Tag Archives: hawkins county

Isaac Pryor of Pike County, IL – Who’s Your Daddy?

diggingforrootsAnother Pryor researcher sent me this link to a family tree that includes Isaac Pryor of Pike County, IL
http://familytreemaker.genealogy.com/users/f/i/n/Art-Wilson-Finch/WEBSITE-0001/UHP-0748.html. It conflicts with my own research, so I feel we need to do a bit of exploration on Isaac and his family.

The tree posted on Genealogy.com purports that William B Pryor was the son of John Pleasant Pryor born in Granville Co., NC and Elizabeth Palmer, and that William B. Pryor married Jane B. Atkinson and they were the parents of Isaac Pryor b. 1806 who lived in Pike Co., IL.

Let’s start with Isaac and work out way back.

Portrait Biographical Album, Pike and Calhoun Counties, Illinois, published 1891, page 400 (The book is available online https://archive.org/details/portraitbiograph00biogra). In an article on William H. Pryor (son of Isaac Pryor) it states:

The Pryors are of English origin, and Tennessee has been the home of the family for several generations.  In that State Isaac Pryor, the father of our subject, was born in 1807.  About 1838 he came to Pike County, ILL., making the journey according to the common custom– with a horse and wagon, camping out by the way.

The article also states that Isaac bought land in Pike County in the township where his son (William H) “now lives,” which is also stated as Derry. William stated that his father lived on the land until his death.

William’s date of birth is stated in the article as 12 November 1832 in eastern Tennessee. This date and place corresponds with his age on the 1850 Census in Pike Co.

Shortly before the 1850 Census Isaac married Mrs. Nancy Neely, 14 Jan 1847 in Pike County (see Illinois Marriage Records).

The dates of this history and the marriage record correspond with the information recorded on the 1850 Census in Pike County:

Isaac PRYOR 44 TN farmer, Nancy 38 OH, William 17 TN, Samuel 15 TN, Lucy 13 TN, Thomas 11 IL, Sarah 9 IL, Catherine 2 IL, Martha 1 IL

If Isaac and Mrs. Nancy Neely had no relationship prior to their marriage in 1847, it’s likely that daughters Catherine and Martha are from this marriage and the other children, including William H. Pryor are from an earlier marriage.

The 1838 date contained in the above article appears to be a good date for Isaac’s entrance to Pike County as there are two Pryor marriages in 1837 and one in 1840, helping to earmark his move to the area.

Noting the 1838 date, it’s then highly likely that he is the Isaac Pryor counted on the 1840 Census in Pike County.  Isaac’s age was reported as 30 to 39 years (born 1801 to 1810), which corresponds to his reported age on the 1850 Census (born 1806).

On the 1840 Census there is a woman in Isaac’s household who was age 20-29 (born 1811-1820). This may be Isaac’s wife before his marriage to Nancy in Pike County.  If this woman was also William H. Pryor’s mother she would have been about age 12-21 at the time of William’s birth which would not be out of the norm for the time for the age of a first time mother.

There’s a hint of the name of this possible mother of William H. Pryor. A tombstone in the Hornbeck Cemetery in Pike Co. states Nancy, “daughter of Isaac and Sarah Pryor,” died Sept. 30 1858, aged 15 yrs, 3 mos., 15 days.  The article cited above confirms that William’s mother was Sarah Harris who was born in Tennessee and died in 1840 at age 32. So, I think we have the possible first marriage for Isaac confirmed. (see Nancy’s gravemarker http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GSln=Pryor&GSiman=1&GScid=106248&GRid=76102683&)

The researcher who posted the family tree which started this search cites records from WFT (World Family Tree), stating that Isaac was the son of William B. Pryor and Jane B. Atkinson.  So we need to flesh out the family of William B. Pryor.

William B. (Bland) Pryor is believed to the son of Richard Pryor and Ann Bland. Richard was a son of John Pryor and Mary Dennis –Richard is mentioned in his father’s 1785 will and on records in Dinwiddie County, VA.  Much has been written on the line of Richard Pryor and Ann Bland’s line because they were the parents of the minister Theodorick Pryor, and the grandparents of the Civil War general and later New York judge, Roger Atkinson Pryor. A lot has been written, but that doesn’t make it all correct so read what you find with a questioning eye.

The first record I have of William B. Pryor was his service in the War of 1812. If his age on the 1850 Census was correct, he was born about 1793, making him about 19 years old in 1812. Jane B. Pryor applied for a widow’s pension. Orig. 15639, Certf. 7021, stating  her husband served in Capt. Philip Pryor’s Co., VA Militia. The War of 1812 Records on Ancestry.com state Philip, Luke, and William B. Pryor served in 1st Reg, Byrne’s Co., Virginia Militia—Philip was identified as the rank of Captain.

