Captain John Buchanan Floyd - 2, A Vintage Vignette

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Captain John Buchanan Floyd - 2
A Vintage Vignette by John P. Rankin
March 30, 2007

John Buchanan Floyd lived some of the experiences of the opening scenes of the movie Dances with Wolves. He attended Virginia Military Institute, where he studied under Professor T. J. Jackson -- later known as "Stonewall Jackson". John was visiting an older brother in Limestone County when the Civil War started. That brother left for duty in the Confederate forces after John promised to stay and manage the cotton plantation. However, John could resist defending the South no longer when Lincoln called for more Union troops after the Battle of Manassas. He put control of the plantation under a Black foreman and was elected to a lieutenancy in a new company of troops. After the battle at Corinth, John was transferred to General Joe Wheeler's cavalry, where he served as a captain.

During a Southern attack at "Big Shanty" in the defense of Atlanta, John was shot from his horse during the last charge against a greatly superior Union force. A bullet went through his ankle, but he refused to permit the surgeons to amputate his foot – just as in the movie. However, he suffered as a cripple for the rest of his life from the injury.

When John revisited his brother in Limestone County after the war, he received another "wound" from which he never recovered. He encountered a second cousin, Frances Maria Harris, whose blue-gray eyes smote him mightily. John and Frances were both descended from Orlando Jones via one of his two granddaughters. The older of the two grandchildren was Martha Dandridge, who first married Daniel Parke Custis and next married George Washington, first President of the United States. Martha Dandridge Custis Washington was also a great-grandmother of General Robert E. Lee's children. The younger of the granddaughters of Orlando Jones was Frances Barbour Jones, who married an unrelated John Jones. Mr. Jones served as a captain in the Light Brigade of Harry Lee, the father of Robert E. Lee. Frances Jones was the great-grandmother of both John Floyd and Frances Harris, who were wed in December of 1867.

John and Frances produced nine children that lived to adulthood. One married Eldred Fletcher, son of Madison’s Dr. Richard Matthew Fletcher. Another married William Harvey Gillespie, son of Campbell Milton Gillespie and his wife Lorinda Clark, who were the parents of Madison’s most beloved schoolteacher, “Miss Hessie”. Yet another married John Hertzler, son of Madison’s prominent Dr. John Hertzler, who had land that is today part of the arsenal, but he lived in Madison on Church Street at College Street in a large house that no longer exists.

Another Floyd child married Thomas Hopkins, son of Frank Hopkins and Mary Harris, a descendant of the Bibb family of Alabama's first two governors. John Buchanan Floyd, Jr. married a daughter of James Arthur Wise and Lucy Harris. James Arthur Wise was brother and business partner of George Washington Wise, the prominent Madison merchant and President of the Bank of Madison, as well as partner in the Burton & Wise Drug Store and the firm of Wise Brothers & Harper. The latter firm was so-named due to the inclusion of partner B. F. Harper, who served as Mayor of Madison, 1900-1901.

John Buchanan Floyd, Sr., in spite of his crippled ankle, also became Mayor of Madison for several terms (1896 and 1898-1900). In 1896 he convinced the city to build the structure that became known as the Roundhouse, even though it was octagonal in shape. The Madison Roundhouse was built on 8-foot stilts over the town's water supply (a well or cistern), so Mayor Floyd had to ascend stairs on his painfully injured ankle every day that he went to his office in the Roundhouse, which served as City Hall, Mayor's Office, and Barber Shop until the 1930s.

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