Tag Archives: Anderson County

A Pryor Slave Story in Roane County and Anderson County TN

slave-houseSy Prior was a free African American living in Anderson County, TN. It’s an interesting slave story because he died 5 years before the end of slavery and he left a will. The will is like Hansel and Gretel dropping a cookie trail in the forest — he not only names his 4 children, but also who held his children in slavery.

Last Will and Testatment of Sy Prior. In the name of God Amen. Owing to the uncertainty of Life and the certainty of death and being —- to dispose of such worldly goods as it has pleased God to help me with and being of sound mind and disposing memory do make and publish this my last will and testament. 1st I give and bequeath to my daughter PELESA ANN the servant of RHODA WILSON out of my estate one hundered and forty dollars and her child PATSY SHIRLEY the sum of ten dollars. I give and bequeath to my son CHARLES the servant of RICHARD OLIVER one hundred and forty dollars. I give and bequeath to BETTY also a servant of RHODA WILSON the sum of five dollars for her attention to me in my sickness. I give and bequeat to REV JAMES BLAIR the sum of five dollars to preach my funeral sermon. I give and bequeath to my daughter MARGARET servant girl of RICHARD OLIVER my feather bed and furniture. She paying to her sister PELESA ANN six dollars I wish and desire that my watch and saddle be sold and equally divided amongst my four children Pelesa Ann, Isaac, Margaret and Charles. I wish and direct that all my just debts be paid as soon after my death as possible as well as my funeral expenses. I wish and request that my remains be directly buried. All the balance of my estate of what kind — I give and bequeath to my son ISAAC dn my daughter MARGARET servants of RICHARD OLIVER to be equally divided between them. I hereby appoint my friend SAMUEL TUNNELL executor of this my last will and testament hereby revoking all former will by me made this 25th day of January 1860.
Sy PRIOR (his Mark) (or Sig)
Signed in presence of
RICHARD OLIVER
J. J. BUTLER
E. B. HUDSON

Sy Prior was on the 1850 Census:

1850 Census Anderson Co., TN. Subdivision 16, page 19b, house 274
Drury L. Bradley 39 farmer VA, Nancy 39 TN, William 16 TN, John T. 13 TN, Margaret E. 9 TN, Samuel 7 TN, Andrew 6 TN, Drury 3 TN, Timothy R. 4/12 TN, Martha Thompson 74 VA, Sir PRIOR 42 mu farmer male TN. (Sir is probably Sy Prior. House 273 is Samuel Tunnell who witnessed Sy’s will. House 269 is Kesiah Oglesby Butler b. 1780 from Campbell Co., VA. House 275 is Caleb Butler.)

Not only is an African-American will recorded before the Civil War remarkable, but there’s also a will that explains how Sy became a free man. Harris Pryor of Roane County died in 1846. Harris’ will states:

Item 2nd. It is my will that my negro man Sy shall be emancipated and set at liberty as a free man at my death and I also direct that my executor shall give him to with Sye of my property one horse worth forty dollars and one plough (sic) and gear.

Sy was born about 1808 and was a contemporary of Harris Pryor who was born 1801-1810. It may not sound like much, but Sy took a 40 horse and turned it into an estate of $300 cash and property that consisted of a watch, horse, saddle and furniture. I think that’s pretty amazing.

I also took a look at Richard Oliver on the 1850 Census in Anderson County (#3 on the image below). Not only does Sy Prior connect him with Harris Pryor, Richard Oliver was living near Rector households (1 & 2 below) and a Butler family (4).

richard-oliver-1850

All Roads Lead to Roane: Meet The Virginia People in Roane County and Anderson County, TN

pryor-east-tennesseeIn the very early 1800’s Virginia Pryor families and their neighbors headed to an area between Roane County and Anderson County, TN.  A Google book titled “The Land and Laws of Tennessee: Being A Compilation of The Various Statutes of… (It’s a very long title, but you can view the book online) discusses the division of Anderson and Roane counties near the farms of D. L. Bradley, John R. Galbreath, Samuel Tunnell, William Rite, W. C. Griffith, and J. C. Roberts.

These names may ring a bell from my last posts. The slave Sy Prior was living with Drury L. Bradley in 1850 and Samuel Tunnel was a witness to his 1860 will.  William C. Griffith witnessed Frances Prior‘s will (Harris’ mother) and he witnessed the will of Benjamin Lockett (Frances Prior’s son in law) with William Right/Rite.

I have several connected people who traveled from the Bedford County, VA area that became Campbell County to this area where some records are in Roane County while others are in Anderson County.

