Only Two Weeks Left!
May 19, 2016
BENEFITING: Botetourt County Historical Society Inc
EVENT DATE: Jun 03, 2016
We need funds to pay for an archaeological survey of historic plantation property, with national significance, in Botetourt County, Virginia. Citizens of the county wish to save historic artifacts and structures, including slave artifacts, at the Greenfield Preston Plantation in Botetourt County, Virginia. Two community organizations are involved in this activity: Friends of Greenfield Preston Plantation and Botetourt County Historical Society. These structures are from the Greenfield Plantation, which once was owned by Colonel William Preston. Preston (ca. 1729-1783) was a soldier and surveyor. He guided the destiny of the Virginia frontier from the French and Indian War through the American Revolution. He served in the House of Burgess for Augusta County in 1765 and 1766-1768 and for Botetourt County in 1769-1771. He also signed the "Fincastle Resolutions," a document that pre-dated the Declaration of Independence. Preston purchased the property known as "Greenfield" in Botetourt County circa 1763. Half of Preston's 12 children were born at Greenfield. Many of his descendants became governors, legislators, state treasurers and held other influential offices. Prestons' son James Patton Preston, was governor of Virginia from 1816–1819 and helped charter the University of Virginia. His grandson, William Ballard Preston, was a Congressman and Secretary of the Navy. The mansion home of Greenfield burned in 1959. Remaining structures include the slave dwellings and kitchen, built circa 1832. Botetourt County purchased the property in 1995 to use for industrial development, school location, and recreational activities. Last year, Botetourt County approved an agreement to convey property that includes historic structures within Botetourt Center at Greenfield to the county's Industrial Development Authority for the purposes of conveying the land to the Greater Roanoke Valley Development Foundation for the construction of a speculative industrial shell building. Under the terms of the agreement, Botetourt County very recently relocated two historic structures - the slave quarters and the kitchen - from the property. Many citizens of Botetourt County were saddened that these slave dwellings were ripped away from their original sites. Even more importantly, citizens fought against the County's flattening the hill, where owners lived for 200 years and slaves lived and toiled for over 100 years. The hill is still intact. However, the County plans to destroy the hill, to erect a shell building for economic development. Greenfield slaves' descendants live in Botetourt County, and know a great deal about their ancestors' lives at Greenfield. Many of them believe their ancestors are buried on the hill. Some believe that Preston family members may have been buried there, too. Numerous descendants of the Preston family live in and near Botetourt County. They, too, want to honor their ancestors' graves. Native Americans have left their mark on the property, too, and it's likely that their remains and artifacts are buried in the hill. The hill is scheduled to be flattened this summer. After a long dispute between concerned citizens and the County, Botetourt Board of Supervisors allowed a limited archaeological survey. This survey unearthed many artifacts, and previously unknown structures, that will explain much about the hill's inhabitants and their way of life in the 1750's or earlier. This discovery will reveal so much more than anyone knew before about this period in the life of Botetourt County and the country. Citizens of Botetourt County want to extend this survey. They also want an opportunity to find buried human remains, which were not found during the recent limited survey. Academic and commercial archaeologists are so excited about the recent discovery of artifacts, that they are willing to contribute much of their own time to this endeavor. However, even with so much volunteer time, effort, and expertise, we still need $50,000 to fund the project.