Floyd County Kentucky

Kentucky Genealogy and History


John Floyd

John Floyd

The county was named in honor of Col. John Floyd, surveyor legislator, famous Indian fighter, and distinguished Kentucky pioneer. He was born in the Piedmont section of Virginia in 1750 and was of Welsh and american Indian ancestry. His pateral grandfather and a brother emigrated from Wales to Accomac County, Virginia and from them sprang all the Floyds of Virginia, Ketnucky and Georgia. His father, William Floyd, married, in Amherst County, Virginia, Abadiah Davis, whose mother was of Indian descent by the marriage of an English fur trader with an Indian squaw, a daughter of Chief Powhatan's brother. Thus Mr. Floyd was related, collaterally, to the Indian princess, Pocahontas, and likewise to the notable Virginia families of Randolph, Bolling, Cary, Fleming, Bland, Cabell, Page, Harrison, and many others.

When about eighteen years of age, Mr. Floyd married Miss Burfoot, age fourteen, of Chesterfield County, Virginia, who died within the year leaving an infant daughter whom Mrs. Burfoot adopted and named Mourning.

Rmoving to Fincastle County, Virginia, about 1770, Mr. Floyd engaged in school teaching and surveying under the following circumstances as related many years later by Mrs. Letitia Floyd, his daughter-in-law, and a daughter of Col. William Preston:

During Col. Preston's residence at Greenfield in 1770, a young gentleman by the name of John Floyd was introduced to him by Col. JOseph Cabell of Rockingham County, as very well qualified to fill the place of deputy in the surveyors office. It was always a rule with Col. Preston to require every young man who was employed in his office to teach school six months at least, thereby finding out his temper, diligence, and trustworthiness. Breckenridges, Smiths, and my sisters and brothers constitiuted Mr. Floyd's school.

At a county court held for Fincastle County on March 2, 1774, John Floyd presented a commission "under the Hands and Seals of the Masters of William and Mary College appointing him Deputy Surveyor of the said county"; he entered into and acknowledged bonds, and took "the usual oaths to his Majesties and Teste and also took the oath of Deputy Surveyor of said county". Also, he was appointed deputy sheriff of said county under the high sheriff, Col. William Preston.

Mr. Floyd was engaged in surveying under Col. Preston in the Ohio Valley in 1773 and 1774, and was, with other surveying parties, recalled by Governor Dunmore during the latter year by reason of the impending Indian War. Upon his return to Virginia, he joined the Point Pleasant Expedition, serving as a captain in Col. William Christian's regiment which reached the scene of conflict a few hours too late to engage. The following year he returned to Kentucky as surveyor for the Transylvania Company and remained until the summer of 1776. Returning to VIrginia, he embarked on a privateering enterprise, cruised extensively and destroyed much British shipping, but was made a prisoner and with his partner, Col. Radford of Bedford County, Virginia, was taken to Dartsmouth, England, and imprisoned for nearly a year; was assisted to escape by his jailor's wife who had a brother in America and sympathized with the American cause, and was sent across the English Channel to France in a small vessel owned by a relative of the jailor's wife. Benjamin Franklin, then American agent in France, aided him to return to America and proceeding to the home of Col. William Preston, he married Miss Jane Buchanan, granddaughter of Col. James Patton, a Scotch-Irish pioneer settler of the Valley of Virginia who was killed by the Indians at Smithfield about 1738. Miss Buchanan was living at the time with her guardian and uncle, Col. Preston, and the marriage was consummated at this home.

In 1779, Col. Floyd and his wife set out for his final embarkation to Kentucky and settled and lived in Jefferson County. When, in March, 1783, the Virginia Legislature created a judicial district out of the then three counties of Kentucky, Col. Floyd and Samuel McDowell were made judges. About a month later, April 12, 1783, while riding through the woods near Floyd's Creek, Col. Floyd was fired upon by a body of Indians, in ambush, and mortally wounded. He was taken to the station, where he died a few hours after.

Col. Floyd's children who survived him were a daughter, Mourning, the wife of Gen. Charles Stuart of Georgia; a son, Col. George Rogers Clark Floyd, who had service in the War of 1812; and a son, John Floyd, of Posthumous birth, who was born, April 24, 1783, near Louisville. For a time John Floyd attended Dickinson College, Carlisle, Pennsylvania, but in October, 1804, he entered the University of Pennsylvania as a student of medicine and upon graduation there in April, 1808, he settled in Washington County, Virginia, marrying his cousin, Letitia Preston, daughter of Col. William Preston. Subsequently, in 1807, he was a justice of the peace; a major of the Militia in 1808; served as a surgeon in the Virginia line in 1812 and in the same year was elected a member of the House of Delegats. He was a brigadier general in the Militia. In 1817, he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives and by successive re-elections served in that office until 1829, when he was elected Governor of Virginia which office he held until 1834. South Carolina cast her electoral vote for him for President in the Presidential election of 1832. He died August 15, 1837.

John Buchannan Floyd, son of Gov. John Floyd and Letitia (Preston) Floyd, was born in Blacksburg, Virginia, April 1, 1807, and married his cousin, Sally Buchanan Preston, daughter of Gen. Francis S. Preston, granddaughter of Col. William Preston and great niece of the statesman, Patrick Henry. He was graduated from the College of South Carolina in 1826; studied law and was admitted to practice. From 1836 to 1839, he resided in Arkansas, but settled in Washington County, Virginia, in the latter year and engaged in the practice of his profession and at the same time interesting himself in politics. He served in the Virginia Legislature from 1847 to 1849; was elected Governor of Virginia in 1850 and upon retiring from that office in 1853 he was again elected to the State Legislature. On March 4, 1857, he was appointed Secretary of War by President Buchanan and served as such until 1860, when he resigned to follow his state in the secession movement. He was commissioned a brigadier general in the Confederate Army; was in command at Fort Donelson and managed to withdraw his troops from the fort without serious loss leaving Gens. Pillow and Buckner to bear the brunt of General Grant's attack. He died near Abingdon, Virginia, August 26, 1863.

Governor John B. Floyd and his brothers of Tazewell County, Virginia, long operated salt wells on Beaver Creek, Floyd County, Kentucky. However, no member of the Floyd family ever resided permanently in Eastern or Southeastern Kentucky.


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