Facts and Events
American Revolution Veteran
Biography of John Fite
reprinted here from the "Biographical and Genealogical Narrative of The Johannes Branch of Fites in the United States"
Rev. John' Fite (Johannes*), the son of Johannes* Fite and his wife, Catharine, was born in Greenwich Township, Sussex County, New Jersey, April 1, 1758. Saffell gives his name in the list of Capt. Hazlett's "Minute Men," under Col. McKinney,in the Continental Army, during the Revolution. He enlisted for different periods during the war, and served under Captains Wm. White, James Anderson, Mackay, David Phillips, and Major Hoops; in the commands of Colonels John Fleet and A. McQnny (Mc- Kinney). He participated in at least one battle, the battle of Millstone, at which he was wounded. His service was in the ranks, and not as an officer, as some of his descendants have thought. These facts were set forth by him in his application for a pension, made the same day as that of his brother (8) Leonard's, November 27, 1832. His pension was allowed, and the record of his service is on file with the Pension Bureau at Washington. After the war, John' Fite had a warrant for two hundred acres of land in North Hampton County, Pennsylvania, on which he paid non-resident taxes, until he took up his residence there, after his marriage, and about this time his brother Leonard moved to Northampton County in 1785.
Two years prior to his move to North Carolina, he was living in Northampton County, Pennsylvania, and the tax collector had his name registered as "John Voght." Further information regarding the Rev. John* Fite's career is given in the following sketch, written after his death, by his son Moses Fite, and furnished the author by the Rev. John's' grandson Robert H. Fite, of Marionville, Mo. The sketch is, in the main, correct; the slight discrepancy in dates might have occurred with any one writing from heresay and memory. Moses failed to make clear the fact that John' and his family were a part of the little band of brothers and sisters, with their families, i.e., Leonard, Peter, Conrad, Mrs. Lamberson, Mrs. Pendleton, and Mrs. Packer, who went from New Jersey to North Carolina, thence to Tennessee; they settled near each other in Tennessee, and were never at any time separated, with the following exception. I.e., Peter followed the little band into Tennessee about 1805, and Conrad died in North Carolina. John' did not go alone with his wife and children into North Carolina and Tennessee, as might be inferred from the wording of the sketch. In North Carolina John Fite was member of the "Ninth Company." Four of his children were born prior to 1790.
"Death of a Soldier of the Cross, and of the American Revolution"
"Rev. John Fite departed this life on the morning of the 18th of February, 1852, at the residence of his son, Rev. Henry Fite, near Liberty, DeKalb County, Tenn., in the ninety-fourth year of his age. He was born in Sussex County, New Jersey, and at the age of seventeen enlisted in the Army, under Washington, and was in several important engagements with the enemy, in one of which he was slightly wounded. About the close of the war he was married to Martha Haslet; soon after made a profession of religion and united with the Lutherans. In 1786 (should be 1787— Ed.) he removed to Lincoln County, North Carolina, where he found but few of the Lutheran profession; and the Presbyterians so nearly affiliating in doctrine with his own people, he connected himself with them and was chosen a ruling elder. He was then in the vigor of manhood, and had become convinced that it was his duty to preach the gospel. Not having had the advantages of a liberal education (the Presbyterians required knowledge of the ancient languages — Ed.)^ as required by the Presbyterian standards, of candidates for the ministry, he could not obtain a license. Having lived twelve years in North Carolina (should read nine years — Ed.), in 1798 (1796 — Ed.) he turned his footsteps westward and found his way to the Cumberland river, in Tennessee, and crossed over in sight of Nashville, then but a small village (Nash's Lick — Ed.). He pursued his way to Mill Creek, where he rested two weeks.
"The region of territory, then known as Smith's Fork, lying on both sides of a steam of that name, and afterwards included in Smith County, and later in DeKalb County, was at that time attracting much attention, on account of its fertility, and he determined to move there. He had to cut his road fifty-five miles through a wilderness, which required sixteen days of hard toil. Here he unloaded his wagon, put his family and effects in a cane tent, and turned back to Nashville to procure a supply of corn meal, his family, in the meantime, subsisting on bear meat purchased from the Indians. Such are specimens of the hardships our forefathers endured in settling this now fruitful and finely cultivated country. Having opened a road, as before observed, leading from Mill Creek to Smith's Fork, other settlers soon followed him, and among them were Methodists and Presbyterians; preachers who organized societies as the wants of the settlement required. Father Fite connected himself with the Presbyterian society at Spring Creek, eighteen miles distant from his home, where his membership continued ten years.
"About this time the Baptists were organizing churches in this section of the country, and he was led to examine the views of the Baptists, by comparing them with the Scriptures. He also read Pedobaptist works with an honest and enquiring heart. Acting under these influences it is not strange that he was not long in forming his opinion as to the side of which had the truth. Church government had also entered deeply into his investigations. The anti-republican character of the organization with which he was connected, to his mind, was clear and conclusive. In short, he had, in his investigations, become a thorough Baptist, and in 1813 his connections with the Presbyterians terminated, and he was baptized into the fellowship of the Baptist church. His former convictions of duty, in reference to preaching the Gospel returned with full force, which was not obstructed by his brethren, though he had, at this time, attained to between fifty and sixty years of age. He was soon solemnly ordained to the work, and the histories by his labors prove that he was an efficient worker that need not be ashamed. Under his ministry many churches have been organized, and multitudes have been accustomed to regard him as their spiritual father. He continued his ministerial labors until his ninety- second year.
"Father Fite had now outlived his generation. The amiable partner of his bosom had gone to her rest twenty-three years before (Martha Haslet Fite, died 1829). He was now in the fourth generation of his children, and, although resigned to the will of God, he desired to go where he could be with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. He seemed to retain the full fruition of his faculties to the hour of his death, and Jacob-like, drew up his feet in his bed and gave up the ghost. Thus he passed from our midst, the venerable John Fite.
"We close with a few remarks respecting his Christian and ministerial character. His sermons, in many respects, might, with great propriety, be taken as models by our young ministers; in general, they were short, pithy, and pointed. He was a fluent speaker, both in the German and English languages. He was a close reader of the Bible, as well as theological and historical works in general. Aided by one of the best of wives, he was remarkably regular in his habits. Morning and night he maintained family worship, and, in his absence, his pious wife took his place in conducting the services.
"He was the father of ten children, five of whom survive him, and are professors of religion, one a Baptist preacher. May the pious life of our aged father stimulate us all to follow his counsels and virtuous examples.