Chester and Muriel Bates are best friends with Rod and Julia Owen. They live on a farm outside Mount Jackson, in Shenandoah County, Virginia, with their daughter, red-headed Ellen. Ellen and Marie Owen are also best friends.

At least they lived there during Gone for a Soldier, up until 1864, when the Yankees burned them. The Bates family sheltered in a farm building thereafter, until Rod Owen made a controversial deal with Chester. The family was able to go west in the novel The Man from Shenandoah, where Ellen plays a major part.

Members of the Bates family also show up in Spinster’s Folly and very briefly in Ride to Raton.