Category Archives: Illinois Pryors

Samuel Pryor of Perry County, IL (James and Nancy Pryor Line from Overton Co., TN)

Some time ago I was contacted by a researcher who identified the wife of Samuel Pryor who lived in Perry County, IL. Just passing along this research info.

Samuel Pryor b. 1832 in Tennessee is believed to be a son of James and Nancy Pryor from Overton Co., TN. Samuel left Tennessee with his probable brother Jesse some time between April 1849  and September 29, 1850 when he was counted on the Census in Carroll County, AR (Jesse’s son was born in TN about that time).

Samuel’s wife is reported to be Sarah Jane Poston, also from Overton County, TN. She and her family are on the 1850 Census in Overton Co. Samuel and Sarah married about 1856. Their first child was born in 1857 in Illinois. By 1860, Samuel’s brother Henry Logan Pryor had married Sarah Elizabeth Mize. Both of these Pryor men were counted on the 1860 Census in Perry Co., IL.

If you’re a male who carries the Pryor surname from the line of James and Nancy, there are female researchers who’d appreciate your Y-DNA test through the Pryor project. The testing is a mouth swab (no blood needed), and we have a great representation of American and UK Pryor families, so odds are good that you’ll find a match to your family line.


Isaac Pryor of Pike County, IL – Who’s Your Daddy?

diggingforrootsAnother Pryor researcher sent me this link to a family tree that includes Isaac Pryor of Pike County, IL It conflicts with my own research, so I feel we need to do a bit of exploration on Isaac and his family.

The tree posted on purports that William B Pryor was the son of John Pleasant Pryor born in Granville Co., NC and Elizabeth Palmer, and that William B. Pryor married Jane B. Atkinson and they were the parents of Isaac Pryor b. 1806 who lived in Pike Co., IL.

Let’s start with Isaac and work out way back.

Portrait Biographical Album, Pike and Calhoun Counties, Illinois, published 1891, page 400 (The book is available online In an article on William H. Pryor (son of Isaac Pryor) it states:

The Pryors are of English origin, and Tennessee has been the home of the family for several generations.  In that State Isaac Pryor, the father of our subject, was born in 1807.  About 1838 he came to Pike County, ILL., making the journey according to the common custom– with a horse and wagon, camping out by the way.

The article also states that Isaac bought land in Pike County in the township where his son (William H) “now lives,” which is also stated as Derry. William stated that his father lived on the land until his death.

William’s date of birth is stated in the article as 12 November 1832 in eastern Tennessee. This date and place corresponds with his age on the 1850 Census in Pike Co.

Shortly before the 1850 Census Isaac married Mrs. Nancy Neely, 14 Jan 1847 in Pike County (see Illinois Marriage Records).

The dates of this history and the marriage record correspond with the information recorded on the 1850 Census in Pike County:

Isaac PRYOR 44 TN farmer, Nancy 38 OH, William 17 TN, Samuel 15 TN, Lucy 13 TN, Thomas 11 IL, Sarah 9 IL, Catherine 2 IL, Martha 1 IL

If Isaac and Mrs. Nancy Neely had no relationship prior to their marriage in 1847, it’s likely that daughters Catherine and Martha are from this marriage and the other children, including William H. Pryor are from an earlier marriage.

The 1838 date contained in the above article appears to be a good date for Isaac’s entrance to Pike County as there are two Pryor marriages in 1837 and one in 1840, helping to earmark his move to the area.

Noting the 1838 date, it’s then highly likely that he is the Isaac Pryor counted on the 1840 Census in Pike County.  Isaac’s age was reported as 30 to 39 years (born 1801 to 1810), which corresponds to his reported age on the 1850 Census (born 1806).

On the 1840 Census there is a woman in Isaac’s household who was age 20-29 (born 1811-1820). This may be Isaac’s wife before his marriage to Nancy in Pike County.  If this woman was also William H. Pryor’s mother she would have been about age 12-21 at the time of William’s birth which would not be out of the norm for the time for the age of a first time mother.

There’s a hint of the name of this possible mother of William H. Pryor. A tombstone in the Hornbeck Cemetery in Pike Co. states Nancy, “daughter of Isaac and Sarah Pryor,” died Sept. 30 1858, aged 15 yrs, 3 mos., 15 days.  The article cited above confirms that William’s mother was Sarah Harris who was born in Tennessee and died in 1840 at age 32. So, I think we have the possible first marriage for Isaac confirmed. (see Nancy’s gravemarker

The researcher who posted the family tree which started this search cites records from WFT (World Family Tree), stating that Isaac was the son of William B. Pryor and Jane B. Atkinson.  So we need to flesh out the family of William B. Pryor.

William B. (Bland) Pryor is believed to the son of Richard Pryor and Ann Bland. Richard was a son of John Pryor and Mary Dennis –Richard is mentioned in his father’s 1785 will and on records in Dinwiddie County, VA.  Much has been written on the line of Richard Pryor and Ann Bland’s line because they were the parents of the minister Theodorick Pryor, and the grandparents of the Civil War general and later New York judge, Roger Atkinson Pryor. A lot has been written, but that doesn’t make it all correct so read what you find with a questioning eye.

The first record I have of William B. Pryor was his service in the War of 1812. If his age on the 1850 Census was correct, he was born about 1793, making him about 19 years old in 1812. Jane B. Pryor applied for a widow’s pension. Orig. 15639, Certf. 7021, stating  her husband served in Capt. Philip Pryor’s Co., VA Militia. The War of 1812 Records on state Philip, Luke, and William B. Pryor served in 1st Reg, Byrne’s Co., Virginia Militia—Philip was identified as the rank of Captain.

William B. Pryor married Jane B. Atkinson on 12 Oct 1818 in Chesterfield County, VA. Some research is needed to find out if there was an Atkinson or Pryor connection to this county. His brother Theodorick Pryor married Lucy C. Atkinson on 22 Sept 1827 in the same county.

In 1820 both William B. Pryor and Philip Pryor were counted on the census in St. Andrew’s Parish, Brunswick County, VA. There was one male child under the age of 5 in William B’s household in 1820. William B. Pryor was recorded as age 16 to 26 years old (born 1794-1804).  Philip Pryor is likely William B’s uncle – the Philip named as his son in John Pryor’s 1785 will.  Philip’s age was recorded in 1820 as 26 to 45 years (born 1775 – 1794). I suspect Philip was born closer to 1775 as he married Susan Cordle Wilkes on 5 Jul 1802 in Brunswick County and Susan who was a head of household in 1830 and recorded as born 1770-1780.

By 1830 William B. Pryor was in Tipton Co., TN (Middle TN) with his brother Richard Pryor. Unfortunately only William B’s name was recorded and no tallies of males and females in the household were posted on the census.

Willam B. was in Warren County, MS by the 1840 Census. A younger Richard Pryor was also record, his son b. 1820.  Other known children of William B. were Agnes b. 1822 in VA who married William B. Creasy in Warren Co. in 1838, and Mary b. 1824 in VA counted in William B’s household in 1850.

1850 Census, Madison Co., LA
Page 376, house 234 W. B. PRYOR 57 planting $1800 VA, Jane B. 51 VA, Richard 30 $400 VA, Agnes D. Creasy 28 VA, Mary A. Pryor 26 VA, William P. Creasy 10 MS.

To play out the scenario of William B. as the father of Isaac Pryor b. 1807 in East TN, William B. at about age 14 would have to have been in East TN and either married or have been involved in a relationship that produced young Isaac, only to return to Virginia to serve in the War of 1812, marry Jane B Atkinson and then move to Middle TN and onward. Another scenario would be a web of half-truths and misinformation—Isaac could have fibbed and really be much younger than he stated on census records.

I am unable to find any record of William B. Pryor having a son named Isaac.

Isaac Pryor’s place of birth is stated as TN on the 1850 Census and East Tennessee in the Pike County history—however I am unable to find any record of William B Pryor in East TN.

If Jane B. Atkinson Pryor’s age was stated correctly on the 1820 and 1850 Census she would have been 8 years old when Isaac was born in 1807. Possible. But is it probable?

I think what is more likely, at least from the paper research and until a descendant of either Isaac or his son William H. steps forward and takes a Y-DNA test, that Isaac may be one of the sons of John Pryor b. 1757 who was in Sullivan County, TN because of these salient points. And just because this theory isn’t written in stone… or proved with DNA, I’ve added an opposing comment in brackets:

  1. Sullivan County is in East Tennessee (But then so are several other counties).
  2. The article on the Pike County Pryor states that Isaac was a Methodist (well, so were thousands of other people). The Pryors in Sullivan County were a VERY Methodist family—James Pryor b. 1790 who is also likely John’s son was a Methodist minister as was his son John Pryor who married Ann Trigg and settled in AR (see History of Methodism in Arkansas, by Horace Jewell, published 1892, Sarah, possibly a daughter of John b. 1757, married Stephen Paxson who was a traveling Methodist evangelist –see A Fruitful Life: The Missionary Labors of Stephen Paxson by Belle Paxson Drury
  3. Isaac resided near other Pryors from Sullivan Co., TN. While proximity between families isn’t always a positive indicator of kinship (yup, we’re finding that out about the Pryors!), in this case Isaac and his other Pryor relations can be found near each other on census and tax records in Sullivan County, Hawkins County, and in Pike County.
    a) 1830 Census Isaac Pryor and John Sr. were in Sullivan Co., TN
    b) 1830 Census John (Jr.) Pryor, James Pryor, and George Morrison (husband of Mary Pryor were in Hawkins County, TN (next to Sullivan Co.) – sons and son in law of John Sr.
    c) 1836 Isaac Pryor is on the tax list in Hawkins Co.
    d) 1836 in Sullivan Co. John Pryor Sr. signed a deed of trust for mortgage of George Morrison’s furniture.
    e) 1840 John (Jr.) and Isaac Pryor are on the census in Pike County.
    f) John (Jr.) b. 1797 married Hannah Hornbeck. A photo of Isaac’s gravemarker on states it is located in Hornbeck Cemetery. It is believed that John and Isaac were brothers due to their proximity, birth years, and place of birth. (view gravemarker

Of course I’m willing to change my mind– if a researcher has documents or a compelling theory.  It still disturbs me at how easy it is to use WFT and Ancestry leaf hints to build an unlikely family tree. Just because the information is there, it doesn’t mean that it fits.  So be careful adopting a tree as your own or adopting others’ work to prove your tree (including mine!). Keep up the work of digging out your Pryor line.

Thomas Pryor, Nephew of Major John Pryor of Richmond

Although Major John Pryor of Richmond never had children he’s still one of those Pryors who seems to point to other Pryor relationships, helping to solve some of the VA Pryor riddles.

The Major’s will:

PRYOR, John (of the City of Richmond). Will proved there March 1823. Names wife, Elizabeth Graves; nieces, Dorcas Bryan, Elizabeth Taylor, Rebecca Taylor, Charlotte Morrison (of Williamsburg, Va.), Elizabeth Hazelwood; nephews, Thomas Pryor and Archer, William, Romert, John, and Pryor Hankins. Friend, Lewis Burwell. Not an heir, but mentions first wife was named Ann.

I’ve identified most of the heirs in his will [see my post]. Now I think I can ID his nephew Thomas Pryor.  I suspect it’s the Thomas Pryor on the 1820 Census in Rockingham Co., NC.  When I looked at this Thomas I found an Mrs. Elizabeth Archer who is cited as formerly a Pryor in an online tree (  Elizabeth Archer is on the 1820 Census in NC on the line below Thomas Pryor.

I like that she married an Archer. Major Pryor was very well connected to prominent tidewater families – he married a Whiting and later a Graves.  His nephews mentioned in his will were from the tidewater Hankins family and were named after prominent families—Pryor and Archer.

