A Little Family History
My Cates Family Line
My Cates Family Photos
Online Cates Genealogy Research Resources
My Cates Family History:
(Rust colored text is corrections and updates)

My maternal grandmother's maiden name was Cates.  Her fathers name George Dibrel Cates.  Great-grandpa was born on July 4, 1871, probably in Jackson County, Tennessee. His family had also lived in Putnam County prior to the 1880 census.  George's father was Thomas Cates and his mother was Sarah.  According to the 1880 Census, Thomas'  father was born in Tennessee and his mother in North Carolina.  Great-Grandpa was probably named for General George Dibrell, a Confederate hero of White, Putnam, and Jackson counties.  It is also possible that he was named after him because his father served with General Dibrel in the 8th Tennessee Cavalry.

According to other family members, George loved to whistle and to sing, a trait that he would pass down to some of his children.  He married my great-grandma, Minnie Lou Oliver, in 1897 (see the Oliver Genealogy Page for her family's history).  Great-Grandma's family was living in Allen County Kentucky at the time, so George's family probably lived there also or lived in one of the neighboring counties (Barren, Monroe, Simpson, and Warren Counties in Kentucky and Macon and Sumner Counties in Tennessee).  George and Minnie began their life together in Warren County, living there for about five years.  The 1900  Census show them living there with a boarder, Sy Gilbert (38 years old).  George and Minnie's first child, William, was born there in 1898.  William died as an infant, probably only about three months old.  My grandmother, Lattie Mae Cates, her oldest brother Lester, and brother Lewie (not sure about Lewie, but it is likely) were born there also. About 1904, Great-Grandpa moved his little family to Southern White County, Tennessee somewhere near Doyle and Sparta. Great-Grandpa's older sister, Francis Amelda Cates Dockery Goodwin lived nearby in Monterey (in Putnam County). Lucy, Oliver, Thomas, and G.D. were born in White County.  Grandmother met and married her first husband, Dewey Geer, in White County in 1914.

Great-Grandpa probably was a tenant farmer or a sharecroper but may also have worked in a saw mill in White County.  I am assuming this because of pictures found along with family pictures.  But in November of 1918, he decided to move his family to the Dallas Mill/Rison community in Madison County, Alabama (then just outside of Huntsville, later annexed into Huntsville).  According to the Dallas Mill Registry, Great-Grandpa started working in the mill on 12/17/1918.  Obviously Great-Grandpa could not read or write, because he signed the registry with a X.  Dallas Mill Village was built to house the employees of the Dallas Textile Mill which which had began operation about 1892.  Dallas Mill made woven cotton sheeting which was bleached and/or dyed at another facility.  The village consisted of about 380 or more duplexes, a general store, Rison School, and a YMCA.  The Dallas Mill Villagers shared a blacksmith shop and two nurses with nearby Abingdon Mill Village.  The streets were curbed and guttered.  At least some of the village duplexes had indoor plumbing (water closets).  These were probably reserved for the mill foremen. George and Minnie's facilities were likely outdoor.  The villagers stabled their milk cows behind their houses and grazed them on the company pasture which was where the old Lee High School was later built.  The village children amused themselves by fishing or catching tadpoles in Dallas Branch, that is if they were not working in the mill. Downtown Huntsville was accessible to the village via trolley car.  Lewie Cates began working in the mill on 4/8/1919, Great-Grandma on 5/19/1919, Lester on 5/22/1919, and Lucy on 11/11/1919 (at the age of fourteen).  They likely worked eleven hours a day for about $19 dollars every two weeks (about 59 cents/hour assuming they only worked six days a week).  Mill works was hot, dirty, very noisy, and because of poor safety standards, dangerous.  People (sometimes children) lost fingers and even arms in exposed pulleys.  There was one incident in which a young lady was scalped when her hair was caught in a pulley.  An old Dallas Mill legend is that a man was decapitated in the north end elevator while bending over the open shaft talking to a person on the floor below.  The air in the mill was thick with cotton fibers.  People that worked in the mills sometimes developed a disease know as "Brown Lung" (byssinosis) from inhaling these fibers.  The mill workers were treated as second-class citizens and referred to as "lint heads".  Many of the families in the village were forced by economics to put their children to work in the mill (child labor laws were not enforced very well at that time).  Photos of children who worked in Dallas Mill can be found among the Lewis Hine photographs used in a child labor investigation by the National Child Labor Committee back in the first quarter of the 1900's to show how child labor laws were being ignored across the country.   The mill owners controlled most every aspect of the "lint heads'" lives.  They all were basically just property of the mill treated little better than the slaves that worked the old Bell Factory Textile Mill in the previous century.  Why did they endure all of this?  Because working in the mill probably paid twice as much as sharecropping.  

