Genealogy of the Oklahoma Fate Family
by Steven Lewis Fate
last updated February 14, 2004
Our story begins, for now, in the 1770’s where our ancestor Martin Fate was engaged in a rebellion in Germany. Escaping his captors, he found his way to the British colony of Pennsylvania, probably through the port of Philadelphia, and settled in the newly formed Westmoreland County. Given that Westmoreland County was not formed until 1773, and that family tradition observes his arrival around the period of the revolutionary war, it is surmised that he arrived in the 1773 to 1776 period since few immigrant ships arrived after commencement of hostilities. We find listed in the 1790 census of Derry Township, Westmoreland County, as Martin Feat, presumably the subject progenitor with a household of 12 with 10 children. These children are Thomas, George Martin, Martin Luther Jr., Jeremiah, David, Mary, Elizabeth, Jesinah, Rebecca, and Ann. Consistent with the limited written family history, the number of children is supportive of the prospect that Martin the Immigrant did not fight in the revolutionary war. Given the date of arrival, this would mean that he married Mary, described as a large English woman, sometime between 1773 and 1780.
In the "History of Westmoreland County", pub.1882, there is a reference to a settlement west of Black Lick on top of the Chestnut Ridge where the venerable Martin Fate, his deeply-pious wife, three or four sons, and as many daughters resided. A son and grandson of Martin's family "became preachers, one local and the other itinerant."
No further evidence has been found of this family in Westmoreland County. Having moved the entire family, probably through the recently established Zane’s Trace to Ohio, Martin appears along with his sons Thomas and George in the 1806 Taxpayers role of Bloom Township, Fairfield County Ohio. Martin the Immigrant died in Fairfield County Ohio in 1816 at the age of 62.
We then pick up our story with Martin Luther Fate, also referred to as Martin Jr. in the 1815 will of Martin Fate the Immigrant. Martin Jr. is listed as one of the first preachers of the first M.E. church in Hopewell Township. More about the Fate’s long history with the M.E. church later. On 13 May 1881, at the age of 28, Martin Jr. marries Ms. Jane Watson in Fairfield County Ohio. Jane Watson, born in Ireland in 1781 was the daughter of Irish immigrant and revolutionary war soldier Thomas Watson, Sr. of County Down, and Christianna Clelland also of Ireland.
To this union were born 4 boys and 3 girls, Elizabeth, Mary “Polly”, John, Thomas, Jesse S., Delilah, and Martin James. Martin Jr. and his family appear in the 1820 census of Hopewell Township, Licking County, Ohio. Martin Jr., was a farmer and renowned M.E. Minister. After the death of his beloved first wife Jane, he remarried to Ms. Sarah Pyle circa 1856. He lived out the remainder of his life in Licking County, dieing on 9 March 1863. Martin Jr., Jane, and Sarah are buried adjacent to each other in the Cedar Hill Cemetery in Brownsville Ohio.
Jesse S Fate, described by his nephew William Henry Harrison Fate as a good farmer and eloquent local preacher, married Ms. Sarah Herbert on 15 June 1837 in Fairfield County, Ohio. In 1839 they moved to Cass Township, Fulton County, Illinois and purchase the North ½ of the Southeast ¼ section of range 2, section 33. Over the next several years Jesse accumulated over 200 acres of prime farm land.
Continuing the Fate tradition of furthering the expansion of the M.E. church, Jesse establishes the Pleasant Grove M.E. church near Smithfield and serves as the class leader. After meeting in his house for the first 10 years, in 1849 they built a log church on his property, and later building a church in the village of Smithfield after it was laid out. Not only active in the church, Jesse was also a well-known conductor in the Underground Railroad that ran nearby his farm. Working with the Overtons and many other dedicated families in the area, Jesse and Sarah provided safe passage for many folks in pursuit of freedom in Canada and other northern regions.
Jesse and Sarah were blessed with 5 boys and 5 girls, James Martin, George R., Mary E., Alexander David, Susannah J., Sarah Samantha, Laura Irene, Jesse M., Emma, and William M. all born on the farm just south of Smithfield in Section 33. This generation stayed in the Fulton County area and helped make the Fate name one that is well grounded in the early history of the area. Jesse and Sarah are buried in the Totten Cemetery in Smithfield.
