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Special Collections is home to many collections relating to branches of the Preston family that lived in Virginia, Kentucky, and South Carolina from the 18th century onward. Papers may also come from families related to the Prestons by blood or marriage (i.e. Pattons, McDowells, Smiths, and more). The list below includes short descriptions of collections that contain predominantly Preston-created documents. Collections with full finding aids include a link to the guide online. Collections are listed in chronological order by the earliest dated material.
Please note: We have other collections that may include documents and materials created by the Prestons and other families. If you have questions, contact us!
Pioneer Montgomery, Botetourt, and Washington County, Virginia, family. Papers include business transactions, land surveys, and general store accounts (1745-89) relating to William and Susannah Smith Preston; correspondence, business transactions, and notes on farm affairs (1782-1828) relating to their son, John Preston; correspondence and land surveys (1840-82) relating to John, William A., and Alfred G. Preston; correspondence (1848-61) relating to William Ballard Preston; and a day book (1789-1820) of the Prestons of Washington County.
The Didier Collection of Preston Family Papers includes papers of James Patton, Patton's grandson William Preston, and Preston's eldest son, John Preston, all of Montgomery County, Virginia. The Preston family was important in the surveying, settlement, military affairs, and government of Southwest Virginia in the 18th and 19th centuries. Their papers consist of business and legal documents, surveys, and correspondence. Much of the collection relates to John Preston (1764-1827), treasurer of the Commonwealth of Virginia from 1810 to 1819. For further information on the Preston family, see John F. Dorman, _The Prestons of Smithfield and Greenfield in Virginia_ (1982).
The records largely document the recent history of Smithfield Plantation, ancestral home of the Preston family, focusing particularly on its restoration beginning in 1962. While much of the renovation occurred in the 1960s, many of the records detail other renovation projects done in the 1970s and 1980s. The collection also includes historical and other related documents dating from before the original Preston family's residence at Smithfield.
Surveyor and militiaman. Born in Ireland, came to the American colonies in 1738. Settled in area of Virginia that is now Montgomery County. Established the plantation "Smithfield" in 1773, which is now near the Virginia Tech campus and run by the Montgomery County branch of the Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities. Land grant is for 2175 acres in Botetourt County, Virginia (now the land that is Smithfield), purchased by Preston, signed by Virginia colonial Governor John Murray Dunmore.
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.
The collection includes a receipt issued to Francis Preston of an amount totaling 9 pounds paid to Robert McGee on behalf of Michael Drake in 1791.
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.
The Henry Edmundson Letters contain nine letters, eight of which were written to Edmundson and one, the earliest of the nine, written by Edmundson in 1814 to General John Preston. The senders of the various letters include William Ballard Preston; Francis H. Smith, superintendent of Virginia Military Institute (V.M.I.); Bernard Peyton; Isaac White; and Joseph Robert Woods.