Tag Archives: joseph pryor

Old Joseph of White Co., TN – Here’s the Monkey Wrench

I’ve hesitated to put out this new information because it certainly throws a big, fat, antique monkey wrench into the Pryors. But I’m hoping if we put our minds together and perhaps a Pryor or two submits to DNA testing we can figure out this mystery.

First I found a will extract– In 1791 Joseph Pryor, witness to the will of John Shavin on 9 June 1791 in Sumner County, TN.
Source: Fulcher, Richard Carlton. 1770–1790 Census of the Cumberland Settlements. Davidson, Sumner and Tennessee Counties (In What is Now Tennessee). Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., 1987. http://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=3006

I did several searches and din’t find a Shavin in Sumner County, however there is a Shaver family. Funny thing I noticed–in the Shaver Bible record on Ancestry John Shaver Jr named a son Joseph P Shaver. Could that P be for Pryor?

Then, I went back in time to the 1789 Petition of Sundry Inhabitants South of French Broad, Greene Co., TN
Some familiar names among the signers are William Pryor, Caleb Odel, Joseph Pryor, Isaac Odle, John Shaver. William may be the William Pryor b. 1760-1771 who was in White Co., TN or William of Botetourt County who was in Sumner Co. and later Austin’s Colony. The Odles were also connected with the Pryors and White Co.– Enoch Odle married Catherine Pryor and Joseph Pryor was surety.

Here comes the monkey wrench…

When I Googled Joseph Pryor and John Shaver. I found two men by these names in Delaware records.


The extracted record in this link is a Revolutionary War document from 1786, so it could be before Joseph Pryor and John Shaver show up in Greene County, TN. The front page of the document cited in this link names a John Dill. The Dills are connected to the Pryors in Jackson Co., TN and I’m finding in family trees that they were from Delaware. The Dills are on the same page with Joseph Pryor on the 1803 Tax List. Surena Dill was married to Alfred Pryor b. 1808 on the 1850 Census in Jackson Co. The Dills were Nancy Pryor’s neighbors on the 1840 Census in Jackson Co.

I looked back further in Delaware records and found the will of Hannah Pryor dated 1740, filed in Kent County. It names her sons John Pryor and Joseph Pryor. If Joseph was born in 1740 or earlier he would have been in his 70’s or 80’s in 1813 and could easily be the OLD Joseph mentioned in White County records.

So many questions…

Was Old Joseph from Delaware?

Is Old Joseph not connected to William, Richard, and the others from Botetourt Co., VA who migrated to Greene County and then to Middle TN. Is that why Robert Armstrong took care of him in his old age? [read more about Robert Armstrong connection]

So, is Old Joseph connected to John Pryor and Ruth Sherrill and Robert Armstrong, but not to William Pryor of White County?

Are there other Pryors in Middle TN who were from DE and not VA? Or did the DE Pryors pass through VA or the Carolinas on their way to Greene County?

Has anyone from the John Pryor and Ruth Sherrill line done a DNA test? Did they match up to Pryors from OH, PA, or DE?

chart - old joseph



Identifying Joseph Pryor by Signature?

You may have seen a question I posted 4 months ago on the Pryor Lastname Genealogy Facebook page. I asked who was the man identified as “Little” Joseph Pryor in Botetourt County, VA records. Oct 1784, “Little” Joseph Pryor cited for cohabitating with William Fulton’s wife.  There was Joseph Pryor who married Mary Fleming and his son who was born after 1766. The Facebook conversation included speculation of who an elderly Joseph Pryor was who turned up in White County records around 1813. Then there’s the Joseph Pryor who lived in Jackson County, TN. I wish the Pryors had been a bit more creative with the names… it would make piecing together the genealogy puzzle so much easier! Who were all of these Josephs?

I started looking at signatures. I was curious to see if there were any documents on the web that were signed by Joseph Pryors with similar signatures.

The first two signatures are the Joseph Pryor Sr and Joseph Pryor Jr who were from Botetourt County records.  In 1800 a Chancery Court suit was filed in Augusta County naming Joseph Pryor as a resident of Botetourt County. Joseph Pryor “the elder” was a plaintiff and there’s  a deposition (although very short) given by Joseph Jr who states that the older Joseph was his father. This is the signature of Joseph Jr. in 1802.



Isn’t it interesting how different the same signature looks? I guess it depended on how you held the quill on a given day! The “J” though is very similar and the final “r” in Pryor is also very similar.

This is the signature of of Joseph Pryor Sr. Wow, very different than his son’s writing. Different J. Different P. Different curve on the Y.

josephpryor1802The next Joseph Pryor I looked at was the Joseph in Greene County, TN who signed the marriage bond in 1799 for Catharine Pryor and Enoch Odle.



Enoch Odle left his “mark” in 1799 (see above Joseph’s signature) as he did in 1855 when he applied for his 1812 land bounty warrant, but Joseph Pryor signed the bond. Was Joseph Pryor one of the educated men from among the Virginia Pryors? I don’t think this Joseph Pryor’s signature looks a thing like Jr or Sr Pryor from Botetourt County, so can we rule out that they are the same man?

The Joseph Pryor who was in Tuscaloosa, AL left a family Bible and will. I don’t know who wrote the names into the Bible or even if they are contemporary inscriptions. The writing doesn’t compare with any of the Josephs noted above– there are green dots next to “J” and “P” that differ from the above samples.



Joseph in Alabama left a will but it’s signed with a “mark” rather than a signature.  Was he unable to sign his name due to old age or infirmity? Or was he a different man than the one who was in Green County, TN?


I’d love to compare another signature.  In 1801 Joseph Pryor signed a petition in Smith County to prevent consolidating part of Smith County with White County. Enoch Odle also signed or left his mark. Does anyone have a copy of this document?