below is a family biography included in the Biographical Annals of Montgomery County, Pennsylvania published in 1904 by T. S. Benham & Company and The Lewis Publishing Company; Elwood Roberts, Editor.  These biographies are valuable for genealogy research in discovering missing ancestors or filling in the details of a family tree. Family biographies often include far more information than can be found in a census record or obituary.  Details will vary with each biography but will often include the date and place of birth, parent names including mothers' maiden name, name of wife including maiden name, her parents' names, name of children (including spouses if married), former places of residence, occupation details, military service, church and social organization affiliations, and more.  There are often ancestry details included that cannot be found in any other type of genealogical record.

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RICHARD H. BATE, junior member of the firm of William T. Bate & Son, proprietors of the extensive Montgomery Boiler and Machine Works at Conshohocken, and one of the leading and prominent citizens of that borough and Montgomery county, was born on May 23, 1845, in Cornwall, England, a son of William T. and Elizabeth (George) Bate.

In 1847 his parents emigrated to this country and settled at Belleville, New Jersey, and he obtained his early education in the schools of Westminster and Finksburg, Maryland. Subsequently his parents removed to Norristown, Pennsylvania, where he continued his educational advantages in the public schools of that town up to the year 1859, when he laid aside his school books and turned his attention to the acquiring of a practical vocation. He indentured himself to learn the blacksmith and boiler making trade in the Norristown Iron Works at Norristown, his father at that time being superintendent of the works. He was an employee of that establishment up to 1865, at which time, having thoroughly mastered his trade and at the same time become familiar with every detail of the boiler and machine making branch of mechanics, he became associated in business with his father under the firm name of William T. Bate & Company. The firm first consisted of William T. and Richard H. Bate and John Wood, and was established for the manufacture of boilers and general machinery, being located at Conshohocken. In 1868 this partnership was dissolved, Mr. Wood retiring, and the firm was reorganized under the name of William T. Bate & Son, the present extensive Montgomery Boiler and Machine Works having been built for the manufacture of boilers, gas apparatus, core-barrels, castings, and all kinds of blacksmithing and machine work. The firm had made a small beginning in 1865, but the business tact and energy of the several members soon won for the firm prestige and a wide and well-deserved reputation, with a consequent increase of trade extending to all parts of the country, and giving employment to a large force of men. In the manufacture of boiler and steam generators (and the same may be said of most of their products of manufacture) they have been using their own patents. As their business developed and extended they increased their facilities by the erection of new buildings, and now give employment to a large number of workmen and skilled mechanics. Some of their patents have been of a very important character, have received creditable mention in the various scientific journals of the country, and have proved in their application and actual use to be of high merit and valuable contributions to mechanical inventions.

Since the reorganization of the firm in 1868, Richard H. Bate has taken an active part in all matters pertaining to the business, assisting in the general management of the manufacturing department as well as the trade. By strictly conscientious and fair methods of dealing with the trade and all who come in contact with him, he has become a potent factor in the business, and has won for himself a prominent place in the manufacturing and commercial world. As a citizen he has always been progressive and public-spirited, and has therefore been influential in the public enterprises of Conshohocken. Politically Mr. Bate has always been a firm advocate of the principles of the Republican party, and has taken an intelligent interest and active part in the advancement and success of that party. Though he has never aspired to public or remunerative office, he is at present serving his fourth consecutive term of three years, in representing the third ward of his borough in council. He has been chiefly active and useful in the direction of industrial enterprises, being prominently identified with most of the business interests of the borough which have been brought forward for its development and general prosperity. In addition to his extensive manufacturing interests, he is a director of the First National Bank of Conshohocken, and was for a number of years a director of the Conshohocken Electric Light Company, and a director and managing superintendent of the Conshohocken Gas Company. His aid and influence have been given to almost every movement which has for its object the promotion of the general welfare of his town and county. For over forty years he has been a member of the Montgomery Hose and Steam Fire Engine Company, No. 1, a volunteer organization of Norristown, in which he has rendered dutiful service. On June 30, 1863, during the Civil war, he enlisted in Company E, Thirty-fourth Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers, under Captain F. Sullivan, in the ninety day service. He was, however, not called to the front, and was honorably discharged before the end of his term of enlistment.

On August 31, 1866, Mr. Bate was united in marriage to Mary M. Murray, who was born May 15, 1845, a daughter of Jacob and Elizabeth S. (Thompson) Murray, the former named being a prominent citizen of Norristown, Pennsylvania. On Wednesday, November 14, 1877, occurred the centenarian birthday celebration of Mrs. Elizabeth Thompson, the widow of Benjamin Thompson and grandmother of Mrs. Bate. She was born at Barren Hill, Montgomery county, Pennsylvania, November 14, 1777. “Aunt Betsey” Thompson, as she was familiarly known, was a very remarkable woman, and was seen on the streets of Norristown up to within a few years of her one hundredth birthday. Mrs. Thompson resided in Norristown all her life with the exception of ten years. She remembered the town from its earliest beginning, in fact from the time when it was but a small village, and recollected when farmers passed through on their way to market on horseback. She also recollected when the yellow fever raged so violently in Philadelphia, and when prisoners were brought from the city prison to the county jail here, which was kept by her grandfather, William Stroud. She ate her first meal in Norristown at her grandfather’s, and was also present at the last dinner ever eaten in the old county jail, her son, Archibald Thompson, then being a keeper in the jail, and afterwards for many years being the court crier. Mrs. Thompson was in possession of all her faculties with the exception of a somewhat impaired hearing at the time of her one hundredth anniversary celebration, and took great delight in relating her recollections of General Washington. On one occasion during his term as President, General Washington, en route through Plymouth township, stopped at the Black Horse Hotel, and Mrs. Thompson, then a young girl, had the honor of handing him a drink of water and shaking hands with him. Of her eleven children, those who grew to maturity were: Maria (Mrs. Everly), Archibald, Hannah (Mrs. McBride), James, William, Sarah (Mrs. Earl), Benjamin, Rebecca (Mrs. Rice), Elizabeth (Mrs. Murray), and Ann (Mrs. Weightman). At the time of her one hundredth birthday, Mrs. Thompson had fifty-nine grandchildren and great-grandchildren and five great-great-grandchildren. Of the latter group a little daughter Annie, of Richard and Mary M. (Murray) Bate, of Conshohocken, aged about three months, was the youngest.

Seven children, four sons and three daughters, were born to Mr. and Mrs. Richard H. Bate: 1. Tillie E., born March 9, 1868. 2. Alice Estella, born December 14, 1869, who married H. A. Pennington, October 23, 1889, and had one child, Alice M. Pennington. 3. Howard Middleton, born April 25, 1872; married, February 11, 1902, Amelia Leitenburger. 4. Richard H., Jr., born February 8, 1875, married, May 30, 1900, Annie M. Wafer, and their children are: Helen Wilmer, and Richard H., 3d. 5. Annie E., born August 28, 1877. 6. Wilmer Middleton, born November 19, 1879, died January 10, 1896. 7. John S., born November 24, 1881, died April 12, 1887. Alice Estella (Bate) Pennington, wife of H. A. Pennington and mother of Alice M. Pennington, died one year after her marriage. She had been the assistant librarian of the Sunday school connected with the Methodist Episcopal church of Conshohocken, was an ardent Sunday school worker, and a zealous Christian woman. The members of her class attended her funeral services in a body and assisted in the last rites of laying to rest one who had been beloved by all who knew her. The following are the resolutions passed at a special meeting of the Methodist Episcopal Sunday School Association of Conshohocken, and presented to the family:

The sad tidings have come to us that Mrs. Alice (Bate) Pennington has passed away from earth. For years she was a scholar in our Sabbath school, and afterwards was one of our librarians. She was uniformly faithful, cheerful, and kindly, never refusing any work assigned to her, and performing all duties with a glad and loving heart. We are grieved to think we shall see her face no more. We weep with her husband and bereaved family, and a large circle of friends who mourn her loss; we lament that the happy home so soon be darkened, that one so young and lovely in life should receive the summons of death; we cherish her memory, we emulate her virtues, and we lay this humble tribute of affection upon her untimely grave.
Resolved, That a copy of the above expression of sympathy be given to the family, and sent to the Norristown Herald and Conshohocken Record for publication.
Signed: Rev. T. M. Griffith, J. W. Drummond, Fannie Herron, Clara Ulrick, Sallie E. Keys.

The funeral of Wilmer Middleton Bate occurred January 13, 1896, from the home of his parents in Conshohocken. The services were conducted in the Presbyterian church by Rev. Mr. Miller, of the Methodist Episcopal church, Nineteenth and Christian streets, Philadelphia; Rev. J. W. Bradley, pastor of the Conshohocken Methodist Episcopal church, and Rev. J. T. Sheppard, pastor of the Conshohocken Presbyterian church of which the deceased was a member. The pall bearers were: Harry Buckle, Frederick Eickfeldt, Bertram Caine, George Glenzinger, James Machonachy, and Lewis Dunlap, all friends of the deceased. The floral tributes from relatives and friends were numerous and magnificent.

The following are the resolutions passed by the committee of the Conshohocken Public School upon the death of Wilmer Middleton Bate:

WHEREAS. In his all wise providence our Heavenly Father has seen fit to call from among us Wilmer Middleton Bate, a fellow-member of our Literary Society, and a member of the first class of the division of the High School. We must therefore bow in humble and contrite submission to the will of Him “who doeth all things well,” and await that final day when all who sleep shall wake, and when all that is dark and mysterious in His providence here, shall be made plain; therefore, be it

Resolved, That in his early death, the community has lost one, who gave promise of becoming one of its foremost citizens, the Society a true, efficient and highly esteemed member, the school a conscientious and dutiful pupil, the class its brightest scholar, and the parents a model christian young man, and an illustrious son.

Resolved, That we sincerely sympathize with the deeply stricken family, and tender them our heartfelt sympathy in this their sad hour of affliction. No word of condolence can express the deep feeling of sorrow which pervades in our hearts, but it is the will of the divine power who orders all things for the best, and we commend them for consolation to Him who alone can comfort the afflicted and support them in the time of their sore distress.

Resolved, That a copy of these resolutions of respect be entered on the minutes of the Society, published in the Conshohocken Recorder, and a copy sent to the bereaved family.

By order of committee. Signed by Prof. J. H. Landis, Eva V. Rowley, Edmund K. Williams, Ivy L. Gilbert, William Bailie.

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This family biography is one of more than 1,000 biographies included in the Biographical Annals of Montgomery County, Pennsylvania published in 1904 by T. S. Benham & Company and The Lewis Publishing Company.  For the complete description, click here: Biographical Annals of Montgomery County, Pennsylvania

View additional Montgomery County, Pennsylvania family biographies here: Montgomery County, Pennsylvania Biographies

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