Tag Archives: musician

Another Musical Pryor

Civil War Coronet and Saxohorns - Gettysburg Visitor's Center
Civil War Coronet and Saxohorns – Gettysburg Visitor’s Center

Several years ago I wrote about the Pryors who I’ve seen recorded as musicians [A Musician In Your Family Tree?]. And of course trombonist Arthur Pryor (from a NC Pryor line). There were sure a lot of Pryors who were farmers, so it’s kind of interesting to find a few with other talents. I spotted another musical Pryor, so passing it along.  Henry Prior born 1825 in NY, the son of an Oliver Prior from CT, was recorded in Oneida County, NY in 1850 as “musical instruments.” Not sure if this meant that he made them, sold them, or played them.

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A Musician in Your Family Tree?

Civil War Musical Instruments

Civil War Drum and Instruments – Gettysburg Visitor’s Center

Got a musician in your family tree? Does music run in your Pryor gene pool? The more I’ve searched for the ancestors of trombonist Arthur Pryor, the more I’ve found musicians named Pryor. My list started with Civil War era musicians listed as drummers and buglers. As I checked census records I found more. Enjoy this list of musicians named Pryor.

Arthur W. Pryor, the trombonist, was listed in the 1887 St. Joseph city directory as a musician.

Walter D. Pryor, brother of Arthur,  was listed in the 1887 St. Joseph city directory as a musician.

Samuel D. Pryor (Arthur’s father) was in the 1888 St. Joseph directory as the leader of Pryor’s Military Band and Orchestra.

Alice Pryor (aunt of trombonist Arthur Pryor).  1880 recorded as a musician living in a rooming house in St. Joseph, MO with an operatic company.

A. Prior (probably an uncle of Arthur Pryor) 1880 recorded as a musician living in St. Joseph, MO

J. B. Pryor b. 1840 in OH, living in Mono Co., CA in 1880. Recorded on the census as a musician.

Emsley R. Pryor (uncle of trombonist Arthur Pryor). 1890 Veteran’s Schedule states he was a bugler during the Civil War.

Milas Pryor was stationed in Norfolk, VA with the US Marine Corps in 1867. His rank was “musician

David E. Pryor served in the Civil War from the State of Indiana as a musician.

John W. Pryor served in the Civil War from the State of Ohio as a musician.

Horace Prior of OH served in the Civil War as a bugler.

Richard Pryor served in the 61st Colored Infantry during the Civil War as a musician.

Theodore Prior born in NY in 1860 was recorded as a musician on the 1880 census.

Civil War Coronet and Saxohorns – Gettysburg Visitor’s Center

James Prior who immigrated from Ireland in 1833 was a musician.

Frisby Prior served in the 81st Colored Infantry during the Civil War as a musician.

Charles Prior – In 1862 he enlisted in the Civil War in NY as a musician.

Miss Theresa Prior of Evanston, IL was in the 1890 directory as a musician in Prior’s Orchestra.

C. M. Prior of Evanston, IL was also listed as a member of Prior’s Orchestra. As was Miss Emelia Prior and Frank A. Prior.

Hershal D. Pryor served in the Marine Corps from 1917 as a drummer.

George Pryor of Helena, MT recorded on 1890 Veteran’s Schedule as a drummer during the Civil War.

[This summer I visited Gettysburg and took photos of Civil War era instruments that were on display]

Trailing Trombonist Arthur Pryor

Recently I was contacted by DJ and music historian David Richoux who is trying to determine if Arthur Pryor was of African American descent.  He cites the book Steppin’ on the Blues: The Visible Rhythms of African American Dance By Jacqui Malone Published by University of Illinois Press, 1996 ISBN 0252065085, 9780252065088.  “Arthur Pryor, an African American alumnus of the Sousa band, formed a group of his own that featured, as part of its repertoire, ragtime works…” (Page 137).  Ms Malone is an author and currently a Radcliffe Fellow at Harvard.  I’ve attempted to contact her through the fellowship program to obtain her source information. I’ve not had a response.

Richoux provided quotes from two books he found online. First,  Vaudeville, Old & New by Frank Cullen, Florence Hackman, Donald McNeilly. Published by Routledge, 2007. On page 503, there is an account of the family history of Winnie Hamlet Hennings: “[Hennings] was one of four children born to Mary Baker Hamlet and Charles Hamlet… Winnie’s cousin was bandmaster Arthur Pryor, son of musician Sam Pryor whom Winnie studied music.”

