Tag Archives: lewis and clark

No John – Nathaniel Pryor in the July 25th 1825 Louisville News


In a recent post I said “…it’s time to dig out the July 1825 edition of the Louisville Morning Post to find out which John Pryor that Elizabeth Pryor Harper found had been killed by Indians.” (April 2, 2013: Identity of John Pryor – Revolutionary War Bounty Land in Kentucky). I’m questioning the veracity of the history of John Pryor of Louisville as stated by Ms. Harper. The quote as it appears online…

JOHN PRYOR Military warrant 4,000 acres warrant 126 service 3 years Captain Continental Line Virginia 2-13-1783. Supposed to have been killed by Indians before 1825 – from July 25 1825 edition of Louisville “Morning Post” he was dead by that time. [read online]

I don’t like leaving any stone unturned. I contacted the Library of Congress and got a copy of the July 25, 1825 edition of the Louisville Morning Post. You’ll be happy to know that the newspaper hasn’t turned to dust more than 180 years later. Indeed there is a reference to the Pryors of Louisville, but nothing of John Pryor nor of an Indian attack. The actual notice is above, my transciption follows…

Jefferson Circuit Set June Term, 1825
Daniel Wilson, complainant, against John B Gilly, executor of James Pryor, dec’d. Nathaniel Pryor and Robert McClelland and others defts.—in chancery.
This day came the complainant by his counsel and it appearing to the satisfaction of the court, that the defendants Nathaniel Pryor and Robert McClelland are non-residents of this commonwealth and they have not having appeared and answered the said complainant’s bills; It is therefore ordered that they appear here on or before the first day of the next October term of this court, and answer the said complainant’s bill, otherwise the same will be taken for confessed as to and against them and the matters and things therein contained, decreed accordingly. And it further ordered, that a copy of this order, be published two months successively, in some public authorized newspaper of this state.
A copy — Test.
Robert Tyler, d. e j. e e.
June 23

OK, so it’s not about John Pryor or a death by the hands of Native American. It refers to a suit I haven’t seen before. After reading the Virginia Chancery Court cases I’m drooling over the thought of Kentucky Chancery records!

This little notice helps to tie together members of Nathaniel Pryor’s family. James Pryor’s will names Nathe Pryor, and his nephew James B. Gilly.  Robert McClelland who married Nancy Pryor in Jefferson Co., KY in 1792 has been suspected to be a brother in law an sister of James and Nathaniel Pryor. This appears to be true.

I think most Nathaniel Pryor researchers know that he had moved Westward after the Lewis and Clark expedition. This notice indicates that not only was Nathaniel living outside of Jefferson County, but so were other family members.


Shippingport, KY on “The Falls of the Ohio”

Louisville and Ohio RiverSometimes the places are as interesting as the people. I’ve been updating the Pryors on the Kentucky pages of the TNPRYORs website. I was reading the truncated will of James Offand of Jefferson County and became interested in Shippingport, KY (near Louisville).  While I haven’t solved any great mysteries, I thought it was worth mentioning this river port — perhaps someone will find an connection to the Pryors who passed through Jefferson County.

1818 Will, Jefferson Co., KY – Will of John M. Offand [of France]. 23 Nov 1818– 11 Mar 1822. Of Shippingport, KY. Estate to James PRYOR , William McKever, and Fortunatus Cosby in trust for wife Henrietta for life and then to children including what he shall receive from his father Thomas Offand of France, where testator was shortly going. Executors: wife Henrietta, James PRYOR*, Fortunatus Cosby, and William McKeever. Witnesses: Thomas Phillips, David Jewell, J. W. Harrison, Samuel Tyler.

According to Wikipedia.org Shippingport, KY was part of Jefferson County as early as 1785. It got its name in 1803 (the same year as the Lewis and Clark Expedition) when a warehouse and mill were established. Lewisandclarkinkentucky.org states “Boats going down the Ohio regularly put into Louisville to hire a pilot to go through the Falls. Their cargoes were often off-loaded and portaged around the Falls to the lower landing – soon to become the town of Shippingport.” The same site discusses how fur traders and trappers went through Shipping port as a supply point. It sounds like the area was the hub of frontiersmen entering and exiting the Louisville area. For Pryor researchers it’s a site to keep in mind when researching pioneer ancestors who came to Kentucky from Virginia, Ohio, and what would later become West Virginia.

