Captain Pryor Steamboat Pilots: Accident on the River

I was looking for a Pryor who was a river boat captain when I came across the story of a steam boat wreck on 27th December 1833. I now know how to say steam boat in French: bateau a vapeur. That piece of vocabulary probably won’t be useful if I vacation in France– still love this kind of stuff!

I can make out details in the French account from the Baton-Rouge Gazette, January 11, 1834. that a steam boat named Telegraph was piloted by Captain Pryor, and had an accident near Palmyra Island. Two or Three hours later the boats Cincinnatian and North Alabama picked up the passengers to continue their trip.

The accident was also recounted in English in Mississippi newspaper: Vicksburg Whig, January 15, 1834

The news even made it into a northern newspaper- The National Gazette, Philadelphia. January 21, 1834.

The lingering question is which Captain Pryor was piloting the boat?** The accident occurred near Palmyra Island, a location on the Mississippi River in Warren County, MS. Was this one of the Pryors of Louisville, KY? Joseph E. Pryor of Pope County, IL was recorded as a pilot on the 1850 Census. Another candidate would be the Captain Pryor in an account of a freed slave.

** A Pryor researcher has contacted the webmaster to point us in the direction of Joseph Everett Pryor whose biography mentioned the wreck of the Telegraph (see Google Books: Biographical and Memorial Edition of the Historical Encyclopedia of Illinois)

Category: Mississippi Pryors | Tags: ,

John Henry Clay Pryor: A Free African-American in Pre-Civil War Virginia

I stumbled upon a Pryor death record in Virginia for an African-American who was born before emancipation. Most notably the death record named both the mother and father of the subject. I wondered if they could be identified in records and documented.

The Death Record

John Henry Clay Pryor* was 76 years old (born about 1841) when he died on Christmas Day 1917 in King George County, Virginia. The death record (available on Ancestry.com) states his parents were Colvert Jones [sic] and Mary Pryor, both born in King George County, Virginia. The informant was Mary Bombrey. Another death record for George Pryor born 2 February 1868 and died on 6 March 1933 in King George County states his parents were Henry Clay Pryor and Anna Liza Bumbrey from King George County, Virginia. This second death record helps to not only ID one of John Henry Clay Pryor’s children but the name of his wife and the informant on Clay’s death record as a possible in-law.

Marriage and Family

Clay H Pryor age 34 (born about 1846) was found on the 1910 US Census in King George County with wife Anna L. Pryor age 62. There were no others living in the household. Pryor was identified as “mulatto”. The head of household recorded before the Pryor’s was Richard Bumbrey age 50. He was further recorded as a farmer who could neither read nor write, and that he as well as his parents were born in Virginia.

In 1880 J H C Pryor age 33 (born about 1847) with wife Ann Eliza age 31 were recorded on the US Census in King George County with five children, including his son George T. Pryor age 14 (born about 1866). Also in the household was Madison Bumbry age 23, recorded as a nephew.

Henry C. Prior age 24 (born about 1846) and Angelica age 22 were counted in Chotank, King George County in 1870. Was Angelica the same person recorded as Ann Eliza? It appears they were the same person because Virginia, Select Marriages, 1785-1940 [database on-line] found on Ancestry.com states Ann Eliz. Bumbrey married Clay Prior shortly after the end of the Civil War on 24 October 1865. This database states Ann/Angelica’s parents were Thomas Bumbrey and Betsy Bumbrey. One might think that Clay married upon gaining his freedom from slavery, however Clay Prior age 16 was recorded on the 1860 Census in King George county as a free mulatto in the household of Louisa Bumbrey– Louisa Pryor Bumbrey was also counted in the household of Mary Prior on the 1850 Census (see below).

His Mother and Siblings

John Henry Clay Prior appeared on the 1850 Census in the same county in the household of Mary Prior, born about 1821. He was recorded as Clay Prior, age 5. The census was taken in August 1850 so Clay would have already had his birthday if he was born on March 1 as reported on his death record, making his year of birth 1845, and making him about 72 years old at the time of his death.

