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Pryor Slave Story: Anthony Pryor Free Man During Civil War

pryor slaveI’ve got another story from the Civil War that reveals the name of a slave named Pryor and their former master. I would think if anyone is tracing this Pryor line they would become stumped because this man named Pryor wasn’t last enslaved by a Pryor family. It’s an interesting letter from The Liberator, the famed abolitionist newspaper in Boston.

“Can’t Take Care of Themselves — Would Starve if They were Set Free.” Here is one of the keenest retorts to this ridiculous outcry in the shape of a letter written to Anthony Pryor, one of the colored people at Fortress Monroe, by his late mistress. Rev. Mr. Lockwood certifies to its authenticity.

ANTHONY — I have heard that you were making a great deal of money, and as we are in Williamsburg and have no support, and William is away and I cannot hear from him, I send you this to let you know that we are in need of everything. I have no meat, no money of any kind that will pass. I want you to send me some bacon, and sugar, and coffee, and any other things you can get that I need. I have no money to buy a thing with. You have had twelve months’ freedom to make money in. It is time to do something for me and my children. They are in want of clothes, and the winter is coming on. If you do not send me some money, they will perish with cold, for wood is very high, and I am not able to buy any now to cook with. We have done all in our power for you until you left us, and can you hear of your master’s children starving, and you able to work and help them? No, I cannot think it. I should like to see you. If you can give ma a little help every month, it would keep us from want. Send what you can get for me by John King. He will bring it safe. He is doing all he can for his mistress. He does not let them want for anything. I never should have sent this if I had not been in want, as you have not done any thing for me all this time. If you consider yourself free, it is your duty to do what you can for me and my two children. I shall expect you to do all you can. If John King does not come up soon, you can send them by Sam Simpkins. He belongs to Miss Eliza Jones. Tell him to bring them to Mrs. Tilford. We are there now. Send them as soon as you can.
From your mistress, Hannah D Westwood
(Published in The Liberator, 3 Oct 1862)

The audacity? The white mistress writing to her black slave begging for money during the Civil War.

The location? Fortress Monroe is likely Fort Monroe in Hampton, VA.

It would be interesting to know the circumstances that led to Anthony Pryor’s freedom because this article was written DURING the Civil War and BEFORE the Emancipation Proclamation in January 1863.

There’s an Anthony Pryor (born about 1841) on the 1870, 1880, and 1900 Census schedules, living in Elizabeth City, VA. He was recorded as black at times and as mulatto at other times. He was living with with Lucy Ann Pryor, identified as Lucy Whitlock on their son Joseph Andrew Pryor‘s social security record. Anthony and his son took on the occupation of plasterers.

In 1870, Hannah D. Westwood and her husband William T. Westwood were counted living in Isle of Wight, VA. Two children born before and during the Civil War were living in the household: Mary E 11 and Hannah D 9. The value of William’s personal property was $100. Military records reveal that before this letter was published in The Liberator, Hannah’s husband William Thompson Westwood had enlisted as a Confederate soldier. Perhaps the Westwoods were feeling the shortages of the War or the loss of income from her husband being away from home with the military. Or perhaps both.

It takes desperation and gall to write to your ex-slave asking for financial assistance.

1777 Map of Albemarle County, VA with Augusta, Amherst, Orange and Louisa Borders

I love old maps! They are so useful for figuring out old deeds. This is a great old map that was attached to a 1777 Legislative Petition filed by Albemarle County “inhabitants and freeholders” in favor of a division of the county from western-most point on Louisa line to the lower edge of Scott’s Ferry (the markings on the left end of the Fluvanna River). It may be hand-drawn without any new-fangled GPS, however it’s a good resource for boundaries and locations that were landmarks. Noted on the map is the Fluvanna River and it’s proximity to the James River, county lines, St. Anne’s Parish, Fredricksville Parish, and Charlottesville represented by a star just over the South-West Mountains. I can make out some of the smaller creek names: Cunningham, Green, Carry, Rockfish (which was just over the Amherst County boarder).

More on Dolly Pryor, daughter of Beverly Pryor of AL

Back in July I wrote about Dolly Pryor, the illegitimate daughter of Beverly Pryor in Madison County, AL (read more). I think I’ve found her marriage.

Her marriage was announced in Tuskegee Republican, 17 June 1852: Hilliard C Harmon married Dolly Pryor on 23 May 1852 in Lawrenceburg, TN. The paper reported that they were both from Florence, Lauderdale County, AL.

There’s a marriage record in Lawrence County, TN that identifies the bride as D B B Pryor which corresponds with her name change in 1836. The AL state legislature changed her name from Dolly Beverly B Harrell to Dolly Beverly B Pryor.

Dolly was living with her mother in 1850, but seems to have disappeared by the 1860 Census. Hilliard C Harmon was recorded in his parents’ household in Lauderdale county — no Dolly.

Allen L Pryor Cemetery in Sumner County, TN

During the summer of 2016 a Pryor researcher sent me photos of the grave markers in the Pryor Cemetery near Sumner County, TN (near Gallatin). My apologies for being slower than maple syrup in January in getting these posted! I’ve got some photos I took in the 1980’s – I’ll have to see if I can find them. It’s interesting to compare what is known of a cemetery at different times. For instance, there are only 6 burials noted on a Rootsweb page. It’s possible that those were the only markers visible when the survey of the cemetery was done for the book Sumner County, Tennessee Cemetery Records.

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“Infant son of A Pryor died Feb, 15, 1865.”

 

Allen L Pryor infant son grave marker

Infant son of A Pryor died Feb, 15, 1865

 

Small part of a grave marker

Small part of a grave marker

 

Henry Pryor

“Henry Pryor … was born”

 

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Henry Pryor, close up

 

broken marker

Infant son Pryor

(In)fant son of A. and E. PRYOR born Sept.

Another view of Infant son Pryor marker

Another view of Infant son Pryor marker

 

Pryor grave maker

Broken grave marker

 

Elizabeth Pryor grave marker

Memory of ELIZABETH PRYOR was born Dec 19, 1825. Died Feb. 22, 1865. Aged 39 years. (Elizabeth Talley wife of Allen L Pryor)

 

Monument put up many years after Allen L Pryor’s death in early 1900’s.

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Beatrice and Willie Ann Lee, grand-daughters of Willie Pryor Gregory.

Beatrice and Willie Ann Lee, grand-daughters of Willie Pryor Gregory.

 

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