A Thomas Jefferson Letter Leads to Questions in the Pryor Family Tree

letter 1
It’s sad that letter writing has become a lost art. Two Hundred years from now will historians be searching the web for our Tweets and posts to figure out our history….our lineage?

Here’s a little letter from Randolph Jefferson (the president’s brother) asking for a ride to Charlottesville so his wife Mitchie B. Pryor could see her dying brother. That was in 1809.

That’s a sweet story in itself, but I have questions.


I get concerned when I read things like this. Is there a Pryor whose missing? Which brother was on his death bed? My notes reflect that of Mitchie’s known brothers were all alive into the 1830’s and beyond:

Langston d. 1849
William Smith d. 1840
Leonard d. 1830-ish
Zane d. 1854
Nicholas d. 1833
John C. d. after 1850
Banister S. d. after 1840

If I had to pick another son for David Pryor, I’d pick Benjamin W. Pryor b. 1788 in VA. Benjamin was in Nashville as early as 1807. He went to Louisiana as did John C. Pryor. There’s a Benjamin Pryor on the 1830 Census in Iberville, LA and in Nashville. But alas, Benjamin lived to a ripe old age, dying after the 1850 Census.

So are we missing a son of David Pryor and his wife Susan Ballow? Or was the man in the letter one of the known sons and he just got better and lived on another 20 years or so?