Historical footnotes of Squire Boone, Col. John Floyd

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There are some new details of Squire Boone’s Painted Stone settlement, which helped establish Shelby County and what happened in the days following the Long Run Massacre and Floyd’s Defeat.

By Ron Van Stockum

Since the publication of – in both newspaper and book formats – my columns on Squire Boone, whose Painted Stone Station along Clear Creek was the forerunner of present-day Shelbyville, I have received additional information relating to his life and times.


You may recall that, on Sept. 13, 1781, settlers fleeing Painted Stone for the relative safety of Linn’s Station were attached viciously by Indians in what has been described as “The Long Run Massacre.”

The following day Col. John Floyd, as County Lieutenant in command of the militia of Jefferson County, which then included Shelby County, hurriedly gathered available militia and departed for the scene of the attack.

His mission: Bury the dead, punish the attacking Indians, and forestall or defeat any attack on Boone’s Station.

Near the scene of the massacre, he and his force of 27 mounted militia were surprised by a large band of Indians, dispersed and cut to pieces.  Half of his men were killed or captured.

About four days later, a larger force of militia reached Boone’s Station to rescue the wounded Boone and his family and that of the widow Hinton.


Squire Boone’s wife Jane remained

Helen McKinney, a direct descendant of Squire Boone’s older brother Samuel (1728-1816), inquired if Squire Boone’s wife, Jane, had remained at the Painted Stone Station with her husband and family after most of the settlers had fled.

I checked the references again and found that in their interviews with frontier historian Lyman C. Draper, Boone’s sons Moses and Isaiah both stated that Squire Boone and his family remained at the fort.

I further checked with Vince Akers, the authority on the Long Run Massacre, who offered the plausible answer that Jane Vancleve Boone was obviously included in the term “his family,” for she certainly would never have abandoned her 6-year-old daughter Sarah and her 3-year-old son Enoch.


Col. John Floyd (1750-1783)

I have recently received from the family of Flora Sherrod, who is a direct descendant of John Floyd’s brother Charles, a copy of a letter, written by Letitia Preston Floyd to her son Benjamin Rush Floyd in 1843.

Jim Holmberg, curator of the Filson Historical Society, has informed me that Charles Floyd and John Floyd were uncles of Sgt. Charles Floyd, the only member to die during the Lewis and Clark Expedition of 1804-1806.  Sgt. Floyd’s father was their brother Robert Clark Floyd.

I had not known of Letitia, but research revealed her to have been a remarkable woman.  She was a sister of a governor of Virginia, James Patton Preston (1816-1819), the wife of a governor of Virginia, John Floyd (1830-1834) and the mother of a governor of Virginia, John Buchanan Floyd (1849-1852).

In this letter, Letitia Floyd describes the death of her father-in-law, Col. John Floyd.  However, noted Kentucky historian, Hambleton Tapp, in his article “Colonel John Floyd: Kentucky Pioneer,” in the Filson Club History Quarterlyof January 1941, while referring to her letter, had the advantage of later research material.

Accordingly, I quote from his account, which appears to be more accurate in describing Floyd’s death:

“On April 8, 1783, Colonel Floyd, together with his brother Charles, Captain Alexander Breckinridge and two others rode toward Bullitt’s Station, on Salt River.  When about three miles north of the present site of Shepherdsville, the party was fired upon by Indians.  Colonel Floyd, his scarlet cloak a good target, was shot through an arm, the ball entering the body.  .  .  . Charles, whose horse had been wounded, seeing his brother reel in the saddle, jumped behind him and spurred rapidly away....  

“They rode about five miles back on the trail toward Floyd’s Station, when the wounded man, exhausted from the loss of blood, could go no farther.”

Colonel Floyd died on April 10, 1783.  He had accomplished much during his short life and had prospects of a promising career.  Two weeks after his death, his wife, Jane Buchanan Floyd, gave birth to a son, also named John.  This John Floyd would live to marry Letitia Preston and become a governor of Virginia and the father of a governor of Virginia.


Resettlement of Boone’s Station

Undeterred by adversity, Squire Boone returned in 1785 to resettle his old station with a large group of families. He found it had been burned, and he set about rebuilding it, including the construction of a gristmill and a sawmill on Clear Creek.

After reading my columns, Gail Reed, historic district coordinator for the City of Shelbyville, brought to my attention a letter written in 1785 by a new settler at Boone’s Station to a relative in Chester County, Pa.  With permission from the Chester County Historical Society, I quote it below:

“Jefferson County july ye 9 1785

“Dear sister of having the opportunity to let you know wee got safe to this County.

“We got down ye Ohio in 15 days wee had a very pleasant jurney to what of expected & wee like this County very well

“Wee have had some very good offers since wee come here wee are now living at Squire Boons Station

“I have plenty of work at my trade & very high praises for it & Rachel & Fanny is grown fine girls they are of great help to mee I think we can live very well

“There is a good market at ye falls for everything wee take there one shilling per pound for butter & same for cheese and we can buy good Conggo tea for twelve shillings per pound & wee can make more sugar then we can make use of some will make 7 Hundred weight in one spring

“So no more at present but remains your loving sister till Death –

Mary Pearce”

And so, after the tragedies of The Long Run Massacre and Floyd’s Defeat, an additional party of settlers had reoccupied Squire Boone’s Painted Stone Station.  They would remain and welcome the creation in 1792 of Shelby County, Kentucky.


To read columns by Gen. Ronald Van Stockum about Squire Boone and other historical subjects, visit www.SentinelNews.com/features or search the archives.