Harrison Tate was orphaned at an early age. The identity of his guardian is unknown. As a young man he moved to Georgia, where he served in the Creek Indian War of 1836 and in 1838 married Mariah E. Hill in Harris County. In 1862, after his first wife died, he married Mary Caroline (Strahan) West, widow of William R. West of Harris County, Georgia. After the Civil War he served as Sheriff of Lee County, Alabama. He was also a Judge. Around 1880 he moved to Columbia, Henry County (now part of Houston County), Alabama, where he served as Mayor in 1885. His widow lived until 1909. She is buried in Harris County, Georgia.