Tag Archives: Prince Edward County

Zachariah B Pryor of Nashville and Virginia

Nashville, TN Pryor
Zach. B. PRIOR has long been grouped by researchers with the Nashville Pryors who are thought to be children of David Pryor of Buckingham County, VA.  The earliest record of Zachariah is a 1809 VA Chancery Court Case filed in Prince Edward County by Murphy Brown — Zachariah Pryor and Banister L. Pryor of Buckingham County were summoned to appear in court. One of the last records was the 1830 Census in Davidson County, TN — he was 50-59 years old.

Zachariah died around 1838. His will names his nephews, children of Mitchie Pryor: John Jefferson son of Randolph Jefferson and Muno Johnson, son of Josiah Johnson who was Mitchie’s second husband and executor of Zachariah’s estate.

Zachariah B Prior dec’d will.
Recorded Aug’t 4th 1838

19 Sept. 1837– In the name of God Amen. I Zach B Pryor being of sound mind but weak of body, do make and establish this my last will and Testament. I desire that all my just debts be paid. I afterwards wish the whole of my present crop, all the stock of every description household, Kitchen furniture and farming utensils, my one cart and a oxen to belong to Ann Wright, except my small cart which I gave to Thornton Wright and my bay colt which I give to Ben Wright Junr. The balance of my property I will to be equally divided between my two nephews: John Jefferson and Munro Johnson. If after the payment of my debts and (etc.) my Executor should have sufficient means arising from my estate then I will that he proceed to buy for the said Ann Wright and her three children now living a good house to be held by them on common forever. All my negroes shall have the privilege to choosing their masters or mistress. I desire and request Josiah Johnson of Williamson County to act as my Executor.
Test. Ben F. Foster, John Maxey
(signed) Zach. B Pryor {seal}

The following year Zach’s brother-in-law and executor conducted a sale of two child slaves. I guess Johnson decided not to stand on Zachariah’s will that the slaves should be able to choose their masters or mistress. Not exactly freedom any way you look at it.

Knox County TN Pryors: The Bastard Child of Harris Pryor

I contacted the Knox County Archives and requested a copy of the bastardy case filed in 1805 against Harris Pryor. I’ve seen these cases in other counties and they can be chuck-full of great information like the child’s name, the witness names. Unfortunately this was a one page record. Perhaps it was a short-lived case because Harris not only agreed to support the child, but married the mother, Keziah Maxey in 1807.

First, the most disappointing thing: it doesn’t say who the the child was. The child was neither named in the case nor does the case hint at the child’s sex through references to “he” or “she”. Drats! However, there is information on the date the child was born– Keziah swore out her statement naming Harris on 17 September 1805 and at the time stated her child was born about 3 months prior to that date.

I think Harris may have made some moves between TN, KY and VA. In 1801 Harris (Jr.) was on the delinquent tax list in Knox County and we know he was in Knox County at the time the suit was filed in 1805 and he was in Knox County in 1807 when he married Keziah. By 1819 he was in Louisville, as he had been sued by William Dickinson in a Chancery Suit filed in Bedford Co., VA. He reported he was living in Louisville in 1820 (his sister Juggy Pryor Mays was in Breckinridge County, KY).  Keziah Maxey’s family was from the same area of VA as the Pryors: Harris Pryor (Sr) was in Prince Edward County, VA in 1784 as was Keziah’s father Shadrack Maxey.

The mother-lode of information may be in the names of the two men who stood as security for Harris Pryor: William Anderson and Benjamin Burnett. Again, these names hint that I’m on the right track when I connect Harris Pryor to the Pryors in Sumner County and Overton County, TN.

Allen L. Pryor of Sumner County, TN married Elizabeth Talley, the daughter of William Anderson Talley who was born in Cumberland County, VA and named for his maternal grandfather William Anderson.  Hmmm… I wonder if the Anderson on the suit and the Andersons in the Sumner County Pryor line are connected?

And the Anderson surname crops up over and over again in the Sumner County Pryors and their relations– Lucy H. Talley, another daughter of William Anderson Talley, married Robert Anderson Wright in Sumner County. When Allen L. Pryor’s wife died  he remarried to Margaret McWhirter, the spinster daughter of Isaac McWhirter and Emaline Anderson Tyree (daughter of Samuel C. Tyree and Elizabeth Anderson).  Anderson Woodson witnessed the will of Edmund Taylor (grandfather of Allen L. Pryor). Edward Pryor, son of William and Spicy Pryor of Overton County, TN, had a son named William Anderson Pryor.

Lots of Anderson connections.  So my next question was about the Burnetts. Are there Burnett connections to the Pryors?

John Pryor, who is our best suspect to be the father of William (married Spicy Taylor) and John (married Massie Taylor — they are the parents of Allen L Pryor), purchased land in 1788 in Campbell County, VA– the deed was witnessed by William Burnett. Later John Pryor witnessed a 1790 deed in Campbell County, VA with Martin Rector. Martin was married to Betsy Burnett.

There’s a marriage between a William Pryor and Sallie Burnett in 1826 in Roane County. I wonder if William was Harris’ son who was born in 1805.

Online I found a brief bio of Benjamin Burnett http://genforum.genealogy.com/burnett/messages/4347.html. This seems to be the man who was security for Harris Pryor (Jr) in 1805. There are several VA Chancery cases involving Burnetts in Bedford County (the same county that Harris Pryor hailed from), however the Buckingham County cases are not in the database.

So stay tuned. We’ve got more digging to do.

