Tag Archives: sullivan county

Signature of John Pryor on The Petition of the Inhabitants of the Western County

5982837164_aa57b8bd61_bI’m holding another example of why researchers need to get their hands on original documents or good photocopies of them. It’s the Petition of the Inhabitants of the Western Country, a petition filed by men living on the NC frontier (later Tennessee) to the General Assembly of North Carolina.

There’s a good transcription available online (see Google book), “The State Records of North Carolina, Volume 22” (pub. 1907), however the original is so much better. The reason it’s better is that it shows the signatures. We can get a sense of who signed it with whom because the pen (or was it a quill?) changes with groups of signatures.

The other fascinating thing is that the signatures are in a different order than how they are displayed on the online transcription.  For instance, Moses Looney appears in the left column online and John Pryor is right (there’s a middle column in-between). On the original, Looney’s signature is directly under John Pryor’s.  Gilbert Christian signed above John Pryor.

There’s yet another point that stands out. John Pryor didn’t sign his name using a “y”. It’s signed John PRIOR! Am I being too pedantic? Probably not.

John Pryor signature Sullivan County, TN


Discover Kingsport (an online history outline of Kingsport, Sullivan Co., TN), states mentions Gilbert Christian several times as well as John Pryor. Christian was from Virginia and first explored the area in 1769.  Moses Looney was there by 1774 and John Pryor was living in the area by December 1787 (date the petition was submitted to the NC State Senate.

I think this is the John Pryor who stated his place of birth as England and year of birth as 1757 on the 1850 Census in Sullivan County.

Isaac Pryor of Pike County, IL – Who’s Your Daddy?

diggingforrootsAnother Pryor researcher sent me this link to a family tree that includes Isaac Pryor of Pike County, IL
http://familytreemaker.genealogy.com/users/f/i/n/Art-Wilson-Finch/WEBSITE-0001/UHP-0748.html. It conflicts with my own research, so I feel we need to do a bit of exploration on Isaac and his family.

The tree posted on Genealogy.com purports that William B Pryor was the son of John Pleasant Pryor born in Granville Co., NC and Elizabeth Palmer, and that William B. Pryor married Jane B. Atkinson and they were the parents of Isaac Pryor b. 1806 who lived in Pike Co., IL.

Let’s start with Isaac and work out way back.

Portrait Biographical Album, Pike and Calhoun Counties, Illinois, published 1891, page 400 (The book is available online https://archive.org/details/portraitbiograph00biogra). In an article on William H. Pryor (son of Isaac Pryor) it states:

The Pryors are of English origin, and Tennessee has been the home of the family for several generations.  In that State Isaac Pryor, the father of our subject, was born in 1807.  About 1838 he came to Pike County, ILL., making the journey according to the common custom– with a horse and wagon, camping out by the way.

The article also states that Isaac bought land in Pike County in the township where his son (William H) “now lives,” which is also stated as Derry. William stated that his father lived on the land until his death.

William’s date of birth is stated in the article as 12 November 1832 in eastern Tennessee. This date and place corresponds with his age on the 1850 Census in Pike Co.

Shortly before the 1850 Census Isaac married Mrs. Nancy Neely, 14 Jan 1847 in Pike County (see Illinois Marriage Records).

The dates of this history and the marriage record correspond with the information recorded on the 1850 Census in Pike County:

Isaac PRYOR 44 TN farmer, Nancy 38 OH, William 17 TN, Samuel 15 TN, Lucy 13 TN, Thomas 11 IL, Sarah 9 IL, Catherine 2 IL, Martha 1 IL

If Isaac and Mrs. Nancy Neely had no relationship prior to their marriage in 1847, it’s likely that daughters Catherine and Martha are from this marriage and the other children, including William H. Pryor are from an earlier marriage.

The 1838 date contained in the above article appears to be a good date for Isaac’s entrance to Pike County as there are two Pryor marriages in 1837 and one in 1840, helping to earmark his move to the area.

