Category Archives: Virginia Pryors

1844 – Samuel Pryor of Dinwiddie County

I love real estate ads from old papers. I don’t know if the houses and land were as glorious as described, but they give a good idea of where people lived and when they lived there. This ad from 1844 was placed by Samuel Pryor. I suspect this is the Samuel who married Mary Hamlin since the ad mentions Thomas Hamlin as the person who ca show the property. I’m intrigued… Any ideas about his occupation?

Elmwood for sale, at the very reduced price of 3.50 per acre. A desire to change my occupation has induced me to offer the above place at so reduced a price. This Plantation possesses advantages rarely to be found combined in one tract, such as fine Health, extensive pasture for stock of every kind, agreeable and moral neighborhood, and a large two story dwelling house, with three rooms and a large passage below, and five rooms above and a passage, and almost all other conveniences calculated to make it a desirable residence. It lies in the county of Dinwiddie, on the Old Stage Road, 27 miles from Petersburg and 12 miles from the courthouse, and contains between 15 and 1600 Acres, one half of which is now standing in the original growth of Oak and Hickory, and is fair tobacco land. This land is peculiarly adapted for the growth of wheat, tobacco and grass. It is divided into 3 sh—s With about 20 acres well set in clover. There is also a meadow of herds grass that may be enlarged to 8 or 10 acres, if desired. All persons who wish to purchase are requested to view the premises. Also another tract in the same county lying on Appomattox River, 15 Mile above Petersburg, containing 120 and a half acres. This land is of a very superior quality, every foot of which is standing in the Virgin Growth, and was valid to be by commissioners 3 years ago at $5 per acre. Mr. Thomas Hamlin, who lives near, will show it to any person who wishes to purchase. Terms for both of the above tracks will be liberal.
Samuel Pryor
(Richmond Enquirer, August 6th 1844).

Estates of Richard and Virginia Pryor of Hempstead County, AR

Grassy Lake Hempstead County, AR

A question came up that caused me to look at the Pryors in Hempstead county, AR once again (see earlier post https://tennesseepryors.com/richard-pryor-and-virginia-boyd-pryor-relationship-to-dallas-pryors/ ) After Richard Pryor died his Arkansas property named Myrtlewood was advertised for sale in a Tennessee newspaper.

LAND AND RESIDENCE IN HEMPSTEAD COUNTY, ARK., FOR SALE
Myrtlewood, the residence of the late Major Richard Pryor of Hempstead county, Arkansas, will be offered for sale, at public auction, on the 10th day of December, 1866. This is certainly one of the most beautiful and highly improved residences in the South, situated near Spring Hill, in the midst of an intelligent and desirable community. The land, consisting of 900 acres, is one of the best high land tracts in the State for raising cotton, corn, and wheat, and has on it a large and select variety of fruit and abundant supply of good water. For further information refer to Col. James W. Finley, Spring Hill, Hempstead county, Ark. Terms on day of sale.
The Daily Memphis Avalanche (TN), October 21, 1866

Richard died intestate. The Administrator’s Bond lists James W. Finley (principal) and lists Jack S. B—?, Edward L Pryor, and Thomas M. Boyd as securities. Edward L. was as on of Samuel Pryor of Clarksville, TN (Montgomery County). Thomas Boyd was probably a relative of Richard’s wife Virginia Boyd. When Richard’s wife died the estate was handled by Charles R. Pryor of Dallas.

Richard Pryor, James W. Finley, H. C. Boyd, and a J. Pryor were named in a list of men who were consignees of merchandise at the docks in Shreveport, LA (The South-Western, May 28, 1856)

I ended up doing one of my relationship/event charts to work out how everyone was connected.

  • Virginia Boyd Pryor died in November 1865 after her husband and after her daughter Elizabeth Pryor Stockdale (her only known child). She willed her property (engraved silver) to her executor Dr. Charles R. Pryor and Virginia Finley, formerly a Boyd.
  • Virginia Finley’s husband James W. Finley was the point of contact in the 1866 ad for the sale of Richard Pryor’s estate.
  • When Charles R. Pryor “of the county of Dallas” filed estate papers in 1865 for Virginia Boyd Pryor, he was represented by F. S. Stockdale, the Virginia’s son in law and the widower of Virginia’s daughter Elizabeth Pryor Stockdale.