Mary and all the Priors in her household were recorded on the 1850 census as mulatto. Relationships were not recorded on the 1850 census, so there are several possibilities of the how these Priors were related: this woman may be the Mary Pryor named as Clay’s mother on his death record, or a different Mary Pryor. If Mary was the mother of all the children, including Clay and Louisa, the ages of the children (17 through 3) hint that she began having children in 1833 when she was about 12 years old and possibly ended with her last child in 1847. The possibility that all of the children were not her offspring arises when we note there were two young girls named Mary (age 12 and 7). There are instances where parents name children using the same name multiple times, however those are rare events.

Calvert Jones: Clay Pryor’s Father?

Finding Clay’s father leads to a multitude of questions rather than a clean precise answer. There two men named on the 1840 census in King George County.

Calvert Jones Jr, a white head of household. The household was comprised of a male age 20 to 29 years (born between 1811 and 1820), a white female of the same age range, and a young white female child under five years old. There were 10 African-Americans counted as slaves in his household, making a total of 13 persons in the household.

There was also a senior Calvert Jones living in King George county and counted on the same census. Calvert Jones senior was age 50 to 59 years old in 1840 (born between 1781-1790). He was the only white person living in the household, he had one slave, and 13 free “colored” people: 12 African-Americans under 24 years and one female age 24 to 34 years. There were no adult free black males in the household.

The elder Calvert Jones died intestate in 1844. A chancery court case filed by his son John N. Jones states his father, Calvert, died in the same year and was filed over distribution of the estate: one slave named Harry. It also names the six heirs to Calvert’s estate:

  • Charles G. Jones, also the administrator of the estate.
  • John N. Jones, who filed the suit and was Calvert’s son.
  • Sarah C. Jones, Calvert’s granddaughter and the daughter of his deceased son Calvert B. Jones.
  • And the three children of Calvert’s daughter Hanna Jones Pollard (Hannah’s death is inferred because she is referred to in the past tense): Cordelia, Haseltine, and Ryland.

Evidence is weighted towards Calvert Jones Sr. as the father of Henry Clay Pryor.

  • The key piece of evidence to identify Clay’s father is the death record that provides his father’s name.
  • Clay’s death record indicated he shared his mother’s surname, not his father’s surname. This issue indicates that his parents weren’t married and there was an issue with legitimacy.
  • Clay Pryor was recorded as “mulatto” which may be indicative of lighter skin color inherited for a more distant white ancestor (the census taker looked at him and made a judgment of what to enter in the race box on the census) or the description revealed knowledge that he was born of both white and African-American ancestry.
  • Family trees on Ancestry.com state Calvert Jones Jr. died in 1840, at least six years before the birth of John Henry Clay Pryor.
  • No African-American man was located in records available on Ancestry.com (census, marriage, death records) who used the name Calvert Jones (or other variations of the spelling). However, if an African-American man went by this name and fathered Clay, then he may not have lived to see freedom after the Civil War or adopted another name.
  • Calvert Jones Sr. had free people of color living within his household in 1840 and as far back as 1830. Calvert Jones Jr. had no free people of color recorded in his household on the census.

Further Research

Calvert Jones Sr. died intestate which led to the chancery court case to divide his estate. His heirs acknowledged (viz. the chancery case) that he had only one slave named Harry. Therefore, confirming the 1840 census that recorded all the other people of color on his property as free people.

How were the free African-Americans freed? The 1782 Manumission act in Virginia gave guidelines of how to free slaves in Virginia. The primary emancipation document would be a will, however the the blacks in Calvert’s household were free in 1840 and there was no mention of them in his will. The next option was any other written document during the slave holders lifetime. A requirement was that the document had to be sworn to in court or sworn to by two witnesses. The slave holder had to pay a fee to the clerk of the county court. There could be court minutes or fee schedules that contain the record of when Mary Pryor was freed.