Noting the 1838 date, it’s then highly likely that he is the Isaac Pryor counted on the 1840 Census in Pike County.  Isaac’s age was reported as 30 to 39 years (born 1801 to 1810), which corresponds to his reported age on the 1850 Census (born 1806).

On the 1840 Census there is a woman in Isaac’s household who was age 20-29 (born 1811-1820). This may be Isaac’s wife before his marriage to Nancy in Pike County.  If this woman was also William H. Pryor’s mother she would have been about age 12-21 at the time of William’s birth which would not be out of the norm for the time for the age of a first time mother.

There’s a hint of the name of this possible mother of William H. Pryor. A tombstone in the Hornbeck Cemetery in Pike Co. states Nancy, “daughter of Isaac and Sarah Pryor,” died Sept. 30 1858, aged 15 yrs, 3 mos., 15 days.  The article cited above confirms that William’s mother was Sarah Harris who was born in Tennessee and died in 1840 at age 32. So, I think we have the possible first marriage for Isaac confirmed. (see Nancy’s gravemarker http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GSln=Pryor&GSiman=1&GScid=106248&GRid=76102683&)

The researcher who posted the family tree which started this search cites records from WFT (World Family Tree), stating that Isaac was the son of William B. Pryor and Jane B. Atkinson.  So we need to flesh out the family of William B. Pryor.

William B. (Bland) Pryor is believed to the son of Richard Pryor and Ann Bland. Richard was a son of John Pryor and Mary Dennis –Richard is mentioned in his father’s 1785 will and on records in Dinwiddie County, VA.  Much has been written on the line of Richard Pryor and Ann Bland’s line because they were the parents of the minister Theodorick Pryor, and the grandparents of the Civil War general and later New York judge, Roger Atkinson Pryor. A lot has been written, but that doesn’t make it all correct so read what you find with a questioning eye.

The first record I have of William B. Pryor was his service in the War of 1812. If his age on the 1850 Census was correct, he was born about 1793, making him about 19 years old in 1812. Jane B. Pryor applied for a widow’s pension. Orig. 15639, Certf. 7021, stating  her husband served in Capt. Philip Pryor’s Co., VA Militia. The War of 1812 Records on Ancestry.com state Philip, Luke, and William B. Pryor served in 1st Reg, Byrne’s Co., Virginia Militia—Philip was identified as the rank of Captain.

William B. Pryor married Jane B. Atkinson on 12 Oct 1818 in Chesterfield County, VA. Some research is needed to find out if there was an Atkinson or Pryor connection to this county. His brother Theodorick Pryor married Lucy C. Atkinson on 22 Sept 1827 in the same county.

In 1820 both William B. Pryor and Philip Pryor were counted on the census in St. Andrew’s Parish, Brunswick County, VA. There was one male child under the age of 5 in William B’s household in 1820. William B. Pryor was recorded as age 16 to 26 years old (born 1794-1804).  Philip Pryor is likely William B’s uncle – the Philip named as his son in John Pryor’s 1785 will.  Philip’s age was recorded in 1820 as 26 to 45 years (born 1775 – 1794). I suspect Philip was born closer to 1775 as he married Susan Cordle Wilkes on 5 Jul 1802 in Brunswick County and Susan who was a head of household in 1830 and recorded as born 1770-1780.

By 1830 William B. Pryor was in Tipton Co., TN (Middle TN) with his brother Richard Pryor. Unfortunately only William B’s name was recorded and no tallies of males and females in the household were posted on the census.

Willam B. was in Warren County, MS by the 1840 Census. A younger Richard Pryor was also record, his son b. 1820.  Other known children of William B. were Agnes b. 1822 in VA who married William B. Creasy in Warren Co. in 1838, and Mary b. 1824 in VA counted in William B’s household in 1850.

1850 Census, Madison Co., LA
Page 376, house 234 W. B. PRYOR 57 planting $1800 VA, Jane B. 51 VA, Richard 30 $400 VA, Agnes D. Creasy 28 VA, Mary A. Pryor 26 VA, William P. Creasy 10 MS.