Jesse Pryor

Jesse Pryor is on the 1805 Tax list in Anderson Co., TN. He’s named on a 1811 deed with Reuben Williams and John Rector. My theory is that this is the Jesse Pryor born to Harris Pryor and Mary Kinnerson who was in Knox County and then later showed up on Census records in Overton County, TN. Harris, was on Bedford County, VA records.

William Pryor

My working theory is that William Pryor is another child of Harris and Mary. He may have been going back and forth between TN and VA — I may have to write a post about the clues that these Pryors were going back and forth. Like Jesse he was in Bedford County, Knox County, and Roane County. He is on an 1811 deed with Reuben Williams and John Rector that points to him being in the same part of the county at the same time as Jesse Pryor.

Samuel Pryor

Married to Frances Ferguson, Samuel died around 1815. Record of his estate was filed in Anderson County. Frances’ ID was in a VA Chancery Court case for her brother Robert Ferguson filed in Cumberland County, VA, naming Frances and her children. Frances and her son Harris lived in Roane County. John Rector was counted on census records living near Frances and Harris.

Benjamin Lockett

Married to Ailsy Pryor, daughter of Samuel and Frances. His will was filed in Anderson County in 1834, included a note from Richard Oliver and witnessed by Reuben Williams (see Jesse and William above) and William C. Griffith.

Joseph Grammer

Joseph Grammer was a French national who fought in the American Revolution. In 1787 he was brought up on charges of living with a woman without marriage in Charlotte County. Her name? Elizabeth Pryor or Mary Pryor or Mary Elizabeth Pryor. His Revolutionary War pension application states they were in Bedford County, VA by 1799. They were in Roane County by 1830. Joseph was about 100 years old when counted on the 1850 Census, still living with his wife. Could this Elizabeth Pryor be the grand-daughter of William Boteler/Butler? (see post) Nope. Her age would make her of about the same generation as Butler.

William Boteler Jr. & Sr.

The younger William Boteler married Sarah Cunningham in Campbell Co., VA, possibly a daughter of Murell Cunningham. Murrell Cunningham was surety for the marriage. John Pryor, Charles Rork, Martin Rector on March 15, 1790 Bill of Sale for Murrell Cunningham of Campbell County. Murrell Cunningham also went to TN– he was in Sumner Co., TN from 1800 to at least 1820. William Boteler Sr. mentioned grand-daughter Elizabeth Pryor in his will.

John Kitchen

John Kitchen sold land in Campbell Co., VA to John Pryor in 1788.  He was on the 1830 Census in Anderson County. He applied for a Revolutionary War Pension. The application states he was born in Bedford County, VA and his wife was Mary Whitten.

One last Pryor to mention because he was in Roane, but doesn’t seem to fit with the others.

Matthew Pryor Sr.

Matthew Pryor filed for a Revolutionary War Pension which documents where he was at the time of the war and thereafter: Born in Granville County, NC in 1759 > Caswell County, NC >Richmond County, GA > back to Granville County, NC > Washington County, VA > Roane County, TN > Marion County, TN. He was in Roane County in about 1808 when his son Matthew Pryor Jr. married Henrietta Williams. There’s no indication that he was in Campbell or Bedford Counties not have I found anything to show these other folks were in North Carolina.

Campbell County, VA Pryors: John Kitchen Found in TN

My last post was the 1788 deed between John Kitchen and John Pryor in Campbell County, VA.  I took a look for John Kitchen to see if there were any clues that throw a light on John Pryor. I found that John Kitchen was a Revolutionary War vet and lived long enough to file for a pension. Gotta love those pension applications!

Not only do I love pension applications, but I love how specific John Kitchen was in the facts of his application. He was born April 25, 1757 in Bedford County. This is interesting because in 1788 he sold John Pryor his land in Campbell County (formed from Bedford County) and he was himself in Henry County. The application says Kitchen lived in Bedford County until the Revolution and then moved to Henry County where he was drafted in 1781. His story is like so many of the stories out of this region of VA– he marched to Guilford Courthouse in NC and to the Troublesome Iron Works. Kitchen moved to Anderson County, TN and after he died in 1845 his wife Mary, submitted a document stating her maiden name was Mary Whitten. (see the pension application)

I was rather curious about John Kitchen in Tennessee. Where did he live? Who was he living with? I found him on the 1805 Tax List in Anderson County. There were Pryors too in Anderson County: Samuel Pryor and wife Fanny Ferguson.  These are the Pryors who I suspect are related to Harris Pryor of  Bedford County, VA (they named a son Harris Pryor), and they lived near a Rector family (John Pryor witnessed will of Jacob Rector in Bedford County, VA). Samuel Pryor died in Anderson County around 1815 (year his wife was appointed adminstratrix of the estate).