William B. Pryor married Jane B. Atkinson on 12 Oct 1818 in Chesterfield County, VA. Some research is needed to find out if there was an Atkinson or Pryor connection to this county. His brother Theodorick Pryor married Lucy C. Atkinson on 22 Sept 1827 in the same county.

In 1820 both William B. Pryor and Philip Pryor were counted on the census in St. Andrew’s Parish, Brunswick County, VA. There was one male child under the age of 5 in William B’s household in 1820. William B. Pryor was recorded as age 16 to 26 years old (born 1794-1804).  Philip Pryor is likely William B’s uncle – the Philip named as his son in John Pryor’s 1785 will.  Philip’s age was recorded in 1820 as 26 to 45 years (born 1775 – 1794). I suspect Philip was born closer to 1775 as he married Susan Cordle Wilkes on 5 Jul 1802 in Brunswick County and Susan who was a head of household in 1830 and recorded as born 1770-1780.

By 1830 William B. Pryor was in Tipton Co., TN (Middle TN) with his brother Richard Pryor. Unfortunately only William B’s name was recorded and no tallies of males and females in the household were posted on the census.

Willam B. was in Warren County, MS by the 1840 Census. A younger Richard Pryor was also record, his son b. 1820.  Other known children of William B. were Agnes b. 1822 in VA who married William B. Creasy in Warren Co. in 1838, and Mary b. 1824 in VA counted in William B’s household in 1850.

1850 Census, Madison Co., LA
Page 376, house 234 W. B. PRYOR 57 planting $1800 VA, Jane B. 51 VA, Richard 30 $400 VA, Agnes D. Creasy 28 VA, Mary A. Pryor 26 VA, William P. Creasy 10 MS.

To play out the scenario of William B. as the father of Isaac Pryor b. 1807 in East TN, William B. at about age 14 would have to have been in East TN and either married or have been involved in a relationship that produced young Isaac, only to return to Virginia to serve in the War of 1812, marry Jane B Atkinson and then move to Middle TN and onward. Another scenario would be a web of half-truths and misinformation—Isaac could have fibbed and really be much younger than he stated on census records.

I am unable to find any record of William B. Pryor having a son named Isaac.

Isaac Pryor’s place of birth is stated as TN on the 1850 Census and East Tennessee in the Pike County history—however I am unable to find any record of William B Pryor in East TN.

If Jane B. Atkinson Pryor’s age was stated correctly on the 1820 and 1850 Census she would have been 8 years old when Isaac was born in 1807. Possible. But is it probable?

I think what is more likely, at least from the paper research and until a descendant of either Isaac or his son William H. steps forward and takes a Y-DNA test, that Isaac may be one of the sons of John Pryor b. 1757 who was in Sullivan County, TN because of these salient points. And just because this theory isn’t written in stone… or proved with DNA, I’ve added an opposing comment in brackets:

  1. Sullivan County is in East Tennessee (But then so are several other counties).
  2. The article on the Pike County Pryor states that Isaac was a Methodist (well, so were thousands of other people). The Pryors in Sullivan County were a VERY Methodist family—James Pryor b. 1790 who is also likely John’s son was a Methodist minister as was his son John Pryor who married Ann Trigg and settled in AR (see History of Methodism in Arkansas, by Horace Jewell, published 1892, http://books.google.com/books?id=XnUC6WfycoQC&printsec=frontcover&dq=History+of+Methodism+in+Arkansas&hl=en&sa=X&ei=uM6zUJ6iCqTq0QH-u4G4BQ&ved=0CDAQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=pryor&f=false Sarah, possibly a daughter of John b. 1757, married Stephen Paxson who was a traveling Methodist evangelist –see A Fruitful Life: The Missionary Labors of Stephen Paxson by Belle Paxson Drury
  3. Isaac resided near other Pryors from Sullivan Co., TN. While proximity between families isn’t always a positive indicator of kinship (yup, we’re finding that out about the Pryors!), in this case Isaac and his other Pryor relations can be found near each other on census and tax records in Sullivan County, Hawkins County, and in Pike County.
    a) 1830 Census Isaac Pryor and John Sr. were in Sullivan Co., TN
    b) 1830 Census John (Jr.) Pryor, James Pryor, and George Morrison (husband of Mary Pryor were in Hawkins County, TN (next to Sullivan Co.) – sons and son in law of John Sr.
    c) 1836 Isaac Pryor is on the tax list in Hawkins Co.
    d) 1836 in Sullivan Co. John Pryor Sr. signed a deed of trust for mortgage of George Morrison’s furniture.
    e) 1840 John (Jr.) and Isaac Pryor are on the census in Pike County.
    f) John (Jr.) b. 1797 married Hannah Hornbeck. A photo of Isaac’s gravemarker on Ancestry.com states it is located in Hornbeck Cemetery. It is believed that John and Isaac were brothers due to their proximity, birth years, and place of birth. (view gravemarker http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GSln=Pryor&GSiman=1&GScid=106248&GRid=76100643&)

Of course I’m willing to change my mind– if a researcher has documents or a compelling theory.  It still disturbs me at how easy it is to use WFT and Ancestry leaf hints to build an unlikely family tree. Just because the information is there, it doesn’t mean that it fits.  So be careful adopting a tree as your own or adopting others’ work to prove your tree (including mine!). Keep up the work of digging out your Pryor line.

