Smithfield Preston Foundation Papers,
Scope and Contents
The Smithfield Preston Foundation collection consists 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.
Language of Materials
Materials in this collection and in the related digital collection, are in English.
The collection is open for research.
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.
A more detailed list of correspondents in the collection, with some biographical information, is available here.
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 collection consists 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.
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). See the Smithfield Preston Foundation Papers digital collection.
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 and was completed in 1997 and 1998. Additional description was completed in 2009. Minor updates to the finding aid, including links to the new digital location, were added 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
- 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)
- Smithfield Preston Foundation Papers, 1784-1881, n.d.
- 2009 (CC0 1.0)
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description
- Script of description
- Language of description note
- Description is in English
- 2020/5/6: Finding aid updated to include new links to migrated digital materials. Minor corrections made to incorrect information. Finding aid updated to new best practices. kad
- 2020-09-28: Finding aid notes updated to new department standards. juliags
Part of the Special Collections and University Archives, Virginia Tech Repository
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Newman Library, Virginia Tech
Blacksburg Virginia 24061 US