Tag Archives: Beverly Pryor

More on Dolly Pryor, daughter of Beverly Pryor of AL

Back in July I wrote about Dolly Pryor, the illegitimate daughter of Beverly Pryor in Madison County, AL (read more). I think I’ve found her marriage.

Her marriage was announced in Tuskegee Republican, 17 June 1852: Hilliard C Harmon married Dolly Pryor on 23 May 1852 in Lawrenceburg, TN. The paper reported that they were both from Florence, Lauderdale County, AL.

There’s a marriage record in Lawrence County, TN that identifies the bride as D B B Pryor which corresponds with her name change in 1836. The AL state legislature changed her name from Dolly Beverly B Harrell to Dolly Beverly B Pryor.

Dolly was living with her mother in 1850, but seems to have disappeared by the 1860 Census. Hilliard C Harmon was recorded in his parents’ household in Lauderdale county — no Dolly.

Richard Pryor In Richmond, VA and In Madison County, AL

va-pryors

Why on earth are there so many men named Richard Pryor in the 1820-1830’s? While looking at Richard Pryor of Hempstead County, AR I also noted a Richard H. Pryor in Samuel Pryor’s estate in Hardeman County, TN, then there was Richard Pryor the gamble and hothead in Catahoula Parish, LA. So why not look at one more!

Then there was Richard Pryor who was in Madison County AL. Richard was in this county as early as 1822 when he first started appearing as a named party on lawsuits. The first US census of the county wasn’t taken until 1830– his age was recorded between 30-39 years old. His presumed wife, Dolly, was 52 in 1850 so Richard may have been born close to 1798. Richard wasn’t on the 1809 Census of Madison County, so, he must have arrived in the county sometime between 1809 and 1822.

I’ve written a few times about the death of Beverly Pryor (see posts). He was killed on a Mississippi racetrack in 1836 and his father traveled from Alabama to collect his body. In 1837 Richard Pryor (about age 36-45) was appointed the administrator of Beverly’s estate (Madison Co., AL). Was Beverly 21 or older when he was killed in MS? — that would make Richard about 17-27-ish at the time of Beverly’s birth. They could be father and son.

I can’t mention Beverly without mentioning the demise of the man who killed him — he was later beheaded and it was assumed he was killed by one of the Pryors. Involved in horseracing — a revenge killing —  that would possibly describe this Richard Pryor as a “blackleg” or in our contemporary terms, a “bad ass.” I wonder if he was the Richard Pryor who was in Catahoula Parish, LA (see post).

In 1836 an Alabama Legislative act changed the name of Dolly Beverly B Harrel to Dolly Beverly B Pryor and recognized her as the legitimate child of Beverly Pryor. And she was recognized as the rightful heir of Richard Pryor. Dolly B (born 1835) was living in the older Dolly Pryor’s household in 1850. I’ve long suspected that Richard and the older Dolly were kin. An old newspaper clipping helps to ID as husband and wife.

TO RICHARD PRYOR AND DOLLY HIS wife, George W. Turner and Catharine G. his wife, Ursula D. Ragland, John Brown, —-Anderson and Octavia his wife, and A. Cook and Judith his wife.
As you are not residents of the Commonwealth of Virginia, and have no agent therein known to us, you will hereby take notice that we shall proceed on Thursday, the 28th of February, 1850, and between the hours of 9 o’clock, AM and sunset of that day, at the office of Messrs. Meredith and Young. Attorneys at Law in the City of Richmond, to take the depositions of John Sheppard, Wellington Godin and others, to be read as evidence on behalf of the defendants in a certain suit now pending in the Superior Court of Chancery for the Richmond Circuit, in which you and others are plaintiffs, and ourselves and William Davis, Hardin Davis, Spotswood G. Waldrop, Alfred Winston, John Clash, and others, are defendants, and which suit is now on the rules docket of said court; and if from any cause the said depositions be not commenced, or being commenced shall not be completed on that day, the taking thereof will be continued from day-to-day at the same place, and between the same hours, until the taking thereof shall be completed.
JAMES S RYALL
SAMUEL DAVIS
Executors of John D Brown, deceased.
(Richmond Enquirer, February 08, 1850)

 

In older posts I mused over the first name Beverly as a possibly Beverly surname connection to Major John Pryor of Richmond. Isn’t it interesting that we now know this Richard Pryor had some kind of tie to Richmond?

I’m thinking through all the possibilities. What if Richard was still alive in 1850 and still alive in 1852 to be involved in the feud in Catahoula Parish? Could the Richard in Catahoula Parish and in Madison County, AL be the same Dick Pryor who was racing horses up in Nashville? I don’t think so and will explain in my next post.

 

 

 

The Beheadding of Eli Abbott – An Aweful Pryor Revenge?

Pryor feud

“An Aweful Revenge–Mr. Eli Abbot, formerly Mayor of Columbus, Miss. Was recently found in his bed, with his head cut off. It is stated that, about four years ago, he killed a young man, named Pryor, and that he has ever since lived in the constant fear of his relatives, some of whome, it is supposed, have at length taken this terrible method of revenge.”
New-York Tibune, New York City, 21 April 1841

The Death of Beverly Pryor

Geesh! Which Pryor did Abbott cross? I took a look at Abbot to see if I could figure out where he was and when he was there and which Pryor he may have killed. Well, I didn’t have to look far. Last year I wrote Murder on the Racetrack about the killing of Beverly Pryor by Eli Abbott. If it was a Pryor who later killed Mr. Abbott,  then they were patient to wait years. What is it that they say?… Revenge is a dish best served cold.

