Tag Archives: Methodists

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.