Category Archives: Native Americans

Captain Prior at Fort Defiance (OH) in 1794

mystery-pryor-manReported in The Maryland Gazette (Annapolis, MD on 2 October 1794). This report is of a battle between Americans and British/Native-American forces. Fort Defiance is where the town of Defiance, OH now sits.

LEXINGTON, September 8.
An express arrived here on Saturday evening about 8 o’clock, with letters from the army, from which we have collected the following particulars:–
On the 20th ult. about 146 miles advanced of Greenville, the advance guard, consisting of two companies, were attached by about 1100 Indians and Canadian militia; the attack being sudden and unexpected, the advance guard fell back on the main army and threw them into confusion, which occasioned a retreat of about one hundred paces before they formed again; after forming, not more than two heavy fires were exchanged before they were ordered to charge the enemy, which was instantly done; upon which the enemy immediately gave ground, and our men rushing forward with such imperosity, the enemy were dislodged from their coverts, and the cavalry taking advantage of that event, pursued them about two miles, when they dispersed. The action continued about an hour and a quarter; we had about 30 men killed, and 80 wounded; among the former are captain Campbell of the cavalry, and lieutenant Towles of the infantry. Among the latter are captain Slough, captain Vanransalear, Captain PRIOR and lieutenant Campbell Smith, of the federal army; –Seven of the volunteers were killed, and fourteen wounded. One hundred and twenty seven scalps were taken, and a number killed in the river that were not scalped. The army remained three days on the ground, and returned to Fort Defiance, at the mount of the Auglaize, where they were on the 24th ultimo.

The action happened within sight of a strong British fort, regularly built, and garrisoned with three hundred men, between forty and fifty miles below Fort Defiance, on the Maumee or the lakes. The commander in chief, sent a flag to major Campbell, commander of the British garrison, to march his men out to the nearest British post, and give up the fort, both of which he positively refused. The Indians had 5000 acres of land in corn, all in excellent order on the bottoms of the Miumee river, a considerable quantity of which the army have destroyed.

The following list of the names of the killed and wounded of the Kentucky volunteers, was received this day.
KILLED. John Jackson, Alexander Innes, William Mitchell, Thomas Moore, William Steel, Benjamin Bell, and James Wiley. WOUNDED. Captain Rawlings, lieutenant McKinney, ensign Duncan. Privates George McCullock, John Howard, Robert Scott, John Hinkston, Isaac Rankins, James Cost, James Stewart, Benjamin Bantle, John Montgomery, and William Woodrow.

I hate the use of “former” and “latter” as much as anyone else. In this article the word “killed” is the former event, indicating that Captain Prior was killed in action. Of course another newspaper account didn’t mention Captain Prior as one of the men killed:

Killed by Indians and Canadian Militia near Ft. Defiance, Ky on 20 Aug. 1794: Capt. Robert CAMPBELL (of the dragoons), Lt. Henry B. Towles (of the 4th Sub-Legion) and the following Ky. Volunteers: John JACKSON, Alexander INNES, William MITCHELL, Thomas MOORE, William STEELE, Benjamin BELL, And James WILEY (BVCG 29 Sept. 94, VCGA 6 Oct 94, VGRMA 6, 13 Oct 94, VGRC 3 Oct 94, HNPA 4, 7, Oct 94)
— Genealogical Abstracts from 18th-century Virginia Newspapers by Robert Kirk Headley

So who was Captain Prior and what really happened to him? Alan D. Gaff in his book Bayonets in the Wilderness: Anthony Wayne’s Legion in the Old Northwest also was interested in what happened to this Prior:

“Although Captain Prior of the First Sub-Legion was listed as wounded in Wayne’s report, his injury must have been minor since General Wilkinson* failed to mention it in his two surviving accounts of the fight.”

Captain Prior was Abner Prior who I wrote about in Abner Prior, A CT Yankee Among the Wabash Indians — Captain Solomon Van Rensalear, Captain Campbell Smith, and Captain Jacob Slough who were named in the newspaper report and were all also named and reported as “wounded” on the company roster.

* General James Wilkinson is the same man who was entangled with Aaron Burr (see post)

The Pocahontas Pryor Girls

Pocahontas Pryor Girls

The photos above are of Miss Epes Fickling daughter of Gerald Pryor Fickling and Miss Carolina Pryor Baker, daughter of Mr. G. L. Baker (published the Washington D.C. Evening Star, June 3, 1922). I wondered which line of Pryors they are from. Continue reading

Part III: OK Pryors – William J. Pryor, Osage Interpreter

October is Oklahoma Pryor month
here on the TnPryor website!

I’ve been Googling again.

I found a William J. Pryor who was an Osage Tribe councilman for the 11th and 12th Osage Tribal Council in 1926-1930.

