The major holiday Frontierado is just over two months away, so as a followup to last week’s look at the first Pony Express riders Balladeer’s Blog explores the one-man stand and death of 14-year-old Expressman Billy Tate.
BILLY TATE – Born in 1846, Billy Tate traveled west with his family in 1857 as part of the Baker-Fancher Wagon Train from Arkansas. In September of that year, Billy’s family were among the pioneers slaughtered at the Mountain Meadows Massacre in Utah. The massacre was perpetrated by Mormons disguised as Native Americans.
Billy and possibly other child survivors (accounts vary) were taken in by Mormon farmers and worked on their farms. By some accounts Billy’s original last name was Miller but it was changed to Tate to match the family who took him in.
In 1859 the government ruled that any child survivors of the Mountain Meadows Massacre should be returned to relatives back in Arkansas. Billy, not wanting to be sent back east, ran away, ultimately signing on as a bullwhacker with the parent company of the Pony Express in December of that year. By the April 3rd 1860 launch of the Express Billy Tate was serving as a rider. Continue reading