Another reference provides more background information of where Samuel Pryor (Arthur’s father) lived and traveled, perhaps explaining his absence from the 1850 and 1860 Census in Missouri. Page 671 of the Dietetic and Hygienic Gazette, published in 1902, recounts Samuel Pryor on his death bed revived by music played by his sons. “Arthur W. Pryor the trombone soloist now playing with Sousa’s Band, is the son of the old bandmaster of St. Joseph. Young Pryor first made a favorable impression on General John A. Logan at a reunion of the Grand Army of the Republic1 in Denver when he was a mere boy…”  It also states “Twenty-five years ago the elder Pryor toured the country with a band composed of young women, and his wife played the trombone. She was famous then as a soloist, and her talent in that particular line was transmitted to her son.” The article also mentions “An adopted son, “Harry” Montgomery, known as “Harry” Pryor.” It also places Samuel Pryor working in Denver, CO at one point: “The elder Pryor was at one time an actor, going on the stage in Denver as a comedian.”

I found a “treatise” online written by Joseph William Frye for his Doctor of Music degree in 2008: A Biographical Study of the Trombone Soloists of the John Philip Sousa Band: 1892-1931. Some background of Samuel Pryor is given, “His father, Samuel, was a bandmaster who had previously studied music in Chicago, Illinois and St. Louis, Missouri. Earlier in his career, Samuel served for three years as music director at the Lincoln Opera House in Lincoln, Nebraska… After leaving the Lincoln Opera House, Samuel Pryor became a bandmaster in St. Joseph and in 1869 organized an ensemble he called Pryor’s Military Band.”  The band was named The Fourth Regiment Band of Missouri and sent to serve in the Spanish American War (about 1898).

I’ve been searching records trying to find support of this new information.

I searched Winnie Hamlet Hennings family on both parents’ sides to 1860. If anyone is related to her and would like these notes, I’ll be happy to pass them along. Unfortunately there is not a Pryor or a Pryor marriage amongst the lot. I’m wondering if Winnie embellished her relationship with her teacher by claiming they were related.

I’d like to find out more about Samuel Pryor’s life in Nebraska, as I’ve Googled him and the Lincoln Opera House and the only reference to this connection is the treatise noted above.  If there is a connection between Winnie Hamlet and the Pryors it may be in Nebraska since her family lived in that state before returning to Washington Twp. in St. Joseph, MO between 1900-1910.

Arthur Pryor’s older brother was named Walter, could he have been named for a long forgotten name associated with his father? I became intrigued with a Walter Pryor who was living in Ohio in the early 1800’s. In 1860 there is a Samuel Pryor in Wyandot Co., OH who is about the age of Arthur’s father. He was living in the Walter Pryor household, but then he’s not there in 1850 or in 1870. I’d like to hear from anyone who has traced this family. Could the line of Samuel Pryor be hard to trace because he was an orphan living in Walter’s household, or possibly not a Pryor at all? Could Arthur’s father have not been from MO as stated in the Census records?

All ideas welcomed.

1 New York Times article dated July 14, 1883 describes the reunion of the GAR in Denver: http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=9B00E4D81230E433A25756C1A9619C94629FD7CF

Newsletter #14

SONGWRITER WITH PRYOR ROOTS… The noted gospel song writer Ira Stanphill is reported to be linked to the Pryors of Overton County, TN. Researcher Betty Joe Gentry has been in contact with other family members of this line. They report Ira was the son of Flora Engler and Andrew Stanphill. Flora’s parents were Mary Ellen Pryor and Jefferson Thompson Engler. Mary Ellen was the daughter of John Pryor and Candis (Candice?) Malone. Among other gospel songs, Ira Stanphill wrote “Mansion Over The Hilltop”.
MORE ON THE MARION CO., TN PRYORS… Glen Pryor is continuing with his search for the father of Matthew Pryor of Marion Co., TN. He visited the public library to review documents. One paper that traced the Gaines family lists Matthew as the son of Green and that there is a will listed for Green that was supposed to have been probated in Caswell County, NC in 1783. Some papers written by Margaret Gott Vollheim (d. 1975) look to be the source for the claim that Green Pryor is the father of Matthew. She states that Matthew was her g-g-grandfather and that a Matthew was listed as the son of Green in a Gaines Family Bible and that the names of all of his children were listed in that Bible and the names matched those of my Matthew’s children. She also wrote that Ernest Pryor and Matthew Pryor III stated that Matthew was the son of Green.
MYSTERIOUS MISSOURI PRYORS… In a previous issue of the TN Pryor newsletter it was noted that the Pryors in Buchanan Co., MO (possibly all from the line of trombonist Arthur Pryor) can not be found in records before the 1880 Census. A new line of Pryors in Morgan Co., MO has surfaced with similar questions. Two men who may be brothers: James/Henry Pryor b. 1857 and George Washington Pryor b. 1853. Where were they born? One census says IL, another LA, another MO. Where were they on the 1860 and 1870 Census? Both of these Pryors died after the initiation of death records in MO–Does anyone have access to their death records? Census records for these Pryor have been added to the MO Census records.