VA & NC Pryors: Making Connections on Beaver Dam Creek in Goochland County


I know Beaver Dam Creek does sound as posh as maybe- let’s say Polo Pony Drive– but this may have been the place to be in Henrico County, later Goochland County.  The above list of deeds is from http://www.directlinesoftware.com/Pool/goochlan.txt. Remember the Perkins who shadowed the Pryors from Pittsylvania County, VA into Rockingham and other Counties in NC, and then into Hawkins/Greene County, TN and finally into Williamson County?  It looks like they may have been  neighbors (and probably kin) back into the 1720’s, long before the Revolutionary War. There was John Pryor on Beaver Dam Creek (see my post) and it looks like Constantine Perkins was right there too.

Another neighbor to look at is John Pleasant. Do you see him above? Isn’t it interesting that when the Pryors moved into NC there’s a John Pleasant Pryor among them? He also ended up in Tennessee with the migration to middle TN in the 1790’s.

David Ross and the Pryors – Part 4 (Sullivan County, TN)

tn-pryorsBack to what I’ve found on David Ross. There’s a David Ross and a John Pryor mentioned as neighbors in Sullivan County, TN.

1787, John PRYOR was living on land James Gaines had sold to James Anderson in 1780. “The large Cloud plantation adjoined the John Pryor plantation, and land owned by David Ross opposite the mouth of the North Fork Holston River. Together these plantations covered today’s Ridgefields area. The Clouds and Pryors, in addition to managing their plantations, worked as flatboard builders and boatmen. and both…”

We know the John Pryor in Sullivan County was born in 1757 because he lived to be counted on the 1850 Census. In 1850 he was quite elderly, living with his son, and his place of birth was recorded as England. The same son he lived with in 1850 lived to 1880 and stated on that census that his father was born in England. Like all things “Pryor” I take John’s place of birth with a smidgen of skepticism.

The David Ross I’ve followed through my searches died in Virginia in 1817/19 and I can’t find anything of him being in Tennessee. David Ross of VA had a son named David who lived to 1857, but that David is on the 1850 Census in Shenandoah Co., VA, not in Tennessee. So, I was ready to write-off this Sullivan County connection as just a coincidence.

Not so fast.

In 1927 the history of Rotherwood Mansion in Kingsport was printed in the Kingsport Times-News (read Famous Rotherwood Is Veiled In Romantic History). There is a brief history of Frederick Augustus Ross who happens to be the son of David Ross — yes, the same David Ross who keeps popping up with the Virginia Pryors. (Frederick was also mentioned in the Fluvanna deed in my last post- see post)

In the spring of 1818, his father having died in the previous year, 1817, Mr. Ross made his first visit to the large landed estate left to him in Sullivan and Hawkins counties, East Tennessee. There on the North Fork of the Holston, he built “Rotherwood.”

It sounds like his father is the David Ross in Sullivan County who died and left him the land. Once you know who David Ross of VA was then there are several clues on discoverkingsport.com which help to confirm his identity and what he was doing in Tennessee. He probably wasn’t there himself, but he had his businesses in Sullivan County.

  • 1789, David Ross’ Log Agency and Tavern was occupied and operated by Ross’ agents (Capt. John Hunt by 1792; Thomas Hopkins by 1811; Perley Fairbanks by 1816, among others).
  • 1792, George Roulstone, offered a handsome reward for his high spirited brown mare, lost near Ross Ironworks. (David Ross made his fortune in the Revolution with his foundries in VA and NC.  TN was part of NC until 1796).
  • 1793, David Ross purchased 5 acres of King’s iron bank.
  • 1790, David Ross’ Iron Forge was operated by his agents.
  • 1818, F. A. Ross settled on land inherited from his father (David Ross) and built the first bridge (ruins SS) over North Fork Holston River.

OK, we’ve got David Ross figured out but who’s the John Pryor in Sullivan County? Is it Major John Pryor of Richmond? — Nope, he died in 1823. Is he John Pryor who married Mary Dennis?– Nope, he died in 1785. Is he the John Pryor of Campbell County whose sons John and William settled his property in 1812? — Nope, he was deceased. The list of who he ISN’T seems rather long.

Was John in Sullivan County really from England or are we still missing some Virginia Pryors from the family tree?