Mexican War: Don Miguel Pryor of Old California

Miguel Pryor (aka Nathaniel Pryor) is mentioned in an account of the defense of Los Angeles in 1846, during the Mexican War. I was surprised to see he played a part in the conflict, and also surprised to see that he was working on the side of Mexico, his new homeland.

In his absence (Governor Pio Pico) news reaching the latter place on the 21st. In his absence news reached Los Angeles that Castro was coming with a force to attach the place, and the citizens at a public meeting tendered their services to the ayuntamiento for defense. Three military companies were at once organized, the foreign residents joining them with alacrity. (see footnote)

Footnote: One artillery company under Michael Pryor, an American; another of riflemen under Benjamin D Wilson, also an american, and a third one of cavalry under Jorge Palomarel, a native Californian. (The Bay of San Francisco : The Metropolis of the Pacific Coast and Its Suburban Cities : A History. Published by The Lewis Publishing Company, 1892. Page 132)

An article titled “Further from Mexico” was published in the Times Picayune (New Orleans) on January 6, 1847. It gave an account of the latest happenings of the war in California. It reported that the citizens of Los Angeles had met in September to toss out the American military who had positioned themselves in California during the war. Apparently things had escalated as 150 Americans had been killed. To stop the bloodshed both sides met to agree on conditions of a cease-fire. The Americans were represented by surgeon Edward Gilchrist and the Los Angelenos were represented by Miguel Prior.

I feel I must add my own note to this clipping. The “D” is an abbreviation for “Don”, a polite way of addressing someone of position in Spanish society.  Even the Americans in the article were addressed as “Don” or “Señor Don.”

An interesting turn around for this Pryor. He was arrested upon entering Alta California for being an American, married into the influential and well-heeled Sepulveda family, and within years was fighting for Los Angeles and representing Mexico in negotiations.

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