slate river ramblings . . . .

Buckingham Notables: Peter Francisco, Part I

In April of 1958, Charlottesville’s Daily Progress ran an article recounting the story of the American Revolutionary hero Peter Francisco. Unsigned, it was sent to the newspaper from Ransons, Buckingham County and offers a glimpse of the Francisco legend as it was preserved into the mid-twentieth century. The title, “Unusual History Remains Behind Peter Francisco,” prepared the reader for the hero’s mysterious beginnings. The article opened: “There is an old home near the Buckingham-Cumberland County line which is fast returning to dust. It was once the home of Peter Francisco, a giant of a man who served as a Revolutionary war soldier and friend of Gen. George Washington and the patriot Lafayette.”

The reader was informed about a tall, granite monument in Greensboro, North Carolina which marks the spot where Peter Francisco, “a giant of incredible strength,” killed eleven British soldiers, single-handedly. His final resting place, after many adventures, is in the Shockoe Hill Cemetery in Richmond, Virginia.

The article recounts the oft-repeated tale of the orphan Francisco crossing the Atlantic Ocean to be put ashore at City Point, Virginia. The small boy, aged five or six, could not tell the Virginians much about his life somewhere across the sea. According to the article, he had “flashes of memory” of a “splendid home and kind parents.” He even recalled a little sister.

Soon, the boy was discovered by Judge Anthony Winston of “Hunting Towers” (Buckingham County). The judge took Peter home with him, reared and educated him, and did not prevent him at the age of sixteen from volunteering in America’s fight for freedom.

Coming next: Peter Francisco, Part II