Tag Archives: john pryor

Col. John Pryor of VA: An Engineer?

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I was reading an old article about canal work on the James River. It mentioned a Pryor so I became interested in the Maiden’s Adventure Dam.  There’s an old book I found on Google Books– 3rd Annual Report of President to the Stockholders of the James River in Kanawha Company, Together With the Proceedings of the Stockholders at Their Third Annual Meeting in December 1837 (see book). I know, catchy title! It mentions the Maiden’s Adventure Dam several times as a project attached to their company.

I did some digging to see where this place is located… Continue reading

Signature of John Pryor on The Petition of the Inhabitants of the Western County

5982837164_aa57b8bd61_bI’m holding another example of why researchers need to get their hands on original documents or good photocopies of them. It’s the Petition of the Inhabitants of the Western Country, a petition filed by men living on the NC frontier (later Tennessee) to the General Assembly of North Carolina.

There’s a good transcription available online (see Google book), “The State Records of North Carolina, Volume 22” (pub. 1907), however the original is so much better. The reason it’s better is that it shows the signatures. We can get a sense of who signed it with whom because the pen (or was it a quill?) changes with groups of signatures.

The other fascinating thing is that the signatures are in a different order than how they are displayed on the online transcription.  For instance, Moses Looney appears in the left column online and John Pryor is right (there’s a middle column in-between). On the original, Looney’s signature is directly under John Pryor’s.  Gilbert Christian signed above John Pryor.

There’s yet another point that stands out. John Pryor didn’t sign his name using a “y”. It’s signed John PRIOR! Am I being too pedantic? Probably not.

John Pryor signature Sullivan County, TN


Discover Kingsport (an online history outline of Kingsport, Sullivan Co., TN), states mentions Gilbert Christian several times as well as John Pryor. Christian was from Virginia and first explored the area in 1769.  Moses Looney was there by 1774 and John Pryor was living in the area by December 1787 (date the petition was submitted to the NC State Senate.

I think this is the John Pryor who stated his place of birth as England and year of birth as 1757 on the 1850 Census in Sullivan County.

John Pryor Rutherford County TN to KY Fact or Fiction?

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Pryor TN KY Map 1820'sSince I just finished looking at the Pryor family and their neighbors who were in early Logan and Christian County, KY, I thought it would be a good idea to look at later Pryors.

Years ago I exchanged emails with a Pryor researcher who was interested in the line of John Pryor who married Rebecca Cook in 1823 in Rutherford County, TN. It was their theory that John and Rebecca were then counted on the 1830 and 1840 Census in Wilson County, TN and that John Pryor had died, Rebecca remarried and was later found in Christian County, KY.

The information on this couple is sketchy beyond their marriage date in 1823. If John on the 1830 census is the man who married in 1823, then what were the ages of the children on the census– do they match the marriage year? It’s hard to tell. There were 2 males ages 5 through 9 which fits with the marriage date. There was also a male 10 through 14. The oldest male (John?) was 20 through 29, a bit too young to be the father of a 14 year old. There were 2 adult women in the household so perhaps one was the mother of sister of this young male.

Researchers seem to be on the right track identifying a Rebecca Pryor in Christian County. She is on the 1860 Census as Rebecca Pryer age 51 in the home of Sarah Pryor Wilson. Sarah died at age 90, unfortunately her death record didn’t name her parents. It just says “D.K.”– don’t know? Sarah was recorded as Sarah Ann C. Pryor when she married, so we know she was a Pryor and Rebecca lived with her, so it’s possible they were mother and daughter.

Also in the Wilson household in 1860 was Zack A. Pryor age 13. Zack is an interesting clue because he leads back to the 1850 Census when a Rebecca age 40 and a Zack age 4 were living in the household of Ab Nixon. I haven’t found a marriage for Ab Nixon–perhaps this was another arrangement. Not only was Rebecca identified as a Pryor on the 1860 census, but also the 1870 Mortality Schedule. Zack may be the Zachariah Pryor buried in Chattanooga, killed during the Civil War.

And I now have the full name of Ab Nixon for folks interested in this line: Absolom Nixon. There’s an estate sale filed in Christian County (Book N, page 692, sale page 693).

Major John Pryor’s Handwriting

maj-john-pryor-5Major John Pryor of Richmond was a Revolutionary War soldier and signed several documents to attest to other soldiers service in the War (see http://revwarapps.org/). Here’s some samples which may come in handy if you’re trying to figure out if which John Pryor signed a document.

Pension Application for William Gentry:


Pension Application for John Fenn:


Pension Application for Thomas Ward and Isaac Kimmy (Kinney?):maj-john-pryor-2

Pension Application for Benjamin Lawson:


President John Tyler and the Tidewater Pryors

Happy President’s Day! I posted a link on the Pryor Surname Facebook page this morning. It’s a link to a CBS Sunday Morning segment that aired yesterday. It’s a small story about President John Tyler.

What I loved about this story was the interview with President Tyler’s grandson. Yes, President Tyler who was born in 1790 has a grandson living today. That remarkable feat is chalked up to the President and his son fathering children long after most people qualify for Medicare. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have that short of leap in our family trees? My ancestors born about 1790 are great-great-great grandparents.

I also thought back on the link President John Tyler has to the Pryors in early America. Mo Rocca points out in his interview that the Tylers had connections with everyone who was anybody in the Tidewater area of Virginia—Pocahantas, Jamestown residents, Thomas Jefferson. Last year I failed to mention the connection of Tyler to the Pryors in Affluent Pryor Families in Virginia. Tyler’s sister Betty Armistead Tyler married John Clayton Pryor (b. 1771-1780) sometime before 1820.

John Clayton Pryor was a prominent citizen in Virginia as shown through his involvement in both the political and intellectual life of the area. He represented Williamsburg in the Virginia House of Delegates and served on the Board of Visitors for William and Mary College. I haven’t gotten access to the document in the archives, but I found he wrote a letter to President Thomas Jefferson in 1813 (after he was out of office).

John Clayton Pryor is likely the son of Christopher Pryor and Catherine Clayton. The family home was the “Ware-House in Gloucester County, VA. His father was also a prominent citizen as a trustee of Ware Parish Church. He must have been a gentleman farmer in that he supplied 800 pounds of beef to the troops during the American Revolution and I found that his son, John, was a subscriber to the Farmers’ Register. Both John and his father lived to see America thrive as an independent county, living to see Washington, Adams, and Jefferson serve as Presidents.

I haven’t been able to reliably go back any further that Christopher Pryor, however the children of John Clayton are known: Christiana, Maria Emily, Skaife Whiting, Anne Contesse, and Elizabeth Armistead. I know the Whitings were also a prominent Virginia family. I’ve wondered if John’s father, Christopher Pryor, was perhaps a brother of Maj. John Pryor who married Anne Beverly Whiting (later the mother of explorer and politician John C. Fremont— see Major John Pryor of Richmond, VA & John C Fremont Connection). Christopher and Major Pryor would have been of the same generation, perhaps 5 year apart in age. John Clayton Pryor and Major Pryor held similar political and education positions.

Enjoy the holiday and your search for Pryors.