Looking at Eli Abbot

Abbot appears to have taken seriously whatever threat was made against him. The Mecklenburg Jeffersonian, a North Carolina newspaper published 27 April 1841 reported that Abbot resorted to “having his house barricaded, and never going out after dark.” I tried to find more about Eli Abbot but can only find his household on the 1840 Census in Lowndes County, MS. If Eli was the oldest male in his household he was 40 to 49 years old. There weren’t any Pryors on that census…but hey, they had horses so I guess they could travel.

More on The Murder of Beverly Pryor

I obtained a copy of the article on the racetrack death of Beverly Pryor which was published 17 May 1836 in The Democrat (Huntsville). It doesn’t add anything to ID this Pryor (see earlier post), however there is an extra paragraph of commentary– Almost 180 years ago “gun control” had entered the dialog in the US.

Comment upon this melancholy rencoutre is not, we presume, called for from us. One remark, however, we cannot refrain from making. The practice which is becoming so common, of carrying pistols and knives, cannot be too much condemned. If public sentiment does not restrain the strong arm of the law ought to be brought in to put it down.

History is interesting. It’s interesting that the commentary was run in the Alabama paper and by the time the story had made it’s way to the Gettysburg, PA newspaper, the commentary was discarded. I don’t know the history of the time so I don’t know if there was a difference of sentiment in the North vs the South (it was 25 years before the Civil War). Or did the PA paper have limited space and they cut the only paragraph that didn’t give details of the murder?

While this may be something for historians to ponder, genealogy researchers should always look for the difference in news articles… one paper may print a more complete article while another many carry an edited version.  Read each article…. you never know what you may be missing.

Murder on the Racetrack – The Death of Beverly Pryor (1836)

I tell you, I find more deaths of Pryors that take place around gambling and horse racing.  A warm day in the South, the passions of a horse race, probably some  high-stakes gambling, top it off with perhaps a bit of alcohol and what you’ve got is a recipe for disaster. And so goes the story of the death of Beverly Pryor in 1836.

A Mr. Beverly Pryor, a young man from the neighborhood of Huntsville, Alabama, suspecting there had been foul play in the race, attacked and knocked down one of the trainers. Mr. Eli Abbott, of this town, the Proprietor of the Race Course, remonstrated with him on such conduct, and told him that a race-ground was not a proper place for such disturbances. Upon this Pryor drew a pistol, pushed the muzzle into the face of Abbott, so violently as to take off the skin, telling him at the same time to draw and defend himself. Abbott declared that he had no pistol. Just at this time, a man by the name of McRhodes, Pryor’s friend, snapped a pistol at Abott, which momentarily drew off the attention of Pryor. Abbott taking advantage of the occasion, instantly drew a large knife, plunged it into the breast of Pryor, turned and severely wounded McRhodes, who made off, and Abbott followed him. Pryor, though mortally wounded, pursued Abbott some fifteen or twenty paces, snapped his pistol repeatedly at him, then fell and expired without a groan.

We saw young Pryor early in the day, riding about town, in all the flesh and pride of youth, and in a few brief hours, we saw him borue (sic) back a corpse, his father attending him, covered with the blood of his son, which he had got on his clothes in supporting him on the ground in his death struggle! What a spectacle! And what a sudden and awful transit from all the gayety and buoyancy of youth to the cold an unrelenting arms of death! The grieved and disconsolate father has had the corpse carried to Alabama, to be buried at his family residence….
— Miss. Free Press, re-published in the Adams Sentinel, Gettysburg, PA on 13 June 1836

These stories fascinate me. Which Pryor was involved? What was the story of their lives? How were they all involved in horse racing.  Oh, I would certainly like to know who Beverly Pryor was! Remember the Beverly’s were one of the wealthy tidewater families in VA. Major John Pryor (of Richmond) — his first wife was Anne Beverly Whiting. The Major was a horse breeder (ie. the horse Federalist).

When I searched for more information on Eli Abbott I found an article on a Sumner Co., TN site that reports he owned a horse named Zelina in 1833 with J. B. Jones, Johnson & Tayloe and Henry H. Tayloe of Alabama (see article). Isn’t it interesting that Major Pryor also had a horse/Tayloe connection? (read my post Captain Pryor in the Revolutionary War?)

I haven’t seen it yet, but there’s an obituary for Beverly Pryor in the Huntsville, Democrat published on 17 May 1836, which means that perhaps Pryor died a month or so before the article made it into the Gettysburg newspaper.

There’s only one Pryor family in the Huntsville, AL (Madison County) area in 1830. That’s Richard Pryor. If Richard is the  father of Beverly Pryor, Beverly may have been the only son in his household on the census, making the story more poignant.

And if Richard Pryor is related to Beverly Pryor, the is he the Richard Pryor who had a racetrack in  Nashville?