Another piece of history should be considered. There were 5 Pryors counted as free people of color and heads of household on the 1820 census in King George county, perhaps hinting that Mary Pryor was a free woman at the time of her birth in the 1820’s.

I’m wondering if anyone from the line of John Henry Clay Pryor has done autosomal or male YDNA testing. Did they connect with other Pryors? Did they connect with the Jones line through YDNA?

* John Henry Clay Pryor as “Clay” through out this post to simplify his name and to reference the name that was used on records.

Alice M. Pryor from Overton County, TN

We have a researcher who in interested in the family tree of William H. Pryor and Rutha Dial. They have an old tin-type portrait that is believed to be Alice M., daughter o William H. and Rutha.

Alice was identified as a 10-year-old daughter in William H.’s household on the 1880 Census. This record may be the only record of her made during her lifetime. If she was born in 1870, it was likely after the census as she does not appear on the census in that year.

In 1900 a grandson named Eddy C. Pryor was recorded in William H.’s household. Although this boy carried the Pryor name, it’s believed that his mother was Alice because his death record in 1958 identifies his mother as Alice Pryor.

Does anyone have any information on Alice– when she died, where she is buried, who was the father of her son Eddy?

1822 – Peter Pryor and Green Pryor of Tennessee in NC Estate

State of North Carolina.
Rockingham County. Inequity.
April term, a d 1822.
Robert Galloway, administrator of the estate of Charles Galloway, deceased, against Elizabeth Gentry, administratrix of the estate of James Galloway, deceased, and others. It appearing to the court the
Thomas H Perkins
Nicholas Perkins
Peter Pryor
Green Pryor
Edward Williams
Green B Williams
Thomas Williams
Alexander M Williams
Thomas Worsham and Nancy his wife
Steven Coleman and Polly his wife
John T Johnston
Luis Dillabunty and Lucinda his wife
—- Hardy and Sally his wife
Meredith Johnston
Minerva C. Johnston
Nicholas Scales
Joseph H Scales
Robert Scales
Constant Scales
Peter Scales
George W. L. Man
John Man
William M Man
Sally Man
Constant H. P. Man
Peter N. Man
Agatha Man
Matthew Daniel and Agatha his wife
reside without this state, and they being part of the defendants to the bill of complaint filed in this state, it is ordered, that publication be made for 6 weeks in the Raleigh Register, for the above-named defendants and each of them to appear at the next term of this court, on the 5th Monday after the 4th Monday of September next, then and there to answer, plead or demur to the said bill, or the same will be taken Pro confesso against them, and heard ex parte. Test. James T Moorhead, c. M. E. May 4th 1822.
(Weekly Raleigh Register June 7th, 1822)

I took a look to see what I could find out about the people named in this notice.

Peter and Green Pryor

Peter and Green Pryor, the orphans who were raised in Williamson County, Tennessee. Peter and Green Pryor Pioneer Children of Williamson County by Dorris Callicott Douglass concludes they were the children of John Pryor and Elizabeth Perkins, who married Headly Stone after the death of John.

Nicholas Perkins

It’s probable, although there were several men who were named Nicholas Perkins, this Nicholas Perkins was one of the 3 men of this name counted on the 1820 Census in Williamson County, Tennessee.

Alexander M. Williams and Green B. Williams

He is possibly the Green B. Williams who was counted on the 1820 Census in Maury County, TN. Alexander M. Williams was counted in the same county in 1820.

Nicholas Scales and Peter Scales

Nicholas Scales married Elizabeth Perkins – Their children moved to Williamson County, TN (Clarion Ledger, Jackson MS August 27, 1963). Nicholas Scales was the Principal Assessor for the 5th Dist, Williamson County, TN (Nashville Whig, June 25 1816)

Peter Scales appointed assistant marshal for Rockingham County, NC in 1840 (North Carolina Star, March 25, 1840)

Amherst County Legislative Petitions Pryor Signatures

Pryor signatures

Hello all, I’m back with some new Pryor posts. The Pryors are not my full-time job so sometimes like in these past month, I have to focus on work first. Thanks for inquiring about my good health while I was on a hiatus. My health is fine– I’ve just been blessed with a busy schedule.

