Mrs. George Tate Killed by Husband
Cliffside, Nov. 3—Mrs. George Tate, aged 37, was instantly killed Thursday when she was shot twice with a pistol, by her husband. The shooting occurred when Tate met his wife on the bridge over Second Broad river, near the Cliffside Mills, while she was on her way to lunch after a morning’s work in the mill, where she was employed. Upon meeting her Tate pulled out a pistol and shot her twice, death resulting instantly. A few minutes later he shot himself five times, and is now in the Rutherford hospital struggling for life.
After shooting his wife, Tate went to his home and exchanged a number of shots with Constable Cobb, of Cliffside, and then turned the weapon on himself, shooting himself five times. After attempting to commit suicide, he was rushed to the Rutherford hospital, where at latest reports he is resting very well and has a fifty-fifty chance to recover.
Tate, from his bed in the hospital made the statement that he killed his wife because she refused to live with him following former domestic troubles. He said he had recently asked her to return to him, but each time she refused. It is reported that Mrs. Tate had her husband arrested about three weeks ago on account of alleged mental trouble. The county health officer had permitted him to be released, thinking it would be safe for him to be at large. He was to remain away from his family, and it was thought he was preparing to go to Florida. It was said that he spent a term in the State hospital in Morganton several years ago.
George Tate is about forty years of age, and is the father of seven children.
Funeral services were held for Mrs. Tate at the Baptist church here Sunday afternoon at 1:00 o’clock with Rev. J. A. Hunnicutt, pastor, in charge.
Sallie Rebecca Morris Tate was born March 2, 1893 and died October 30, 1930. She was married to Mr. George Tate September 24, 1913 and to this union was born seven children, two girls and five boys: Clyde, Ruth, Paul, Yates, Billie, Robert and Junior. In addition to the children and Mr. Tate she is survived by three brothers, Eugene Morris of Texas, Bob Morris, Montana, Wade Morris of Virginia, and three sisters, Mrs. J. H. Bailey, Gaffney, S.C., Mrs. Rosa Lail of Richmond, Va., Mrs. G. G. Hendley of West Virginia.
When a child Mrs. Tate was left an orphan, and being ambitious for an education, she continued her studies at Asheville Normal. She united with the church at the age of fourteen at Gaffney, S.C. For several years she has made her home at Cliffside where she won for herself a number of warm friends who also mourn her passing.
About one thousand attended the funeral service Sunday afternoon and after the service the body was laid to rest in the local cemetery where the grave was covered with a profusion of beautiful floral offerings.
While Mrs. Tate’s brothers and sisters were unable to attend the funeral because of the distance, Mr. Tate’s brothers and sisters with their families attended in a body with the seven children of Mrs. Tate.
The pall bearers were Messrs J. B. Guffey, Howard Guffey, J. F. Atkinson, C. L. Rhymer, G. A. Dula, Boyce Bridges, R. A. McDaniel and Charles Lavender. The large floral offering was borne by the following young ladies: Misses Esther and Ruth Allison, Gladys and Effie Winn, Jesse Jackson, and Maggie Rhymer.
This item was printed in The Courier on November 6, 1930.
♦ What happened to George Tate after he shot himself? Did he die? Did he survive and go to prison? These questions kept nagging Johnnie Tate Holland, whose husband Ray is a grandson of George and Sallie Morris Tate. After months of searching, Johnnie has finally learned George’s fate. She acquired a copy of George’s Death Certificate from the N.C. Dept. of Vital Records. It reveals that he indeed survived his five self-inflicted gunshot wounds. He was admitted to Dorothea Dix state mental hospital in Raleigh in February, 1931, where he spent the next 10 years and four months (the rest of his life). He died from tuberculosis on July 7, 1941, at age 49. His body was returned to Rutherford County to the Mitchell Funeral Home, then he was buried in High Shoal Cemetery.
♦ In a Guestbook entry, Frances McMurray Houser reported that her mother was a witness to this incident, and speculated that, if it were a weekday, her mother, then a 16-year-old student, must have been playing hooky from school. Maybe not.
♦ Another student, Inez Tate, passed by the murder scene only moments after the shooting. Inez, her little sister Gladys and older brother Donald were driving home to Fairview for lunch in the family’s Whippet. (Students in those days were given an hour for the noon meal.)
Here’s Inez’s account of the event: the shooting took place on or near the Creek Bridge—not the River Bridge as reported—and the victim’s body, covered with a sheet, lay on the steps of the first house on Shelby Highway, just east of the bridge. The Tate children didn’t stop, but went on home and had lunch. Inez has no recall of the return trip to school.
Inez is the daughter of the late Thomas and Pearl Jolley Tate, who were distantly related to George Tate, the shooter. The George Tate family lived at #19 Cliffside Street, just four houses up the hill from the scene of the murder, where his wife was headed when he took her life.
Inez remembers the orphaned Tate children were placed in a children’s home at Union Mills, north of Rutherfordton. She thinks the killer survived his self-inflicted gunshot wounds and was ultimately sent to prison. We could find no information in the available on line cemetery lists to indicate when he died or where he was buried.
♦ There is another tragic aspect to this story. Earlier that same year, on June 17, 1930, Tom Tate, Inez’s 35-year-old father, had died from an accidentally self-inflicted gunshot wound. Tom had been the Cliffside agent of the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company. Upon Tom’s death, Metropolitan hired B. B. Goode as its new agent, a job he held for the next 50 years.
♦ Gladys Tate died at age 15 in 1934 from a heart ailment. Donald graduated from Cliffside High in 1930, went on to the University of North Carolina, became a pharmacist, and settled in Albemarle. Inez married Horace Hamrick and they lived on Green Street in Cliffside.