Here are some of the families of interest on the Anderson County census records.

1830 Census, Anderson Co., TN

page 190 John Kitchen 1000000001 – 001011001 (Oldest male 70 to 80 years – John Kitchen sold land to John Pryor in Campbell Co., VA in 1788)
page 346 William PRYER 20001-20001 (Oldest male 20-29 y.o. born 1801-1810. William is probably the son of Frances Ferguson Pryor.)
page 346 Rebecca PRYOR 11-01101 (oldest female 20-29 y.o., born 1801-1810)
page 346 Benjamin Lockett 1010001 – 112102 (oldest male 40-49 y.o., botn 1781-1791. Benjamin was married to Acy/Alsey PRYOR, daughter of Samuel Pryor and Frances Fanny Ferguson. Alsey is on the 1840-1860 Census in Roane Co., TN)

1850 Census Anderson Co., TN

Subdivision 16, page 19b, house 274 Drury L. Bradley 39 farmer VA, Nancy 39 TN, William 16 TN, John T. 13 TN, Margaret E. 9 TN, Samuel 7 TN, Andrew 6 TN, Drury 3 TN, Timothy R. 4/12 TN, Martha Thompson 74 VA, Sir PRIOR 42 mu farmer male TN. (This family counted near many of the families who were near Rebecca PRIOR on the 1840 Census in Anderson Co.)
Subdivision 16, page 60, house Christopher Hitch 37 merchant KY, Katharine 35 TN, William 15 tN, Harriet 14 TN, Caroline 11 TN, John 10 TN, Sarah 8 TN, Lloyd 5 TN, Phellaney Whitten 21 TN, Barton Mynatt 25 doctor TN, PRIOR BOWLES 24 farmer TN (Possilby related to Pryor Mynatt in Grainger and Knox Co., TN. Prior Bowles was the son of Martin Bowles, he married in 1854 in Lee Co., VA. John Kitchen of Campbell/Bedford County, VA married Mary Whitten.)
Page 60a, house 833 William Howet 48 none (occupation) VA, Sarah Howit 35 TN, Nancy 29, Pryor L 21 TN, James M 18 TN, Emmaline J 16 TN
Page 60b, house 834 Susan Stuksberry 45 TN, John 28 TN, Nancy 20 TN, Elizabeth 18 TN, Aletha 16 TN, Polly Kitchens 90 NC deaf. ( Polly Kitchen was the widow of John Kitchen of Henry Co., VA. John Kitchen sold John Pryor land in Campbell Co., VA in 1788.)

John Pryor in Campbell, Bedford, Appomattox, and Albemarle

ross-pryor-mapI have been revisiting my own Pryor line (John Pryor of Sumner Co., TN and William Pryor of Overton Co., TN). I can speculate on relationships all I want, but I’m still looking for the meat and potatoes, the paper proof of who is related whom.

DNA NOTE: We have one Y DNA test on this line– working on interpreting the results. If you’re a Pryor male from either of these lines. I’m interested in working with you on Y-DNA testing. Identities are kept confidential.

I found a nifty source called cLocations.com. You can look up waterways and it will pinpoint them on a map. That’s awesome! Because they didn’t have piped in city water in the 1700’s so waterways were important for people and their livestock AND without GPS, waterways were markers on deeds as to where property was located.

We have a deed for John Pryor (likely the father of John and William and the grandfather of Allen L. Pryor of Sumner County, TN, b. 1816):

On 25 November 1788, John Pryer of Campbell County purchases “from John Kitchen of Henry County . . . for 75 [pounds], one certain tract of land of 135 acres in C[ampbell] on the west branches of Stonewall Cr, 7 bounded by Stoval, Kitchen’s corner on Cattail Branch, McBride. Signed – John Kitchen. Wit – Thomas Dunn, William Page, William Bernett (B (Burnett), Henry Truman, William Chenalt (Chenault), Charles Rork. Recorded Apr 2, 1789.” (Campbell County Virginia Deeds, 1784 – 1790 published by T.L.C. Genealogy (Miami), p. 55, referencing deed book page 360)

The pink star on the above map shows where Stonewall Creek is located in what is today’s Appomattox County. While the original deed was in Campbell County, it’s consistent with the history of the Taylors (John’s sons both married Taylor women) that they lived in the part of Campbell County that was sacrificed for the formation of Appomattox County.

I know Tennessee researchers bemoan all the county divisions– Virginia is just as frustrating.  I found a sensible explanation of the county divisions in Campbell Chronicles by Ruth Hairston Early (pub. 1927).

