John Kitts:Soldier of the Revolutionary War

John Kitts 1870 Census

John Kitts 1870 Census

A Man Over One Hundred and Four Years of Age.

Baltimore boasts one of the most remarkable cases of longevity in the country. Person who are in the habit of traversing Calvert street may have frequently observed at the corner of that and Mulberry street a very elderly gentleman, quietly seated on a chair or  promenading in the vicinity, regarding attentively every object which passes him, and though mostly reticent, yet prompt to reply to any remarks addressed to him. There he enjoys the quiety and repose of age, looking out upon the world more than a century older than when he was first ushered into it. Our ancient friend’s name is John Kitts.

Bloody Run, Pennsylvania

Bloody Run, Pennsylvania

He was born at Bloody Run, in Bedford County, Pa., in 1762, and is, therefore, now in the on hundred and fifth year of his age! In 1776, when fourteen years of age, he was a member of the First Pennsylvania Regiment of the Revolutionary War.

Battle of Yorktown

Battle of Yorktown

He was in the battle of Yorktown, and occupied at one time the position of errand boy or messenger to Washington and Lafayette. He retains a distinct recollection of the personal manners and habits of those illustrious heroes of our first struggle with Great Britain. He was too old to be drafted in 1812, but he entered the army, and remained about a year.

He has no constitutional disease; of course suffers somewhat with debility; but he moves about without assistance; has a dark, keen, observant eye; is quick and appreciative in his responses to queries; hears remarkably well; his eyesight is good; he never uses glasses; he says that “he is afraid they will injure his eyes.” He has a most excellent memory. Like most very old people, however, he remembers the events of his earlier years better than those of recent occurence.

Mount Vernon Rye Whiskey

Mount Vernon Rye Whiskey

On propounding the question as to whether our Methuselahian friend had practiced “total abstinance,” he replied, “No; I always drank whenever I felt like it, and enjoy a glass of old rye as much now as ever.”

The Ohio Democrat (New Philadelphia, Ohio) Sep 13, 1867

Marquis de Lafayette

Marquis de Lafayette

John Kitts, claiming to be 107 years old, and a soldier of the Revolution under Lafayette, has applied to the Baltimore City Council for an appropriation.

New York Herald (New York, New York) > 1869 > November > 16

Genral Nathaniel P. Banks

Genral Nathaniel P. Banks

A Soldier of the Revolution on the Floor of the House — A Hero of Two Wars Petitioning for a Pension.

John Kitts, a veteran, who served in the war of the Revolution, called at the Executive Mansion today to pay his respects to the President. He was received with much cordiality by the President, who questioned him concerning his history and invited him to remain for lunch. The old gentleman declined, because, he said, he was anxious to see Congress in session. The President ordered Mr. H.L. Fox, one of the messengers at the White House, to proceed with Mr. Kitts to the Capitol, and to remain with him while he staid there.

Upon reaching the Capitol he was taken on the floor of the House, General Banks stating who he was and asking that the privilege of the floor be granted him. He occupied Horace Maynard‘s seat, immediately in front of the Speaker’s desk, and received the congratulations of the members, who flocked around him in large numbers and questioned him about his age and the leading events of his life.

Mr. Kitts was born in Bedford county, Pa., in 1762, and is therefore in his 108th year. He served in the American army during the Revolutionary war, and was present at the surrender of Lord Cornwallis at Yorktown. In the battle preceding the surrender Mr. Kitts was struck in the back of the head with a spent musket ball, and the indentation which it made is still visible. The old man points this scar with considerable pride, and is quite garrulous about the circumstances under which he received the wound.

When the was of 1812 broke out he was considered too old to enter the service as a soldier, but he went in as a messenger to carry the mails. He relates many interesting stories of the narrow escapes he had from being taken prisoner by the enemy’s scouts. On one occasion he was forced to leave his horses and take to the woods, so closely was he pursued. He was the bearer of important despatches, which he succeeded in carrying safely through. On being asked if he could read Mr. Kitts replied that he could not. When he was a boy, he said, there was very little reading done, and even if he had learned to read it would be of no use to him now. He had never found time to read until his eyesight failed him.

Although entitled to a pension both as a soldier of the Revolution and of 1812, he has never applied to Congress for it. He says until about seven years ago he had no occasion to seek aid from the government, because he was able to take care of himself. He thought the government had enough soldiers who fought in the rebellion to pension without giving anything to the “boys” who fought under Washington now. The old man is unable to do anything, and he asks a pension. He said he didn’t expect to remain long upon the rolls, and all he would draw out of the treasury would not be much. He has neither children nor grandchildren living, and when asked if he had any relatives he replied, “No; I am the last of the stock.”

General Banks and Mr. Ingersoll, of Illinois, started an impromptu subscription for the old man among the members of the House. The entire amount realized was eighty dollars, twenty of which General Banks gave himself. This is rather a small contribution among so many men, but some allowance must be made for the economic fit under which the House is just now laboring. General Banks will look after the old man’s petition for a pension, and there is reason to believe he will get it.

New York Herald (New York, New York) Feb 11, 1870

firstcon

JOHN KITTS. — We do not know how often the last Revolutionary soldier has died. On the average we think he has died twice a year for the last ten years. But it makes no difference. We are glad to see him alive and in full possession of his faculties once more. John Kitts is the prevailing representative of that former generation, and we think that John is a bona fide representative. He is one hundred and eight years old, and has a scar on the back of his head. Besides, he only claims to have helped to capture Cornwallis at Yorktown. He does not appear to have nursed Washington or to have shaken his hand and received his benediction in the true Washington style, which all the old negroes in the country claim to have done, and which at one time must consequently have been a very empty honor. On the contrary, old John Kitts seems to be a very worthy old soldier, and, although he never nursed Washington, he is fully deserving of a large pension.

New York Herald (New York, New York) Feb 14, 1870

Died at the Age of 108.
BALTIMORE, Sept. 19. — John Kitts, aged 108 years, the oldest citizen died last evening.

Chicago Tribune, IL Sep 20, 1870

— JOHN KITTS, aged one hundred eight years, died at Baltimore on Monday.

The Portsmouth Times (Portsmouth, Ohio) Sep 24 1870

–The venerable John Kitts, of Baltimore, is dead. He was born May 7, 1762, and was 108 years, 4 months and 11 days old at the time of his death. Last winter he visited Washington, and was granted the privilege of the floor of the House of Representatives.

Edwardsville Intelligencer (Edwardsville, Illinois) Oct 6, 1870

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