Col. John Floyd was killed too soon

Jadon Gibson

Col. John Floyd, a frontier surveyor, was one of the leading pioneers of Kentucky. He was one of five brothers, three of whom were killed by Indians. Two of his brothers-in-law shared a similar fate. They weren’t victims of bad luck but of the times in which they lived.

Col. Floyd was riding with his brother Charles on April 10, 1783, on his 2,000 acres called Floyd’s Station, just outside of present-day Louisville, KY. The Indians were intent on repelling the settlers from the land on which they lived and where they hunted for many years but they had not been pesky during the winter months. The Floyd brothers weren’t on a heightened alert and didn’t suspect danger. They were fired on by Indians making their early spring raids and Col. Floyd was mortally wounded.

Floyd was wearing a suit of scarlet clothing making himself stand out as a target. Some of the more affluent residents on the borderland tended to dress nattily in that period. The scarlet clothing was somewhat of a trademark for Col. Floyd, something he acquired in Paris, France, no less. We’ll look into that later.

At the time he was hit by Indian gunfire his brother’s horse was also wounded. Charles, realizing his dilemma and seeing the seriousness of his brother’s wound, sprang up behind the saddle of his brother’s horse, put his arms around him and took hold of the reins. He then sped off to the fort. Col. Floyd died two days later.

Col. Floyd’s horse, Pompey, had a unique quality, in that it could tell if Indians were near and always gave the rider a sign when they were near. On this day the colonel rode another steed, unfortunately.

“Charles, if I had been riding Pompey this probably would not have happened,” he uttered before dying.

Col. Floyd was part of the 1775 meeting at Boonesborough that helped establish the colony of Transylvania, the first form of government west of the Allegheny Mountains.

Chiefs Attakullaculla, Oconostota, Dragging Canoe, Little Carpenter, Raven and over 1200 Cherokee tribesmen were present at the earlier meeting at Sycamore Shoals when the deal was bartered with Richard Henderson and the Transylvania Company. Soon thereafter Daniel Boone and his band of men blazed the trail through Cumberland Gap and to the Kentucky River where Fort Boonesborough was built.

Dragging Canoe told Daniel Boone there would be much trouble and bloodshed in settling the land known as ‘the dark and bloody ground’. The native Americans lived on the land in harmony with nature for longer than could be remembered and saw the ever-increasing numbers of settlers as a threat to their way of life.
Speaking of Col. John Floyd, Daniel Boone told acquaintances later in life that had he lived longer he could and would have been able to untangle Boone’s own legal and land holding entanglements that caused him to pull up stakes and move several times. Boone eventually lived in Missouri where he died with little monetary wealth and few possessions.

Both Boone and Floyd lived in an era of grave danger. While living near the Falls of the Ohio River, forty-seven settlers were killed or captured near Floyd’s Station during the springtime of one year. He said his duty as head of the militia was futile as war was being waged by the Indians, supplied by the British, while his group had little ammunition and few horses.


“Two men bring accounts that 600 British with united enemy (Indians) are preparing to march against the Falls of the Ohio with artillery,” Floyd wrote. “Hardly a week goes by without someone getting scalped and I have almost gotten too cowardly to travel about the woods without company.”

Col. Floyd returned to his native Virginia during the Revolutionary War. He was given command of a privateer ship, The Phoenix, searching for British ships to plunder. His boat was captured and he was cast into a British Prison. Eventually he was able to escape and made his way to Paris where he acquired his aforementioned scarlet clothing. Away from home and without funds Benjamin Franklin arranged for his return on a French ship back to Virginia.

He then gathered his family and in 1779 returned to the Falls of the Ohio and reclaimed his 200 acres. Many of his letters in the years that followed told of the deaths of siblings and friends. He also feared for his own survival. He wrote that the reason many had not returned to the east was because the Ohio River only ran one way, a most interesting statement.

Although Col. John Floyd died in 1783 at age 32 he had many accomplishments. Many feel his stature may have equaled Daniel Boone and others had he lived as long, saying “he got killed too soon.”

Floyd County in eastern Kentucky was named after Col. Floyd. His son, John Floyd, who was born 11 days after his death, became the 25th governor of Virginia. A grandson, John Buchanan Floyd, was the 31st governor of Virginia. Copyright 2018 Jadon Gibson

Editor’s note; Jadon Gibson is a freelance writer from Harrogate, TN. His writings are both historical and nostalgic in nature and can be read regularly at bereaonline.com. Don’t miss a single posting!

A Voice for God – a voice for good
My good Lord in Heaven has been so good to me. Recently my brother Larry in Mississippi told me his little dog had died. Larry is the only brother I have but I do have a sister (Carol) who lives in Michigan. I could tell by Larry’s words that he was greatly moved due to his dog’s passing.
People become very close to their pets. The pets become close to their owners too. Periodically we see or hear of a pet that becomes lost but eventually finds it’s way back home, even from great distances, famished and haggard.
My first pet was a black cat that an uncle, Luther Sexton, brought to our home on Sanctified Hill in Cumberland, Kentucky, in about 1945. Blackey had a long life, in fact she lost all of her teeth before her passing. Surprisingly she was still a good mouser. I didn’t have a camera back then but I can picture how the photograph would look and likely Ripley’s Believe or Not would want a copy. She held the mouse’s head in her mouth until it smothered to death.
I recall having a young kitten in 1964 while living in Rolla, Missouri. I ran over it while backing out of the carport. We didn’t have the kitten very long but I was still saddened and dejected for causing her death.
My wife Chris and I raised and sold basset hounds in the early 1980’s and occasionally a young pup would die. A friend gave us an older and robust female that was named Bo. We had her outside of our rural home a day or so later when she began walking down our lengthy gravel driveway toward the road. We had a laugh with her having her bags packed and leaving us. Actually she stayed with us for a long time
Before moving back to eastern Tennessee in 1985 we sold our bassets. We had one whose name was Brandy. She had a low IQ even for a dog. I’ll not go into that but I will say when we sold her to a young couple she readily jumped into the backseat of their car without any prompting. Actually she loved riding and would have jumped in any vehicle without persuasion so we didn’t take it personally.
When you raise registered dogs sometimes you acquire a dog like Bo who I mentioned earlier. When we got Bo she had a ‘top knot,’ a growth right on the top of her head. We had it removed by a vet and joked afterwards that she had a facelift and ‘looked mavelous.’
Someone gave us Ida Red, a young basset who had a slight deformity, a ridgeback, her spine more pronounced than normal. She was a real delight. Without me prompting her she would stand on her hind legs and put her front legs up on my chest as though we were dancing. She was very nice. When she became pregnant, day after day she became overdue but we felt the lucky day would come soon. We had to go somewhere for the evening and left her in our basement. It was wintertime and we wanted her to stay warm. When we returned we found her dead on the basement floor even though we had bedding for her there. She probably needed medical attention but paced the basement until she couldn’t take any more. The memory still troubles us 36 years later.
People often become very close to their pets. I was in a sales interview in about 1978 and it seemed the sale was assured when, all at once, the family dog was run over by a car in front of their house. My likely sale flew out the window. In a prior Voice from God I wrote of Chris and I buying my mother a Himalayan kitten while purchasing two for ourselves. She absolutely loved it… a outstanding companion for Mom until she passed on.
My good Lord in Heaven has been so good to me. Even though some of our pets have bitter memories they bring back many fond thoughts as well. We have pictures of them just as we do our sons though certainly not as many. Many readers are likewise attached to their pets and thank God for bringing them into their lives. Do you think they may have their favorite dog or cat in Heaven. I don’t know but it’s a nice thought. God bless!

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