Charles T. Cates, Sr. One of the old members of the bar of east Tennessee, Colonel Cates lacks only two years of having completed a half century as a lawyer. He has had a varied and useful life, and has been a soldier, lawyer, legislator, and otherwise identified with the public life of this home of Maryville and east Tennessee.
Charles T. Cates was born in Maryville, Tennessee, January 8, 1840 and was one of the family of eight children born to Rueben L. and Amanda (Wilkinson) Cates. The father was a nativ of North Carolina, and died in 1866, having been a saddler by trade during his early life. Mr. Cates received his early educational advantages in the public schools of his native county, and it is noteworthy that he is one of the living alumni of old Maryville College, as that institution existed in antebellum days. He was graduated from the college with the class of July, 1857. Soon afterward he took up the study of law under the well known attorney, Jesse G. Wallace, but the war came on to interrupt his studies. He enlisted on September 1 in Company G of the battalion of calvary commanded by George D. McClellan. In 1862 he was promoted first lieutenant of Company G, then a part of the First Tennessee Calvary, commanded by Col. I.E. Carter. His service in the army continued until 1865, and the close of the war found him on parole. He at once resumed his law studies and was admitted to the bar in 1865, and was admitted to practice in all the local courts in 1866. Since that time he has been in active practice and one of the leaders of the Blount county bar. He was appointed attorney general during the administration of Governor Brown in 1875, and served one term in the state legislature of 1875.
Mr. Cates was married February 24, 1862, to Miss Martha V. Kidd, a daughter of William Kidd of Maryville, Tennessee. Their four children, now all established in life in home of their own, are: C.T. Cates, Jr., Mrs. Lula C. Knabe, wife of W.A. Knabe of Knoxville, Tennessee; and Mrs. M.J. George, widow of S.L. George, deceased.
The family all worship in the Methodist church South. Mr. Cates is a director in the Maryville bank, and is affiliated with the Masonic order. He is a grandson on his mother’s side of John Wilkinson, who was one of the early attorney generals of Tennessee, and who died in 1829.
Source: Hale, Will T., and Dixon Lanier Merritt. A History of Tennessee and Tennesseans; The Leaders and Representative Men in Commerce, Industry and Modern Activities. Chicago: Lewis Pub. Co, 1913.