Tag Archives: Indiana

Samuel B Pryor and Bernard H. Pryor of McCracken County, KY

It’s time to consider some stray Pryors and see if we can match them up.

In 1884 Samuel B Pryor’s will was filed in Vandenburgh County, IN. He left a house in Evansville, IN and a city lot in Cadiz, Trigg County, KY to his brother Bernard H. Pryor. The will states Samuel B Pryor was from McCracken County, KY.

Samuel B. (b. 1835) was on the 1880 Census in Vandenburgh County and Bernard (b. 1825) in McCracken County. Gotta love the census records: Samuel B.’s father was recorded as born in MS and Bernard’s father was recorded as born in VA.  At least Samuel B. and Bernard both agree they were born in KY (between 1825 – 1835?).

December 14, 1860 the Clarksville, TN newspaper “Weekly Tobacco Leaf” reported that a Bernard Pryor once a resident of Clarksville and by then living in Paducah (that’s in McCracken County) had gone on a drunken spree and killed a man named Pigg.

There’s a Probate record dated 7 Aug 1837 from Clarksville, Montgomery County, TN.  It names Burnard, Allaway and Bolen Pryor as infant heirs of Saml. PRYOR. Ann F. PRYOR was appointed their guardian. Its signed by Felix H. Badger and his attorney Chas. Bailey. Harriet Patteson (or Pallson) and her attorney G A Henry. I betting that Burnard is Bernard H. Pryor and Bolen Pryor is Samuel B. Pryor. Their ages on the 1880 census certainly fit with their births before 1837 and being minor children in 1837.

Mary Prior, Indian Captive on the Kentucky Frontier


It seems like when you start looking at Pryors on Kentucky frontier, really the areas the the west of Virginia, pioneer Pryor tales pop up everywhere. I’ve read in the past this story of Mary Pryor’s capture by Native Americans. It begs a second look.

The maternal grandfather, Thomas Mounts, served for seven years as a spy in the American army during the Revolutionary war, and later in the same capacity among the Indians… The paternal grandmother of Mrs. Stewart was MARY PRIOR, in whose life history occured chapters as exciting and thrilling as any to be found in strange tales of fiction. Her girlhood was mostly passed in her parent’s home on the Kentucky frontier, during a period when the Indians were particularly troublesome and vicious. She was a maiden of fourteen years when she, with her mother and a babe of six months, were stolen by the Indians, who massacred her father, the rest of the family and a number of negro slaves. Later the babe was killed and the mother, because she refused to dance around the body of her infant, was bound to a tree and burned by the infuriated savages. The Indians then crossed the Ohio river with their girl prisoner and for ten days traveled through the timber to their village. When the young braves started upon another raid the maiden was left in charge of the squaws and older Indians, but escaped and , traveling in the night, hid by day in hollow logs, subsisting on roots found in the forest. On the ninth day after her escape the Indians, close in pursuit, passed directly over the hollow log in which she lay, and while there hiding she was bitten by a snake. However, she had learned what roots to use in such emergency, and after applying them was forced to lie still for three days. Once more resuming her journey she came to the Ohio river, across which she was forced to swim. In the meantime the Indians were trying to find her and the United States soldiers from a Kentucky fort had been detailed to search for her, but evading the former and missing the latter, she made her way alone to the fort, where she was adopted by one of the officers, retaining, however her own name.

The Centennial History of Oregon, 1811-1912, Volume 4, page 880. Joseph Gaston, S.J. Clarke publishing Company, 1912. Mary’s son was William Scott, the father of Mary (Scott) Stewart who provided the story for this book. Mrs. Stewart was 91 years old, born in 1821 in Switzerland Co., IN, when she gave this account of Mary Prior.

John Scott and his wife Mary Prior (Pryor) lived in the Greenbrier Area in the 1700’s. Greenbrier County, formerly Montgomery County is now Monroe County in West Virginia. (see themorrisclan.com)

If we follow the trail left by folks researching this line and Find A Grave memorials we may be able to derive when Miss Pryor was born and when she was a young girl living on the frontier. Her son Joseph Scott is purported to have been born in 1775 (see his grave marker). If she was a young maiden of 14 when captured then it was probably some time before his birth, which would put her birth perhaps in the late 1750’s.