I spent some time trying to find a trail of the people who were mentioned in the will.
Fortunatus Cosby was christened at St. James Northam in Goochland Co., VA. This was a church where numerous Pryor marriages and christenings were performed.

John M. Offond (sp.) is on the 1820 Census in Shippingport, KY and Henrietta Offand is on the 1830 Census in Shippingport, KY near William McKeever. I believe I found traces of the Offand’s children (Henrietta had no children recorded in her household in 1830) or grandchildren: William H. Offand age 12 and Sofia Offand age 16 (Ofand) were on the 1850 Census in Jefferson Co., KY. They were living with a family whose head of household was a boat builder. William was in Gunnison Co., Colorado in 1880, age 36, miner, born in KY, parents born in France and KY. William Henry Offand was registered to vote in San Diego, California in 1869 and his reported occupation was carpenter. It looks like William had the frontier spirit and continued West.

David Jewell is on the 1820 Census in Portland, Jefferson Co., KY. On the same page Charles Floyd and a Henry Lewis were also recorded.

I didn’t find Harrison or Tyler.

* James Pryor, possibly the brother of Lewis and Clark explorer Nathaniel Pryor. James signed a will in 1814 during the War of 1812, however he died around 1822.

On the Kentucky Frontier – Meriwether and Pryor Connections

Daniel Boone, Kentucky FrontierRevisiting the Pryors on the Kentucky frontier. Back to the Meriwethers again! I found this extraction of a document filed in Shelby County, KY. It names some Samuel Pryor, Daniel Farley

Shelby County, Book A, 1795-1804.  Daniel, Robert, August 8, 1792. August 1797. Legatees Thomas, Coleman and Martin Daniel (bros.), John Daniel (father), Sukey Morris, Besty Merriweather, Martin, Reuben (last 3 children of sis. Clark). Ex. Martin Daniel, Nicholas Merriweather. Wit. Daniel Farley, Sam’l Pryor.

“The Encyclopedia of Louisville” by John E. Kleber states that Nicholas Meriwether was born 1749 in VA and died 1828 in Shelby Co., KY.  He is purported to be the son of Frances Morton Merriwether (who later married Dr. Samuel Pryor of Goochland Co., VA). The same article purports Nicholas was the cousin of Meriwether Lewis of the Lewis and Clark expedition.  Betsy Meriwether in this extract is probably Elizabeth Daniel, Nicholas’ wife. So the Daniels in this extract were his wife’s family.

Samuel Pryor in this extract is likely the son of Samuel and Frances, and the half brother of Nicholas Meriwether.

Daniel Farley married Marietta Pryor on 28 Sept. 1786 in Amelia Co., VA. It’s believed that she migrated to KY with her  husband and was living in Henry Co., KY at the time of the 1810 Census. I haven’t seen any documentation, but Marrietta is often included in family trees as the daughter of Samuel and Frances Pryor.

So, is there a connection between Samuel Pryor who married Frances Morton Meriwether and John Pryor the father of Nathaniel Pryor who was part of Lewis and Clark’s expedition and also resided in the Kentucky frontier?

OK Painting of Nathaniel Pryor

Sam Huston and Nathaniel Pryor

Have you seen the painting of Nathaniel Pryor and Sam Houston? It’s in OK. It’s on the Oklahoma Arts Council’s website: *. I know it’s not avant-garde — no elephant dung or inappropriate nudity. However, the historical context of the painting disturbs my equilibrium. I just have to ask questions about it. Is this based in fact or pure imagination?

Perhaps because I’m female, the first thing that disturbs me is the clothing. The Sam Houston Memorial Museum posts on their website that Houston traveled from Tennessee in 1818 to meet with President James Monroe in Washington, DC. Noted politician, and at that time Secretary of War, John C. Calhoun reprimanded Houston for dressing like an indian. In 1829 Houston was governor of Tennessee, but left his position, heading West to live with the Cherokees.  I have to assume that if he was dressing like an indian in 1818, then,  you’d expect that ten years later when he was living amongst the Native Americans that he dressed to fit in. So, is Houston the man on the left in the buck skin outfit?

If so, then Nathaniel Pryor must be the man on the right wearing the red plaid Pendleton-style jacket and the hat that looks to be straight out of an Orvis catalog! Nathaniel Pryor probably had been in contact with Indian tribes from his youth in the pioneer regions of eastern Kentucky. He was a longtime military man. He was used to walking and riding long distances with probably no more than a pack of survival supplies; he lived as a trapper, explorer, and trader. I can’t imagine he would dress like grandpa on a fishing trip to the family lake house!

