Chicago; J. H. Beers & Co. 1895.
Biographical sketches of those who have attained merited distinction in American law have a charm and force in them that commend them to every sound thinker. We naturally feel an interest in tracing the footsteps of those who have reached elevated positions in public confidence, and have wielded their influence for public good; who, loving truth, and integrity for their own sake, have undeviatingly followed their dictates, no matter what the personal consequences might be. Records of this kind are calculated to raise the ministrations of law in public estimation, and are guides for the junior members of the profession in their pursuit of reputation, distinction and position.
Born September 17, 1823, in Montpelier, Vt., Judge Cate is a son of Isaac and Clarissa (McKnight) Cate, the former a native of New Hampshire, the latter of Massachusetts, and they were well-to-do farming people, their home being some six miles from Montpelier. At the public schools of that city our subject received a liberal education, and at the age of seventeen years, in 1840, commenced the study of law in the office of Joseph A. Wing, Plainfield, Washington Co., Vt., where he remained two years, and then for a similar length of time studied under Lecius B. Peck, of Montpelier. Vt., after which, in 1844, he was admitted to the bar at the latter place, before Judge Isaac F. Redfield, of the Supreme Court of the State of Vermont. Coming to Wisconsin in 1845, Mr. Cate worked in a sawmill on the Eau Claire river, among the pineries, and was also engaged in all the branches of lumbering, including rafting logs down the Eau Claire to St. Louis, Mo. In 1848 he located in Plover (at that time the county seat of Portage county, Wis.), and commenced the practice of his chosen profession, the only other disciple of Blackstone in that locality being James S. Alban, who was afterward killed at the battle of Shiloh. From the day of his first opening office in Plover our subject has given his entire time to his profession (except while absent in Congress, engaged on business pertaining to the State and Nation), and he has the reputation of being one of the busiest, as well as one of the most successful lawyers in northern Wisconsin. He has given considerable attention to the practice of common law, and among the prominent cases in which he has met with signal success may be mentioned the famous Lamere murder case, and the Hazeltine-Curran-Morse case, and the Mead murder (two trials), in all of which he was counsel for the defense, and where all the defendants were acquitted He was one of the managers for the State in the impeachment trial of Judge Hubbell. From 1848 to 1854 he held various offices in the gift of the people, such as prosecuting attorney, register of deeds, clerk to the board of supervisors, supervisor, deputy postmaster of Plover, member of the Legislature, and at the time it was the only post office in the pinery of Portage county. In 1854 he was elected circuit judge, and served four terms of six years each, with the exception of the last term, when he resigned after the fourth year on account of his running for Congress. This was in the fall of 1874 (the year of his moving to Stevens Point), and though the Judge is a pronounced Democrat and the Judicial Circuit and District was strongly Republican, yet he received a handsome majority. While he was in Congress the vote on the electoral commission, which resulted in seating President Hayes, was taken, and Judge Cate was one of the seventeen Democrats who voted against it. On the completion of one term in Congress he returned to his Wisconsin home, and resumed practice.
In 1851 Judge Cate was united in marriage with Miss Lavara S. Brown,
daughter of Daniel Brown, a lumberman, formerly of Indianapolis, Ind.,
who came to Stevens Point from Iowa. Six children have been born to this
marriage, to wit: Albert G., now of Amherst, Portage Co., Wis.; Lynn Boyd,
of Stevens Point; Henry, a pharmacist, of Menominee, Mich.; Carrie, now
the wife of Dr. Cronyn, of Milwaukee; and Ruth and Georgie, both at home.
The entire family are members of the Episcopal Church, the judge since
1860, and for the past six years he has been senior warden of the Church
of the Intercession, Stevens Point. Socially, he has been a member of the
F. & A. M. since 1855. In addition to seven or eight city lots, he
owns a 200 acre farm in Portage county, and takes a great interest in the
breeding of blooded cattle; altogether he has imported several head of
this class of cattle to Portage county, and at the present time he has
a herd of some thirty fine bred Jerseys (about thirty years ago be imported
fine Devon cattle, and, later, several Alderneys) The family residence
is No. 321 Ellis street, Stevens Point. Large and generous of nature, kindly
and charitable of disposition, with a deep sense of right, Judge Cate is
greatly respected by all, and his counsels are frequently sought by his