Tag Archives: Knox County

Peter Nance and Mary Pryor Query from 1906

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It’s interesting to look at the old genealogy columns published in newspapers at the turn of the century. I thought this one was a great example of lots of names but not documentation. It was published on July 15, 1906 in The Times Dispatch, Richmond, VA.

I’m curious. What records were available to researchers 110 years ago? I suspect all research was done in the county record office or a researcher was hired to do it for you. In this newspaper column the reference to Edward and Nicholas Pryor in Henrico county sites the years and not the reference material. From what we know today, it’s likely they were citing the dates of Vestry Records.

And of course Roger A Pryor was still alive in 1906 and his involvement in US and Virginia politics, service as a Confederate General during the Civil War and appointments as a New York Judge were all well known and documented in newspapers.

I think there’s an interesting aspect to the query. In 1906 the writer was aware of who their ancestors were. Peter Nance was recorded with his wife Mary Pryor on the 1850 Census in Knox County. By 1860, when he was 86 years old, Peter Nance was living in Blount County, TN. So somewhere in the 40 or less years since his death, where in VA they originated from and who were their parents has disappeared from the family story.

This news clipping should be a reminder of why research continues and supporting documentation is needed for our findings. The writer never made a connection between the Pryors mentioned– they simply were dishing out names.

Rebel Colonel Pryor (b. 1798) Imprisoned in Knoxville, TN in 1863

Richmond Dispatch, 28 October 1863.

After these speeches, Colonel Pryor, an old citizen of Knox, who was under arrest, called on Brownlow, in order to induce him to effect his release from prison. Col. Pryor, who is 65 years of age, was led from prison into Brownlow’s house, expecting to secure his assistance in effecting his release from confinement. For many years he and Brownlow have been intimate friends. When the old man was led into Brownlow’s presence, Brownlow, raving like a madman, –? a pistol, declared that he would murder any scoundrel or rebel who dared to ask a favor of his hands. The guard interposed to save Col. Pryor’s life, and led him back to prison.

This story ID’s W. G. Brownlow. If you haven’t yet figured it out, Brownlow was an “intense Unionist” while editing a Tennessee newspaper during the Civil War. (Editors Make War: Southern Newspapers in the Secession Crisis. By Donald E. Reynolds). The Union had recaptured Tennessee in the fall of 1863 which coincides with the October date which describes Brownlow’s meeting with the “rebel” Col. Pryor.

1850 Census Knoxville, page 107b, house 194, William G. Brownlow 43 editor VA, Eliza A 30 TN, Susan 12 TN, John B 10 TN, James P 8 TN, Mary M 1 TN, William O’Brien 21 printer, Francis Small 18 printer, William Neal 19 printer, Daniel Patton? 17 printer, Susan O’Brian 20, Eliza A Brown 20.

I’m wondering if Brownlow became acquainted with one or more of the Pryors in Knox county through the Methodist Church. I found a reference to W. Brownlow attending a Methodist conference in 1836.

The thirteenth session of the Holston Conference was held at Reems’s Creek, North Carolina, commencing on October 12, 1836–Bishop Andrew presiding; Lewis S. Marshall, Secretary…. B.B. Rogers, A. Woodfin, J. L. Sensibaugh, J. Y . Crawford, J. Pryor, and W. G. Brownlow, located. (History of Methodism in Tennessee: From the Year 1818 to the Year 1840. By John Berry M’Ferrin)

James Pryor of Knox county was a known Methodist minister. He was counted on the 1850 Census in Dallas County, AR at age 60. (Brownlow was counted on the 1850 Census in Knox Count and his age was 43). In 1863 James Pryor would have been 73, not 65, and there’s no evidence that he was in TN during the Civil War.

Another book about Methodism mentions a John Pryor from Maryville who represented the Knox District at a conference in 1831. That could be the John Pryor of Pike county, IL whose son Alfred was born in Knox county in 1833. This John was born about 1797 which would make him about 65 in 1863. It’s conjectured by some researchers that John is a brother of Rev James Pryor of Dallas Co., AR.(Life and Times of Rev. S. Patton: And Annals of the Holston Conference. By David Rice McAnally)

Well, something to mull.

Pryor Lea and the Pryor Name in Knox Co., TN

I spotted politician Pryor Lea from Knox County in a document with his name spelled “Lee”. Just passing along that his name can be spelled different ways. I usually hear from researchers who ask if politician Pryor Lea was a Pryor or wasn’t he a Pryor?  I think I’ve spotted a Pryor family who share names with his family.

Pryor Lea born 1794 in TN
Parents possibly Major Lea and Lavinia Jarnigan
m1 Maria Kennedy on October 6, 1818.

Children, Abraham, Julia, Centhia, and James Kennedy m2 Minerva Heard m3 Mary Perkins.
William Pryor born c. 1800
m Lavinia Kennedy born c. 1805 in PA
Children:  James, Isaac, William M, Samuel L, Catherine Elizabeth. Son James named son Abraham Pryor

A year ago I wrote about the Botetourt, VA Pryor names who showed up in Knox County (see post).  Keeping this research note on the back burner for later.

