Smithfield Preston Foundation Papers
Scope and Content
The Smithfield Preston Foundation Papers consist of 200 letters written almost exclusively by two generations of members of the Preston family of southwest Virginia, Kentucky, and South Carolina, to James and Sarah Preston McDowell of Rockbridge County, Virginia. The collection also includes a will of William Campbell Preston, an obituary of John Smith Preston and his photograph, and a circular asking for funds for a memorial in honor of John Smith Preston.
Many of the correspondents are the children and grandchildren of William (1729-83) and Susanna Smith (1740-1825) Preston, settlers of Botetourt and then Montgomery County, Virginia. The letters were written by Sarah Preston McDowell's brothers and sisters, and their spouses. Other letters were written by the children of her brothers Francis Preston and James Patton Preston. Most of the letters are addressed to Sarah Preston McDowell and James McDowell or their son James McDowell and his wife Susanna Smith Preston McDowell.
- 1784-1881, n.d.
- Madison, Elizabeth Preston, 1762-1837 (Person)
- Preston, Edmonia M. (Edmonia Madison Randolph), 1787-1847 (Correspondent, Person)
- Preston, Francis, 1765-1835 (Correspondent, Person)
- Preston, John, 1764-1827 (Correspondent, Person)
- Preston, Thomas L. (Thomas Lewis), 1812-1903 (Correspondent, Person)
- Preston, William C. (William Campbell), 1794-1860 (Correspondent, Person)
Language of Materials
The materials in the collection are in English.
Conditions Governing Access
The collection is open for research.
Conditions Governing Reproduction and Use
These materials are not in copyright and personal, scholarship, and educational use is permitted. Contact Special Collections and University Archives for assistance in determining exhibit/display, commercial, or other use.
Reproduction or digitization of materials for personal or research use can be requested using our reproduction/digitization form: http://bit.ly/scuareproduction. Reproduction or digitization of materials for publication or exhibit use can be requested using our publication/exhibition form: http://bit.ly/scuapublication. Please contact Special Collections and University Archives (email@example.com or 540-231-6308) if you need assistance with forms or to submit a completed form.
Smithfield Plantation is the historic home of the Preston family, one of the founding families of Blacksburg and Montgomery County, Virginia. It was built by William Preston (1729-83), who emigrated from northern Ireland with his family in 1737. He married Susanna Smith in 1761 and settled at Greenfield in Botetourt County in 1769. Preston established himself as a leader in the Virginia frontier by serving in the militia in the French and Indian and Revolutionary wars, in the House of Burgesses representing Augusta County from 1766 to 1768 and Botetourt County in 1769, and as County Lieutenant of Fincastle and Montgomery. He was appointed surveyor of Fincastle County in 1772 and moved his family to that area. He built Smithfield, named in honor of his wife, in 1773. Smithfield was the birthplace and home of three Virginia governors, including James Patton Preston (son of William), and John Buchanan Floyd and John Floyd, Jr. (grandsons of William).
Smithfield Plantation remained in the family for generations and is currently maintained by the Montgomery County branch of the Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities. Greenfield was a home in Botetourt County where William and Susanna Smith Preston resided in the 1760s.
See also the detailed list of correspondents in the collection, with some biographical information.
For more information about the Preston family, see John Frederick Dorman, The Prestons of Smithfield and Greenfield in Virginia (Filson Club, Inc.; Louisville, Kentucky, 1982).
0.6 Cubic Feet (2 boxes)
The Smithfield Preston Foundation Papers consist of 200 letters written almost exclusively by two generations of members of the Preston family of southwest Virginia, Kentucky, and South Carolina, to James and Sarah Preston McDowell of Rockbridge County, Virginia.
The collection is arranged by correspondent.
Source of Acquisition
The Smithfield Preston Foundation Papers were donated to Special Collections in May 1997.
Existence and Location of Copies
Selected letters from this collection have been digitized and are available online (most with text transcripts).
Rights Statement for Archival Description
The guide to the Smithfield Preston Foundation Papers by Special Collections and University Archives, Virginia Tech, is licensed under a CC0 (https://creativecommons.org/share-your-work/public-domain/cc0/).
The processing, arrangement, and description of the Smithfield Preston Foundation Papers commenced in 1997 and was completed in 1998. Additional description was completed in 2009. Minor updates to the finding aid were made in 2020.
- Blacksburg (Va.)
- Local/Regional History and Appalachian South
- McDowell family (Rockbridge County, Va.)
- McDowell, James, 1770-1835 (Correspondent)
- McDowell, James, 1795-1851 (Correspondent)
- McDowell, Sarah Preston, 1767-1841 (Correspondent)
- McDowell, Susana Smith Preston (Correspondent)
- Montgomery County (Va.)
- Preston family (Montgomery County, Va.)
- Smithfield Plantation House (Blacksburg, Va.)
- Women -- History
- Smithfield Preston Foundation Papers, 1784-1881, n.d.
- Special Collections and University Archives Staff
- 2009 (CC0 1.0)
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description
- Script of description
Part of the Special Collections and University Archives, Virginia Tech Repository
Special Collections and University Archives, University Libraries (0434)
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