James Martin Fate, a.k.a. Martin, born 4 May 1841 was the eldest child of Jesse and Sarah. On 1 October 1861 he and his younger brother George R., enlisted in Company G of the 50th Illinois Infantry division at Bernadotte to fight the War of the Rebellion. Fighting in the battles of Corinth and Shiloh, Martin is mustered out in Georgia on 27 September 1864. He marries Mary Ellen "Molly" Douglas, born 17 January 1846 in Franklin County Ohio, on 7 September 1865. Molly, daughter of William G. and Anna (Johnson) Douglas moved to Fulton County some time between 1851 and 1857. Around 1890 Martin’s health began to slip. Suffering from the lingering effects of malaria and typhoid that he contracted during his service in the War, his declining health precluded him from the physical labor required to run a farm of some 400 acres. On 12 July 1896 he died leaving Molly with one child Estella at thirteen years of age, still at home. With no means of self-provision, Molly turned to the federal government in an effort to receive a soldier’s widow pension, and with the help of Martin’s executor and lifetime friend Charles Ephraim Overton, she began receiving a monthly pension of $8.
To this union were born 9 children, with 8 of them living to adulthood: Emma L., Carrie Samantha, Charles Wesley, George, Mary Frances, Jesse Ernest, Anna E., Estella M. With the exception of Jesse Ernest and Estella, all of their children remained in the Fulton County area. The girls married into such prominent local families such as Irwin, Rector, and Jouchim.
Jesse Ernest, who went by Ernest, Uncle "Ern", or J.E. was born on 24 November 1877 on the Smithfield farm. At the age of 19 he married Lula Pearl Lutes also of Smithfield. To this union were born three children. The first, Ernest Lee born 11 August 1889 in Smithfield, died in infancy. After the tragic death of their first child, and in pursuit of J.E.’s career in the railroad industry, J.E. and Pearl decided to move west. Not knowing their means of getting there, they arrived in the thriving railroad town of Bridgeport in Oklahoma Indian Territory in 1903 where to them was born Martin Eugene Fate. Two years later on 14 March 1905 their third child Gladys was born. Tragically, two months after Gladys’ birth, Pearl died in Kansas City, Kansas. After her death, Martin and Gladys were sent back to Smithfield to live with their grandmother Molly, "Mum", and their dotting Aunts.
J.E. was a baggage handler for the railroad, and related the following story to his great-grandchildren. One day while handling bags, one accidentally opened up revealing several bottles of liquor, which at the time were outlawed. He decided to keep one for his self and when found out, resulted in the "end of my railroad career."
On August 12, 1912 J.E. remarried to Zoe (Scranton) Hudson of Kansas in the First Christian Church Tulsa. Zoe had one son Upton Hudson from a previous married. J.E. and Zoe had a son, Jesse Ernest Jr. "Don". They lived in Tulsa where J.E. took a position as foreman at the Maloney Tank Company and worked there until he retired. In 1953 Zoe died. During a visit back to Smithfield, J.E. met Carrie Miranda (Crick) Totten. And in 1955 they were married and Miranda moved to Tulsa with J.E. There they lived together until his death in 1971. Miranda moved back to Fulton County. She died in 1980 and was buried in Ipava where she was born.
Martin Eugene "Gene" Fate came back to Oklahoma and reunited with his father after J.E. remarried in 1912. Gene had many stories of his early years in Tulsa. He recalled some of the darker times in the city history like the 1921 race riot in which by some estimations 200-300 blacks were killed as a result of sketchy allegations of impropriety against a black man. He also recounted selling newspapers on a corner next to the famed Dan P. Holmes. Gene married Frances Mae Harp on 5 August 1927 and spent their honeymoon at the Connors Hotel in Joplin Missouri. On 9 January 1933 their first and only child Martin Eugene Fate Jr. was born in Morning Glory Hospital in Tulsa. Times were hard with the great depression in full swing. Money was always tight but there was always plenty, for the frequent vagrant, and for extended family. Gene hired on with the Peoples Ice Company of Sand Springs and completed a 44 year career in accounting with Peoples Ice and ultimately Public Service Company of Oklahoma. Frances was often ill and died in 1964 at the age of 59. Gene spent much of his time at Spavinaw Lake where he met Dena Johnston and later married. Gene died in 1986 of “smoker’s cancer” and is buried in Rose Hill Cemetery in Tulsa.