Mary Kennerson Pryor born around 1720

I’ve been checking more of the families who associated with the Pryors. Going back to an older post I wrote about Harris Pryor (see post) I was able to ID Harris’ wife as Mary Kinnerson. I gotta say the handwriting is really difficult. Her surname is written at least 3 times in the Chancery Court case I used to ID her. The best 3 examples I’ve shown below:


You can see, sometimes it’s spelled in the document with a “C” and sometimes it’s spelled with a “K”. I looked up the name online and saw that it’s a variation of Gunnison, Gunneson, Kenneson, Kenniston, Kennison, Kennerson, Gunnerson, and Kenson.  I’m adding this to my list with Pryor and Ballew that have more variations than you can shake a stick at.

They must be out there. I just haven’t found anyone living near the Pryors in Prince Edward County, Bedford County, Henrico County, or Goochland County with similar surnames.

You’ll notice familiar names on the deed below (George David vs. Harris Pryor, filed in Prince Edward Co., VA 1773). Yes, it’s Charles and Landis Patteson/Patterson who with Harris Pryor, were witnesses to the will of John Wright in Prince Edward County in 1775 (John Wright was the son in law of John Pryor and Mary New).

harris pryor

John C. Pryor’s Letter to President Thomas Jefferson

Old Clerk’s Office, Prince Edward County

Nicholas B. Pryor wasn’t the only Pryor who wanted help from President Jefferson to get a job. Just a year later Nicholas’ brother John C. Pryor also wrote to Jefferson http://founders.archives.gov/documents/Jefferson/03-07-02-0018. John wanted to be appointed to position as a tax collector.  The little touch on this letter that really is a boon to the genealogist is that John added his location: “Hermitage, Prince Edward.”

In 1809 John C’s and Nicholas’ brothers Zachariah B. and Banister S. were summoned from Buckingham County (their home county) to testify in a Chancery Court case in Prince Edward County. Banister was recorded as the Post Master in Hermitage, Prince Edward County in 1817.

I love this line of Pryors — they were all so intent upon getting government positions that they left trails all over the place! Banister was not only the Post Master in 1817, but also recorded as the Post Master in Hermitage in 1831 AND in 1840 he was the Post Master in Red House, Charlotte County.  Nicholas B. wanted a military appointment and after moving to Nashville served as a county commissioner.  When Nicholas’ children moved on to Arkansas his son by the same name served as Post Master and as did another son, Cornelius David Pryor.

John C. Pryor didn’t get the job as a tax collector. An article in Virginia Magazine of History and Biography states that John C. Pryor was a judge by the time he settled in Desoto County, MS. Even better evidence is a will I located online which he signed in 1846 as a judge in the probate court. http://msgw.org/desoto/court/campamiel.html. So it appears that eventually he too served in a public position.

Harris Pryor of Knox Co., TN and Bedford Co., VA

While digging into more Virginia records I stumbled upon an old record that’s a big hint to ID some of the Tennessee Pryors. If you’ve got Pryors in early Knox County… this will help.

First stop… Bedford County, VA. A 1819 Chancery Court Case names many of the Pryors in Bedford County.

William Dickinson vs. HARRIS PRYOR. A 1819 summons issued to Edmund Franklin and wife Betsy, William Holliday and late wife Polly, Polly Pryor, Nancy Pryor, Harris Pryor, Richard Mays and Juggy his late wife, heirs of Harris Pryor deceased. Document in filed dated 14 Dec 1820, signed by Harris Pryor in Louisville, KY. States he was formerally of Bedford County, but was then a resident of Louisville.

I think the elder Harris Pryor was the same Harris Pryor who was counted in Prince Edward County in 1784 and again in 1790. On both census there were 10 whites in his household.  I also think I can ID now these 10 people. This is when genealogy gets fun!

1. Harris Pryor Sr. born? (head) – died about 1804 (there’s a Bedford County will)
2. Mary “Polly” Kinnerson** (wife) – Polly is identified as the mother of Juggy Pryor on her marriage record. I believe she remarried to William Holiday in 1812 after the death of Harris Sr.
3 Betsy Pryor (daughter) who married Edmund Franklin in 1794, the record states she was the daughter of Harris Pryor.
4. Juggy Pryor (daughter) who married Richard Mays in 1806.
5. Nancy Pryor (daughter) married Rawley (or Raleigh) Rather in 1819 after the suit was filed.
6. Harris Pryor (son) Living in Louisville in 1820 per the suit. Possibly the same Harris who was on the 1830 and 1840 Census in Knox Co., TN.
7. William Pryor (son), counted on the 1800 Census in Bedford County, surety for marriage of Juggy Pryor in 1806. William is identified as the eldest son of Harris and Mary Pryor in a 1783 suit.**
8. Polly (or Mary)  Pryor (daughter) named on the suit, but no other information is known.
9. Patsy (or Martha) Pryor (daughter) who married Elijah Mays in 1801, the record states she is the daughter of Harris Pryor.
10. Jesse Pryor (son) who married Judith Harris in 1796 in Prince Edward County, and possibly the same Jesse Pryor in early Knox County records with a William and Harris Pryor. I’ve wondered if this is the Jesse Pryor who was in Overton Co. by 1830.

** Chancery Court Case in Prince Edward County (1783) George David vs. heirs of Norton Kennerson, Mary Pryor, married to Harris Pryor and their eldest son named William Pryor, also Agnes Kennerson who married John Alsop. Mary and Agnes were identified as sisters of Norton Kennerson.  The case concerns a land transaction made by Norton in 1773.