Tag Archives: Battle of Point Pleasant

Thomas Rodney And Another Pryor in The Kentucky Wilderness

Point Pleasant BattleThis is not another Lewis and Clark story… for the most part. The Lewis-Clark.org site has an article titled “A Curious Piece of Workmanship” (see the article). It should perhaps be titled “A Curious Piece of History.” The website reports the meeting of Meriwether Lewis, as he set off on the great expedition to the Pacific, and Thomas Rodney who was on his way to Natchez, MS and his own place in history.

Thomas Rodney on DE 25 cent coin

The Delaware 25 cent-piece depicts Caesar Rodney, brother of Thomas Rodney

 

I first read about Thomas Rodney when I was looking for Abner Pryor, however I stumbled upon Abraham Pryor from Delaware who received a letter from Thomas Rodney giving the account of a vision he had before the Battle of Trenton during the Revolutionary War (see the letter).  I can’t help thinking of “Ancient Aliens” and their recount of George Washington’s visions at Valley Forge as encounters with creatures from outer space. Yes, it’s pretty a far-fetched idea.

I like working with the research desk at my local library. They found that Rodney kept a diary were able to find a copy of the book: “A Journey through the West: Thomas Rodney’s 1803 Journal from Delaware to the Mississippi Territory.” I wanted to  read about Mr. Rodney’s curious meeting with Mr. Lewis, then I found he mentioned some meetings with a Mr. Pryor and possibly a second Mr. Pryor.

OHIO: CINCINNATI TO LOUISVILLE: … As we akord (anchored) in the evening near to a settlement I went on shore while the rest were cooking.  A Mr. Pryor and his wife from near Richmond, Virginia, and their nine children, 4 girls and five boys lived there; and there was a nephew to D. Boon and his wife there and several others who had come to see them.  Pryor told me he had lived there five years, that it is 25 miles below Kentucky river and 35 above Louisville, and that there are but few settlements till we git within ten miles of Louisville…

There’s may be a clue to the ID of this Pryor family — it sounds like Samuel Pryor and Mary “Polly” Curd who settled in Henry County, KY.  I think another clue is in “THE OLD MEN OF CLAY COUNTY, Liberty Weekly Tribune; Date: 1870 Sep 02. We request every citizen in Clay county, over sixty years of age, to send us his name, age, place and date of birth, disfranchised or not, and any prominent circumstances connected with his life.” (http://files.usgwarchives.net/mo/clay/newspapers/theoldme55gnw.txt)

I was born in Henry county, Kentucky, on the 20th day of February, 1804. My father was a native of Goochland county, Va., and emigrated to Kentucky in 1790. My maternal uncle – John Curd, now, if living, in Logan county, KY., – was a soldier in the Continental army and was wounded. My father died when I was so young that I was unable to retain in memory any facts connected with the Revolution. I came to Clay county, Mo., in 1835, and have lived here ever since. I have always been a Democrat. I am a voter. GEORGE M. PRYOR.

It could also be John A. Pryor, Samuel’s step brother. He was in the same area of northern KY with 5 boys and 4 girls, however his children were older and were not likely “boys” or “girls” and some were married before 1803.

There’s another Pryor who shows up in Rodney’s journal in 1803. He refers to him as “A” Mr. Pryor which sounds like he was a different Pryor than the family from VA. Remember, Point Pleasant is on the Ohio side of the river.

This is a noble river in appearance. We saw the Major and Shields on shore at Point Pleasant and the Major requested me to come on shore; and I ordered Buckhanan to throw out the ankor and I went on shore on the point. The Major has several human bones in his hand. A Mr. Pryor was with him and informed us there was 40 ft. water in the Canhawah and a 70 gun ship would go 50 miles up and a boat of 5 turns about a hundred; but beyond that there was so many rocks and falls there was no navigating it.

An interesting side note is that Thomas Rodney also spent his last years in Natchez, as a judge. And how’s this for a little plot twist– in January 1807 Aaron Burr (read post) was brought before Judge Thomas Rodney before he was returned to the east for stand trial for treason (see BelcherFoundation.org).

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

CLICK to view larger

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.

