Processed by: Danielle Morrison, student assistant, and Laura Katz Smith,
Special Collections, Virginia
Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, Va.
Smithfield Preston Foundation Papers,
1 boxes; 0.4 cu.
Smithfield Preston Foundation
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.
Permission to publish from the Smithfield Preston Foundation Papers must be
obtained from Special Collections, Virginia Tech.
Researchers wishing to cite this collection should include the following
information: Smithfield Preston Foundation Papers, Ms1997-002, Special
Collections, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg,
The Smithfield Preston Foundation Papers were donated to Special Collections in
Alternate Form Available
Transcripts and images (jpgs) of some letters are available. See the "Contents List" section of the
finding aid for links.
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.
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).
For more information on the Smithfield Preston Foundation, see the website.
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.