Matthew Tyson Yates, Baptist missionary to China, was born in Wake County, the second of ten children of William and Delilah Booth Yates. He grew up in the Mount Pisgah community and attended the Mount Pisgah Baptist Church, where he was baptized on 23 Oct. 1835. At twenty-one years old, the young man entered Wake Forest College in August 1840. In October 1841 the North Carolina Baptist State Convention elected him one of their beneficiaries and paid his tuition to Wake Forest, from which he was graduated with an A.B. degree in 1846. In 1869 the college awarded him an honorary D.D. degree.
Yates had decided that he wanted to become a missionary. On 3 Aug. 1846 he was accepted by the Southern Baptist Convention's Foreign Mission Board as a candidate for service in China, and on 18 October he was ordained at the meeting of the Baptist State Convention.
Arriving in Shanghai on 13 Sept. 1847, Yates and his wife served under difficult conditions due to the Taiping Rebellion, isolation from America during the Civil War, occasional cholera scourges, and Yates's bad health. They began Sunday schools, churches, outstations, and chapels throughout the Shanghai area. Yates was constantly traveling, preaching, and baptizing converts. During the Civil War, when funds were cut off from the United States, he served as interpreter of the Shanghai Municipal Council and superintendent of Chinese taxes. For a short time he studied in Paris, France. In 1868 he was interpreter for the U.S. consul general.
Yates wrote a number of tracts. His letters and reminiscences appeared in the Biblical Recorder and other publications. He edited an enlarged edition of the Chinese Hymn Book and at his death had just finished translating the New Testament into the Shanghai dialect. Several of his lectures were published in pamphlet form.
Yates was in Chinkiang on a preaching mission when he suffered a second paralytic stroke. D. W. Herring, a coworker, took him home to Shanghai, where he died. He and his wife were buried in the Eight Fairies Bridge Cemetery in Shanghai. Yates Academy, a boys' school in Soochow, China, and the Yates Baptist Association in North Carolina were named in his honor.
Information from NCpedia.com