Denard Pryor: Guilford Co., NC and Clay Co., MO


I found some great stuff in the Fold3 Military Records.  It has been extremely useful for one Pryor line that seemingly evaporated from census records in 1850 and 1860. Last year I wrote about the family of trombonist Arthur Pryor of St. Joseph, MO (see June 9, 2011 post). This year I’ve filled in some of family connections with the help of Fold3 and other researchers.

Arthur’s grandfather , the patriarch of this Pryor line, was Denard Pryor born about 1805. One researcher posted online that they found Denard in “Guilford Co. North Carolina Apprentice Bonds & Papers 1817 – 1870.” On 20 November 1820 Denard was an orphan and was apprenticed to Andrew Waggaman. It doesn’t say if he was apprenticed to learn a trade, however Alson Pryor (possibly a brother) at age 13 was also an orphan and apprenticed to John Waggoner on 5 April 1820. Alson may have been apprenticed as a tailor as that was his stated profession on the 1850 through the 1880 Census.

Denard Pryor is on the 1840 Census in Clay County, Mo. He was probably married (there’s a woman in the household who was about the same age as Denard) and there were 8 children in the household. Denard was the father of bandleader Samuel D. Pryor of St. Joseph, MO (father of trombonist Arthur Pryor). There are accounts of Samuel living in Nebraska and earlier in Texas, however I haven’t found Denard on any other census. If you find him let me know!

There was also a Thomas Pryor on the same page of the 1840 Census of Clay Co., MO. An Ancestry family tree shows Thomas born also in Guilford County, NC, so perhaps there is a relationship between Denard and Thomas. Thomas was deceased by 1850; his widow and children are on the 1850 Census in Lawrence Co., MO.

Death Notices in St. Joseph newspapers also helped to determine which Pryors were children of Denard—they were often clear that the descendent was related to musician Arthur Pryor. Military records were also helpful in determining who were Denard’s children.

1. James T. Pryor b. 1830 in NC, married Julia Ann Lewis and settled in St. Joseph, MO, working as a well digger.
2. Emsley R. Pryor b. 1831 in NC, married Caroline Self and settled in St. Joseph, MO, working as as a well digger. 1890 Census states he served as a bugler during the Civil War.
3. Alfred “Burton” Pryor b. 1835 in MO, married Mary “Polly” Portman and died in Denton Co., TX. His son Frank Hickman Pryor worked as a piano tuner in Denton Co., TX.
4. Robert Pryor b. 1841 in MO, married Mary — ?, living in St. Joseph, MO in 1860 and 1870.
5. Samuel D. Pryor b. 1844 in Clay Co., MO, married Mary Coker, settled in St. Joseph, MO. Musican and father of Arthur Pryor.
6. Alice Pryor b. 1846 in TX, married John J. Hughes, settled in St. Joseph, MO.

Again, there were 8 children in the household in 1840, so there are still a few missing from my list.

Burton Pryor born 1835 is definitely a son and possibly Alson Pryor who registered for the draft in St. Joseph.  I like Alson as a possible son, perhaps named for the brother who was apprenticed with Denard in NC.

Denard’s and his sons’ military service was interesting. In February 1862 Robert, Emsley, and James Pryor enlisted in the Union Army in St. Joseph. A month later their father, Denard, enlisted. Denard fudged his age, stating he was 45, although he was closer to 55 years old. By April 1862, Robert and James had deserted and weren’t arrested until 1864—They were turned in by an informant, arrested in New Jersey and transported to Leavenworth, KS (yes, the federal prison!). Denard was in the army little over a year—in May 1863 he was discharged due to “age and drunkenness.” Burton Pryor registered for the draft in St. Joseph in early 1863, however in May he had been arrested for “disloyalty” and posted $1000 bond and signed an oath of allegiance to resolve his problems. I’m guessing that ID’ing soldiers wasn’t an easy task in the pre-computer age—Burton enlisted in a Colorado company using his own name in December 1863.