1891 News of Pryors in Graves County, KY

John Pryor, his brother George, the Collins brothers, Ed. and George, are under arrest for whipping Charles Gray near Farmington, Ky. The prisoners are white caps.
The Miami Republican, Paola, KS. December 11, 1891

I was curious as to the ID of these Pryor brothers and Charles Gray. Farmington is in Graves County, KY. John and George Pryor are on the 1860 Census in the household of Richard Pryor (son of the James Pryor b. 1786 whose death record stated he was a son of Richard and probably Mourning Pryor). John about 1850 was born in and George in 1852 so they would have been in their late 30’s or early 40’s.

I wondered what a “white cap” was so I found a definition on Wikipedia: “Whitecapping is the crime of threatening a person with violence. Ordinarily, members of the minority groups are the victims of whitecapping.” It was a precursor to the KKK and describes a range of vigilante activities.

So it made sense that when I found Charles Gray on the census he was an African American man. Gray was a recorded as a black farmer born about 1830 on the 1850 Census and he was still in Graves County on the 1900 Census; nine years after the reported attack. In 1900 he was recorded as “Charley” GRAY and he was counted just lines from a man named John Pryor who was also black.

Did Charles Gray and John Pryor have a connection with the white Pryors in Graves county? In 1870 on the first census after the slaver was abolished, John Pryor and another child named Walton Pryor were living in the household of Simpson Pryor (b. 1824). Simpson and his wife were recorded as mulattos. There was probably a connection between Charles Gray and this black John Pryor because one of John’s children (John Jr.) was killed in 1927 and his death record names his parents as John Pryor and Lizzie Gray.

What’s kind of interesting is that there was a Simpson Pryor counted in Graves County in 1860 (before the Civil War) in the household of Nancy Pryor (the widow of James Pryor b. 1786, probable son of Richard and Mourning Pryor – The same James who was the probable grandfather of the George and John in the article). His race was recorded as dittos indicating he was white however he was born in 1827 near to the year of birth of the other Simpson Pryor.

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