I’m still intrigued by Pryor signatures. It’s interesting that on some documents (like census record) a Pryor claims not to be able to read nor write and yet they sign their name to another record years before or years later. Some documents, like petitions appear to be have been signed by one person (all the signatures are the same). That issue led me to question if some documents were merely transcriptions of the original.

Pryor Signatures

I’ve collected some Pryor signatures from Amherst county, VA. Some of the signatures, because of the date of the petition, help to place when a Pryor lived in the county. Sometimes the signature helps to place where the Pryor lived (ie. upper Amherst county). The nature of the petitions also give clues to what the Pryor was interested in. And at times when more than one Pryor signature appeared on a page, it could be a clue to who were Pryor kin or even Pryor neighbors.


Hartwell T. Pryor 
1849



1.23.1847
Jno Pryor (Jno Pryor)
Flour Inspection
Accession Number 36121, Box 13, Folder 25

1.6.1845.
Jno. Pryor, secretary
John Pryor, Director
President & Directors of the Lynchburg & Buffalo Springs Turnpike Company: Petition
Accession Number 36121, Box 13, Folder 23


12.20.36
Hartwell T. Pryor, Robert H. Pryor, Wm Pryor Jr., Nicholas Pryor, Richard I Pryor. 
Inhabitants of Amherst & Lynchburg: Petition
Accession Number 36121, Box 307, Folder 25


1.3.1833
John Pryor
Citizens Petition regarding bridges
Accession Number 36121, Box 12, Folder 76a

12.31.1830
John Pryor
Inhabitants of Amherst & Nelson: Petition
Accession Number 36121, Box 12, Folder 71


12.28.1829
Richard I Pryor
Elections petition
Accession Number 36121, Box 12, Folder 65


12.7.1827
Ro H Pryor (Robert H Pryor)
Residents of Amherst, Nelson, & Albemarle: Petition
Accession Number 36121, Box 12, Folder 61



12.21.1826
John Pryor and Thomas M Pryor (signature below Wiatt Gatewood)
Inhabitants of Amherst, Campbell, Bedford, & Lynchburg: Petition


12.22.1807
William Pryor and Wm Pryor Junr. (William Pryor Jr.)
Inhabitants petition
Accession Number 36121, Box 307, Folder 19

12.9.1807
John Pryor
Inhabitants of county: division of county
Accession Number 36121, Box 307, Folder 18

12.9.1803
Wm Pryor Jr. (William Pryor Jr)
Jesse Pryor
Inhabitants Petition: Flour Inspection
Accession Number 36121, Box 12, Folder 9


12.18.1800
John C Prior
Citizens of Upper Part of Amherst County Petition
Accession Number 36121, Box 11, Folder 99


12.15.1800
David or Daniel Pryor, Wm Pryor?, John C Prior
Inhabitants: Remonstrance – Division of county
Accession Number 36121, Box 11, Folder 98


12.15.1798
William Pryor
Freeholders & Inhabitants: Remonstrance
Accession Number 36121, Box 307, Folder 13



Nicholas Pryor
Inhabitants Petition, Tobacco
Accession Number 36121, Box 307, Folder 9


Nicholas Pryor
Inhabitants Petition, Tobacco
Accession Number 36121, Box 11, Folder 73 


10.11.1792
William Pryor (near Zedikiah Shoemaker and Hugh McCabe), Nicholas Pryor, David Pryor
Flour Inspection Petition
Accession Number 36121, Box 11, Folder 65

1790 – Earliest Pryor Signatures

10.20.1790
William Pryor (near Zedekiah Shoemaker), Wm Pryor
Inhabitants of Lexington Parish: Petition
Accession Number 36121, Box 307, Folder 2

*Pryor and Shoemaker were both living in Lexington Parish when they filed their applications for Revolutionary War pensions in 1832.

Category: Tennessee Pryors