Knox County, TN – Here’s a Bourbon County, KY Pryor!


Knox County Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions
Record Date 7 July 1831
A Power of Attorney
Peter Nance and Polly Nance
to G. L. Pryor
of Kentucky
Authorizing him to collect money from the estate of Edward Pryor dec’d and for other purposes was —– by said Peter and the private — of said Polly having been to him by the court, — to the one action then of the same is enclosed to the certified H–

If you click on the image of the document, it will enlarge.  If you can make out more words please let me know.  I believe Mary “Polly” Nance is the wife of Peter Nance and the daughter of Joseph Pryor of Botetourt County, VA.


1843 Court Record Nicholas County, KY
GREEN L PRYOR deceased May 1843 in Circuit Court of U S District of Kentucky – suit in Chancery, etc. James M WHITMORE heirs, William Whittemore, deceased. vs CATHERINE A PRYOR, MARY PRYOR, JOHN PRYOR, and ELIZABETH PRYOR, tract of 30 acres at Lower Blue Lick in Nicholas County, lots 123, 421, 21, 22, 23 in Bartlettsburg … Tavern House erected by William WHITTEMORE and when mortgaged Dec 17 1836, occupied by said GREEN L PRYOR as a tavern … [from Elizabeth Pryor Harper’s “Twenty-Two Southern Families” ]

Knox County TN Pryors: William Pryor from Botetourt Co., VA?

Click image to enlarge

Who knows, I may look at the projected line of Harris Pryor, thinking they connect to John Pryor and Mary New only to find they connect to another line all together. I’ve had to tweak the Botetourt County Pryor Chart by “annexing” some of the Knox County Pryors.

I also looked up William Anderson (the guy on the Harris Pryor bastardy case) in the the Virginia Chancery Cases. I found a man by that name had been sued by Archibald Franklin (who appears to be the relative of Harris Pryor (Sr) as he had a son in law named Edmund Franklin).

There’s another Chancery case in Bedford County, VA filed in 1805:  Thornton Pryor vs Archibald Franklin, et al. Joined as plaintiffs Thornton Pryor, Peter Nance, and John A. Anthony against Thomas Creasy.

Lets go  back to Knox County. I was able to get my hands on a 1836 case from the Knox County Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions: State vs. William Pryor and Pryor Nance. This is one of those twists in the road where the Pryors give me a true headache — are we looking at one Pryor line or two Pryor lines in Knox County?

The headache stems from Botetourt County, VA where descendants of Samuel and Prudence Pryor married into the Nance family. Then by 1805 there’s the lawsuit mentioned above in Bedford County that appears to involve the Botetourt line. In the same year John Pryor (son of Joseph Pryor from Botetourt County?) married Sally Nance in Bedford County (Peter Nance surety). It doesn’t make it true, but numerous researchers have posted online that Pryor Nance in Knox County is the son of Peter Nance and Mary “Polly” Pryor. Pryor Nance married in Knox County in 1833; I haven’t seen any earlier records of the Nance family in Knox County.

The 1836 court record is very short, all that was located is a sheet tallying the costs, it includes the following names:
Justin Lindsey
C—? L Cox, warrants
Sheriff (William) Dunlap
James Badgett witness
Allen Perry witness
J. P. Kennedy witness
Susan Badgett witness

Allen Perry and James Badgett are on the same page of the 1830 Census in Knox County.

I’m glad I write a blog and it’s always in flux. I have thought that the Pryors in Knox County who match the names of sons of Harris Pryor in Bedford County, VA were all his sons, however we need to leave the decision open pending more documentation– William Pryor and some of the other Pryors in Knox County appear to be from the line that settled Botetourt County, VA.

This discovery also changes my own list of 5 lines to test for my own Pryor family DNA. I need a DNA tester from the family of Harris Pryor (his children and their descendants or from his brother’s descendants). If Harris is from the line of Boutetourt County Pryors, I won’t need a DNA tester at all– because we aren’t related.

Using the Knox County records, I tried to separate out Harris and William Pryor:

1799 – William Pryor signed petition for tax relief
1805 – Harris fathered child with Keziah Maxey
1806 – Harris Pryor on the tax list
1807 – Harris Pryor married Keziah Maxey
(1819 Harris Pryor in Louisville)
1830 – Harris Pryor (born 1761-1770 with 3 males in his household ages somewhere between 15 to 30 which may include the child born in 1805 to Keziah Maxey)

1830 – William Pryor on the census (born 1791-1800, likely not the William Pryor who signed petition in 1799 – ages don’t match up)
1831 – Deed William and Nancy Pryor & Burwell F. Badgett to Jabez Thurman, witnessed by Reuben Tipton, Nancy Badgett, and John Gordon
1835 – James Pryor married Lucy Cruse, bondsman Jacob Kennedy and William Pryor
1839 – Samuel Pryor married Merrian Crews

I can’t completely tease out the Pryors or merge them together as one family, however it should be noted that by 1820 Peter Nance was in Breckinridge County, KY as was Juggy Pryor (Harris’ sister) and her husband Richard Mays.

HINT: If you want to see the chart larger… just click on it .