Preston family (Solitude, Blacksburg, Va.)
Robert Taylor Preston was born at Smithfield Plantation in Blacksburg, Virginia, in 1809 to James Patton and Nancy Ann Taylor Preston. He was a student at Hampden-Sydney College from 1825 to 1828. He qualified as a captain of the 75th Regiment of the (Virginia?) Militia in 1830 and was commissioned as Justice of the Peace of Montgomery County in 1837. In 1833, he married Mary Hart (1802-1882) and they had three children: Virginia Ann Emily (1834-1898), Benjamin Hart (1836-1851), and James Patton (1838-1901). Robert Taylor Preston built his residence "Solitude" in the early 1830s. At the start of the Civil War he was appointed a colonel of the volunteers in the Provisional Army of Virginia. In July 1861, he was appointed a colonel of the 28th Virginia Infantry, Confederate States of America, where he served until the infantry's reorganization in April 1862. Beginning in August 1864 he served as a lieutenant colonel and then a colonel of the 4th Virginia Reserves, and surrendered with the troops of General J. E. Johnston in North Carolina in April 1865. In 1872, he sold the land to the state to establish the Virginia Agricultural and Mechanical College on the condition he and his wife could live in the house until their deaths. Robert Taylor Preston died in 1881. Mary Preston died in 1881.