1783 John Pryor Soldier In the Kentucky Wilderness aka Virginia Frontier

rev_war_man1The following is the transcription of the sworn statement for a Revolutionary War pension application that mentions a John Prior. It recounts events in 1783, about 10 years before Kentucky became a state. Hmmm, interesting tie-ins to Battle of Point Pleasant (1774) and Lord Dunmore’s War.

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On this 26th day of November 1833 personally appeared in open court before the court of Campbell County now sitting William Thompson a resident of the state of Kentucky in the county of Campbell aged sixty-six years on the 22nd day of June last when being first duly sworn according to law doth on his oath make the following Declaration in order to obtain the benefit of the Act of Congress (proposed?) on the 7th day of June 1832. That he entered the service of the United States in the 15 year of his age as a volunteer under Capt. Baker Ewing1, Col. John Logan2 & John Sconce was sergants the names of the lieutenant and Ensign he does not recollect. I had just came to Kentucky and after my entrance into the Service we went in pursuit of the Indian and was rendevous’d at Pettit’s station3 on the head waters of Green River on the 1st day of February 1782 and from there we marked to Cumberland river at Price’s Cabbins (Cabins?) and crossed the river at that place after making a small canoe to carry over our guns and provisions and swam over our horses and the next day after crossing the river we came on the trail of a party of Indians who were making for their Towns, as they had been the settlement and had committed some murders and stole some horses, we followed the trail 7 or 8 days and overtook them on a fork of the Tennessee river and there we had a battle with them and killed 17 of them. 16 we killed on the battle ground and one was wounded and taken prisoner near one mile from the place of the battle, and Capt. Taris (Faris?) wounded the indian and took him prisoner, and the same night the wounded Indian attempted to make his escape and ran some distance and the same Capt. Taris killed him with his tomahawk. We had one man killed in the battle by the name of Thomas Gilmore and one wounded by the name of Daniel McCormick.4 Gilmore was a mapmate (messmate?) of mine and a near neighbor. We wereout this time one month and then returned home again. Then in the month of June I again turned out as a volunteer and had the command of the company to rance for one month and we marched to Russels (Russell’s?) Creek at Logan’s station on a Branch of the Green river and scouted round for some time and returned home without any battles this time. Then in the month of August in the year 1782 I turned out again as a volunteer under Capt. John Dougherty5, Col. Benjamin Logan, and crossed the Ohio river at the mouth of Limestone Creek and marched to the old Chilicothe Towns and had a Battle with the Indians there and killed several Indians and destroyed their Town and was out this time one month and a half. Then again in the year 1783 in the month of June there was a call sent from Col. Floyd6 to Col. Logan to send him some men to Bulletts Lick7 as the Indians were commilling? depredations on that place and Col. Logan sent me with the command of 40 men and we were out one month this time and we killed one Indian as he was in th eact of taking off the hoppler off a horse to steal him and the name of the person that killed the Indian was JOHN PRIOR8 and then we returned home again. Then in the month of August in the same year orders came to Col. Logan to raise a company of horsemen to be ready at a moments warning and I again volunteered and continued from the first day of that month til the last day of December making five months this time, making nine and a half months. In what I term my voluntary service, by this did not and my Indian warfare for I never failed to be at the port of danger while there was a savage to molest the country near where I was and I never received any pay or drew any rations only what the forest afforded and I know of no person that I can prove my services by at this time. He hereby relinquishes every claim whatever to a pension or annuity except the present one declares that his name is not on the pension roll of the Agency of any state or the United States. Sworn to and subscribed the day and year aforesiad in open court. Att. Jno N. Taliaferro clk
(signed) Wm. Thompson

1. Baker Ewing, from Bedford County, VA (see Ewing Clan website)

2. John Logan, served in Lord Dunmore’s War and the Battle of Point Pleasant. Does this help to identify the John Pryor in this transcript as the one who served at Point Pleasant? See Wikipedia.

3. Location of Pettit’s Station (Google)

4. Daniel McCormick is described as a cohort of Daniel Boone in Lincoln Co., KY history book (see article)

5. John Dougherty (Doherty) is a name on list of soldiers at Battle of Point Pleasant (see list)

6. Col. Floyd, possible John Floyd who was at Point Pleasant. (see John Floyd documents)

7. Bullett’s Lick, near Shepherdsville (see Wikipedia

8. Possibly the John Pryor at the Battle of Point Pleasant, see his brother’s pensions application (William Pryor). (See transcription)