m. 12 April 1781
Facts and Events
Biography of Peggy Fite
Margareth Cross Fite, known as "Peggy", was born at Oxford, Sussex, New Jersey, April 12, 1761 the names of her parents unknown. At the close of the Revolutionary war at the age of twenty-one, Leonard Fite married Margareth Cross, of Oxford, Sussex County, New Jersey. The couple left Sussex County along with other members of their family, and moved across the state line into Northampton, Pennsylvania, where Leonard had a warrant for one hundred acres of land in Allen township(need cite). They lived in Northhampton about six years. In 1785 Leonard's federal tax was on one hundred acres of land and some cattle; a year later he had an additional ten acres upon which he paid taxes. The tax collector spelled his name variously; Feight and Fight (Pennsylvania Archives, Vol 19, 3rd Series). Peggy and Leonard have their first three children born in New Jersey or Pennsylvania and/or New Jersey (Elizabeth's birth place shows New Jersey on the 1850 U.S. Census, Ed.).
Move to North Carolina
After the birth of three sons, John, Jacob, Leonard (Jr), and daughter Elizabeth, Peggy and Leonard (Sr.) join his brother, John Fite, and move their families to Lincoln County, North Carolina. The 1790 U.S. Census in Lincoln, North Carolina reflect that Leonard and Peggy have four sons and one daughter living with them. They live in North Carolina for about nine years as he relates in his Revolutionary pension application declaration. During their time living in North Carolina they have four more children born: Joseph, Catharine, David and Moses.
Move to Smith County, Tennessee
In 1796/1798 Leonard and his brother, John Fite, along with two other pioneers, Dale Adams and Stephen Robinson, move their families into Smith County, Tennessee. All are early founding settlers in Smith County, Tennessee. Leonard cleared the land and built the home in which his five youngest children were born, making a total of twelve; the youngest child having died in infancy. On the 1850 U.S. Census for Smith County, Tennessee for John Fite, Margaret's brother-in-law, the census taker wrote an unusual note beside his entry, "A Revolutionary soldier and of the first settlers in the mero(?) District Smith County brought the first waggon to the vally of Smith Fork ever brought to said vally in 1798". Some sources list their arrival in 1796, others in 1798. We know that the four families settled in Smith County Tennessee sometime between these two years.
Leonard and Peggy continue to raise their children and amass a large estate. On 7 Feb 1810, Leonard purchases 640 acres on Smith's Fork from George Smith and the deed is recorded in Deed Book D, p299 of Wilson County. On 15 Apr 1814, Leonard Fite gives his son, Joseph Fite, 247 acres on Pyrtle's Creek, for "natural love and affection". On 15 August 1815, Leonard Fite Sr. give his son, Leonard Fite Jr, 293 acres on Pyrtle's Creek, for "love and affection he has for his son", both deeds being recorded in Wilson County, Tennessee. In 1820 the Federal Census for Smith, Tennessee reflects the family owned 7 slaves. By 1830 it appears the census shows his household has only 2 slaves.
Leonard Fite's Revolutionary Pension
Congress passes several laws giving pensions to soldiers of the Revolutionary War and on 6 June 1832, Congress passed the first law not specifically tied to a soldiers need, but was based on length of service: greater than two years and another law for service between six months and two years. On 27 Nov 1832, Leonard files for his pension making his sworn declaration in Smith County. It was granted on 4 March 1831 based on 13 months service at the rate of $43.33 per annum for life. Also under the act of 1832 money due from the last payment until the date of death of a pensioner could be collected by his widow or by his children.
Leonard Fite's Death
On the 1840 census, Leonard and his wife are the only two family members listed in the household, but they again have 10 slaves. Leonard dies on 22 March 1842 in DeKalb, Tennessee. He is buried in Hillview Cemetery in Alexandria, DeKalb, Tennessee where a military headstone marks his grave. Leonard Fite's will, which he wrote on 9 June 1840 was probated in DeKalb County, Tennessee during the April Term 1842, and it specifically bequeaths the following to his wife and ten children:
Leonard makes bequeaths of his homestead land to John Fite, and also includes a mill and half the dam. The other half he leaves to his sons John and Moses Fite. To his daughter, Catherine and Lemel Moore, at their request he gives a deed to land containing 200 acres. The balance of the estate is left to his ten children to be divided equally: John Fite, Jacob Fite, Elizabeth Robinson, Leonard Fite, Joseph Fite, David Fite, Moses Fite, Sally West, William Fite, and Peggy Avant. He also restricts William's bequest because of his security debts created and caused by the use of "Ardent Spirits". He appoints his sons, John, Jacob and David Fite as his executors. His will is submitted in DeKalb County, Tennessee, April term 1842.
