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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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WILLIAM T. BATE, deceased, was a grandson of William and Mary Bate, and a son of William and Mary (Bennett) Bate. He was born October 25, 1818, at Tywardreth, Cornwall, England, and was brought by his parents to Liverpool, and subsequently to Manchester and other points in Lancashire, his father having been a blacksmith and boilermaker.

After a period spent in the schools of his native land, William T. Bate entered the shops under the supervision of his father, and acquired a general knowledge of the business. In 1835 he began at Parconsoles, Cornwall, England, an apprenticeship under Richard Terrell and William West, the latter named having been a mechanical engineer. For twelve years he followed his trade of blacksmith and boilermaker in various portions of the country, and then, having concluded to seek a broader field for his skill and labor, he came to the United States, leaving England for New York on July 13, 1847, and arriving here after a tedious voyage of eight weeks. Soon after his arrival he found employment at Belleville, New Jersey, and later was engaged in other parts of the state, later removed to Connecticut, from whence he changed his place of residence to Westminster and Finksburg, Maryland, and then to Liberty, Maryland, where he engaged in milling. In 1856 he was solicited to assume charge of the boiler and blacksmith shops of the Norris Iron Works, then the leading establishment in Montgomery county, Pennsylvania, where he was employed until 1857, when owing to the business depression and panic which prevailed at that time the works were closed. He then removed to Easton, Pennsylvania, where his family resided, and he was employed as superintendent of the Warren Iron Foundry at Phillipsburg, New Jersey. About the year 1859 he returned to Norristown, where he again entered the employ of the Norris Iron Works in the same capacity, that of superintendent, remaining there until 1865 when he came to Conshohocken, but it was not until 1878 that his family removed to that town. Here he engaged in the manufacture of steam boilers in addition to blacksmithing and general work pertaining to the trade, the business being conducted under the firm name of William T. Bate & Company, comprising William T. Bate, his son, Richard H. Bate, and John Wood. The new enterprise, which was then located near the banks of the Schuylkill river, was soon put upon a successful and profitable basis through the well-directed efforts of the members of the firm. The partnership of William T. Bate & Company was continued up to 1868, when Mr. Wood withdrew from the business, and the firm of William T. Bate & Son was formed. In December, 1868, the business was removed to its present location in order to secure more commodious and suitable buildings, and since then the firm have erected others to meet the increasing demands of the trade. For a number of years they have been engaged in the manufacture of steamboilers, gas apparatus, iron and brass castings, gasometers, core-barrels and all kinds of blacksmithing and machine work. The establishment is the most extensive of its kind in Conshohocken, furnishing employment to a large number of laborers, skilled mechanics and other artisans, and under the united efforts of both father and son the name of William T. Bate & Son has everywhere become recognized as a guarantee for superiority and perfect workmanship.

Many of the patents of the firm have received most favorable mention in the scientific journals of this and other countries, and have proved in practical use to be of the highest merit and of great value as contributions to the list of useful mechanical inventions. William T. Bate devised and perfected an ingenious and valuable steam generator which he patented, and which after numerous practical tests has proved of great value and use in the generation of steam, particularly to the merchant marine of this country and elsewhere.

Mr. Bate took an active interest in everything belonging to the business until within a few years of his death, when the increasing infirmities of age compelled him to leave details to others, and more particularly to the junior partners, his sons, Richard H. and John S. Bate. By his strict integrity and conscientious business methods he made an enviable reputation for the establishment which has been fully maintained by his sons, winning for them a prominent position in the manufacturing and commercial world. He was at the time of his death the oldest boilermaker in the United States, and was also the oldest member of the American Boiler Manufacturers’ Association of the United States and Canada. The first water gas model for Professor T. S. C. Lowe, of Norristown, Pennsylvania, when he was experimenting in the manufacture of that article, was made at the Bate Works, and the model is still in the possession of the firm. Mr. Bate had probably more patents granted to him in the line of boilers and gas generating apparatus than any other individual. One of his latest devices was a low water alarm for boilers, an exceedingly useful device. He was a very superior draughtsman, and a fine example of his work in this line was a representation of the boiler plant of the Norristown Hospital for the Insane, which hangs upon the wall of the office of the Bate Company. It shows everything to the minutest detail and is elegantly drawn. Mr. Bate was a member of the Episcopal church, a Republican in politics, advocating the principles of his party, and was affiliated with the Independent Order of Odd Fellows and other organizations.

