Benjamin Peete, A Vintage Vignette

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Benjamin Peete
A Vintage Vignette by John P. Rankin
May 23, 2008

The year 1834 brought significant events to the Peete and Turner pioneer families of this area. On March 10 Benjamin Peete died. He was born in Virginia around 1765. He came to Alabama and built a house south of Swan Creek near the location of Pryor Field and west of Highway 31, between Decatur and Tanner. He married Ann Blunt in Virginia in 1792. Ann was descended from Richard Blunt, who married Mary West before 1610, the same year that her father was killed by Indians at the falls of the James River. Mary was a great niece of Lord De la Warr (early Governor of Virginia and namesake of the state of Delaware). Blunt continued to be used for generations within the Peete family as a given name for their children.

Benjamin’s father was Thomas Peete, who married Judith Clements. Benjamin had nine children, with names including Thomas, Samuel, Judith, and Benjamin Blunt Peete. Judith married Luke Matthews, who later lived on land patented by James Manning, west of Redstone Arsenal’s Gate 9. (Matthews Cave on the arsenal derived its name from Luke’s ownership.) Benjamin Blunt Peete married Darthula English of the family for which English Springs was named, the neighborhood where Benjamin Sr. built his house. This area was considered for the Limestone County seat in 1818. Darthula and Benjamin Blunt Peete had ten children, naming one son Benjamin Clements and another Samuel.

Benjamin Clements Peete has the oldest of that family’s tombstones in the Peete Cemetery east of the south end of Segars Road in Limestone County, near Madison. He married Jeanette Mahone. Their son Thomas Mahone Peete married Ida Taylor, producing Herbert Blunt Peete, who married Lila Hester Landers, all of this area.

It was in June of 1834 that newspapers reported Daniel B. Turner’s candidacy for sheriff of Madison County. Newspapers likewise reported the death of Captain Daniel B. Turner’s infant daughter Eliza two weeks later. Daniel became sheriff, but he fell on hard times during the Civil War, passing away in 1866. His estate was declared insolvent, but one item in the probate packet showed that Daniel had borrowed a thousand dollars in gold from Samuel Peete in 1863. His promissory note did not specify the repayment period. The note acknowledged that repayment was to be “with interest”, but no rate of interest was stipulated. Litigation lasting into 1872 resulted, as Samuel Peete tried to attach assets of the insolvent estate, preempting other creditors.

It seems strange that Daniel would execute a promissory note for repayment in gold for such a sum without details. It is also odd that Samuel Peete would loan such an amount without strong guarantees of reimbursement within a given time. Still, Daniel had a good reputation from his years as sheriff, and there was possibly another basis for trust. While the parentage of Daniel Turner has not yet been discovered, he was probably related to the family of Sugars Turner, as described in an earlier Vintage Vignette. If indeed they shared ancestry, then it should be noted that Sugars Turner (who obtained the lands of Elisha Rainbolt, namesake of Rainbow Mountain in Madison), was a son of John Turner and Priscilla Blount (variant of “Blunt”) of Virginia. The ancestry of the Peete family may well connect to that of the Turners through common Blunt / Blount lines in Virginia. Colonial Virginia Blounts are associated with the Gray and the Shugarts (“Sugars”) families and Governor William Blount of Tennessee. He was a North Carolinian appointed in 1790 by President George Washington to head the “Southwest Territory”, land south of the Ohio River and west to the Mississippi River. Today we have Blount Counties in Tennessee and Alabama. Perhaps Blunt and Sugars linkages to the Peete and Turner families explain the degree of trust between Samuel Peete and Daniel Turner during the Civil War.

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