Tragedy was to come to the Great-Grandma and Great-Grandpa Cates.  In 1920 Lucy, now at the age of 15, would run away from home.  Some family members say that she had attempted to run away from home before, and George and Minnie had her put in reform school for a time.  My mother had had never heard anyone mention that.  Regardless, Lucy would succeed in getting away.  Family legend has it that she ran away to go to Hollywood to become a movie star.  While on the run she was killed in a train/car accident.  Accounts differ on where this occurred, some say Mississippi, others Arkansas. Accounts also differ on whether or not Great-Grandpa went to identify her remains.  We do know that Lucy's remains were buried where she was killed instead of bringing her back to Huntsville.  No one now living knows what exactly happened to Lucy.  Her brothers and sisters would not speak of the circumstances of her running away nor of her demise.  Great-Grandma could not bring herself to even talk about Lucy anymore.  Understand this was just the way Great-Grandma handled situations she could not do anything about, she just wouldn't talk about it.  Talking about Lucy would not bring her back, but only revived the pain and sorrow.  It is said that she spoke of Lucy and her first child that died as a baby in her later years.

Lester met his wife Ethel Ross there in the village.  Her family, who was originally from White County, Tennessee also, lived one house over and Ethel worked at the mill.  Lester and Ethel would marry in 1920.  In 1921 Lewie Cates would marry Maude Cunningham in the village also.

Dewey Geer and my grandmother, Lattie Mae,  would have three daughters, Irene, Jewel, and Mildred, born to them up in White County, but they moved down to Madison County (northwest of Huntsville) prior to 1924.  They lived on the Moon Farm and picked cotton there. Dewey and Lattie Mae's youngest daughter, Jimmie Lee, was born on the Moon Farm in 1924.  Jimmie Lee was named after Jimmie Lee Moon.  Dewey didn't want his children growing up picking cotton though, so they moved back to White County, Tennessee.

Great-Grandma probably never adjusted to the mill village life.  Many people had left their lives as sharecroppers and tenant farmers to come to the village in hopes of a better life, but found that life in the village was dreary and often times harsh.  Smoke from the mills' smokestacks and from the village houses hung often like a pall over Huntsville. The mill workers were packed into three room duplexes and children played from yard to yard, so quite was probably in short supply.  The mill worker's lives revolved around the mill whistle.  This was all very different from the rural life that George and Minnie were used to.  They also had to deal with the memory of the daughter that had ran away, never to be seen alive again. Would she have still be in alive if they had never left White County, Tennessee for this place?  These things had to prey upon their minds.  So Great-Grandpa and Great-Grandma Cates packed up the family and moved to Elora, Lincoln County, Tennessee.  Lewie and Maude Cates would remain in the village though.  Lewie and Maude would continue to live in the Dallas Mill Village and vicinity until Lewie died in 1971 and Maude became too sick to live alone and later died in 1981.

Dewey Geer died in 1925 or 1926 from meningitis, and grandmother moved her family down to Elora to be with her mother and father.  Grandmother would meet my grandpa, James (Jim) Porter Kilpatrick while living there, and marry him in 1927.  They would live near Flintville, Lincoln County, Tennessee.  My mother Lattie Devonia Kilpatrick was born there in 1928.  Jim's son, Andy, would later marry Lattie's oldest daughter, Irene.

Great-Grandpa and Great Grandma Cates would move to Plevna, Madison County, Alabama (just south of Elora) sometime around 1927. There Oliver Cates would meet and marry Mabel Stone.  Mabel was the granddaughter of Hannah Kilpatrick Stone who was the half sister of my grandfather, James Porter Kilpatrick.  They would marry in 1930.

Great-grandpa Cates died in Plevna on December 22, 1928.  He is buried in the Elora community cemetery.  Oliver and Mabel would continue to live and farm with Great-Grandma in Plevna.  Their first two children would be born there.  In 1934 they would move closer to Huntsville where Oliver would farm some, and later he and Mabel would find work at the Huntsville Manufacturing Cotton Mill.  Great-Grandma Cates, Thomas, and G.D. would move on the Hayes farm near Lily Flag, Madison County, Alabama where Lester and Ethel were probably already living.

