1893 Pryor Death in Memphis, TN

In 1893, before death certificates in Tennessee, the suicide or murder of a “Pryor” about age 35 was recorded in the Shelby County death register. Date of death was March 23, 1893. No first name was recorded.  No place of birth. Cause of death was “Throat Cut”. He was buried in Potter’s Field. His last known residence was “Foot of South Br (Bridge).”

I found that the death of Mr. Pryor made it into The Tennesseean on March 25, 1893


I did a search for Anderson Pryor on Ancestry.com and found that he may be the man listed in a Memphis city directory in 1893: Pryor Anderson c, driver, res rear 10 Exchange.” I think the small italic “c” denotes racially he was identified as “colored.”

I’m not coming up with a likely identification for this person. Perhaps it will help someone complete a blank in their family tree.

Category: About TN Lines | Tags: ,

Simpson Line Shines Light on Finding Source Information

ResearcherI came across a piece of information on one of my genealogy explorations. It’s not a Pryor, but it is an interesting example of how information is manipulated, or changed over time.

There’s an 1811 will for James Simpson in Caswell County, NC. It names his wife Sarah (aka Sally), their children, and their 3 minor sons Levi, James, and William. Sally and the children left NC after James’s death, showing up in Logan County, KY and finally moving to Johnson County, MO.

I found a long article on the Simpson’s in a history book, but I was more intrigued with the story of William’s death:

Wm. Simpson a brother, was a negro slave dealer and was murdered for his money by a man named Hoe in Kentucky.
The History of Johnson County, Missouri: Including a Reliable History of the … , edited by F. A. North, Brookhaven Press, 1881

I was wondering when this happened, where it happened and if I could find other accounts of this event.

The internet isn’t the end-all of research, but it certainly helps. There’s an account in a book published in 1825 on Google Books.

GAMBLING. The Alexandria Herald contains a long account of the confessions and execution of a young man of respectable connextions by the name of Hoe, for the murder of a Mr. Simpson. Hoe murdered Simpson and robbed him to pay a debt of honor, contracted at cards. We thus see the result of false principles, when gambling debts should erroneously and ridiculously be considered more honorable than a bona fide debt contracted for value received. A few such debts payed under the gallows will soon wipe away their honorable standing.
Masonic Mirror, and Mechanic’s Intelligencer, Volume 2, published by Moore & Prowse, 1825

While this didn’t add much in the way of facts, it points to the Alexandria Herald as another source. There’s no mention of Mr. Simpson’s occupation. The University of Richmond has a short synopsis of the murder on their website:

William Simpson, a prominent slave trader who resided in Fairfax County, was murdered in Centreville, Virginia. He was brutally shot in the head with a pistol and stabbed. He was also robbed of a reported 1600. The notes were from the Bank of Virginia. His body was found dumped near a road. According to witnesses, Simpson and the man later revealed as his murderer, William F. Hoose, spent two days together in the same tavern. They did not know each other before this encounter. Simpson was in the area to conduct business. They had lunch together because Simpson took a liking to the young Hoose. After lunch, the witness reported that Simpson and Hoose left the tavern together. Soon after that, Hoose returned back to the tavern by himself and kept pacing back and forth. He asked the landlord about buying a horse from him and the price. He went to Leesburg, where he was arrested for the murder of William Simpson. He was thrown in the Leesburg Jail and held there until his execution. He stole the money for gambling purposes.

This account is taken from 2 contemporary newspapers: Boston Commercial Gazette, March 25, 1825. Rhode Island American, March 22, 1825. Again more sources to look at.

I’d love to know the source of this story that was already almost 60 years old when it was used in the 1881 book. The book (and records) says there were no Simpsons left in Johnson County in 1881.

It’s not just the Pryors that raise more questions for every fact that turns up!

Category: Genealogy | Tags:

Death of William Pryor b. 1864

The report of the death of a William Pryor from Virginia, son of Captain Pryor, in 1889:

Wm Pryor a young man 25 years of age committed suicide yesterday by taking morphine. He was on a Western North Carolina train, and between Ashville and Hickory he swallowed 40 quarter grains he took the drug had no labels on it and it was not until the young man had fairly loaded himself that attention was attracted to him. A passenger saw him dump the whole contents of the box into his mouth and throw the empty box to the floor. Shortly afterwards he began to show the effects of the drug, and his tongue became so swollen that it bulged from between his lips. He was put off at Hickory and medical attention was summoned, but his death quickly ensued. The unfortunate young man was a son of Capt. Pryor who was formerly road master of the Richmond & Danville Company at Charlotte.
The Daily Review (Wilmington, NC – 20 May 1889)

Category: Virginia Pryors | Tags:

Pryor Line in Devon and Cornwall, England

I came upon a Richard Pryor who immigrated from England and lived in the US. His biography includes a photograph– cool! (see bio in Google books). Richard H Pryor gave a pretty nice… and complete… account of where he came from and who he was related to. He states he was from Devon, yet I found an Ancestry family tree for him that uses Cornwall census records as sources. We all have some red-faced mistakes in our family trees. I only found this Richard Pryor in Devon– very close to Cornwall, but definitely not in Cornwall.

richard h pryor

The beauty of genealogy blogging is that it’s a journey where ideas evolve over time. As new information is developed it can be pieced together and change how we view a family line. Cool beans!

1861 Census Devon, England
Tavistock, Devon, Brook St., 53, John PRYOR married 35 bonnet and fancy draper, born Tavistock. Kezia wife 27 bonnet maker born Inwardleigh. Mary C Pryor daughter 12 scholar born Tavistock. Richard Pryor son 7 scholar born Tavistock. Francis Pryor son 3 born Tavistock.

1851 Census, Devon, England
Tavistock, Pepper Street John PRYOR married 25 miner and straw dealer born Tavistock. Ann L. Pryor wife 24 milliner born Tavistock. Mary G. Pryor daughter 1 born Tavistock. William A son month born Tavistock. Keziah Pryor sister in law unmarried 17 (this is Keziah Hawking who was in William Hawking’s household in 1841) assistant milliner born Ingwardleigh.
Next household…
Tavistock, Pepper Street #120 Anthony PRYOR married 47 miner grocer and tea dealer born Helston Cornwall, Grace Pryor wife 43 born Laneast. Thomas Pryor son 6 scholar born Tavistock. Elizabeth Pryor daughter 1 month born Tavistock.

1841 Census, Devon, England
Page 20 Pepper St., Anthony Pryor 35 minor tin and copper not born in county, John Pryor 15 miner born in county. Thomas Pryor 13 born in county. Richard Pryor 11 born in county. Grace Easter 65 housekeeper born in county. Mary Ann Hunting 15 not born in county.

The bio of Richard H Pryor states his grandfather was William Hawkins an accomplished wheelwright. I found his grandfather on the 1841 and 1871 Census — on both records he is a Hawking not a Hawkins. Ooops.

1841 Census, Devon
Inwardleigh, The Field Cottage, William Hawking 40 wheelwright born in county, Grace Hawking 35 born in county, Elizabeth Hawking 12 born in county,
Mary Hawking 10 born in county, Kezia Hawking 7 born in county, Sarah Hawking 4 born in county, John Hawking 2 born in county

1871 Census, Devon
Inwardleigh, #23, Elmead, William Hawking 75 married 75 farming 270 acres employing 1 man Devon Buckland, Grace Hawking 65 wife b. devon Hasherleigh, Richard PRYOR grandson 17 born Tavistock, Francis PRYOR grandson 13 born Tavistock


Category: England | Tags: , , , ,