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May 13, 2019 / Joanne Yeck

Buckingham Notables: “The Western Sampson,” Part V


Need to catch up? Click here: Buckingham Notables: “The Western Sampson,” Part I

Peter Francisco was a raconteur of the first order, as was the man who penned this article. He knew how to spin a story, keeping his readers interested even with this oft told tale of Francisco’s extraordinary strength and peaceful ways. The article concluded:

Francisco was a powerful built man, standing six feet and one inch in height, weighing 200 pounds. His muscular system was extraordinarily developed, and he had been known to shoulder with ease a cannon weighing 1, 100 pounds; and a gentleman of undoubted veracity, still living in Virginia, who knew him well says, “He could take me in his right hand and pass over the room with me—playing my head against the ceiling as though I had been a doll baby. My weight was 195 pounds.” His wife, who was a woman of good size and fair proportions, he would take in his right hand and, holding her out at arm’s length, would pass around the room with her and carry her up and down stairs in this position. He would take a barrel of cider by the chimes, and, holding it in his mouth would drink from the bung a long and hardy draught without any apparent exertion.

Yet with all his strength he was a very peacefully disposed man, and never made use of his power except in case of necessity about his usual vocations or defense of the right. On occasions of outbreaks at public gatherings, he was better at rushing in and preserving the public peace than all the conservative authorities on the ground. Although uneducated he was withal a companionable man, and his anecdotes and stories of war, of which he possessed a rich fund, rendered him a welcome guest in the first families of State. His industriousness and temperate habits, together with his kind disposition, made him many friends; and through their influence he was appointed Sergeant-at-arms of the Virginia House of Delegates, in which service he died in 1836. He was buried with military honors in the public burial ground at Richmond.


While attempting to decode Bill Stokes’ statement, “I am the Kentucky game chicken,” I discovered that this article about Peter Francisco was widely published in the spring and summer of 1855, appearing in such diverse newspapers as the National Era (Washington, DC), the Warrick Democrat (Newburgh, IN), the Atlanta Weekly Intelligencer, and the Chester Standard (Chester, SC) under the headline “PETER FRANCISCO, ⸻OR,⸻Samson of the Western Hemisphere.”

Our “local hero” enjoyed a national reputation!


Eager to learn more about Peter Francisco? Try searching the archives at Slate River Ramblings and consult “From Waif to Legend: Peter Francisco” in my book, “At A Place Called Buckingham”.


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