Adventure West with Famous Floyds
|With our exhibit, "Adventure West with Famous Floyds"
opening this coming fall, we will tell the story of the
colorful, pioneering Floyd family and its role in settling
the Falls Region. The story is based on the research of
Dr. Jeffrey G. Mauck, a New Albany native who is currently
a professor of history at Southwest Texas University.
It begins in the middle of the eighteenth century in Albermarle
County, Virginia. The family was of the "gentry class",
but they weren't among the "first" families
who possessed great tracts of land and dominated political
life. John Floyd, fourth oldest of the nine siblings of
William and Abadiah Davis Floyd, led the migration west
across the mountains into Kentucky.
In 1774, he was appointed by William Preston of Virginia
as a member of a team to survey land tracts awarded to
Virginia veterans of the French and Indian War. He met
up with Hancock Taylor, uncle of future president Zachary
Taylor, and floated down the Ohio River to the Falls.
Floyd and Taylor laid claim to thousands of acres for
themselves and William Preston.
In the summer of 1776, Floyd was living in Boonesborough,
Kentucky and found himself in one of the legendary episodes
of American frontier life. Indians kidnapped Daniel Boone's
daughter, Jemima, and her friends, Betsey and Fanny Callaway.
Boone and Floyd led a group that ambushed the raiders
and freed the girls. James Fennimore Cooper used this
incident in The Last of the Mohicans. Nineteenth century
American painters Jean Francois Millet's The Abduction
of the Daughters of Boone and Callaway and Karl Bodmer's
The Deliverance of the Daughters of D. Boone and Callaway
captured it on canvas.
Just as he was making a name for himself in the West,
he returned to Virginia because some of William Preston's
political enemies had his surveyor's license revoked.
Preston set Floyd up as a leader of a privateering expedition
against British shipping in the Caribbean, despite his
lack of knowledge of the sea. The group managed to capture
a British merchant ship, but on their way back to the
United States a British warship took them. Floyd landed
in an English prison, escaped and made his way across
the channel to Paris. There, he met Benjamin Franklin,
the leading American diplomat in France, borrowed money
from him and arranged for passage home. Floyd family oral
tradition holds that during his stay in Paris, Franklin
took him to Versailles where he dined with Queen Marie
Antoinette, but there is no proof that such a meeting
He returned to Virginia in the fall of 1778, married and
began planning his return to the Falls area to develop
his lands along Beargrass Creek. About a year later, he
and several members of his immediate family arrived at
his property to find that several squatters were on his
land. He allowed them to remain, knowing they might be
needed to defend the place. Following a treacherous winter,
he and his brothers and neighbors erected a stockade called
Floyd's Station, one of about six on the branches along
the creek. Indian attacks made life in the stations a
nightmare for the settlers and in 1780 Floyd recruited
a militia to participate in George Rogers Clark's raid
on the Shawnee village of Piqua in Ohio.
When Kentucky was divided into Jefferson, Fayette and
Lincoln counties, Clark arranged for Floyd's appointment
as colonel of the Jefferson County militia. He was now
in charge of protecting the settlements at the Falls and
a large part of Kentucky. Later, Thomas Jefferson appointed
him Justice of the Peace and surveyor of Jefferson County
and asked him to assist in laying out Louisville.
In early 1783, Governor Benjamin Harrison appointed Floyd
the first judge of the judicial district of Kentucky.
That required extensive travel in dangerous territory
and cost him his life. He and two younger brothers left
Floyd's Station and were ambushed by Indians. He received
a bullet in the back and died in April 1783. He was buried
at Floyd's Station in what is now Breckinridge Cemetery
in St. Matthews. His widow Jane Buchanan Floyd married
Alexander Breckinridge. Less than two weeks after John
Floyd's death, his son was born. John Floyd II made his
way back to Virginia were he served as governor from 1830
William and Abadiah Floyd's sons and daughters, John Floyd's
siblings, became prominent and sometimes wealthy citizens
of the falls area. When William Clark chose seven young
men from the falls communities to journey west to the
Pacific, two were grandchildren of William and Abadiah
Floyd - Sgt. Charles Floyd and Nathaniel Pryor.
Sgt. Charles Floyd
Facial reconstructionist Sharon Long of Laramie, Wyoming
cast Sgt. Floyd's head and face from a mold of his
original skull. She is one of a handful of experts
who has earned the admiration of many noted forensic
anthropologists, law enforcement officials, museums
and educational institutions in the nation. In collaboration
with scientists and anthropologists, she has completed
reconstruction on human skulls found at numerous historic
and prehistoric excavation sites such as Easter Island,
Chili, and Jamestown Fort, Virginia. Upcoming projects
include reconstruction of a Chamorie culture skull
from Saipan and the eight men who drowned on the Hunley
Submarine that sank at Charleston Bay, South Carolina
during the Civil War.
Ms. Long has appeared in five documentaries, including
National Geographic Explorer TV, The Discovery Channel
and PBS, and she will be appearing at the Carnegie
Center in October 2003. There will also be a public
presentation at the Ogle Center about her fascinating
work around the world and, in particular, her recreation
of Sgt. Charles Floyd. Coincidentally, she is a descendant
of the Floyd family. Don't miss this one; it will
be better than watching an episode of Crime Scene
Investigation on TV!!
The Carnegie Center for Art
201 East Spring Street
New Albany, Indiana 47150
(812) 981-3544 fax
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