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The first John Floyd

Three John Floyds played a part in helping to create history for the state of Virginia. The first John Floyd to walk upon the pages of our state’s history was born in the year 1750, five years before the terrible Indian attack and massacre at Draper’s Meadows.
When he was just 22 years old he left his home in eastern Virginia and came to Smithfield Plantation, located in what is now the Town of Blacksburg, Montgomery County, to tutor  young people at the frontier home of Colonel William Preston.
His other duties, along with teaching, included assisting Col. Preston in his surveying business. Preston was County Surveyor of Fincastle County, a prestigious position in that day, and Floyd served as his deputy. Fincastle County covered a vast expanse in those days, covering an area equal in size to cover several states.
Between his surveying assignments, that kept him in the wilderness much of the time, he still had time for some social life around Smithfield, and John Floyd was spending some of that time courting Col. Preston’s beautiful young cousin, Jane Buchanan. The friendship between the two soon blossomed into  love, and they announced their engagement. There was no question about the fact that it was a story book romance, but dark clouds of war hovered over it. Before the wedding could take place the American Revolution was underway, and young John was off serving the colonies in the military. Several of his wealthy associates purchased a schooner and realizing that John was a very intelligent man, put him on the ship. He proved to be a shrewd warrior capturing a British man-o-war on the high seas.
The British vessel was loaded with a valuable cargo. The one thing that caught John Floyd’s eye was a beautiful scarlet coat, that he was quick to confiscate. He immediately announced to all who would listen that some day he would wear the beautiful scarlet coat at his wedding when he returned to marry pretty Jane Buchanan.
The person who once said, “war is Hell,” probably made an understatement as far as John was concerned. Before he could enjoy the glory of his first victory at sea, his own ship was captured by the British, and he was made a prisoner of war, and put in Dartmouth Prison in England.
It was here that  the second chapter in the romantic story of John Floyd was played out. It so happened that his jailer had a pretty daughter. She must have spent a lot of time at the prison, because she soon struck up a friendship with John. Yes, they fell in love. Somehow or other, and historians have not explained it, they were able to carry on an affair in the prison. The young girl helped him escape. It has not been made clear what sort of a promise he made to her for this deed, but I would imagine that he made her believe that he would return for her some day. But I doubt if that crossed his mind at all. John made his way to France, and with the help of Benjamin Franklin, an American diplomat in that country, he gained passage on a ship to America. He must have had visions of embracing the waiting,  long-suffering arms of pretty Jane Buchanan.
Whoever said that true love never runs smoothly knew what he or she was talking about. Lo and behold, by this time the poor girl had given up all hope of ever seeing John Floyd again. But she didn’t slash her wrists, or jump in the river in despair. Like the jilted lover she was, she searched for greener pastures, and while walking in the garden one night with an army captain, she was smitten, and agreed to marry the man.
Before a wedding could take place, in rode John Floyd. He must have turned on all of his charm, because in a few minutes he talked Jane into fleeing with him. It is doubtful if many people remembered what Jane Buchanan wore at their wedding on that day in 1776, but history has recorded that  John Floyd was attired in  the scarlet coat  that he had saved for the occasion
One of Jane’s family members was so violently opposed to the marriage that he forbade it, and in the heat of the argument John mounted his horse and  reached down and swept Jane up and the two rode together into the sunset. I can imagine Jane’s hair blowing in the breeze, and John’s scarlet coat  slapping back against the horse’s flanks, as they rode off to find a minister to tie the knot.
Jane and John had a son and a grandson, both named John Floyd. Both became governors of Virginia. 
Lloyd Mathews is a retired land surveyor and a historian who lives in Pulaski.

 

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The first John Floyd

Three John Floyds played a part in helping to create history for the state of Virginia. The first John Floyd to walk upon the pages of our state’s history was born in the year 1750, five years before the terrible Indian attack and massacre at Draper’s Meadows.
When he was just 22 years old he left his home in eastern Virginia and came to Smithfield Plantation, located in what is now the Town of Blacksburg, Montgomery County, to tutor  young people at the frontier home of Colonel William Preston.
His other duties, along with teaching, included assisting Col. Preston in his surveying business. Preston was County Surveyor of Fincastle County, a prestigious position in that day, and Floyd served as his deputy. Fincastle County covered a vast expanse in those days, covering an area equal in size to cover several states.
Between his surveying assignments, that kept him in the wilderness much of the time, he still had time for some social life around Smithfield, and John Floyd was spending some of that time courting Col. Preston’s beautiful young cousin, Jane Buchanan. The friendship between the two soon blossomed into  love, and they announced their engagement. There was no question about the fact that it was a story book romance, but dark clouds of war hovered over it. Before the wedding could take place the American Revolution was underway, and young John was off serving the colonies in the military. Several of his wealthy associates purchased a schooner and realizing that John was a very intelligent man, put him on the ship. He proved to be a shrewd warrior capturing a British man-o-war on the high seas.
The British vessel was loaded with a valuable cargo. The one thing that caught John Floyd’s eye was a beautiful scarlet coat, that he was quick to confiscate. He immediately announced to all who would listen that some day he would wear the beautiful scarlet coat at his wedding when he returned to marry pretty Jane Buchanan.
The person who once said, “war is Hell,” probably made an understatement as far as John was concerned. Before he could enjoy the glory of his first victory at sea, his own ship was captured by the British, and he was made a prisoner of war, and put in Dartmouth Prison in England.
It was here that  the second chapter in the romantic story of John Floyd was played out. It so happened that his jailer had a pretty daughter. She must have spent a lot of time at the prison, because she soon struck up a friendship with John. Yes, they fell in love. Somehow or other, and historians have not explained it, they were able to carry on an affair in the prison. The young girl helped him escape. It has not been made clear what sort of a promise he made to her for this deed, but I would imagine that he made her believe that he would return for her some day. But I doubt if that crossed his mind at all. John made his way to France, and with the help of Benjamin Franklin, an American diplomat in that country, he gained passage on a ship to America. He must have had visions of embracing the waiting,  long-suffering arms of pretty Jane Buchanan.
Whoever said that true love never runs smoothly knew what he or she was talking about. Lo and behold, by this time the poor girl had given up all hope of ever seeing John Floyd again. But she didn’t slash her wrists, or jump in the river in despair. Like the jilted lover she was, she searched for greener pastures, and while walking in the garden one night with an army captain, she was smitten, and agreed to marry the man.
Before a wedding could take place, in rode John Floyd. He must have turned on all of his charm, because in a few minutes he talked Jane into fleeing with him. It is doubtful if many people remembered what Jane Buchanan wore at their wedding on that day in 1776, but history has recorded that  John Floyd was attired in  the scarlet coat  that he had saved for the occasion
One of Jane’s family members was so violently opposed to the marriage that he forbade it, and in the heat of the argument John mounted his horse and  reached down and swept Jane up and the two rode together into the sunset. I can imagine Jane’s hair blowing in the breeze, and John’s scarlet coat  slapping back against the horse’s flanks, as they rode off to find a minister to tie the knot.
Jane and John had a son and a grandson, both named John Floyd. Both became governors of Virginia. 
Lloyd Mathews is a retired land surveyor and a historian who lives in Pulaski.

 

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