A Guide to the John Preston Papers 1796-1844 Preston, John Papers, 1796-1844 Ms1994-034

A Guide to the John Preston Papers 1796-1844

A Collection in
Special Collections
Collection Number Ms1994-034


Special Collections, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

Special Collections, University Libraries (0434)
560 Drillfield Drive
Newman Library, Virginia Tech
Blacksburg, Virginia 24061
Phone: (540) 231-6308
Fax: (540) 231-3694
Email: specref@vt.edu
URL: http://spec.lib.vt.edu/

© 2001 By Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

Funding: Web version of the finding aid funded in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Processed by:Laura Katz Smith, Special Collections Staff

Special Collections, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
Collection number
John Preston Papers 1796-1844
Physical Characteristics
0.2 cubic feet, 1 Box, 24 folders

Administrative Information


Collection is open to research.

Use Restrictions

Permission to publish material from the John Preston Papers must be obtained from Special Collections, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.

Preferred Citation

John Preston Papers, 1796-1844, Ms1994-034, Special Collections, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.

Acquisition Information

The John Preston Papers were obtained by Special Collections in three separate accessions: 1994, 1995 and 2003.

Processing Information

The John Preston Papers were proecessed, arranged and described in 2001; revisions were made to the finding aid in June 2003.

Biographical/Historical Information

John Preston, eldest son of William and Susanna (Smith) Preston, was born in 1764 at "Greenfield" in Botetourt County, Virginia. He periodically served in the Virginia militia throughout his lifetime. Preston was elected a member of the Virginia House of Delegates, representing Botetourt County in 1783, as well as Montgomery County in 1791 and again in 1803-1804. He served as a member of the Virginia Senate from 1792- 1799.

In 1792, Preston was named as a trustee in the act that established Christiansburg, Virginia in 1792, and served as a clerk of its first Board of Trustees. In 1798 he served as a trustee in the act that established Blacksburg, Virginia. In 1795, Preston became a Lieutenant Colonel, commanding the Third Regiment of Artillery. In 1799, he was elected Brigadier General, and given command of the brigade for Wythe, Montgomery, and Monroe Counties.

Later in 1810, Preston was appointed by the Virginia General Assembly to be the Treasurer of Virginia, serving until 1819. An audit of the treasurer's books found that Preston's accounts were in arrears, and a judgement was issued against Preston for 87 thousand dollars. To meet the obligation, Preston transferred a number of properties to trustees, who were to oversee their sale and the payment of funds into the treasury.

Preston married Mary Radford in 1798, and after her death in 1810, married Eliza Ann Carrington Mayo in 1811. He had seven children with his first wife and one with his second. When not on active military duty, Preston resided at "Smithfield" with his mother until his marriage, after which he lived at "Horseshoe". He died at Greenfield in 1827.

Scope and Content Information

This collection contains documents regarding John Preston's business affairs; including promissory notes, loan agreements, and personal correspondence. Many of the documents appear to be draft versions which were at one point bound together, perhaps in Preston's own letter-book


This collection is arranged chronologically.

Index Terms


  • Blacksburg (Va.)
  • Local/Regional History and Appalachian South
  • Montgomery County (Va.)

Contents List

Box-folder 1-1
Promissory Note Aug 29 1796

Promissory note from Preston to James Parberry, in the amount of 250 pounds.

Box-folder 1-2
Correspondence May 23 1801

Letter from Thomas L. Preston asking for money to continue his education at Washington Academy.

Box-folder 1-3
Receipt Jan 20 1802

Receipt for money paid to estate of James Patton by Peter Bassinger (on behalf of Adam Miller).

Box-folder 1-4
Correspondence Apr 28 1806

Letter from John Preston to agent for the Austin-Paine lead mine concerning the transport of lead from Lynchburg to Fort Chiswell, Virginia.

Box-folder 1-5
Promissory Note Jan 13 1806

Promissory note from Preston to Walter Crockett, in the amount of 334 dollars.

Box-folder 1-6
Correspondence May 1807

Letter from [John Preston?] in Montgomery County, Virginia, to unidentified person concerning a lawsuit against him.

Box-folder 1-7
Promissory Note Aug 17 1808

Promissory note from John Preston to James Breckenridge, in the amount of $1379.50 with interest.

Box-folder 1-8
Loan Agreement Apr 28 1809

Agreement between Charles Taylor and John Preston concerning the terms of the loan of a slave named Nathan.

Box-folder 1-9
Correspondence Jan 17 1810

Letter from [John Preston?] in Richmond, Virginia, to unidentified person about placing his son, John B. Preston, in school.

Box-folder 1-10
Contract Oct 14 1811

Employment contract between Preston and Horseshoe Bottom plantation overseer, Cornelius Brown.

Box-folder 1-11
Correspondence Jan 10 1812

Letter from [John Preston?] to John Tayloe concerning the cut and sale of cordwood.

Box-folder 1-12
Reports 1813-1814

Virginia treasurer reports prepared by Preston concerning loans to the commonwealth. [2 items]

Box-folder 1-13
Account statement 1815-1816

Statement of account with Robert Vaughan.

Box-folder 1-14
Agreement Feb 2 1816

Agreement for a trade partnership between Preston and Randolph Ross.

Box-folder 1-15
Correspondence Feb 8 1819

Letter from Preston in Richmond, Virginia, to Peter Daniel concerning Lysander Smith's qualifications for the position of ensign in the public guards.

Box-folder 1-16
Correspondence May 1 1819

Letter from Preston in Richmond, Virginia, to Price and Morgan in Philadelphia, instructing them to pay William P. Smith and Co. $1000.00.

Box-folder 1-17
Correspondence May 13 1819

Letter from Preston in Richmond, Virginia, to unidentified person regarding the economic conditions of the day.

Box-folder 1-18
Correspondence Jan 17 1820

Letter of resignation from Virginia Treasurer John Preston to William Crump.

Box-folder 1-19
Correspondence Sep 1820

Letter from [Preston?] at Greenfield to unidentified person concerning the forthcoming sale of "Little Creek".

Box-folder 1-20
Correspondence Oct 4 1843

Letter from John B. Baldwin of Staunton concerning a fight between John Lewis Peyton and Fayette B. Jones. Includes a written statement by Peyton and Jones.

Box-folder 1-21
Correspondence May 29 [1844?]

Letter from J.B. McBride at the Union Theological Seminary [Richmond, Virginia?] to William Radford of Amsterdam (Botetourt County), Virginia.

Box-folder 1-22
Correspondence n.d.
  • Letter from [Preston?] to Breckenridge concerning the purchase of Virginia land warrants.
  • Letter from [Preston?] to unidentified person concerning money received by Virginia from the United States in payment of advances made during the war.
  • Letter from Preston to unidentified person concerning their friendship.
Box-folder 1-23
Correspondence n.d.
  • Letter fragments [8 items]
Box-folder 1-24
Court documents n.d.
  • Transcript of Preston's questioning of an official in the surveyor's office.
  • Deposition in Lewis vs. Woods.
  • Complaint made by John McKim against Alex and James Fulton and John and James P. Preston on an unpaid debt.
  • Report of commissioners investigating surplus money belonging to the board of works.
  • Memorial to Virginia General Assembly regarding plan for payment of debt.
  • Statement regarding business dealings with Mr. Copeland.
  • Loan management subscription procedures for the auditor and treasurer of Virginia.