Jim and Lattie Mae Kilpatrick moved on Marc Cochran's farm on Mountain Fork Creek near New Market, Madison County, Alabama in 1932.  Mother started to school at New Market which was a consolidated school at that time. Mother would ride a bus to school.  The school bus had no glass in the windows, there were canvas flaps that rolled down to cover the windows in the cold or rainy weather. The canvas flaps did little keeping out the cold wind.

Irene Geer Kilpatrick would die of leukemia in October 23, 1936.

G.D. and Thomas would both be drafted into the service during WWII, and Great-Grandma would move in with Jim and Lattie Mae Kilpatrick.  G.D. would take the name George as his given name when he entered the service.  G.D. was stationed in Australia where he would meet and marry Olga.  Minnie's youngest boys going off to war must have worried her very much and again, she handled it by not talking about it, but she would always be first at the mailbox to check for any mail from them.

Ethel Ross Cates would die in 1946.  Lester moved to Lanett, Alabama where his oldest daughter Minnie Lou Cates Harper lived.  He would marry Virginia Allen Brewer in 1953.

Grandmother and Grandpa Kilpatrick had moved back to Flintville in 1942 and lived there two years after which they moved back on Mountain Fork Creek.  In 1945 Grandmother and Grandpa Kilpatrick moved on a farm near Vann Town, Tennessee.  The farm was owned by Jewel Geer's husband, Edward Campbell, and Mother's half brother, Andy Kilpatrick.  Mother would graduate from New Market School in 1947.  She would marry my dad James Flavel Kilpatrick in 1948.

The Oliver Cates family left Alabama in 1947 and moved to Kingman, Arizona where Oliver had went to seek relief for his asthma and was working at the air force base salvaging World War II planes.  Oliver would work mostly as a carpenter and Mabel would work as a seamstress.  Oliver and Mabel would live in different towns in Arizona until Oliver died in 1991 and Mabel in 1998.  Both are buried in Dewey, Arizona.

Great-Grandma Minnie Cates would alternate living with Grandmother and Grandpa, Thomas, Lester, and granddaughter Minnie Lou during the latter half of the forties.  She was living with Grandmother and Grandpa right before Mother and Dad married in July or 1948, and she was living with them when Grandpa died in December of 1959.

Great-Grandma and Grandmother moved to Maysville, Madison County, Alabama after Grandpa died.  They would live for a year in a little house next to Great-Granddad Floyd Kilpatrick.  Then they would move to a apartment in a housing project for seniors and widows in Huntsville right off of Washington Street.  This was very close to the Dallas Mill Village where George and Minnie had lived.  They would worship with the nearby Lincoln Church of Christ.  Shortly thereafter, Lester would move Great-Grandma in with him again.  In 1963, Great-Grandma would fall and break her hip.  She died of pneumonia October 03, 1963.  Great-Grandmother is buried in Elora Cemetery also.

Grandmother would marry Herschell Parkerson of Elora in 1967.  Grandpa Parkserson had been married to Mildred Ross, the sister-in-law to Grandmother's brother, Lester Cates.   They would live in Huntsville until Grandmother died in February of 1969.  Grandmother is buried in the Kilpatrick cemetery near Flintville.  Check out the Family Line Section next to see all the children of George and Minnie Cates and who they married.

Check back for updates and additions.

The Memoirs of Lester Cates - Provided by Jimmie Lea Cates Mitchell

The Memoirs of Lattie Devonia Kilpatrick

Oliver Cates information contributed by his son Murray Cates.

The Heritage of Madison County, Alabama - Madison Heritage Book Committee

Portraits in Time, Stories of Huntsville and Madison County - By Tom Carney

From Civil War to Civil Rights, Alabama 1860-1960
An Anthology from The Alabama Review Compiled by Sarah Woolfolk Wiggins

A Day in the Village, Huntsville Times, 12/3/2000 - By Mike Salinero

My Cates Family Line:
Check out the list of descendants for George Dibrel Cates, and if you find a relative in any of these lists, get in touch with me.  I'd love to here from you.  If you are descendant, send me a run down on your family line so that I can add it to my database.
Children and Grandchildren of George Dibrel Cates
Cates Family Photos
George Dibrel Cates
Children of George and Minnie Oliver Cates
More pictures of George and Minnie Oliver Cates
Lattie Mae Cates and husbands Dewey Geer and James Porter Kilpatrick
Oliver Cates and wife Mabel Stone, Lester Cates and wife Ethel Ross
Daughters of Lattie Mae Cates
Minnie Oliver Cates, daughter Lattie Mae, and son Lester