PRYOR DNA: part 3 – The DNA Wish List

wishlistMy wish list of testers has changed and it’s also now prioritized.

1. John and Massey of Sumner Co., TN. If you are a male descended from this line we need you to test! Allen L. Pryor is a “proven” son of John and Massa with male descendants.
Who should test? Allen L. Pryor (a proven son of John and Massey) had several sons—John Edward Pryor stayed in Sumner County, TN and I’ve communicated through the years with several Pryors in the Gallatin area. Lycurgus Pryor and his brother William Thomas Pryor went to Texas and settled near Farmersville. Please contact me through the website link if you are interested in testing

2. A male Pryor from the line of James Calvin Pryor of Graves County, KY. James is the only proven son of Richard and Mourning Pryor (at least they’re listed as his parents on his death record). It would be a boon to all TN Pryors to  have a tester from this line in the Pryor Project on FTDNA– it would help to rule in and rule out relationships to Richard Pryor. If a male Pryor from this line has already done a Y-DNA test, can you let us know so we can figure out a way to compare tests results?

3. James and Nancy of Overton County, TN.  I’ll be doing a separate post on this line. There are numerous female descendants of this line who would very much like to know who James Pryor was related to. James may very well be related to William/Spicy of the same county or he may from a completely different line all together. The point is that the paper trail has dried up and Y-DNA testing is needed to crack this riddle.
Who should test? We’ve ID’d men who descend from James’ son Pleasant Pryor. Pleas, as he was known, migrated to Texas. Descendants from this line have been located in Texas and California.

4. David Pryor and Susannah Ballow – Testing from this line would help unravel some of the mystery of the Pryor relationships in VA and TN. Plus, how cool would it be to find out you’re related to President Thomas Jefferson by marriage?
Who should test? Descendents of this line lived in Maxwell and Grimes in Colusa County, CA since the time just after the Gold Rush. I know of a descendant who recently passed away on the East Coast.

5Harris from Knox Co., TN – Recent posts have elaborated on the Knox County line or lines of Pryors. There may have been two or more Pryor families in Knox Co., some descending from the line of Joseph Pryor of Botetourt County, VA and others from Harris Pryor of Bedford County and Prince Edward County in VA.
Who should test? I think the line we are looking at for testing were in Blount County, TN. There’s a memorial for Millard Pryor who’s buried in Maryville, TN. Can we get a descendant to test?

Y-DNA testing from these lines would not only sort out my family tree (hopefully!), but the testing could  help to untangle the spaghetti of Pryor families in TN.

About Pryor Y-DNA Testing

There are more than 60 male Pryors who have tested on Family Tree DNA ( The results can be viewed online. Testing is anonymous, painless, and simple– they are identified only by the test number.  If you purchase a test through this link (it’s not an affiliate link, I don’t make any referral fees) you’ll be part of the Pryor project and save $20 on testing. The 111 marker test is the highest level of testing, however 67 markers is enough to show kinship.

I know there are many ladies like myself who are interested in our Pryor genealogy and disappointed that we can’t test (it must be a male with the surname Pryor, not through a known adoption).  We can reach out to our brothers, cousins, nephews, uncles, fathers and grand-children.  Don’t put off testing  because of the confusing science of DNA — there are many really nice Pryors who are part of the Pryor DNA project at who are willing to share their genealogy and share their knowledge of DNA results.

If you are interesting in learning more about the Pryor surname project or DNA testing, please feel free to contact me. I’ll do my best to answer questions.

Vanessa Wood © 2005 - 2014
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PRYOR DNA RESULTS: Part 2 William Pryor and Spicy Taylor of Overton County, TN

from the book "The Orphan," published in Edinburgh, Scotland 1841

It’s been so hard to find testers I feel blessed that we actually had two male Pryors test for the line of William Pryor and wife Spicy Taylor at the same time. Two testers and two very different results.

The first tester is who I’ve referred to in my prior post (no pun intended) as Tester #3. He is descended through the line of Overton Pryor, the first born son of William and Spicy.