When I started looking for him I found William Julius Pryor  in Ancestry Family Trees and on the 1930 Census living in Seminole County, OK. He’s recorded as an “Indian” born about 1870 in Missouri to a “mixed blood” father and Cherokee mother. In 1910 William J. was in North Fork, Beckham Co., OK. In 1900 he and his wife were living on the Osage Indian Reservation in Indian Territory.

In 1910 Philip J. Pryor was counted on the same census page, just a few houses from William J. and family in Beckham County.  Philip was on the 1880 census record in Smith County, Texas. He is a son of Lemuel Pryor and Elizabeth C. Hardigree.  Lemuel is believed to be from the line the Marion County Pryors.

William J. Pryor also lived in Texas– census entry reflects he had 3 children between 1894 and 1897 in Texas.   Researchers’ online family trees indicate William J. Pryor is the same William J. Pryor who was on the 1880 census in Cooke Co., TX… the son of Gilbert Carter Pryor and wife Sarah Roberts.  Gilbert was a son of Neely Pryor in Texas County, MO.  There’s a William J. Pryor in Gilbert Pryor’s household in both Cooke Co., TX and in 1870 in Texas Co., MO. Neely Pryor’s line goes back to the Marion County, TN Pryors.

William J. Pryor not only served on the tribal council, but was also versed enough in the Osage language– enough to be an interpreter: Leases for Oil and Gas Purposes, Osage National Council,  By United States. Congress. House. Committee on Indian Affairs, published 1919.

“I, William Pryor, do hereby certify that I am the official interpreter of the Osage Indian Agency, and at the time the Osage Tribal Council had the contract under consideration I acted as the official interpreter of the said Osage Tribal Council; that I fully and truthfully interpreted and explained the foregoing contract to the Osage Tribal Council…”

It appears that William J. Pryor was an Osage allotee: Indians of the United States: Investigation of the Field Service  By United States Congress. House. Committee on Indian Affairs. Except of letter from the Liberty Bank of Pawhuska, May 7, 1920 refers to “William J. Pryor, Osage allotee.”

End of Part III

Watch for…
Part IV: OK Pryors – Missing Sooner Settlers

Part II: OK Pryors- The Osage Pryors

October is Oklahoma Pryor month
here on the TnPryor website!

Today we have published and online sources that Middlebrooks and Harper didn’t have in 1970 (Chronicles of Oklahoma).  I’ve used the Indian Census Rolls from the late 1890’s, the 1900 US Census of Oklahoma, the Osage Allotment Cards (Index), and later US Census schedules to try to discern which Pryors were from the Osage Tribe.

I first looked at Pryors who claimed Native American Ancestry and separated out the Pryors who were aligned with the Osage tribe.

In 1900 Samuel V. Pryor and wife Olivia were living in Choctaw Nation, Indian Territory. Samuel born 1866 in Mississippi. Samuel was the son of John Henry Pryor of Jefferson Co., AL (per Family Trees) and Sarah Wade. Samuel is recorded as “white” and his wife Olivia Cowert/Coward was recorded as “Indian”. Olivia’s two brothers were also in the household and recorded as “Indian.” Olivia and her children were recorded on the 1896 Dawes Commission schedule. I have ruled out this family. Samuel V. Pryor was not from Osage land, he was recorded as “white”, and he was never included on rolls of the Osage reservation, or allotments.

William M. Keyes and wife Martha, nee Pryor were recorded living in Cherokee Nation, Indian Territory. Martha was recorded as “white”, Keyes was recorded as “Indian”.  Tribal affiliation was noted at the bottom of the page. Keyes was born of Cherokee and Creek parents. My own search, and an Ancestry Family Tree, points to Martha as the daughter of Gilbert Carter Pryor of Cooke Co., TX – a descendant of the Marion Co., TN Pryors who have no known connection to the Osages.

There are two Pryor men in the Osage records: John b. 1834 and Thomas b. 1847.

John Pryor b. 1834 and wife Mary, parents of Antwine Pryor – Antwine, his wife, and his children all had Osage Allotments and counted as Indians on Census records. Antwine counted with “full blood Indians” on 1900 Census and that both of his parents Osage Indians born in Kansas.

Thomas Pryor b. 1847 and wife Mary, parents of Louis Pryor b. 1879.  Louis states on census record that both his parents were born in MO. There is only one Pryor by that name and year of birth: Thomas son of Rufus Pryor in Osage Co., MO- born in Tennessee it’s unlikely that neither Rufus Pryor nor his wife Martha Bryant were Osage.  Thomas’ wife Mary is recorded as a “full blood”. His son Louis is counted on the Osage Reservation with an allotment and an annuity. His mother, Mary, was counted as an Osage and lived on the reservation until her death in 1926.  There is record of Mary’s native name, but I am unable to locate her allotment.

