In celebration of Virginia's upcoming gubernatorial election, Historic Smithfield is presenting a special exhibition on four 19th century Virginia governors descendant of Colonel William and Susanna Smith Preston, founders of Smithfield Plantation in Blacksburg.
The exhibit will be on view at the Plantation from August 29th through December 8th.
In addition to general historical information about Virginia's electoral process, this special exhibition highlights four of Virginia's 71 governors who were directly related to the Preston's of Smithfield:
Son James Patton Preston (1774-1843), Governor of Virginia 1816-19, was born and is buried at Smithfield. As Governor, he presided over the establishment of the University of Virginia, major improvements to Capitol Square in Richmond, and the charting of Virginia's rivers and counties.
Son-in-law John Floyd (1783-1837), Governor of Virginia 1830-34, married Preston daughter Letitia in 1804. In addition to Governor, Floyd served in the Virginia House of Delegates and the U.S. House of Representatives. Floyd County was named for him when it was created out of Montgomery County in 1831.
Grandson James McDowell (1795-1854), Governor of Virginia 1843-45, served in the Virginia House of Delegates for a number of terms throughout the 1830s. A renowned orator, McDowell also served in the U.S. House of Representatives following his term as Governor.
Grandson John Buchanan Floyd (1806-1863), Governor of Virginia 1849-51, was born at Smithfield to Governor John and Letitia Preston Floyd. Floyd served in the Virginia House of Delegates both before and after his tenure as Governor, and was President James Buchanan's Secretary of War in 1857.
No other family can claim four Virginia Governors. Through the efforts of 12th District Delegate Joseph R. Yost, identical copies of the governors' original State Capitol portraits will be on view during the exhibition, and will remain at Smithfield Plantation as part of its permanent educational collection