The second tester is descended through Chesley Pryor, named presumably for Chesley Taylor a brother of Spicy Taylor. Chesley Pryor was the last known son of William and Spicy. Chesley was living at home at the time of the 1850 census and was counted in the household of Spicy Taylor.

It was surprising, but not stunning, when this second tester didn’t match to the other tester for William Pryor’s line. The second tester didn’t have any Pryor surnames in his results on, so that casts strong doubt on whether he’s descended from a Pryor line.

Some time ago a female Pryor, descended from Chesley, did the autosomal DNA test on (aka the “Ancestry DNA” test).  One of my kids took take the same test. While I  had several hits on Taylors and Garretts (the line of Spicy Taylor and her sister Massey Taylor), my test didn’t match to this female tester. Regardless of our Pryor ancestry, if we were related, we should match on our common Taylor ancestors: Spicy Taylor and Massey Taylor.

The male Y-DNA tester for William/Chesely’s line ALSO took the same autosomal test. His only Pryor match was to the female tester mentioned above.

So we  have a male Y-DNA test and a autosomal test from the line of Chesley Pryor who doesn’t match the other Y-DNA test for William and Spicy, nor does he match known autosomal testers for  John and Massey. One of the first questions we asked was where the break in the Pryor DNA line occurred — Did Spicy have a child with another man? If Spicy was Chesley’s mother then despite who his father was, Spicy’s DNA would be passed down through Chesley.  The autosomal tests indicates Spicy’s DNA is not likely passed down through this line.

So that means there are at least two intriguing scenarios of who Chesley was and who his children were. The first scenario is that William and Spicy took in a foundling or orphan. The autosomal tests would indicate that this child was not related to either adoptive parent. The child was integrated into the family and given a family name: Chesley.

It would be odd if the break came during the time of Chesley. The male Y-DNA tester is from the line of Chesley’s 1st son Parker while the female autosomal tester was from the line of Chesley’s 3rd son John. These sons were 6 years apart in ages with another son in between (Charles Lavander). John was not on the 1860 census, but was in Chesley’s household on the 1870 census. That would mean that children were adopted from the same parents over time. That can happen, but it seems to be of a lower probability than the first scenario.

If Chesley’s children were not fathered by Chesley, there are several possibilities and some work would need to be done to figure things out.

  • The female autosomal tester could find someone descended from Chesley’s son John to take a Y-DNA test. That test may show if Parker and John were fathered by the same person.
  • They could find a Y-DNA tester from the line of Chesley’s other son, Charles Lavander Pryor. This is a “wild card”. Perhaps that tester would match the tester for William and Spicey’s line. Perhaps this tester would match the Y-DNA tester for Parker Pryor.
  • The tester for Parker Pryor could upgrade his Y-DNA test to see if he matches at a higher level to a different surname on He could also post his test results on to see if he matches other testers who’ve tested through other companies.

The Overton County Pryors are not alone in the tales of orphans in Pryor households. Families shrunk in size due to a cholera epidemic and a generally high mortality. Census records seem to show young Pryor males living and doing farm work in other households. The Pryors in Overton County didn’t own slaves, so perhaps taking in children helped with getting the farm work done. William and Spicy’s marriage was recorded in the Quaker Marriages in Virginia, so perhaps taking in children was part of their Quaker beliefs. The scenario of taking in orphans may also explain William Pryor b. 1820 who was recorded among the Pryors, Taylors, and Talleys in Sumner County. Were William and Chesley boys that the Pryors took in and raised as their own?

Regardless what is done with further DNA testing, Pryors  who descende from Chesley Pryor will want to dig deeper into the paper trail. Gather together your family birth records, death records, and wills to see who is named and how they are named.  It’s time to re-check court records for adoptions or guardianship agreements. There’s an explanation out there!

(Top of page: illustration from the book “The Orphan,” published in Edinburgh, Scotland 1841)

Vanessa Wood © 2005 - 2014
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PRYOR DNA RESULTS: Part 1 – Sumner, Overton, and Gasconade Counties

The Taylor Chart

I’ll be talking about Pryors, but I can’t do it without a partial chart of the Taylors. It’s the only neat and tidy way to organize everyone on one page and to show the Pryors who were related to 3 of the Taylor children by marriage. One of the testers is from a KY line and I’m not yet able to chart their relationship. Click on the image if you’d like to see it larger.

