From William Preston
Smithfield August 15th 1774.
Mr Thomas Hog who brought the Platts of Your Land on Cole River from Capt. Floyd in April last with two other Men has never since been heard of, so that there is no Doubt of their being killed or taken, but I fear the former is the Case. Capt. Floyd with three others came in last Saturday. The other Surveyors with a Party of Men are still out but there is some Reason to hope they are safe.1
Mr Floyd at my Request immediately made out your Plan which I have Recorded & takes this Opportunity to Send it to Colo. Fielding Lewis either to be forwarded to you or sent to Town as you choose. I had no Opporty to send it directly down, otherwise I should have done it & sent the Patent Fee & had it put in at once.2
The Bearer Mr Nash lives in Faquier but he has given me his Positive Promise that he will send the Letter immediately to Fredericksburg.
We are greatly harrased in this Country by the Enemy. A Small Party got in about ten Days ago & killed 5 Persons mostly Children & took three Prisoners, about 15 Miles from this Place; which is greatly Exposed.3 I began yesterday to build a Fort about my House for the Defence of my Family. I am with great Esteem Dr sir your most Obedt & very hble Servt
1. See Preston to GW, 27 May and note 1 of that document. William Nash, Thomas Hanson, and Roderick McCra were the three men who returned precipitately from Kentucky with John Floyd (Thwaites, Dunmore’s War description begins Reuben Gold Thwaites and Louise Phelps Kellogg, eds. Documentary History of Dunmore’s War, 1774. Madison, Wis., 1905. description ends , 129). According to Preston, they undertook the “extreme painful fatiguing Journey of sixteen Days, through Mountains almost inaccessible, and Ways unknown,” and at last “arrived on Clinch River, near Captain [William] Russell’s Fort.” The other surveyors, James Douglas, Isaac Hite, and Hancock Taylor, and eleven other men were still missing (Virginia Gazette [Purdie and Dixon; Williamsburg], 8 Sept. 1774). Douglas and his party escaped by taking a boat down the Ohio and Mississippi to New Orleans and didn’t arrive in Williamsburg until December 1774 (Thwaites, Dunmore’s War description begins Reuben Gold Thwaites and Louise Phelps Kellogg, eds. Documentary History of Dunmore’s War, 1774. Madison, Wis., 1905. description ends , 111, n.59).
2. Preston is perhaps referring to John Floyd’s preparing a plat of the Coal River tract to be recorded by Preston as surveyor of Fincastle County. On 27 Mar. 1775 GW noted that he paid Preston £3.6.8 “for Surveying 2000 Acres Land” and paid Floyd £2.10 “for Said Land” (Cash Accounts, March 1775, and note 11 of that document).
3. In his letter of 13 Aug., published in the Virginia Gazette (see note 1), Preston gives a summary of recent Indian attacks on the frontier during the summer, including this attack on Sinking Creek, an affluent of New River: “On Sunday the 7th of this Instant a Party attacked three Families at the House of one Balser [Palser] Laybrook [Lybrook, Librough], about fifteen Miles from this Place. Old [Philip] Laybrook was wounded in the Arm; three of his Children (one of them a sucking Infant) a young Woman, the Daughter of one Scott, and a Child of one Widow Snyde [Snidow], were killed. They scalped the Children, all but one, and mangled them in a most cruel Manner. Three Boys were made Prisoners, two of whom made their Escape the Wednesday following, and were found in the Woods by the Scouts.”