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Butler County, AL: Tracking The Children of Francis Pryor Born in GA

I found a 1907 Obituary for a Pryor in Florida and ended up following a line of Pryors through the South. These Pryors are a bit of a mystery (well, aren’t they all?!)– name variations, missing from census records, traveling salesmen who were counted in multiple locations on census records. The best place to start is where everyone seems to be stumped: The 1860 Census.

1860 Butler Co., AL
Pct 15, House 2 Francis PRYOR 30 farmer GA, Caroline 25 GA, M. Pryor (f) 5 AL, Geo. Pryor 3 AL, Francis Pryor 1 AL.
Pct 15, House 3 Geo. Mayes 37 GA, Susan 31 GA, N. A. (f) 14 GA, J. T. (m) 9 GA, W. G. (m) 7 GA, Martha 5 GA, G. W. (m) 1 GA
Pct 15, House 7 J. M. PRYOR 33 GA, S. Pryor (f) 26 GA, J. T. (male) 8 GA, J. R. (f) 7 AL, T. J. (male) 6 AL, W. G. PRYOR 6/12 (m) AL.

The obituary of George Pryor in 1907 helped to match up George with his brother Frank/Francis.

THE FUNERAL OF GEORGE W. PRYOR
Will Occur This Afternoon at 3 O’Clock, Services Being at the Home. The funeral of Geo. W. Pryor who expired at his home in New City on Friday afternoon, after an illness covering two weeks…friends of the deceased will act as pall bearers: Capt. R. M. Bushnell, J. J. Sullivan, Joe Roth, R. S. Mitchell, Lamar Howard, and W. T. Reager….Frank Pryor a brother of the deceased who resides in Nashville, reached the city yesterday afternoon.
The Pensacola Journal., February 03, 1907

I found brother Frank in 1900 in TN, 1910 in Kansas City, MO, and in 1920 in Mobile AL. On the 1860 Census he is ID’d as Francis and on all subsequent census as Frank, however the name on his death record (filed in Montgomery, AL) is Franklin Cornelius Pryor.

1900 Census, Davidson County, TN
Nashville, 6th ward, page 241, house 439 Frank C. PRYOR 8/1858 41 md 7 yrs. AL VA AL ind. life insurance agent, Sarah? R. wife 9/1862 37 no children TN TN TN

A tidbit in the same newspaper contained the ID of another brother: O. M. Pryor had come to town for George’s funeral.

… He also leaves a brother, O. M. Pryor, formerly of this city, who reached here last night acompanied by his daughter.
The Pensacola Journal, February 02, 1907, Page 7, Image 7

Obed M. Pryor is buried in the same cemetery as his brother George (see http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=25097089), so we know his full name too. You gotta love these newspaper articles because another article identifies Obed as residing in Mobile, AL and gives the name of a sister:

Mr. and Mrs. O. M. Pryor, who came over from Mobile to attend the funeral of the late Geo. W. Pryor, spent yesterday in the city. Mr. Pryor returned to Mobile last night, but Mrs. Pryor will remain here for several days. Mrs. Melissa Owen and daughter, Miss Queenie, the former being a sister of Mr. Pryor, are also in the city.
The Pensacola Journal, February 05, 1907, Page 3

However, and there always seems to be a “however” with the Pryors, I located a Melissa who was recorded as Celissa on the 1900 Census in Mobile, AL. She was born in 1855 in AL, so I suspect she’s the 5 year old female whose initial was “M” on the 1860 Census.  She appears on the 1920 Census also as Celisa/Celissa. Perhaps the 1907 newspaper was incorrect (just like they hadn’t picked up that she was then a Morris). Perhaps Melissa was an error that combined Celisa/Celissa with another name that begins with M, after all it looks like she was a “M” on the 1860 census. I wonder if “M” was for Morris… that it was a given name and the 1900 Census is incorrect.

1900 Census Mobile co., AL
Mobile, ward 5, page 308a, house 351 Monroe St., Celissa Morris  Feb 1855 45 divorced AL AL AL 4 children/4 living, Robert P. Owen son Sept 1878 21 AL AL AL, Truman C. dau married Dec 1880 19 2 children/2 living AL AL AL, Lula Owen dau Jul 1883 13 AL AL AL, Queenie V Owen dau Mar 1885 15 AL AL AL.

The name raises a lot of questions– like am I sure this is the woman referred to in the 1907 news article. Yes, because in 1920 she is recorded on the same page of the census with Sallie Pryor, widow of Obed Pryor.  Celisa/Celissa also had a grandson named Pryor Huggins living in her household.

The one thing that seems to have people stumped who are searching for this line — where is this family of Pryors in 1870? An online family tree suggests there’s a family story of Francis and Caroline killed in a buggy accident. I think I have a partial answer — I found Celisa/Celissa and her brother Francis/Frank/Franklin on the 1870 Census. They were living with Patrick Drake and his wife Martha Gellbrath Drake (they were married in Greene Co., GA in 1826):

1870 Census Butler Co., AL
Greenville, Twp. 8, page 341b, house 199 Pat’k Drake 70 farmer VA, Martha 70 GA, Celisa 15 AL, Frank 12 AL

Were the Drakes related? I don’t know. Where were George and Obed? I don’t know. Where was Francis and Caroline Pryor in 1850? I don’t know. There’s more research needed on this line of Pryors. I’d like to figure out where Francis Pryor was in 1850. Maybe someone from this line will step forward for a Y-DNA test and we’ll at least know which line of Pryors these folks connect to.