The test results are in for the 3 testers from the Pryor lines of Sumner County and Overton County.  All 3 tests were done on 111 markers by Family Tree DNA (

The 3 tests in our family group are as follows:

#1 – a descendant of William Pryor of Sumner Co., TN. William was born about 1820 and died en route to the Gold Rush about 1848.

#2 – a descendant of John T. Pryor born 1788 in KY and lived in Gasconade Co., MO.

#3 – a descendant of William Pryor born 1760-1770 and Spicy Taylor of Overton County, TN, through their son Overton Pryor.

In Common

There are two things that these testers have in common.  First, all testers matched on some, but not all markers.  I think we can cautiously say they are all Pryors.  Second, none of these 3 testers matched at a high level to another surname. I also say that cautiously because all 3 matched at on several markers with Mr. Page (see my past post that includes Mr. Page: “My Pryor DNA Story and The 5 Pryor Lines for Y-DNA Testing”).

DNA Defining Family Lines

I know for myself and tester #1 the results will be surprising. The relationship between William born c. 1820 and William b. 1760-1770 may be VERY distant and may have originated in the Old World a very long time ago. provides a TIP report for testers that demonstrates the probability of relationships. When I compare Tester #1 to Tester #3 there is only a 0.44% probability that these 2 testers shared a common ancestor in 4 generations. That is very low. Consider group 104 on (this group includes descendants of Matthew Pryor of Marion Co., TN and Virginia Pryors related to Samuel Pryor and wife Prudence).  Group 104’s testers have more than anm 80% probability that they share a common ancestor.  The good news is that there’s a 98% probability that Tester #1 and Tester #3 shared an ancestor at 24 generations (in the 1300-1400’s — that’s very long ago indeed).

Ugh. Disappointing, but Pryor researchers from Sumner and Overton Counties needed to know this!

This information doesn’t change my relationship with tester #1 as we are still cousins though Talley family marriages in Sumner County and of course Willie Ann Pryor from his line was my grandfather’s step-mother (after the death of his mother Bettie Pryor Gregory). We need to keep looking for the father of William Pryor b. around 1820. One scenario to explain this William — he may have been a foundling or orphan raised by either William and Spicy or John and Massey. This scenario would explain the extreme distance in relationships revealed by the DNA and it’s a scenario supported by other evidence of “foundlings” in the family which I will discuss in an upcoming post.

The Stronger Although Very Distant Connection

The stronger connection is between Tester #2 and #3.  They match on markers 12, 25, 37, 67, and 111. However the genetic distance is still high. The probability that they are related is 94.5% at 16 generations — That’s in about the 1600’s when perhaps traceable common ancestors who arrived in the American colonies.


Test Results from – group 119

 What’s Next?

For Sumner and Overton County Pryors…. We NEED a male Pryor from the line of Allen L. Pryor to take a Y-DNA test. The ideal tester  is a male from the line of his son John Edward Pryor or another son Lycurgus Lafayette Pryor. There’s no getting around this. If this tester connects with Tester #3 who tested for William of Overton Co. then we can safely stay on our assumption that John who married Massey and William who married Spicy are related.  Who knows, the tester could match to Tester #1 (kin of William b. abt. 1820). We need tests from William’s line AND John’s line to be the cornerstone for the comparisons to other tests. They may end up being from two separate Pryor families but we need to know that!

For Gasconade County, MO Pryors… they need other MO testers. Allen L. Pryor states he was born in White County, TN in 1816. Was his family related to other Pryors in White Co.? Researchers  have long thought that the Pryors who settled in Bates County, MO were related to William Pryor of White Co. More paper research in MO and White County is needed.

Part 2 will reveal the results of another tester for the Sumner and Overton Pryor lines and an intriguing outcome.

In Part 3 I’ll be revising my list of the 5 testers needed.

Stay tuned.

Vanessa Wood © 2005 - 2014
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