To play out the scenario of William B. as the father of Isaac Pryor b. 1807 in East TN, William B. at about age 14 would have to have been in East TN and either married or have been involved in a relationship that produced young Isaac, only to return to Virginia to serve in the War of 1812, marry Jane B Atkinson and then move to Middle TN and onward. Another scenario would be a web of half-truths and misinformation—Isaac could have fibbed and really be much younger than he stated on census records.

I am unable to find any record of William B. Pryor having a son named Isaac.

Isaac Pryor’s place of birth is stated as TN on the 1850 Census and East Tennessee in the Pike County history—however I am unable to find any record of William B Pryor in East TN.

If Jane B. Atkinson Pryor’s age was stated correctly on the 1820 and 1850 Census she would have been 8 years old when Isaac was born in 1807. Possible. But is it probable?

I think what is more likely, at least from the paper research and until a descendant of either Isaac or his son William H. steps forward and takes a Y-DNA test, that Isaac may be one of the sons of John Pryor b. 1757 who was in Sullivan County, TN because of these salient points. And just because this theory isn’t written in stone… or proved with DNA, I’ve added an opposing comment in brackets:

  1. Sullivan County is in East Tennessee (But then so are several other counties).
  2. The article on the Pike County Pryor states that Isaac was a Methodist (well, so were thousands of other people). The Pryors in Sullivan County were a VERY Methodist family—James Pryor b. 1790 who is also likely John’s son was a Methodist minister as was his son John Pryor who married Ann Trigg and settled in AR (see History of Methodism in Arkansas, by Horace Jewell, published 1892, http://books.google.com/books?id=XnUC6WfycoQC&printsec=frontcover&dq=History+of+Methodism+in+Arkansas&hl=en&sa=X&ei=uM6zUJ6iCqTq0QH-u4G4BQ&ved=0CDAQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=pryor&f=false Sarah, possibly a daughter of John b. 1757, married Stephen Paxson who was a traveling Methodist evangelist –see A Fruitful Life: The Missionary Labors of Stephen Paxson by Belle Paxson Drury
  3. Isaac resided near other Pryors from Sullivan Co., TN. While proximity between families isn’t always a positive indicator of kinship (yup, we’re finding that out about the Pryors!), in this case Isaac and his other Pryor relations can be found near each other on census and tax records in Sullivan County, Hawkins County, and in Pike County.
    a) 1830 Census Isaac Pryor and John Sr. were in Sullivan Co., TN
    b) 1830 Census John (Jr.) Pryor, James Pryor, and George Morrison (husband of Mary Pryor were in Hawkins County, TN (next to Sullivan Co.) – sons and son in law of John Sr.
    c) 1836 Isaac Pryor is on the tax list in Hawkins Co.
    d) 1836 in Sullivan Co. John Pryor Sr. signed a deed of trust for mortgage of George Morrison’s furniture.
    e) 1840 John (Jr.) and Isaac Pryor are on the census in Pike County.
    f) John (Jr.) b. 1797 married Hannah Hornbeck. A photo of Isaac’s gravemarker on Ancestry.com states it is located in Hornbeck Cemetery. It is believed that John and Isaac were brothers due to their proximity, birth years, and place of birth. (view gravemarker http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GSln=Pryor&GSiman=1&GScid=106248&GRid=76100643&)

Of course I’m willing to change my mind– if a researcher has documents or a compelling theory.  It still disturbs me at how easy it is to use WFT and Ancestry leaf hints to build an unlikely family tree. Just because the information is there, it doesn’t mean that it fits.  So be careful adopting a tree as your own or adopting others’ work to prove your tree (including mine!). Keep up the work of digging out your Pryor line.

David Ross – Part 5 (Silver, Iron and Smelting)

I can’t let go of David Ross. His connections to the Pryors are fascinating!

David Ross ran the Oxford Iron Works and helped to arm the Virginia militia during the Revolution.  Whether it was by a land grant for his war effort or his own entrepreneurism, by 1790 Ross had land and business interests in Tennessee and had agents running his iron works in Sullivan County (see post).

