Old Joseph of White Co., TN – Here’s the Monkey Wrench

I’ve hesitated to put out this new information because it certainly throws a big, fat, antique monkey wrench into the Pryors. But I’m hoping if we put our minds together and perhaps a Pryor or two submits to DNA testing we can figure out this mystery.

First I found a will extract– In 1791 Joseph Pryor, witness to the will of John Shavin on 9 June 1791 in Sumner County, TN.
Source: Fulcher, Richard Carlton. 1770–1790 Census of the Cumberland Settlements. Davidson, Sumner and Tennessee Counties (In What is Now Tennessee). Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., 1987. http://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=3006

I did several searches and din’t find a Shavin in Sumner County, however there is a Shaver family. Funny thing I noticed–in the Shaver Bible record on Ancestry John Shaver Jr named a son Joseph P Shaver. Could that P be for Pryor?

Then, I went back in time to the 1789 Petition of Sundry Inhabitants South of French Broad, Greene Co., TN
Some familiar names among the signers are William Pryor, Caleb Odel, Joseph Pryor, Isaac Odle, John Shaver. William may be the William Pryor b. 1760-1771 who was in White Co., TN or William of Botetourt County who was in Sumner Co. and later Austin’s Colony. The Odles were also connected with the Pryors and White Co.– Enoch Odle married Catherine Pryor and Joseph Pryor was surety.

Here comes the monkey wrench…

When I Googled Joseph Pryor and John Shaver. I found two men by these names in Delaware records.


The extracted record in this link is a Revolutionary War document from 1786, so it could be before Joseph Pryor and John Shaver show up in Greene County, TN. The front page of the document cited in this link names a John Dill. The Dills are connected to the Pryors in Jackson Co., TN and I’m finding in family trees that they were from Delaware. The Dills are on the same page with Joseph Pryor on the 1803 Tax List. Surena Dill was married to Alfred Pryor b. 1808 on the 1850 Census in Jackson Co. The Dills were Nancy Pryor’s neighbors on the 1840 Census in Jackson Co.

I looked back further in Delaware records and found the will of Hannah Pryor dated 1740, filed in Kent County. It names her sons John Pryor and Joseph Pryor. If Joseph was born in 1740 or earlier he would have been in his 70’s or 80’s in 1813 and could easily be the OLD Joseph mentioned in White County records.

So many questions…

Was Old Joseph from Delaware?

Is Old Joseph not connected to William, Richard, and the others from Botetourt Co., VA who migrated to Greene County and then to Middle TN. Is that why Robert Armstrong took care of him in his old age? [read more about Robert Armstrong connection]

So, is Old Joseph connected to John Pryor and Ruth Sherrill and Robert Armstrong, but not to William Pryor of White County?

Are there other Pryors in Middle TN who were from DE and not VA? Or did the DE Pryors pass through VA or the Carolinas on their way to Greene County?

Has anyone from the John Pryor and Ruth Sherrill line done a DNA test? Did they match up to Pryors from OH, PA, or DE?

chart - old joseph