I have a photo of my great-grandfather who was a cowboy. He drove cattle in Texas in the 1870’s and 1880’s. In the photo he’s a wrinkled mess (clothes right out of  his saddle bag). He also looked like he could use a shower. When you look at most men in old photos, especially during the Civil War, they look a bit unkept. Pryor and Houston look fresh and clean to the point of looking as unreal as a museum diorama.

I’m trying to understand where fantasy and reality of the event come together in this painting. The Arts website has an explanation of the lives of both men and their connection to Oklahoma, but it doesn’t say if they ever met. Sam Houston left office in Tennessee in 1829 and headed West. Nathaniel Pryor died in 1831. The window of opportunity for these men to meet was just a few years. There are accounts online of Nathaniel “Miguel” Pryor who left Louisville to find his father and namesake, but couldn’t find him in St. Louis so he headed into the Southwest. Without roads and modern communication, how would Nathaniel Pryor and Sam Houston find each other? On the river?

Unlike the idyllic flatboat scene depicted in the painting there is an account that Nathaniel Pryor and Sam Houston met over U.S. relations with the Indian tribes.  In Sam Houston with The Cherokees, 1829-1833 by Jack Gregory and Rennard Strickland it states in 1829 and 1830 “when war between the Osages and Delawares became almost inevitable John Eaton, secretary of war, appointed a commission,” with the purpose of working out the differences between the tribes. “Commandant Matthew Arbuckle, A. P. Chouteau, and Sam Houston met with Nathaniel Pryor, Osage subagent, and Clermont, the Osage principal chief, in a conference held at the mouth of the Veridgris River.”

The Raven: A Biography of Sam Houston by Marquis James gives us some insight in what Houston thought of Pryor. Houston wrote to President Andrew Jackson about Pryor’s qualifications in Indian affairs, urging that Pryor be appointed to the Indian Service. Nathaniel Pryor was appointed an Indian agent shortly before he died. Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 22 mentions that in his letter Houston referred to Nathaniel Pryor as a veteran of the Battle of New Orleans.

Ok, I’m not completely adverse to the imagination of this painting. It would be amazing to eavesdrop on the conversation between the Pryor who had traveled with Lewis and Clark, and Houston who had already been governor of Tennessee and who later (in 1836) would be the President of the Republic of Texas.

Of course the genealogist in me would love to know if Pryor and Houston were related or if their relations had known each other when they were pioneer families in the west of  Old Virginia and later on the frontier.

* After publishing this post I learned that the painting is  not available today on this link.
(Wayback Machine link)
An image of the painting is located at

Forget About the Stereotype: Early Pryors were Educated Pioneers

I think many of us are familiar with the stereotype of the early pioneers– illiterate backwoodsmen. I’m finding that early Pryors were educated pioneers.

When I looked again at the Pryors in the War of 1812. I was trying to figure out if the Nathan Pryor who served in the Missouri Militia under Col. McNair was Nathaniel Pryor of the Louis and Clark Expedition. Col. Alexander McNair was also the first governor of Missouri. Stephen F. Austin of the Austin Colony in Texas was in McNair’s regiment in the War of 1812. McNair ran against explorer William Clark (of the Lewis and Clark Expedition) and defeated him in 1820. Oh yes, lest we forget—Austin was connected to another Pryor: William Pryor of Stewart County, TN was among the pioneers in Austin’s Colony. The connections are so numerous; it’s like a big bowl of spaghetti!

Reading about Lewis and Clark, Nathaniel Pryor, Austin, and others… I’m beginning to realize that the view of the pioneers we’re taught in school is really wrong. These men who were leaders were educated pioneers and extremely connected in society and by marriage. They weren’t the ‘coon skin cap wearin’ hicks that the movies and some teachers portrayed. It was true then and still true— gotta have an education to get ahead.

If the 1812 record for Nathan Pryor is the same as Nathaniel, he was an adjutant, an assistant to high ranking officers. This position probably entailed reading and writing messages. When I’ve looked at St. Louis court documents that name Nathaniel Pryor, he signed his own name to these documents.

Betty (TXOld300) who has been researching William Pryor reports that he signed his will in Texas indicating that he too was literate.

Recognizing an ancestor’s level of education helps to understand who they were and how they interacted in their world. Education also is a clue to where to look for further documentation to flesh-out the story of our family tree.