Peggy Fite's Pension
By an act of Congress approved July 4, 1836 (5 Stat. 128), some widows of Revolutionary War veterans were again permitted, as a class under public law, to apply for pensions. The act provided that the widow of any veteran who had performed service as specified in the pension act of June 7, 1832, was eligible to receive the pension that might have been allowed the veteran under the terms of that act, if the widow had married the veteran before the expiration of his last period of service. An act of July 7, 1838 (5 Stat. 303), granted 5-year pensions to widows whose marriages had taken place before January 1, 1794.
After the death of her husband on 22 March 1842, Peggy Fite applies to continue her husband’s Revolutionary War pension making her application 31 Aug 1844. She fills out her paper work, sends in an affidavit that she is an honorable, respectful woman and that she has not remarried. She states that she was married to Leonard Fite in Oxford, Sussex, New Jersey on 12 Apr 1781 and has no documentary proof of their marriage except a church certificate dated 1787 and provided by Rev. John Fredrick Ernst, minister of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Allen Township, Northampton County, Pennsylvania showing that "herself and her husband were members of the church and recognizes them as man and wife". It also states that Peggy and Leonard Fite were “Christians” written in both English and German, signed by the Parish Minister. She also states that her husband died on 22 March 1842 in DeKalb, Tennessee. The justice of peace under his oath states that "he knows her to be a woman of truth and verasity that ful faith and credit we due and of Right ought to be given to her statement". There is a sworn affidavit from her sister-in-law, Christina Lamberson also dated 31 August 1844 in which she states Leonard Fite was her brother, and Leonard and Peggy were legally married as told to her by persons who were at the wedding and saw them married. That at the time she was living 15 miles from them and was unable to attend the wedding and that they lived together as husband and wife upwards of 60 years, were married in the "County of Oxford", state of New Jersey, (this later is mentioned as Oxford county does not exist and should be township of Oxford - Ed.) and that Peggy has not "inter-married since his death on the 22 Day of March 1842".
Her son, Moses Fite, appears before the county justice and swears that Leonard Fite was his father, and that Leonard and Margaret Aliores Peggy Fite were legally married 12 April 1781 as appears by an entry in an old family Bible and in his own hand (Leonard Fite ed.). He states their birth dates, marriage date, Leonard’s death date, and that he is their son and that Peggy lived with him ever since (they were married) and has not remarried subsequent to his death 22 day of March 1842. Unfortunately, a copy of this Bible and it's records are not in the file and the location of the Bible is currently unknown.
She is rejected under the act of 7 July 1838--and the file is not clear why, just that she was not entitled under this act. This statue specifically required that the marriage had to take place before 1 Jan 1794 and the rejection note says married '87 (date of Church membership certificate) and deceased '42. Peggy doesn’t think that’s quite fair and that isn’t what the law allows. She hires herself a lawyer and the fight begins, page after page, after page. They grant her half of her husband’s pension at the rate of $26.66. It is based on act of 3 March 1843, and 8 months of Leonard's service, not 13 as originally filed by Leonard Fite. There are additional pages of affidavits from family and friends of Peggy stating she is an honorable woman and deserves her husband’s full pension under this act. Peggy finally gets his full pension of $43.33 increased and recorded in Book A, Vol 2, page 191 at Nashville, Tennessee based on the Acts of March 3, 1843 and June 17, 1844 and based on a Certificate of Pension issued 1 June 1849.
Death of A Remarkable Woman
Peggy is still living on April 14, 1855 when she made application for the bounty land due on account of the service of her husband, Warrant No 26400 for one hundred sixty acres under the Act of March 3, 1855. At that time she was 94 years old. She lives to an unusual age, being nearly one hundred and four years old at her death on Nov. 1, 1864. The newspaper account of her death, headed "Death of A Remarkable Woman" gives the highlights of her life.
Peggy Fite Obituary
Peggy Fite is buried in Fite Cemetery, Wilson, Tennessee along with other family members. Her Tombstone reads: