Category Archives: Mississippi Pryors

Death of Jane Pryor Gilly (1852)

John B. Gilly’s name is found in connection with Nathaniel Pryor (of the Lewis and Clark Expedition (See ). I recently spotted a death notice for Jane Pryor, widow of John B. Gilly.

DIED: On Saturday, July 3, at Bay St. Louis, Hancock County, Miss., Mrs. JANE BUCHANAN PRYOR, aged 66 years. relict of the late John Baptiste Gilly, late of the City of New Orleans.
The New Orleans Crescent, July 6 1852

Oh goody, 1852! That means she may be on the 1850 census. Instead of finding a census record of Mrs. Gilly, I found a additional possible referencss to her husband in the press.

A “Scheme” or lottery was set up “for the erection of a college at the Bay of St. Louis. J. B. Gilly was one of the managers
Natchez Gazette, May 30, 1818

Up river, there was a letter held for John B. Gilly at Natchez, MS Post Office
Natchez Gazette, April 7 1821

Jane Pryor Gilly Signature
Signature of Jane B Gilly from her husband’s estate: 1830 New Orleans, LA

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: ,

Charlotte Pryor Born 1816 in Mississippi

The following information on Charlotte Pryor, an African American woman born in Mississippi before the Civil War was previously published online.

Charlotte Pryor b. 1816 in Mississippi. I stumbled upon an interesting Pryor connection while looking at Pryors families in New Jersey census records.

In 1880 John Benjamin Pryor, formerly of Adams Co., MS was living in NJ. Several of his children were living in his household but an older daughter, Frances, is unaccounted for. I found the household of Thomas D. Day and wife Fanny living in Bayonne, NJ. Also in the house hold was a African-American nurse, Charlotte Pryor.

Mrs. Fanny Day was born in 1845 in MS and had parents who were born in VA and MS, wile Frances daughter of John Benjamin Pryor and his African American wife Frances Bingaman, was born in 1850 in MS with parents respectively from VA and MS.

I located Thomas Day and his wife Fanny on the 1870 Census living in Brooklyn, NY. Using the 1870 and 1880 Census their children have been identified as Mary Helen, Newton H., Thomas D. Jr., James Ingersoll, Francis “Frank”, William D., and Sarah. Charlotte Pryor was born SC aged 50 was also living with the family in 1870, as was Catherine Overton from MD (black), and Jane Lane 24 from VA (black) and an additional white family member named Emma Helm 24 from MS.

The only members of the Day family I can find in 1900 and afterwards are Newton H. Day and his brother Frank H. Day. On the 1920 and 1930 Census Newton H. Day was living in Hempstead, Nassau County, NY. Included in the household was his aunt Elizabeth Gill born about 1858 in the UK and according to the census she immigrated to the US in 1883.

Looking backward in the census records I found a curious connection between the Days and the Pryors. In 1861 John Benjamin Pryor’s daughters Frances and Henrietta were recorded on the UK Census in a boarding school with a British student named Rebecca Day. I also found Emma Helm on the 1850 and 1860 Census in Adams Co., MS. Emma was the daughter of John N. Helm and the sister of Fannie Helm who married Thomas Day on December 13th, 1859 in Adams Co. On the 1860 Census John N. Helm was recorded on page 137 and the household of John Benjamin Pryor was recorded on page 138.

A search of the 1850 and 1860 census did not uncover Charolotte Pryor, so it is assumed that she was not free until after the Civil War. While researching Charlotte Pryor didn’t lead to finding Frances, daughter of John Benjamin Pryor, it has revealed another story. It’s uncertain what relationship Charlotte had to the Pryor family in Adams Co. On the 1850 and 1860 census “J.B.” Pryor didn’t own any slaves that were her age, while his neighbor John N. Helm owned several. It’s possible that Charlotte had once been owned by the Pryors before being sold to the Helms. It’s also possible that she was Frances Helm’s nurse as well as raising her children.

The connection between these families is also questioned by Jane Lane, John Benjamin Pryor’s mother was Ann Batte Lane.

The history of these families connection in Southern slavery and there migration out of the South to the North during and after the Civil War sheds light on the complicated relationships forged out of this period of American History.


1850 Census Adams Co., MS
Page 44b, House 141
Jno. N. Helm, 52 Planter, VA
Helen M., 46 MS (Helen Marie Timberlake)
Laura Helen Pattison, 21 MS
J. Newton Helm, 18 MS
Helen M. Helm, 16
Frances Helm 15 (Fanny Helm married Thomas Day 13 Dec. 1859)
Alice Helm 11
Emma Helm 11
Josephine Helm 8
Ada Postlthwaite 19
Mary H. Penfield, 22, governess, NY

Page 49a
Benj. PRYOR 39 VA
John Alison 18 AL

1860 Census Adams Co., MS
Page 137 (Natchez Twp.), house 991
John N. Helm 62 VA
J. Newton 28 MS
Emma 20 MS
Mary B. 18 MS
Laura Pattison 31 MS
William 9 LA
Margaret 8 LA
Alexander 7 LA
Newton 3 LA

1870 Census Kings Co., NY
Brooklyn, Ward 6
Thomas D. Day 49 OH
Helen 35 MS
Mary H. 9 MO
Newton 8 MS
Thomas B. 6 LA
James I. 4 MO
Francis 1 NJ
William D. 5/12 NJ
Charlotte Pryor 50 mulatto SC
Catharine Overton 22 black MD
Jane Lane 24 black VA

1880 Census Hudson Co., NJ
Bayonne City, 1st ward, page 13B
Thomas D. Day, fire insurance broker, 60 OH MA CT
Fanny 35, wife, MS VA MS
Marie 19 dau, MO OH MS
Newton 18, son MS OH MS
Thomas D. Jr. 16, son, LA
Ingersoll 15, son, MO
Frank 11, son, NJ
William 10, son, NJ
Sarah, 9 dau, NY
Charlotte 64, black, SC SC SC, nurse
McDonald ____? white 40 servant Scotland, Scotland, Scotland

Attempted Pryor Murder in Mississippi Swamp

An Attempt to Assassinate W. L. Pryor.
(Special to the Picayune.)
Mico., Miss., via Laurel, Miss. Jan. 30.–An attempt to assassinate Mr. W. L. Pryor was made last night near here. He was coming from Laurel about 11 o’clock, and while passing through Tallahoma swamp, was fired on at close range by some parties concealed behind a fallen treetop. The ball knocked a cigarette out of his mouth. It is not known what the object of the attempted assassination is, as it is not known that Mr. Pryor had an enemy in the county. Mr. Pryor is the correspondent of the Picayune at this place.
The Times-Picayune (New Orleans). 31 Jan 1896.

The Laurel Ledger reported in 1909 that W. L. Pryor was appointed as a “special agent for the United States government” for the purpose of collection of crop statistics. He was recorded on census records as a cotton specialist.

W. L. Pryor born 1875 is on the 1910 Census in Jones County, MS. His place of birth, as well as his parents, was recorded as MS. His full name is recorded as William L. Pryor on the 1940 Census.

I haven’t been able to pin down his place of birth or parents as there are no records before 1896. One lead is Eliza Jane Brady Pryor b. 1838 who is buried in the same cemetery as W. L. Pryor. Perhaps she was his mother. She had a son recorded as William J. Pryor on the 1880 Census in East Feliciana Parish, LA.  However Eliza was born in NY and she was the widow of William K Pryor who’s place of birth was stated as Ireland when queried on his children’s census records. The parents places of birth don’t jive with Mississippi which W. L. stated on all census records.

Category: Mississippi Pryors

Signature of Judge John C Pryor from Desoto Co., MS


Thanks to one of our Pryor cousins we now have a signature of judge John C. Pryor speculated to be a son of David Pryor and Susannah Ballow of Buckingham County, VA. After searching through numerous court records, in Desoto County, MS, he thinks this is an actual specimen of Pryor’s signature.