I’ve seen comments online that there were few people living in this area and it makes her grand-daughter’s story somewhat doubtful. I think there’s some strong rings of truth in the story. If we go back to the Battle of Point Pleasant in 1774 we know that Virginians were pushing into the frontier. Fort Randolph was built in 1776.

I see that some family history researchers have stated Mary’s father was John Pryor. That may have drawn that conclusion because it parallels the story of the end of John Pryor “saviour of the Greenbrier” with the capture of his wife and baby.  However, the attack involving Mary Pryor was probably decades before the death of frontiersman John Pryor. I recollected another attack– Moses Pryor and his family at Griffin’s Station in Ohio, but that also occurred later (probably in 1792 or 1793).

So if the story of Mary Pryor is a true tale, then it’s describing events in the frontier during the years leading up the Revolutionary War, perhaps shortly before or at about the time of Lord Dunmore’s War.

1930 Pryor Murder in Morgan County, IN

26 September 1930 a report in The Indianapolis News reported the investigation of the suspicious death of Carrie Thelma Pryor of Martinsville. Her husband, who had taken out a $3000 life insurance policy on her life was being questioned after arsenic was discovered in her system.

The Pryors appear on the 1930 Census in Martinsville
Ernest T. Pryor 31 born in IN, both parents born in IN, Thelma 21 born in IL, son Francis 2 10/12, and cousin Elsie Hamm age 25. The news account reported that Elsie was Thelma’s first cousin.

What happened to Earnest? What happened to young Francis?  I didn’t find them on the 1940 Census. The same newspaper reported on October 2nd that Earnest Pryor made a full confession and plead guilty.

Perhaps this will help someone find some Pryors missing from their family tree.

Category: Indiana Pryors | Tags: ,

A Musician in Your Family Tree?

Civil War Musical Instruments

Civil War Drum and Instruments – Gettysburg Visitor’s Center

Got a musician in your family tree? Does music run in your Pryor gene pool? The more I’ve searched for the ancestors of trombonist Arthur Pryor, the more I’ve found musicians named Pryor. My list started with Civil War era musicians listed as drummers and buglers. As I checked census records I found more. Enjoy this list of musicians named Pryor.

Arthur W. Pryor, the trombonist, was listed in the 1887 St. Joseph city directory as a musician.

Walter D. Pryor, brother of Arthur,  was listed in the 1887 St. Joseph city directory as a musician.

Samuel D. Pryor (Arthur’s father) was in the 1888 St. Joseph directory as the leader of Pryor’s Military Band and Orchestra.

Alice Pryor (aunt of trombonist Arthur Pryor).  1880 recorded as a musician living in a rooming house in St. Joseph, MO with an operatic company.

A. Prior (probably an uncle of Arthur Pryor) 1880 recorded as a musician living in St. Joseph, MO

J. B. Pryor b. 1840 in OH, living in Mono Co., CA in 1880. Recorded on the census as a musician.

Emsley R. Pryor (uncle of trombonist Arthur Pryor). 1890 Veteran’s Schedule states he was a bugler during the Civil War.

Milas Pryor was stationed in Norfolk, VA with the US Marine Corps in 1867. His rank was “musician

David E. Pryor served in the Civil War from the State of Indiana as a musician.

John W. Pryor served in the Civil War from the State of Ohio as a musician.

Horace Prior of OH served in the Civil War as a bugler.

Richard Pryor served in the 61st Colored Infantry during the Civil War as a musician.

Theodore Prior born in NY in 1860 was recorded as a musician on the 1880 census.

Civil War Coronet and Saxohorns – Gettysburg Visitor’s Center

James Prior who immigrated from Ireland in 1833 was a musician.

Frisby Prior served in the 81st Colored Infantry during the Civil War as a musician.

Charles Prior – In 1862 he enlisted in the Civil War in NY as a musician.

Miss Theresa Prior of Evanston, IL was in the 1890 directory as a musician in Prior’s Orchestra.

C. M. Prior of Evanston, IL was also listed as a member of Prior’s Orchestra. As was Miss Emelia Prior and Frank A. Prior.

Hershal D. Pryor served in the Marine Corps from 1917 as a drummer.

George Pryor of Helena, MT recorded on 1890 Veteran’s Schedule as a drummer during the Civil War.

[This summer I visited Gettysburg and took photos of Civil War era instruments that were on display]