Prieur The French Spelling of Pryor

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french-artIn a recent post I referred to a letter from a mid-western tribe to Captain Abner Prior [see post]– it was written in French to Prieur, not Prior. The French established trading posts, engaged in the French-Indian War with the British in the 1750’s, and influenced the language of the Louisiana Territory. It wasn’t until 1803 that the French sold the territory to the United States. When Jefferson sent out the Lewis and Clark Expedition their adopted guide was Sakajawea who was married to Charbonneau. The story goes that when explorer Nathaniel Pryor married an Osage woman her name may have been Angelique. Sounds French to me!

Now I wonder about the other Prieur names in Missouri, Ohio, etc. Who are these men who used the French spelling Prieur?

In 1850 there’s a John Prieur age 58 living in St. Charles, MO. His wife was Julia and their daughter was Angelic (Angelique?). He stated his birth place was OH. On the next line is Francis A. Prieur age 65, born about 1785 in France (the French Revolution started in 1789). Other names surrounding them on the census appear to be of French origin.

There are several families with the Prieur surname living in Louisiana. Only two, Denis Prieur and Alexandre Prieur, were born in LA before the sale of the Louisiana Territory to the US.

The Prieur surname also shows up in Michigan, Minnesota, and Vermont– states that are close to the Canadian border. Perhaps these were French Canadian immigrants.  I remember an episode of Who Do You Think You Are? (see episode) where actress Rachel McAdams learned her family tree included British loyalists who fled the American colonies for Canada during the Revolutionary War. Yup, immigration isn’t just crossing the Atlantic and moving westward– it goes all different directions!