My final answer? I don’t believe any of the OK Pryors who claim Native American ancestry were related to Nathanial Pryor.

Photo of Josephine Pryor Hamilton (Osage Artist) :

2007 Pow Wow, great grandson of Josephine Pryor Hamilton:

End of Part II

 Watch for…

Part III: OK Pryors – William J. Pryor, Osage Interpreter

Part I: OK Pryors – Who Were All Those Pryors in Oklahoma?

October is Oklahoma Pryor month
here on the TnPryor website!

I’m by no means an expert on the Pryor families in OK. Hopefullly the articles spur us to do more research into the Pryors in Oklahoma and answer some long-standing mysteries. Let’s get started… it’s going to be a fun month!

After “debunking” (Debunking a Daughter of Explorer Nathaniel Pryor) the daughter of Nathaniel Pryor sited in Chronicles of Oklahoma  I looked at the rest of the article to see if there were more clues to the Osage Pryors. I was hoping that by looking at the Pryors in Oklahoma I could tease out those with Native American ancestry who were the likeliest descendants of Nathaniel Pryor.

Volume 48 of The Chronicles of Oklahoma was published in 1970. On page 295 begins the article titled Ancestry of Captain Nathaniel Pryor by Glenna Parker Middlebrooks and Elizabeth Pryor Harper.  To be fair to the authors, in 1970 information was not only less accessible (no Internet), but neither a census of the Indian Territory nor of the State of Oklahoma was released. The last census available was the 1880 Census and it did not include either the state nor the territory.

Why look at the Pryors in Oklahoma? Like Ms. Middlebrooks and Ms. Harper researchers are still interested in Nathaniel Pryor of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. Did he have children with his wife in the East? Did he marry a Native American bride and have children in the West? Which, if any, of the Pryors in Oklahoma are descended from Nathaniel Pryor?

Middlebrooks and Harper cite baptism records from a Kansas mission and the 1822 will of James Pryor in Jefferson Co., MO as the source of the names of Nathaniel children and heirs. They ID his Osage children as Marie and Mary Jane and James’ heirs as Robert L. Pryor, Nathaniel Pryor, Robert McClelland, Jane B. Gilly, and Eliza Oldham. And Angelique who was baptized in 1841 they identify as Osinga, Pryor’s wife. cites a 1831 will for Nathaniel Pryor that was probated in St. Louis, MO naming children: Jane B., James, Nancy, Robert L., Eliza, Nathaniel, and his children by his Osage wife named Mary Ann, Angelique, and Marie.  Siblings or children, no one agrees.

We also need to look at the location: Kansas. The land which would become Kansas was part of the Lousiana Purchase in 1803. I remained wild land, inhabited by Native American tribes, trappers, and fur traders until it became the Kansas territory in 1854. The territory encompassed what is now parts of Colorado and all of Kansas. In 1861 Kansas because a state.

 Then there’s a question of how surnames were used amongst the Osage. Oklahoma and Indian Territory records show that even in the 20th century many Osage used a Native American name and an anglicized name. Women at times were counted on census records under one surname while living with a spouse of a different surname. Did Osage women change their name after marriage? When they accepted a “European” name, did they adopt the tradition of taking the husband’s surname after marriage? I welcome comment from anyone who knows something about these traditions.

 The tradition of surnames is important. Even in disagreement, the above sources agree that Nathaniel Pryor probably had at lease two Osage daughters, no Osage sons. Would the Pryor surname have been carried on by his daughters? Did Pryor have a son born of an Osage mother who carried on the Pryor surname?

Oklahoma history makes it difficult to pin down which of the Pryors may be related to Nathaniel.  US Policy starting with the “Trail of Tears” in 1831 moved Native Americans from other tribes and regions to lands in the Oklahoma area already occupied by Osage and Quapaw tribes. Beginning in1866 white settlers, many from Texas, began to settle illegally. Nathaniel Pryor may have settled at a trading post near Pryor, OK…but it may be almost impossible to tell which Native American Pryors are descended from Nathaniel Pryor or who were Pryors of Native American ancestry who simply migrated from other states.

Since the publication of the article in 1970, four US Censuses were released, thus adding insight into another forty years. I have sifted through the Pryors on the Indian Territory Census of 1900 and the Indian Census Rolls from the mid 1890’s onward. Extractions are now updated on the Tennessee Pryor website (

We can see in the Oklahoma Census records how its history is played out. Within a 20 year period Oklahoma saw the greatest influx of white settlers due the “Land Runs” from 1889 to 1895, the discovery of oil in 1894 (the Osage allotments in 1906), and statehood in 1907.

 End of Part I

 Watch for …

Part II: OK Pryors: Osage Pryors