A timeline of facts spanning his 71 years:
Peter E. Slate was born in Saratoga county, New York on March 28, 1817, son of Solomon Slate and Sylvia Dean. Census records indicate the family moved west to Jefferson county sometime between 1820 and 1830.
August 1, 1838 is believed to be the marriage date of Peter E. Slate and Chloe Coffee. This reference is from the Jefferson County Migrations Project (parts 30a, 30b, 30c): CHLOE COFFEE m PETER E. SLATE on 1 Aug 1838 Jefferson Co., NY; she b Hermon, NY; d 31 Jan 1910 Cape Vincent, daughter of JOHN C. COFFEE and MARY CUMMINGS.
The 1850 Federal Census shows Peter Slate, wife Chloe and son Chester living in Cape Vincent, New York. Census information often contains inaccuracies making it difficult to take any one report as absolute fact without corroborating evidence. In this case, Peter's age is listed at 38, which conflicts with his 1817 birth year. His profession is listed as a laborer and all three members of the family are said to have been born in New York state. Also, Chester and Chloe's listed ages (if accurate) suggest that Chester was born when Chloe was just 13 -- plausible given the period in history, but also leaves open the possibility that she is not his birth mother.
Fifteen years later, a very different picture of the Slate family appears in the New York State Census of 1865. They have moved 15 miles down the St. Lawrence River from Cape Vincent to Clayton, their eldest son Chester has left home and is now serving in the Union Army (enlisted 8/10/1863), and Peter and Cloe (spelled this time without the "h") have five children living with them ranging in age from 13 to less that a year.
The most interesting observations from this census are Peter's marriage history and the birthplaces of their three youngest children. Peter indicates that he has been married twice and Cloe just once. I haven't found any evidence of a first marriage, but the differences in age between Peter and Cloe make it entirely possible. This would also further the theory that Cloe may not be Chester's birth mother. The birthplaces of their three youngest children also raise questions about where the family lived after leaving Cape Vincent. Peter (Jr.) and Julia in St. Lawrence county and Emery (E.S.) in Canada.
In 1870 we find the Slate family still in Clayton, but with a few changes (and errors). Son John has now left home and two new children, George and William, have been born since the last census. While all of the children's ages seem consistent with the timeline of the previous census, the ages for Peter and Chloe (recorded as "Flora") are now both listed as 40 (while they should be around 53 and 47, respectively).
The state census of 1875 shows Peter and Cloe Slate in Clayton, New York with five children left at home -- Nathaniel, Julia, Emery, George and William.
Peter E. Slate died on August 9, 1888 and is buried at St. Lawrence Union Cemetery in Cape Vincent, New York. Little is known about the time between the 1875 New York Census and his death in 1888. One of the only clues is that the family appeared to live in Canada (Leeds, Ontario) for a while as Cloe can be found in the 1891 and 1901 Canada Census with her son Emery. One census note indicates that Cloe's immigration year was 1885.
Chester (1841-1917) • John (1852-1892) • Nathaniel (1855-1932) • Peter (1857-1922) • Julia (1859) • Emery (1863-1941) • George (1865-1918) • William (1869-1930)