John Pryor, Brother of William Pryor of Amherst County

log houseI’ve been digging around the frontier, comparing Pryor neighbors.  I’m getting swayed that there was one John Pryor who was recorded at key points in frontier history.

1774 Battle of Point Pleasant

1774 was before the first shots were fired at Lexington and Concord (MA) in 1775 or the Declaration of Independence in 1776, however this battle in Lord Dunmore’s War is referred to as a battle that ushered in the Revolutionary War. Point Pleasant was the location in Virginia frontier where Fort Randolph was located– it’s now a town in Mason County, WV.  John Pryor served in Col. Andrew Lewis’s brigade, as well as Philip Hammond, Simon Kenton, Thomas Posey, Charles and Robert Clendinin, John and Peter Van Bibber (Virginia County Records, Volume 2. Edited by William Armstrong Crozier. Published by Genealogical Association, 1905. pp. 89-90).

1778 John Pryor Saved Greenbrier

The account of John Pryor and Philip Hammond (or spelled Hamman) warning the residents of Greenbrier of an impending Indian attack is most notably recounted in William Pryor’s (his brother in Amherst Co., VA) Revolutionary War pension in 1832. William stated that John served under General Clark. In 1784 Hammond and Pryor petitioned the Virginia House of Delegates for land as reward for their service in the Greenbrier area in 1778 (see Wikipedia).

1782 Jefferson Co., VA, now KY

I did a nifty comparison of names. First, I took the list of men polled in Jefferson county in 1782 (Early Kentucky Settlers: The Records of Jefferson County, Kentucky, from the Filson Club History Quarterly. Kentucky Adjutant Generals Office, Kentucky Adjutant-General’s Office Genealogical Publishing Co, 1988. pp.40-43). Second, I compared it to men in VA Troops under the command of General George Rogers Clark. This was a very interesting exercise.  The men polled in Jefferson county was a very short list when compared with the longer list of who served under Clark, yet there were several of them who appear on BOTH lists: Aquilla Whitacre, John Martin, George Wilson, John Voress (Vorhies?), Robert George, Isham Floyd, John Campbell (same as Johnson Campbell?).

Initial review of the 1782 poll looks like there may have been a John PRYOR and a John PRIOR in Jefferson County. One who voted for John May and the other who voted for Isaac Morrison. I wish there was greater clarity on how the polling took place. To me, it looks like there were several men running in the Delegates election: John May, Squire Boone, William Shannon, Isaac Morrison. The winners were John May and Squire Boone (A Register of the General Assembly of Virginia. p. 15. see online). My best guess is that there was one John Pryor and he was able to vote for multiple candidates to fill two seats.

jefferson-county-KY

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And a quick aside about Jefferson county. Jefferson county covered a lot of territory when KY was the frontier. Present-day Jefferson county is the small area in the center of the gold boundaries in the map above.

A name conspicuously on the poll, but not on the Clark’s rolls is John Pryor. I think this fits nicely with the John Pryor who was paid by Gen. George Rogers Clark for his service as a spy in 1783 (see post).

pryor-mckee

And John Pryor After 1780?

I know many people have asserted this, but I now feel that I’ve made my way through all the available information to possibly agree that the John Pryor who fought at Point Pleasant, spied for Gen. Clark, polled in Jefferson County in 1782, and signed the Low Dutch Petition in 1783 was likely the same man– the brother of William Pryor of Amherst Co., VA. There are accounts of John’s death at the hands of the Indians; some say in 1780, however two of the earliest mentions of his death don’t say when. His compatriot, Philip Hamman, was celebrated in 1830 when it was mentioned that John Pryor was killed by Indians (this was two years before William Pryor made his application for a pension) — see post. The next mention of John Pryor’s death I found was in Mirror of Olden Time Border Life, Joseph Pritts, Alexander Scott Withers S. S. Miles, pub. 1849:

… John Prior, who with his wife and infant were on their way to the country on the south side of the Big Kenhawa. Prior was shot through the breast, but anxious for the fate of his wife and child, stood still till one of the Indians came up and laid hold on her. Notwithstanding the severe wound which he had received, Prior proved too strong for his opponent, and the other Indians not interfering, forced him at length to disengage himself from the struggle. Prior, then seeing that no violence was offered to Mrs. Prior or the infant, walked off without any attempt being made to stop or otherwise molest him… Prior returned to the settlement, related the above incidents and died that night. His wife and child were never after heard of …

I’m not ready to wrap this up yet.