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John Fitts: An Examination of His Life

Jordan Thomas Carroll
March 15, 2006
© All Rights Reserved

John Fitts has been an extraordinarily difficult individual to trace. Little is known about his origins except what one can piece together from various census and recollections. On March 25, 1843 in Caldwell County, Kentucky, John Fitts was born. He may have been the son of Mary Woodson Fitts the daughter of Woodson Pass and Tabitha Winfree Fitts. However, there is no solid proof of this. In 1850 he appeared in the household of Elijah Jones in the Caldwell County, Kentucky Census. (1) Elijah married Sarah Adkinson Fitts who was the daughter of Woodson Pass Fitts. (2) It is assumed that the Mary Fitz living with this household is the sister of Sarah and mother of John. John's sister Eliza, if we accept the former, died in Caldwell County from consumption on April 15, 1852. (3) Apparently, Mary and the others either married or met a similar fate before the 1860 Lyon County, Kentucky Census. He was the only Fitz listed in Elijah Jones household. (4)

John joined the Civil War effort on the Union side, and served in Company G, 48th KY Volunteer Mounted Infantry. (5) Serving along with him was Elijah Jones, George West and Samuel Stackers West.

The 48th Regiment KY Volunteer Mounted Infantry contained several men from Lyon County, and was organized at Princeton, Kentucky. Captain Charles H. Fletcher of the 13th U.S. Infantry mustered in these volunteers on October 26,1863 for one years service under Colonel Hartwell T. Burge of Louisville. This particular infantry was mounted to help prevent raids and rid the state of guerilla fighters. The regiment was assigned to the KY 1st Brigade, Second Division. From October until December 1, 1863, the regiment stayed in Princeton, but then organized and marched to Russellville, KY. As part of Company G, John was remained at Russellville under command of Lieutenant Colonel William W. Hester along with Companies B, F and H. Colonel Burge took Companies A, D, I and K with him to Bowling Green, KY.

On April 6,1864 the regiment was ordered by Brevet-Major General Burbridge to protect the Louisville and Nashville Railroad. Company G, in which John Fitts, Elijah Jones, Samuel and George West were all part, was stationed at Smithland, Kentucky. On July 8, 1864, the regiment received orders from Brigadier General Hugh Ewing to prepare for active service. This involved attaining horses from “disloyal citizens” to be used in battle. On August 13 the men were ordered to join General Hobson near Webster and Union Counties to prepare battle against Confederate General Adam Johnson. The men joined Hobson on August 19 and fought until August 24, 1864 when General Johnson was defeated at Canton, Kentucky. Johnson was injured and captured along with several of his rebel soldiers. The regiment marched to Cadiz from which it was sent back to Princeton, KY. While at Princeton the regiment captured around one hundred and twenty-five rebel guerillas. The regiment was continually attacked by Confederate General Lyon from the end of August until late November. Finally on December 1, 1864 the men began marching toward Bowling Green, KY. Captain C.A. Wainwright of the 13th U.S. Infantry mustered the men out on December 19, 1864. Their service had been extended due to Hood’s campaign against Nashville and other Confederate actions. This special unit lost one hundred and four men during their service, and ninety-six of the casualties were from disease. (6)

After the war, John returned to Lyon County, Kentucky where he married Mary Elizabeth Dunning on October 30, 1867. (7) The service was performed at the County Clerk’s office by Reverend Alexander as witnessed by Dr. W.W. Pinner and J.W. Clark. Mary Elizabeth Dunning was the daughter of Nahum and Julia Ann Sheridan Dunning. (8) John, along with his family, appeared in the 1870, (9) 1880, 1900, 1910 (10) and 1920 (11) Lyon County, Kentucky Census.

The first child of John and Mary Elizabeth Dunning Fitts was James Tolliver Fitts. (12) Often referred to as “Mr. Jim,” he married his first cousin Miss Minnie Ora Davenport of Mayfield, Graves County, Kentucky. Minnie was the daughter of Mary’s sister Sarah Elizabeth Dunning Davenport. (13) Ollie Fitts, often referred to as Oll, was his next son. Ollie married Malinda Pierce, who was the daughter of Henry Clay and Martha Ann Stone Pierce, on December 8, 1890 in Stewart County, Tennessee. His third child was Mary Alice who married Benjamin Jackson on December 5, 1901 in Lyon County, Kentucky. Florence was his next daughter, and she married James B. Dobbins on December 12, 1894 in Lyon County, Kentucky. According to Smallwood, the next child of John and Mary was Sarah who was born October 10, 1875 in Lyon County, Kentucky. (14) Similarly, a girl named Jane was the sixth child of the couple according to family recollections. Ellen Rose who married William Washington West on December 23, 1894 in Lyon County, Kentucky was the seventh child. Nellie was the eight child of John and Mary, and she married twice. Her first marriage was to Joseph Farless, and her second was to J.E. Corley. Minnie who married Daniel Jackson was the ninth child of John and Mary Fitts. Lastly, Nina who married R.B. Williams was the tenth and final child of this couple.

John was instrumental in the organization (1890) of Pleasant Hill Baptist Church where he was a charter member. He also donated building supplies, and became the first deacon. (15) John Fitts died April 2, 1928, and was buried in Pleasant Hill Baptist Church Cemetery (16)supposedly in his blue Calvary uniform. No death certificate, to my knowledge, is available, but to researchers of this man this does not come as a surprise. Maybe one day we will find a miraculous breakthrough regarding his ancestors.

  • (1) Willhite, A.B. 1850 Caldwell County, KY Census, household 677.
  • (2) Jerome, Brenda. Caldwell County, KY Marriages 1833-1853, pg 94.
  • (3) Caldwell County, KY Vital Statistics- Deaths, pg. 3.
  • (4) 1860 Lyon County, KY Census, household 617.
  • (5) National Park Service. Civil War Soldiers & Sailors System,
  • (6) Lynn, Steve & Adjutant General.
  • (7) McDonald, Scarlett. Lyon County, KY Marriage Record Vol. 1, 1854-1874.
  • (8) Hopkins County Genealogical Society, 1860 Christian County, KY Census, pg. 107.
  • (9) 1870 Lyon County, KY Census, household 90.
  • (10) 1910 Lyon County, KY Census, household 121.
  • (11) 1920 Lyon County, KY Census, household 22.
  • (12) Obituary of James Fitts, January 24, 1946.
  • (13) Death Certificate for Minnie Fitts.
  • (14) Smallwood. Lyon County, KY Births and Deaths 1853-1910.
  • (15) Carroll, Jordan Thomas. The History of Pleasant Hill Baptist Church. July 2000.
  • (16) Carroll, Jordan Thomas. Pleasant Hill Baptist Church Cemetery. February 2006.

    This submission may be cited as:
    Carroll, Jordan T.
    John Fitts: An Examination of His Life.
    15 Mar. 2006.