Mr. Bate married, January 18, 1839, Miss Elizabeth George, of Cornwall, England, who died April 5, 1900. Elizabeth (George) Bate was a daughter of William George, of Cornwall, England. She was born November 29, 1818, and on July 13, 1847, came to the United States with her husband. She was a dutiful and faithful wife and an indulgent mother to her children. She was a most estimable lady of the old school type, and in her death the community lost a benevolent and good Christian woman. The children of William T. and Elizabeth (George) Bate were: 1. William, who married Elizabeth Rotes, and is now deceased, leaving a widow and seven children; 2. Edward T., who married Mary A. Hall, and is now deceased, leaving a widow and two children, mentioned at length hereinafter; 3. Mary, who became the wife of Charles Fairbairn, was the mother of six children, and is now deceased; 4. Richard H., of whom see forward; 5. Elizabeth J., who became the wife of Cadwallader H. Brooke, and they are the parents of five children; 6. John S., of whom see forward; 7. Ella F., who became the wife of W. C. Johnson, and has two surviving children; 8. Caroline A., who died in 1876, while her parents resided in Philadelphia; 9. George, who died in childhood; 10. Thomas, who died in infancy; 11. Clara T., who became the wife of George E. Stees; 12. Matilda, who died in infancy; 13. an unnamed child who died in infancy; 14. Abraham L., who died in infancy.

The death of Mr. Bate came rather suddenly on Wednesday morning, February 10, 1904, although he had been in poor health for many months. The employees of the works attended the funeral in a body, and the floral offerings were magnificent. The Rev. H. J. Cook, of Conshohocken, rector of Calvary church, officiated, and the remains were interred at Montgomery cemetery, Norristown, Pennsylvania. The pallbearers were six grandsons of deceased, namely: Howard, Frank and Richard Bate, of Conshohocken, Albert Bate, of Manayunk, and George and Charles Fairbairn of Philadelphia. The Conshohocken Recorder made this comment, which touched a chord in the hearts of all who know him: “In the passing away of Mr. Bate, not only Conshohocken mourns, but all who ever came in contact with him, whether in business or otherwise. His honest and upright principles have always been recognized. His charitable hand was ever extended to the worthy.”

Edward T. Bate, second son of William T. and Elizabeth (George) Bate, died April 17, 1889, in the forty-eighth year of his age, leaving a widow and two children: Laura A., deceased, and Frank Bate. He was an old soldier in the truest sense of the term, and had served his country valiantly during the Civil war. Mr. Bate enlisted on August 10, 1861, in Company C, Eighth Regiment Pennsylvania Cavalry, for three years, and after serving the full term faithfully he reenlisted for a similar term, or until the close of the war. Early in 1864, on account of good behavior and faithful service, he was detailed as an orderly at General Pleasonton’s headquarters, and shortly after was made brigade postmaster. After the surrender of General Lee’s army his brigade was ordered to Lynchburg, Virginia, for garrison duty, and Mr. Bate was assigned the position of mail agent between that place and Richmond. During the performance of his duty, on the night of July 23, 1865, while returning to Lynchburg on a government mixed train on the South-Side Railroad, in an accident by which the train was precipitated a distance of eighty feet into a ravine by the collapse of a bridge, Mr. Bate received injuries that crippled him for life and finally caused his death. On recovering consciousness after the accident he found that he was partially buried in the sand and pinned fast beneath the tender of the locomotive. Upon being released it was discovered that he could not move any part of his body except his head, which was uninjured, and to those who saw him then his partial recovery, even, seemed to have been a miracle. Those who knew him from knowledge acquired by actual presence with him during the four years of the war, have truly said that there was no better soldier in his regiment. He took part with it in all the many battles of the Army of the Potomac, and never shirked a duty, and it is said that he never responded to a sick call, or was ever off duty on account of sickness. He was taken prisoner with others at the battle of Chancellorsville, but later was exchanged and returned to his regiment. His regiment, which went into service twelve hundred strong, was mustered out on August 11, 1865, numbering less than three hundred. Mr. Bate was left upon a cot in the brigade hospital at Lynchburg, and was unable to get home until two or three months later. He was a member of the George Smith Post, No. 79, Grand Army of the Republic, for several years, and at the time of his death the organization attended the funeral aid conferred upon their dead comrade all the honors of war.

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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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