“In 1754 the part of Albemarle lying upon the south side of the river, from the mouth of Stonewall Creek to the head of Falling river, was added to Bedford: then Albemarle was divided in 1761 to form Amherst; the portion north of the James was marked by a line up the Rockfish River to the mouth of Green creek, thence to the Blue Mountains; east of this line remained Albemarle…”,

Ms. Early also added that the James River was also known as the Fluvanna, derived from fluvius (water) and Queen Anne of England. So the Pryors in Appomattox can be in Campbell County records (we already knew that), and also in Bedford and Almemarle records.  Whew!

We’ve probably got John Pryor in a Bedford record

John Pryer with Gideon Martin, Jane Preston, Thomas Stovall witnessed the will of Jacob Rector in Bedford County VA on 26 Oct. 1779. John Pryer along with Gideon Martin proved the will by oaths on 22 Nov. 1779. John Pryer along with David Martin and Thomas Stovall inventoried the estate of Jacob Rector on 3 Dec. 1779, returned 22 January 1781. “Prier” also used at one place in the record. (Abstracts of Bedford County Virginia Wills, Inventories and Accounts by Joida Whitten, Taylor Publishing Company (Dallas), pp. 101 and 113, referencing will book pp. 359-60 and 387.)

I suspect that the Pryor on Stonewall Creek and the Pryor who witnessed Jacob Rector’s will and inventoried the estate is the same John Pryor who was in Campbell County (late area in Appomattox County). Pryor’s 1788 deed states his land was near Stovall’s and 1779 a Thomas Stovall witnessed the will with Pryor.  There’s a remnant of the Pryors in Appomattox County on the 1850 census– Pryor Wright and Pryor D. Martin. I suspect Pryor D. Martin is related to the David Martin who inventoried Rector’s estate with John Pryor.

Now, there’s another line of Pryors we have to consider connecting with the John Pryor in Albemarle. Yes, it’s likely he’s the brother of David Pryor in Buckingham County since there was a David and John mentioned in the Henrico County courts and Cumberland County deeds as heirs of a deceased David Pryor. I suspect they are also kin to Harris Pryor of Bedford County. When Harris’ family left VA for TN they lived near Rectors in Anderson County and Roane County.

So, we have John Pryor pinned down from 1779 when he witnessed a will to 1788 when he bought property in Campbell County (now Appomattox). County divisions tell us to look for earlier records of John Pryor in Bedford and Albemarle Counties. Yes, there is a John Pryor who in 1759 was on the south side of the Fluvanna (remember that’s the James River!) in Albemarle County near Abraham Childers/Childress. John Pryor’s property in 1788 is also on the south side of the river.

That leaves us with a pretty big gap in the time on the paper records for John Pryor — 1759-1788. Where was he and what was he doing?

Is there a David Ross connection? I was thinking of the old John Pryor b. 1757 who was in Sullivan Co., TN next to the entrepreneur David Ross (read part 4 of Ross Posts). I know that my John Pryor was probably deceased by 1812 and the one in Sullivan County lived past the 1850 Census, so they are not the same man. However there’s an interesting little fact to share: Oxford Iron Works, the foundry Ross ran during the Revolutionary War; it was located on Beaver Creek in Campbell County, VA. The red “pin” on the above map shows that it was just 12 miles from where John Pryor lived on Stonewall Creek.

Big Clue to Ancestry of Harris Pryor of Bedford Co. and Prince Edward Co.

Goochland, Virginia

I think we can join Harris Pryor born about 1740 to his correct line of Pryor ancestors. If you need to refresh your memory go to my last post about Harris Pryor. I believe Harris is connected to Jesse Pryor of Overton Co., TN and Samuel Pryor who died in Anderson Co., TN in 1815 and other Pryors who were in Knox and Roane County. Now I think I know from which line Harris Pryor descends. I found online the 1775 will of John Wright the husband of Ann Pryor (daughter of John Pryor and Mary New).  I got interested in Ann Pryor and John Wright when they showed up as a DNA match on the Ancestry DNA test I’ve been moderating. What really lit up my day of research? Harris Pryor witnessed John Wright’s will. Ooops, I forgot to end that sentence with a big fat exclamation point!

There’s an article in The Virginia Historical Magazine  that includes a very brief synopsis of the 1755 will of John Pryor (husband of Mary New) stating legatees were his daughters Rebecca Woodson and Ann Wright. No mention of his wife nor any other children. If Harris Pryor wasn’t a son of John Pryor and Mary New who was he?

I’ve taken my pencil and I’ve drawn a tenative, yet optomistic line between Harris and my line of Pryors that begins with Nicholas. Now, I just need to figure out how he fits in.