Tag Archives: Bourbon County

1788: Pryor Signatures from Botetourt County, VA

I’m sharing 3 samples of Pryors from Botetourt County, VA: Joseph Pryor, Thornton Pryor, and John Pryor.

The signature above for Joseph Pryor is from a petition of “sundry inhabitants” of the county of Botetourt… requesting obstructions to navigation of James River at the Blue Ridge to be removed (dated about 1788). I think this is the signature of Joseph Pryor Sr as it doesn’t look like the samples we  have of Joseph Jr.(see post).

And another signature of Joseph Pryor Sr. from a 1790 petition.

And another signature a bit later… Joseph Pryor on a 1806 petition in Botetourt County. It’s wild how one person’s signature can vary (Perhaps it style depended upon the type of quill pen and the texture of the paper). His “p” and “h” looks about the same, but the “s” had a different flourish in 1806.

Joseph Pryor, 1806 Petition from Botetourt County


Thornton Pryor: A petition signature from 1801. Compare his signature with the 1829 sample from a previous post… it looks a bit different but I think the curly-cue on the “T” shows up in the “P” in the later signature. The “h” has a similar tilt and shape. The final “r” in Pryor looks more like an “n” in both signatures.

1801: Botetourt County Petition

1829: Thornton Pryor Signature on KY Marriage Bond

There was also a John Pryor signature on an 1802 Petition in Botetourt County. I think this is the signature of John, son of Joseph Pryor as it’s very similar to the writing of John Pryor who signed the 1829 KY marriage bond with Thornton Pryor. The way the “o” joins the “h” and the top of the “h” isn’t a loop but a “up and down” slash — the same on both samples.

1802: John Pryor on Botetourt County Petition

1829: John Pryor on KY Marriage Bond

Joseph Pryor and John Pryor Signatures in Bourbon and Owen Counties KY

I heard from another researcher in answer to the last post. Thank you to Beverly Watson from the My Jackson Purchase Families website. She has an 1815 Bond from Bourbon County, KY signed by Joseph Pryor and John Pryor. These men were seeking a bond to open a tavern. It looks like their signatures are a very good match to the signatures on the 1829 marriage bond for Juliet Pryor in Owen County, KY.

I think the strongest part of the match are the “P” in both Pryor signatures. It’s also a good match on the tilt of the “h” in Joseph and the loop shape and direction in the “y” in John Pryor.

Since Joseph Pryor Sr. was deceased by about 1813, the signature is most likely Joseph Pryor Jr. on both documents.

Another observation is the time span between documents… 14 years. John Pryor’s projected year of birth from most researchers is about 1773. He was 77 at the time of the 1850 Census. It’s interesting that his signature was consistent.




Sam Pryor: Sharing A Swig From General Santa Anna’s Bottle

General Santa Anna c 1853

A Pryor researcher brought up an old newspaper article that mentioned a Ketucky Pryor and General Santa Anna. I admit I have a very limited knowledge of Santa Anna – mostly that he led the Mexican troops against the Texans at The Alamo. When I turned to Wikipedia for more information I was surprised to see him in a photo 20 years post-Alamo looking like quite an affable fellow. Guess if you involved in the death of Davy Crockett you’re going down in the American history books as the villain!

The article they referred to was found in Newspapers.com: Bourbon News, Paris, Kentucy on 19 October 1883:

John Mooreland visited Sam Pryor last week, and both drank out of the same bottle that Henry Clay and Gen. Santa Anna once drank from, while guests of Mr. Mooreland’s father at the old stage stand at Mooreland’s on the pike near Houston’s.  Henry Clay and Santa Anna were en route for Washington City, by stage.

When would this drink have happened? The battle at the Alamo was in 1836 and Santa Anna was returned to Mexico in 1837, so we have a time range.

This is a pretty interesting tid bit! Wikipedia tells that after Santa Anna was eventually defeated he was sent into exile in the US and in 1837 was transported by ship back o Veracruz, Mexico. There are some chunks of information missing– How did he get from Texas to Washington, DC? Did the USS Pioneer take him all the way from Washington, DC to Veracruz? Some time ago I read how during the Mexican War (10 years later) ships from New Orleans took troops to embark on the east coast of Mexico (Veracruz is on the same coast). So, perhaps Santa Anna passed through Kentucky on his way to or on his way back from Washington, DC.

