by: Ken Lemon Updated:
GROVER, N.C. - Ishmael Titus was celebrated Monday as a hero in Shelby, more than 200 years after the Revolutionary War.
Titus' photograph is on display at the Patriot's Inn in Grover, where the owner said he is getting involved in the fight for Titus.
"I think Ismael Titus is a fantastic example of a long black American struggle in this country," owner Martin Mongiello said.
Titus was born a slave and granted his freedom after the American Revolution, but his pension was denied.
Mongiello said last week an author and historian uncovered proof that Titus fought in the Battle of Kings Mountain, a turning point in the revolution.
Mongiello added people often don't know the role black soldiers played in the war.
"We couldn't have won this country, we couldn't have created this country without their help," he said.
Johnsie Adams, a Revolutionary War re-enactor, knows the history. She plays Titus' wife during reenactments.
"They don't tell about people from Cleveland County," Adams said. "A lot of school kids don't know about it."
They are fighting nationally to have Titus honored, but Mongiello said he also wants the U.S. Army to restore Titus' pension.
Mongiello also plans to try to get Titus' body exhumed and tested for DNA, so he can find relatives.
"Match that DNA chromosome scan to current would-be descendants today," Mongiello said.
Titus' pension would be $80 to $300 and around 160 acres of land. If Mongiello can prove his case to the federal government, then Titus' descendants will get a modern equivalent of that.