I located an announcement of a claim against the estate of Richard Pryor by two Pryor relatives from Vicksburg, MS. Was this the Richard Pryor who died in 1864 or Agnes’ brother? –for whom we have no evidence he was Arkansas.

LEGAL
The heirs and distributees of the estate of Richard Pryor, are warned to appear in Hempstead circuit court, and answer the complaint of Agnes P Howard and William Pryor Creecy for partition and distribution of said estate.
Washington Telegraph, February 21, 1872

A marriage announcement explains Agnes’ name change from Birchett on the census to the surname Howard she was using in 1872.

MARRIED
On the 17th instant, in Richmond, Va., at the residence of Dr. T. P. Mayo, by the Rev. Thos. L. Preston, Colonel Nathaniel Howard, of Grenada, Miss., to Mrs. Agnes P. Birchett of Vickburg, Miss. We wish the Colonel and his happy bride many, many years of joy and happiness, and we know that his friends hereabouts–and that means everybody–join us in a double health to him and his.
Grenada Sentinel, published in the Vicksburg Daily Times, September 7, 1870

I think more research needs to be done on the estate of Richard Pryor. Was Richard’s estate in probate from 1864 to 1872? Or was this another Richard Pryor? Perhaps Agnes’ brother Richard who was last recorded on a census in 1870 working as a druggist in Vicksburg.

The Dallas Daily Herald, February 20, 1869

An interesting connection between several of the people was their occupation: druggist. Charles R. Pryor worked as a druggist in Dallas (see above), so did his brother Samuel B. Pryor, and Richard S. Pryor of Vicksburg worked as one, as did his nephew William Pryor Creecy.

John Pryor and Liddy Dossey -1800 Halifax County, VA

Transcription of complaint in Chancery court case filed in 1800 This is possibly the same John and Lydia Pryor who migrated to GA.

To the Worshipful Court of Halifax County Sitting in Chancery
Humbly Complaining shewith to your worships your Orators & Oratrixes William Dossey, Guy Wallace & Charity his wife, Ben Riden & Clarissa his wife, George Wren and Alathea his wife, John Pryor & Liddy his wife, Jarred Dossey, Thomas B. Dossey and Wiley Dossey which said William, Charity, Clarissa, Alathea, Liddy, Jarred, Thomas and Wiley are all the children of a certain Nancy Dossey who will be hereafter mentioned. Also your orators William Brown, John Matthews, and Nancy his wife, James Brown, Lucy Brown, Becky Brown, Lydia Brown, Milly Brown, Elizabeth Brown, Jamima Brown, Russell Brown, Thomas Brown, & Mary Brown, which said last mentioned William, Nancy, James, Lucy, Becky, Lidia, Milly, Elizabeth, Jamina, Russell, Thomas, and Mary are all the children of a certain Lydia Brown hereafter mentioned. That on the 20th day of July 1799 a certain Thomas Beech late of this county made his will and then devised the whole of his estate except the negroes that are freed by his will to be equally divided among the children of his sisters Nancy Dossey and Lydia Brown. That the children of the said Nancy and Lydia sisters of the testator your orators & oratrixes as above described. That the said children are all of age except Lydia, Milly, Elizabeth, Jamima, Russell, Thomas, and Mary Brown that they being under age sue by their next friend Harvey Cook
and the complaint further shew that the estate of the said Thomas Beech so as aforesaid devised has been committed to the hands of a certain Beverly Barksdale of this county who is made defendant to this bill. That the said Beverly is administrator with the will annexed and has taken into his possession the slaves and personal property of the Testator, and has sold the perishable estate more than sufficient to pay the debts of the said estate. The complainant further shew that they have apprized the said administrator for a division and possession of the slaves and the residue of the personal estate after the payment of debts which the admin. has refused giving up, alledging that he will not be safe in so doing without the decree of this court for that purpose and for a division of said estate by commissioner. The complainant therefore pray that commissioners may be appointed to divide and deliver up to the complainants the slaves conveyed to them by the will of the said Thomas Beech together with the lands and residue of his personal estate after the payment of the debts of the said Thomas decd or that your worships would make such further or other decree in the promises as may be agreeable to equity may it please.

