Connecting Richard Pryor to Dick Pryor’s Racetrack in Nashville

A runaway slave offers our next clue in the identity of Richard Pryor who had a horse track in Nashville.

In 1832 a $100 reward was offered for the return of a runaway slave, a mulatto young man by the name of Warren, aka John. He was 17 or 18 years old and about 4ft. 6in (dang, that’s small by today’s standards!).  He spoke English, French, and Spanish which makes me wonder if he was from the Caribbean or had traveled. The ad placed for his return stated,  “He was in Clarksville, on Cumberland river, Montgomery county, Tenn., and was when a boy owned by Richard Pryor, who employed him as a race-rider in Lexington, Bowling Green, Nashville and other places. He was afterwards sold to Livingston Lewis Leavell of Trenton Christian Co., KY. who brought him to new Orleans, about 4 years and a half ago.”
Wayback Machine link

Yes there’s a Livingston Levell living in Christian County on the 1830 Census, but more importantly it gives us more insight into Richard “Dick” Pryor and his racing activities. One glaring thing is that he was using child slaves as jockeys. The ad also indicates he was traveling between the Kentucky towns named, Nashville and perhaps also in Clarksville.

There was William Pryor, the young naval mid-shipman from Clarksville, who had been gambling in Nashville when killed (read post). I’ve speculated that he was the son of Samuel counted on the census records in Montgomery Co., TN. I’ve also speculated that Samuel was the brother of Thornton Pryor and one of the Bourbon County, KY Pryors who were horse-trading in Nashville. We also know from the truncated will of Joseph Pryor of Bourbon county that he had sons named Samuel, Thornton, and Richard. This is looking like a solid lead toward identifying Richard Pryor and  his racetrack.