Tag Archives: Slave Names

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.

George L Pryor, black attorney and politician

george-pryor-black-lawyer

George L Pryor is on the 1900 Census in Norfolk. He was recorded as born May 1857 and “black” which means he was an African American born before the end of slavery. He and both of his parents were born in Virginia and his profession is recorded as “lawyer”.

He married Mary Sewell in Norfolk in 1888. His parents were recorded as P Pryor and L. A. Pryor.

George L is on the 1880 census in Elizabeth City, VA in the household of Peter Pryor and Lucy A. Pryor. George’s occupation at that time was “school teacher.” Both Peter and Lucy were recorded as “black” and Peter’s profession was recorded as carpenter and Lucy was a seamstress.

The 1870 Census was the first census after the end of slavery. Peter Pryor and his family, including George, were recorded in Elizabeth City. Peter was a carpenter and owned a house worth $1200 and had a personal estate valued at $200. Peter was recorded as a mulatto at this time, indicating he was part white.

George L Pryor appears to have been a prominent African-American engaged in politics.

  • 1880 speaker at Republican gathering in Hampton, VA (Richmond Dispatch, 28 August 1880)
  • 1881 appointed clerk in the pension office (Baltimore Sun, 9 April 1881)
  • 1884 represented Norfolk, VA at the Republican National Convention.
  • 1888 represented Norfolk, VA at the Republican National Convention.
  • 1896 second vice president of Republicans in Norfolk, 4th Ward.
  • 1897 secretary for the development of the first colored beach resort
  • 1898 recognized by the Federal government as an agent to prosecute cases before the Department of Interior. He was disbarred from this practice in 1898 without explanation. (National Archives)
  • 1900 he was the president of the Central Republican League. (Virginian-Pilot, March, 15, 1900)

1901 appears to have been a rough year for George L Pryor. The Times in Richmond reported that he was also a clerk at the Navy Yard and was fined for charging illegal fees in a pension case as a government employee.

My curiosity is piqued on how out of slavery George L Pryor became a lawyer. How did he get from point A to point C?

Kansas Runaway Slaves — Dick Pryor Remained

pryor slaveH H Hart was 66 years old when The Wichita Daily Eagle published an article titled “Saw Slaves At Work in This State” 6 April 1913. The article included an account of his encounters with a slave named Dick Pryor.

Mr. Hart came to Kansas with his father, Thomas Hart, and wife. They settled in Linn county, near the present town of Paris. Close by was a large farm owned by a man named Pryor. This Pryor’s slaves ran away until only one remained, Dick Pryor. In April 1858, this slave escaped with the aid of several anti-slave men. In 1859, Thomas Hart died after casting his vote at the Lecompton election against slavery.

Hart and the former slave met up again during the Civil War.

In 1863, when H. H. Hart was 16 years old, he enlisted in Company 1 of the Sixth Kansas Cavalry. He served with this company until the war was over. During the war he again met Dick Pryor, the slave who escaped in 1858. He had enlisted in the First Kansas colored infantry, and was fighting for the Union.

I took a quick look through the census records to see if I could find these people. I think I can trace H H Hart to Linn County, KS

1925 – Harvey H Hart died and is buried in Sedgwick County, KS.
1920 – Harvey H Hart born 1847 in IA is on the census in Baca Co. with wife Elizabeth and children Ivan and Cecil.
1910 – Harvey H Hart with wife Elizabeth and children was working in a soldiers hospital in Wyoming. John W. Hart who appears to be a brother of Harvey’s was also counted on the census – Harvey and John had parents born in the same states (OH and TN).
1900 – H H Hart with wife Elizabeth and son Ivan were counted in Chautauqua County, KS. Again his parents were born in OH and TN.
1880 – H H Hart was in Greenwood Co., KY with wife Mattie, who appears to be a first wife. Again his parents were born in OH and TN.
1870 – Harvey Hart born 1847 in IA, counted on the census in Labette Co., KS
1860 – This is when the info takes a curve… I can find an Absalom Hart born about 1848 in IA living with a woman who is possibly is mother E Hart born in MO. The family was living in Linn County, KS. There’s a John Hart in the household that matches up with the John who was counted with Harvey in 1910.
1850 – The census in Keokuk County seems to straighten out the kinks in the 1860 census: Thomas Heart (sic) b. 1823 OH, Elizabeth E Hart b. 1827 TN, John W. Hart b. 1844 in MO, and Absalom H Hart b. 1847 in IA. So it looks like Harvey, for part of his life went by the name Absalom.

I haven’t found Dick Pryor in any records.

Pryor Slave in Richmond Tobacco Factory Fight

ye-olde-pryor

A slave named Aleck Bagby, owned by Dr. Sam’l Fauntleroy, of King and Queen, on yesterday evening bit off the entire lower lip of Fleming Pryer, a slave, owned by W. R. Robinson, Esq., in a fight, at the factory of the latter, on Franklin, below 20th street — Dr. James Dove was summoned in haste, and stitched on the dissevered part.
— Richmond Dispatch, Richmond VA 4 March 1861

Samuel G Fauntleroy is on the 1850 census in King and Queen County and states his profession as physician, but do the slaves or their owners lead back to a Pryor?

W. R. Robinson is on the 1860 Non-Population Schedule, recorded as a manufacturer of tobacco.

It should be noted that Dr. James Dove was also summoned to a Richmond scene

I may have found Bagby– an Alexander Bagby worked in a tobacco factory in Richmond:

1870 Census, Henrico county, Richmond Clay Ward
Alexander Bagby 44 male B works in tobacco fac. Virginia.
Elizabeth 44 female B keeping house Virginia
Jeremiah 18 male B works in tobacco fac. Virginia.
George 17 male B ? Virginia.

Fleming Pryor was also on the 1870 Census and the 1880 Census:

1870 Census, Goochland County, VA
Lickenhole, page 120b, house Fleming PRYOR 67 black male born VA

1880 Census Richmond, Henrico County, VA
Richmond, page 487c, Fleming PRYOR 71 black make born VA, parents both born in VA, sick with old age. Edith wife 59 washer woman born VA, parents both born in VA. Edith Pryor 27. Martha 14.

Fleming Pryor died in 1886 in Richmond. He was recorded as a “factory hand” and he was born in 1824 in Hanover County, VA.

Bagby’s owner Samuel G. Fauntleroy connects to a Pryor. Samuel Fauntleroy with Elizabeth Antoinette DeNeuville Pryor (the widow of Brazure Williams Pryor) witnessed the will of Robert B. Boyd in 1838.

1838 Will – Will of Robert B Boyd 1838. Records of King and Queen Co. King and Queen C.H. Virginia. Will Book 1, page 102. Will of Robert B Boyd. Dated 30 May 1838. Prob. 11 June 1838. Friend Christopher John D PRYOR Esqr to be guardian “of my two children Mary Francis and Roberta Byrd Boyd. Two uncles Beverly D. Roy and Augustus G. D. Roy to have blooded horses. Wife Mary A Boyd. Exor: “my friend George K Carlton. Wit: E.A. PRYOR, Samuel G Fauntleroy, Junius x PRYOR. This will recorded 2nd Nov 1869

There are so many pieces connected to this simple 1861 news piece. Slaves such as Alexander Bagby were hired out to factory owners like W. R. Robinson. Maybe Fleming Pryor was another rented slave or perhaps Robinson acquired him from a Pryor or Fleming family. Does his name shed light on a Virginia Pryor family?