Elizabeth Pryor Archer’s son Thomas D. Archer married in 1825 in Pittsylvania Co., VA, so I looked at the Pryors in that county.  In 1834 there was a John Randolph Pryor born in that county. Hmmm… Randolph… another prominent VA family, in fact they married into the Jeffersons (The President’s brother was named Randolph Jefferson). On the 1830 and 1840 Census in Pittsylvania County is Thomas Washington Pryor who was married to Nancy Graves Haynes—There’s the Graves surname again. My bets (and other researchers are drawing this conclusion) that Thomas Washington Pryor is the same Thomas who was in Rockingham County.

Both Thomas Washington Pryor and his son John Randolph Pryor migrated to Fayette County, IL. They are on the 1860 Census. Thomas states his place of birth as NC while his wife and children were born in VA.  There is also a Graves family and lots of Hankins families in Fayette County. The places of birth seem to indicate that the family had connections to both VA and NC.

I think these tidewater surnames that are associated with Major Pryor give us clues to these families even in Tennessee. In Knox County, TN there is a David Hankins, Eli Hankins, and George Graves recorded consecutively on the 1850 Census. Don’t think there’s a connection? Well, Eli Hankins named his son Pryor Hankins.  The Major’s sister, Elizabeth, married an older Pryor Hankins in VA and an online family tree notes that Eli was married to a Nancy Graves. Just so it doesn’t get lost in the text… Knox County. That’s going to become important in later posts!

The elephant is in the room. It’s the big question. If Major John Pryor is the uncle of Thomas Pryor, then who is the Major’s brother and father of Thomas?

Mysterious Death of A Pryor in 1899 (Illinois and Virginia Pryor Lines)

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Vandalia, IL

Here’s a Pryor story right out of the cold case files! I stumbled upon an article on the Leader-Union’s website that tells the story of the murder of a Pryor in Illinois over a hundred years ago.

I had to look to see which Pryor line these folks are from.  Researchers have posted online that James Lafayette Pryor was the son of Thomas Washington Pryor and Nancy Graves Haynes, however it’s likely that Thomas was his grandfather, not his father.  There’s an obituary online at of Elizabeth Constance Branson Pryor who was married to George A. Pryor (from Pittslyvania Co., VA and settled in Fayette Co., IL)—it states she was the mother of James Lafayette Pryor.  Another obituary posted to an family tree states Prudence Pryor Lansford of Fayette County, IL was a daughter of Thomas and Nancy Pryor. It states that the family came to Illinois in about 1843 from Virginia. They first settled in Clay County and a year later went to live in Fayette County, however I haven’t been able to find them on the 1850 Census.

James Lafayette Pryor and his wife Lydia Cheshier are on the 1870 Census, the 1880 Census, and Lydia appears on the 1900 Census recorded as a widow.  I found James’ and Lydia’s tombstone on Find A Grave website.

Sorry, even after sifting through my database I don’t know where the Pittsylvania Co., VA Pryors come from.

New Cites for Illinois Pryor Researchers

A researcher has contributed information on the TN Pryors who resided in  Union Co., IL and White Co., IL.

Hardin Pryor who was recorded in Union Co., IL in 1860 is now identified as Hardeman Pryor on his marriage record to Mrs. Elizabeth Adams. Hardeman was on the 1850 Census in Knox Co., TN. Hardeman was the son of James Pryor b. 1815 and Lucy Cruse b. 1817 in TN.

Found in the 24 Sept 1894 Carmi Courier (White Co., IL) death of Rev. James Pryor born 28 Nov 1825 in TN. He died Sept 21 1894 after a buggy accident and is buried in Big Prairie Cemetery near Carmi, IL.

The same researcher obtained the marriage record of William Ross Pryor Senior’s 2nd marriage to Mary Holderby in Gallatin, IL.  William is reported to be the son of William Pryor and Martha Newby of White Co., IL.  The marriage record states his mother’s maiden name as “Ross” so the Newby connection may now be questioned.

These cites are now on the TN Pryor website in line with census transcriptions.