Formerly a tailor, Leonard became a farmer on several large tracts of land he purchased between Abbott’s Creek and Leonard’s Creek that were previously owned by Lord Granville.
At age 55 in 1773, Leonard enlisted on the side of the American Patriots without hesitation. He and his five sons all saw military service in the Revolutionary War, which greatly influenced their German community to support the Patriots. His last battle was at Guilford Court House on March 15, 1781. On the night of November 2, 1781, Leonard was mortally wounded in his own home when a band of Tories shot him as he sat by the fireplace. The same night his German neighbor and fellow Patriot Woolrich Fritz was shot dead at home by another band of angry Tories. Leonard died from his wounds on November 13, 1781. He and Fritz are buried in the cemetery beside Pilgrim Reformed Church (formerly called “Leonhardt’s Church”), near Lexington, Davidson County, North Carolina.
Leonard was killed because of his beliefs and his patriotic stand for American independence. He and his friend Fritz were honored with a large white marble shaft on July 4, 1896, that memorializes their sacrifices near their gravesites, where they lie side by side. On the west side of the shaft are the words: “The heroes in this spot were cruelly assassinated in their own homes by Tories near the close of the Revolutionary War”. Leonard’s headstone is carved in Old German. The translation reads: “Here now lies a handful of ashes washed in the blood of Christ.” His footstone reads: “Beneath this stone doth now remain an ancient man by murder slain.”