Jarred ad Thomas B Dossey are later mentioned in Wilkes Co GA. In “Early Records of Georgia Wilkes County” on Page 218

Jarrett Dossey decd est. Nancy and Thomas B Dossey exers. Returns for 1821 paid for land grant for wid and orphs. Returns for 1823, Nancy Lawson, exec formerly Nancy Dossey.

Frances Hooe wife of Samuel Pryor of Clarksville, TN

The answer to the identity of Frances Ann the wife of Samuel Pryor of Clarksville is in the obit for their son Bernard H. Pryor.

Bernard H Pryor obituary

I’ve seen countless family trees that speculate on a mother’s maiden name by picking out a child’s middle name and concluding that it’s the name of a near relative or the mother’s maiden name. I think I have evidence that Hooe is Frances’ maiden name.

A suit was filed by Samuel Pryor and wife, etc against the guardians of Eliza Hooe. An Interlocutory Degree was recorded in May 1816 distributing slaves named Lewis, Janetty, Helen, Phillie, and Anthony to Samuel and his wife.

To the worshipful the justices of King George County and sitting in Chancery
Humbly complaining shewith unto your worships your orators and oratrixes Fany Hooe who intermarried with Samuel Pryor, Harriet Hooe who intermarried with Gwyn Page, Ann Hooe, and Thomas B Hooe that your orators and oratrixes are heirs and distributees of Wm Hooe lately of King George county deceased and as such are entitled together to — their mother Susan the widow and relict of said William Hooe decd to their full and equal shall share and alike to about —- nine negroes males and females old and young lately belonging to then said William Hooe decd and for their natural benefit and advantage are — that the aforesaid negroes should be equally divided …

There’s a Gwynn Page on the 1810 Census in Prince William County, VA. Perhaps this was Samuel’s brother in law mentioned in the suit.

John Henry Clay Pryor: A Free African-American in Pre-Civil War Virginia

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I stumbled upon a Pryor death record in Virginia for an African-American who was born before emancipation. Most notably the death record named both the mother and father of the subject. I wondered if they could be identified in records and documented.

The Death Record

John Henry Clay Pryor* was 76 years old (born about 1841) when he died on Christmas Day 1917 in King George County, Virginia. The death record (available on Ancestry.com) states his parents were Colvert Jones [sic] and Mary Pryor, both born in King George County, Virginia. The informant was Mary Bombrey. Another death record for George Pryor born 2 February 1868 and died on 6 March 1933 in King George County states his parents were Henry Clay Pryor and Anna Liza Bumbrey from King George County, Virginia. This second death record helps to not only ID one of John Henry Clay Pryor’s children but the name of his wife and the informant on Clay’s death record as a possible in-law.

Marriage and Family

Clay H Pryor age 34 (born about 1846) was found on the 1910 US Census in King George County with wife Anna L. Pryor age 62. There were no others living in the household. Pryor was identified as “mulatto”. The head of household recorded before the Pryor’s was Richard Bumbrey age 50. He was further recorded as a farmer who could neither read nor write, and that he as well as his parents were born in Virginia.

In 1880 J H C Pryor age 33 (born about 1847) with wife Ann Eliza age 31 were recorded on the US Census in King George County with five children, including his son George T. Pryor age 14 (born about 1866). Also in the household was Madison Bumbry age 23, recorded as a nephew.

Henry C. Prior age 24 (born about 1846) and Angelica age 22 were counted in Chotank, King George County in 1870. Was Angelica the same person recorded as Ann Eliza? It appears they were the same person because Virginia, Select Marriages, 1785-1940 [database on-line] found on Ancestry.com states Ann Eliz. Bumbrey married Clay Prior shortly after the end of the Civil War on 24 October 1865. This database states Ann/Angelica’s parents were Thomas Bumbrey and Betsy Bumbrey. One might think that Clay married upon gaining his freedom from slavery, however Clay Prior age 16 was recorded on the 1860 Census in King George county as a free mulatto in the household of Louisa Bumbrey– Louisa Pryor Bumbrey was also counted in the household of Mary Prior on the 1850 Census (see below).

His Mother and Siblings

John Henry Clay Prior appeared on the 1850 Census in the same county in the household of Mary Prior, born about 1821. He was recorded as Clay Prior, age 5. The census was taken in August 1850 so Clay would have already had his birthday if he was born on March 1 as reported on his death record, making his year of birth 1845, and making him about 72 years old at the time of his death.

