Tag Archives: ohio river

Steamboat Captain Pryor


The children of Moses Tandy Pryor (probably born in Henry County, KY) and Barbara Giltner were on the 1850 and 1860 Census in Carroll County, KY. Noble Pryor died a few months of his brother in June 1909.

Two Captains Die.

Two steamboatmen, well known in the Paducah port, have answered the last call. Captain N. Parker Pryor of Louisville, and Captain William Baxter, of St. Louis. There is an old saying among river men and it has often proved true, that when two river men die about the same time there will be a third river man in a short time to die.

Captain N. Parker Pryor was one of the best known steamboatmen on the Ohio river. He died at the Pope Sanitorium, Louisville, after an illness of nine weeks with apoplexy. Captain Pryor was 42 years of age and had been running on the Mississippi and Ohio rivers since he was a boy. During his experience he had been captain on the government boat Cherokee and the tug Hanover, also pilot on the Falls City, the Park City and Major Slack. It was while taking a trip up the Kentucky river in December on the Major Slack that he was stricken while at the wheel. Although he fell over in great pain, Captain Pryor managed to bring the boat to landing and then an investigation by the engineer resulted in his being found unconscious at the wheel.

Captain Pryor was a member of a family of well known river men and has two surviving brothers, both of whom are steamboat men.

Captain Noble Pryor, of the Falls City, The Kentucky river packet, is seriously ill at an infirmary in Philadelphia, while Michael Pryor, captain of a towboat, is suffereing with yellow jaundice at Frankfort, Ky.

— Paducah Evening Sun, 6 February 1909

Steamboat

Wikipedia

Mary Prior, Indian Captive on the Kentucky Frontier

fortIt seems like when you start looking at Pryors on Kentucky frontier, really the areas the the west of Virginia, pioneer Pryor tales pop up everywhere. I’ve read in the past this story of Mary Pryor’s capture by Native Americans. It begs a second look.

The maternal grandfather, Thomas Mounts, served for seven years as a spy in the American army during the Revolutionary war, and later in the same capacity among the Indians… The paternal grandmother of Mrs. Stewart was MARY PRIOR, in whose life history occured chapters as exciting and thrilling as any to be found in strange tales of fiction. Her girlhood was mostly passed in her parent’s home on the Kentucky frontier, during a period when the Indians were particularly troublesome and vicious. She was a maiden of fourteen years when she, with her mother and a babe of six months, were stolen by the Indians, who massacred her father, the rest of the family and a number of negro slaves. Later the babe was killed and the mother, because she refused to dance around the body of her infant, was bound to a tree and burned by the infuriated savages. The Indians then crossed the Ohio river with their girl prisoner and for ten days traveled through the timber to their village. When the young braves started upon another raid the maiden was left in charge of the squaws and older Indians, but escaped and , traveling in the night, hid by day in hollow logs, subsisting on roots found in the forest. On the ninth day after her escape the Indians, close in pursuit, passed directly over the hollow log in which she lay, and while there hiding she was bitten by a snake. However, she had learned what roots to use in such emergency, and after applying them was forced to lie still for three days. Once more resuming her journey she came to the Ohio river, across which she was forced to swim. In the meantime the Indians were trying to find her and the United States soldiers from a Kentucky fort had been detailed to search for her, but evading the former and missing the latter, she made her way alone to the fort, where she was adopted by one of the officers, retaining, however her own name.

The Centennial History of Oregon, 1811-1912, Volume 4, page 880. Joseph Gaston, S.J. Clarke publishing Company, 1912. Mary’s son was William Scott, the father of Mary (Scott) Stewart who provided the story for this book. Mrs. Stewart was 91 years old, born in 1821 in Switzerland Co., IN, when she gave this account of Mary Prior.

John Scott and his wife Mary Prior (Pryor) lived in the Greenbrier Area in the 1700’s. Greenbrier County, formerly Montgomery County is now Monroe County in West Virginia.

http://www.themorrisclan.com/GENEALOGY/FAMILY%20STUDIES/SCOTT%20FAMILY%20STUDY.html

If we follow the trail left by folks researching this line and Find A Grave memorials we may be able to derive when Miss Pryor was born and when she was a young girl living on the frontier. Her son Joseph Scott is purported to have been born in 1775 (see his grave marker). If she was a young maiden of 14 when captured then it was probably some time before his birth, which would put her birth perhaps in the late 1750’s.

I’ve seen comments online that there were few people living in this area and it makes her grand-daughter’s story somewhat doubtful. I think there’s some strong rings of truth in the story. If we go back to the Battle of Point Pleasant in 1774 we know that Virginians were pushing into the frontier. Fort Randolph was built in 1776.

I see that some family history researchers have stated Mary’s father was John Pryor. That may have drawn that conclusion because it parallels the story of the end of John Pryor “saviour of the Greenbrier” with the capture of his wife and baby.  However, the attack involving Mary Pryor was probably decades before the death of frontiersman John Pryor. I recollected another attack– Moses Pryor and his family at Griffin’s Station in Ohio, but that also occurred later (probably in 1792 or 1793).

So if the story of Mary Pryor is a true tale, then it’s describing events in the frontier during the years leading up the Revolutionary War, perhaps shortly before or at about the time of Lord Dunmore’s War.