Sketches Of

Tennessee's Pioneer Baptist Preachers


(pages  109-110)

Michael, son of John and Mary Cate , was born in Jefferson County Tennessee, December 20, 1808. He belongs to a family and generation of preachers. Besides his two preacher-brothers, Noah and William, there are in the Cate generation in the South and Southwest more than twenty preachers of influence and standing in the Baptist denomination

September 5, 1828, the Dumplin Church received Michael Cate "by experience and baptism." April 11, 1835, he was "ordained deacon" by the same church, and served his church faithfully in this capacity for fifteen or sixteen years.

In the division and reconstruction of the Dumplin Church, April, fourth Saturday, 1839, after the "Anti-mission" brethren had entered their protests against "foreign missions and the societies of the day," and pulled out, Michael Cate, as the records show, stands as one of the twelve firm pillars, supporting, "on constitutional principles," the old organization, declaring themselves the original church and in favor of missions, and resolving to maintain regular worship in the old house, as they had done for years.

May 6, 1848, Michael Cate was "granted the privilege of exercising his gift in the bounds of the church." May 5, 1851, he was "ordained" by the authority of the Dumplin Church. Elders J. S. Coram, William Billue and William Ellis acting as a presbytery.

May 28, 1833, he was married to Mary French, of Jefferson County; and November 25, 1838, he was married a second time, to Nancy Reneau. His home was near Dumplin Church.

In the business meetings of the church he was often Moderator, and did a great deal of baptizing and other official work for this his home church.

He was pastor, at different times, of Rocky Valley, Dandridge, Pawpaw Hollow, Six-Mile, Pleasant Grove. and Ellijoy churches. He was a sympathetic and faithful pastor. Everybody had confidence in him and loved him. The young people reverenced him; the older people were devoted to him. He was a great stay to his home church, and in Dumplin Valley, where he lived eighty years, he was a great lump of rock-salt. He was a benediction to any community where he was known.

"Uncle Mike" Cate, the old people tell me, had very great power in revival meetings, his sermons and exhortations often having an electrical effect upon his hearers. His solemnity of manner was awe-inspiring; his serious, dignified bearing was impressive. There was no levity, or foolishness, about him. He was a fountain of sympathy, and was greatly in earnest. He was alike successful as a pastor and as a revivalist. He was not a traveling missionary evangelist and collecting agent, like his brothers that were preachers; but holding fast to the center - his home church and community - he maintained a steady and glowing light, which shone far out into the darkness and guided many a wanderer to the Shepherd's fold.

July 2, 1890, Brother Cate closed his earthly career, wept for as a citizen, honored as a "father in Israel," his memory cherished by all who knew him.


Burnett, J .J.  Sketches of  Tennessee's Pioneer Baptist Preachers.  Nashville, Tenn.:  Press of Marshall & Bruce Company, 1919.


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