Texas A&M University’s website (TAMU.edu) provides an explanation that fits in with this article, filling-in answers to these questions. It describes Santa Anna’s trek included a steamboat up the Mississippi River to the Ohio River and on to Louisville (reached on Christmas Day 1836). He was treated well

…when the party stopped at Lexington, they were accorded marked attention, and many members of the Kentucky legislature came over from Frankfort to pay their respects.

Senator Henry Clay

In 1836 Henry Clay was a US Senator and a Lexington native.  It’s interesting to note that the Pike is the road connecting Paris, KY with Lexington, KY, so stopping along this road may have been possible as well as the possibility that Clay and Santa Anna met over a bottle.

“The Lexington (Kentucky) Gazette of the 5th inst. speaks of the departure of Santa Anna from that city. He was well treated there, and the editor thinks, that as a “distinguished” stranger in  a neutral country, he is entitled to the hospitality of every citizen.”
— North-Carolina Standard, 25 January 1837

Was it just a passing comment in the 1883 article that Santa Anna stopped on the pike near Houston’s? Was it a stab at irony? Santa Anna had surrendered to General Sam Houston, the same Houston who had been made President of the Republic of Texas, and had agreed to send Santa Anna off to Washington, DC. I’m not the only one wondering about a Houston connection between the families in Bourbon county and the man in Texas. A 1998 post asks, “Is anyone researching the HOUSTON family of Bourbon County? We are trying to find a connection between Sam HOUSTON, of Texas fame…” (see post)

I’m just impressed that someone held onto a bottle of hooch for almost 50 years. It must have been an honored meeting between Mooreland and Sam Pryor!

Knox County, TN – Here’s a Bourbon County, KY Pryor!


Knox County Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions
Record Date 7 July 1831
A Power of Attorney
Peter Nance and Polly Nance
to G. L. Pryor
of Kentucky
Authorizing him to collect money from the estate of Edward Pryor dec’d and for other purposes was —– by said Peter and the private — of said Polly having been to him by the court, — to the one action then of the same is enclosed to the certified H–

If you click on the image of the document, it will enlarge.  If you can make out more words please let me know.  I believe Mary “Polly” Nance is the wife of Peter Nance and the daughter of Joseph Pryor of Botetourt County, VA.


1843 Court Record Nicholas County, KY
GREEN L PRYOR deceased May 1843 in Circuit Court of U S District of Kentucky – suit in Chancery, etc. James M WHITMORE heirs, William Whittemore, deceased. vs CATHERINE A PRYOR, MARY PRYOR, JOHN PRYOR, and ELIZABETH PRYOR, tract of 30 acres at Lower Blue Lick in Nicholas County, lots 123, 421, 21, 22, 23 in Bartlettsburg … Tavern House erected by William WHITTEMORE and when mortgaged Dec 17 1836, occupied by said GREEN L PRYOR as a tavern … [from Elizabeth Pryor Harper’s “Twenty-Two Southern Families” ]

Connecting Richard Pryor to Dick Pryor’s Racetrack in Nashville

A runaway slave offers our next clue in the identity of Richard Pryor who had a horse track in Nashville.

In 1832 a $100 reward was offered for the return of a runaway slave, a mulatto young man by the name of Warren, aka John. He was 17 or 18 years old and about 4ft. 6in (dang, that’s small by today’s standards!).  He spoke English, French, and Spanish which makes me wonder if he was from the Caribbean or had traveled. The ad placed for his return stated,  “He was in Clarksville, on Cumberland river, Montgomery county, Tenn., and was when a boy owned by Richard Pryor, who employed him as a race-rider in Lexington, Bowling Green, Nashville and other places. He was afterwards sold to Livingston Lewis Leavell of Trenton Christian Co., KY. who brought him to new Orleans, about 4 years and a half ago.”

Yes there’s a Livingston Levell living in Christian County on the 1830 Census, but more importantly it gives us more insight into Richard “Dick” Pryor and his racing activities. One glaring thing is that he was using child slaves as jockeys. The ad also indicates he was traveling between the Kentucky towns named, Nashville and perhaps also in Clarksville.

There was William Pryor, the young naval mid-shipman from Clarksville, who had been gambling in Nashville when killed (read post). I’ve speculated that he was the son of Samuel counted on the census records in Montgomery Co., TN. I’ve also speculated that Samuel was the brother of Thornton Pryor and one of the Bourbon County, KY Pryors who were horse-trading in Nashville. We also know from the truncated will of Joseph Pryor of Bourbon county that he had sons named Samuel, Thornton, and Richard. This is looking like a solid lead toward identifying Richard Pryor and  his racetrack.