Mary and all the Priors in her household were recorded on the 1850 census as mulatto. Relationships were not recorded on the 1850 census, so there are several possibilities of the how these Priors were related: this woman may be the Mary Pryor named as Clay’s mother on his death record, or a different Mary Pryor. If Mary was the mother of all the children, including Clay and Louisa, the ages of the children (17 through 3) hint that she began having children in 1833 when she was about 12 years old and possibly ended with her last child in 1847. The possibility that all of the children were not her offspring arises when we note there were two young girls named Mary (age 12 and 7). There are instances where parents name children using the same name multiple times, however those are rare events.

Calvert Jones: Clay Pryor’s Father?

Finding Clay’s father leads to a multitude of questions rather than a clean precise answer. There two men named on the 1840 census in King George County.

Calvert Jones Jr, a white head of household. The household was comprised of a male age 20 to 29 years (born between 1811 and 1820), a white female of the same age range, and a young white female child under five years old. There were 10 African-Americans counted as slaves in his household, making a total of 13 persons in the household.

There was also a senior Calvert Jones living in King George county and counted on the same census. Calvert Jones senior was age 50 to 59 years old in 1840 (born between 1781-1790). He was the only white person living in the household, he had one slave, and 13 free “colored” people: 12 African-Americans under 24 years and one female age 24 to 34 years. There were no adult free black males in the household.

The elder Calvert Jones died intestate in 1844. A chancery court case filed by his son John N. Jones states his father, Calvert, died in the same year and was filed over distribution of the estate: one slave named Harry. It also names the six heirs to Calvert’s estate:

  • Charles G. Jones, also the administrator of the estate.
  • John N. Jones, who filed the suit and was Calvert’s son.
  • Sarah C. Jones, Calvert’s granddaughter and the daughter of his deceased son Calvert B. Jones.
  • And the three children of Calvert’s daughter Hanna Jones Pollard (Hannah’s death is inferred because she is referred to in the past tense): Cordelia, Haseltine, and Ryland.

Evidence is weighted towards Calvert Jones Sr. as the father of Henry Clay Pryor.

  • The key piece of evidence to identify Clay’s father is the death record that provides his father’s name.
  • Clay’s death record indicated he shared his mother’s surname, not his father’s surname. This issue indicates that his parents weren’t married and there was an issue with legitimacy.
  • Clay Pryor was recorded as “mulatto” which may be indicative of lighter skin color inherited for a more distant white ancestor (the census taker looked at him and made a judgment of what to enter in the race box on the census) or the description revealed knowledge that he was born of both white and African-American ancestry.
  • Family trees on Ancestry.com state Calvert Jones Jr. died in 1840, at least six years before the birth of John Henry Clay Pryor.
  • No African-American man was located in records available on Ancestry.com (census, marriage, death records) who used the name Calvert Jones (or other variations of the spelling). However, if an African-American man went by this name and fathered Clay, then he may not have lived to see freedom after the Civil War or adopted another name.
  • Calvert Jones Sr. had free people of color living within his household in 1840 and as far back as 1830. Calvert Jones Jr. had no free people of color recorded in his household on the census.

Further Research

Calvert Jones Sr. died intestate which led to the chancery court case to divide his estate. His heirs acknowledged (viz. the chancery case) that he had only one slave named Harry. Therefore, confirming the 1840 census that recorded all the other people of color on his property as free people.

How were the free African-Americans freed? The 1782 Manumission act in Virginia gave guidelines of how to free slaves in Virginia. The primary emancipation document would be a will, however the the blacks in Calvert’s household were free in 1840 and there was no mention of them in his will. The next option was any other written document during the slave holders lifetime. A requirement was that the document had to be sworn to in court or sworn to by two witnesses. The slave holder had to pay a fee to the clerk of the county court. There could be court minutes or fee schedules that contain the record of when Mary Pryor was freed.

Another piece of history should be considered. There were 5 Pryors counted as free people of color and heads of household on the 1820 census in King George county, perhaps hinting that Mary Pryor was a free woman at the time of her birth in the 1820’s.

I’m wondering if anyone from the line of John Henry Clay Pryor has done autosomal or male YDNA testing. Did they connect with other Pryors? Did they connect with the Jones line through YDNA?

* John Henry Clay Pryor as “Clay” through out this post to simplify his name and to reference the name that was used on records.