I 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!