I think I found the connection to Ross and the John Pryor in Sullivan County. If nothing else, they were business partners.

To COL James King’s Iron Works, where thousands of tons of iron were brought to Boat Yard and shipped to distant ports by flatboat.

Now I get it… Kingsport was a PORT. John Pryor and his sons were building the flatboats that were being used to ship Ross’ iron.

Were there other Pryors involved in processing ore? You betcha! Nathaniel Pryor had a lead-smelting furnace on the Mississippi in about 1810-1812, near Dubuque, IA (see LewisAndClarkinKentucky.org).  Now that I know the connection of the flat boats and the water ways it makes sense that Nathaniel Pryor was operating near the river. Why did explorer Nathaniel Pryor turn into lead-smelter Pryor? Maybe I should ask HOW he became a smelter? Does it take skill to create a smelting operation?  Did Nathaniel apprentice in the metal trades as a youth? I did some Google searches to see if I could find out more about smelting or iron works in early Louisville. I was also interested to see if Obadiah Newman was involved in metal processing (remember Nathaniel and his brother were in his care when they were orphaned). I didn’t find an occupation for Newman.

The possible son of Nathaniel Pryor, Miguel Pryor of California, was a fur trapper and silversmith. I wonder if something got lost in the translation. Did he craft fine silverware or was he involved in mining and smelting the metal?

Then there’s William Harding (I’ll write more about him in a few days–there’s a lot to tell!). He was surety for the estate of Nicholas Pryor when he died in 1746 in Goochland County. Harding’s sister, Bethenia, married Nicholas Perkins–their sons Nicholas Perkins Jr. and his brother Constantine were partners in the iron works on Troublesome Creek in Rockingham County, NC.

Looks like they were more than farmers.

David Ross and the Pryors – Part 4 (Sullivan County, TN)

Back to what I’ve found on David Ross. There’s a David Ross and a John Pryor mentioned as neighbors in Sullivan County, TN.

1787, John PRYOR was living on land James Gaines had sold to James Anderson in 1780. “The large Cloud plantation adjoined the John Pryor plantation, and land owned by David Ross opposite the mouth of the North Fork Holston River. Together these plantations covered today’s Ridgefields area. The Clouds and Pryors, in addition to managing their plantations, worked as flatboard builders and boatmen. and both…”

We know the John Pryor in Sullivan County was born in 1757 because he lived to be counted on the 1850 Census. In 1850 he was quite elderly, living with his son, and his place of birth was recorded as England. The same son he lived with in 1850 lived to 1880 and stated on that census that his father was born in England. Like all things “Pryor” I take John’s place of birth with a smidgen of skepticism.

The David Ross I’ve followed through my searches died in Virginia in 1817/19 and I can’t find anything of him being in Tennessee. David Ross of VA had a son named David who lived to 1857, but that David is on the 1850 Census in Shenandoah Co., VA, not in Tennessee. So, I was ready to write-off this Sullivan County connection as just a coincidence.

Not so fast.

In 1927 the history of Rotherwood Mansion in Kingsport was printed in the Kingsport Times-News (read Famous Rotherwood Is Veiled In Romantic History (Wayback Machine link)). There is a brief history of Frederick Augustus Ross who happens to be the son of David Ross — yes, the same David Ross who keeps popping up with the Virginia Pryors. (Frederick was also mentioned in the Fluvanna deed in my last post- see post)

In the spring of 1818, his father having died in the previous year, 1817, Mr. Ross made his first visit to the large landed estate left to him in Sullivan and Hawkins counties, East Tennessee. There on the North Fork of the Holston, he built “Rotherwood.”

It sounds like his father is the David Ross in Sullivan County who died and left him the land. Once you know who David Ross of VA was then there are several clues on discoverkingsport.com/searchmap/spoden.shtml which help to confirm his identity and what he was doing in Tennessee. He probably wasn’t there himself, but he had his businesses in Sullivan County.

  • 1789, David Ross’ Log Agency and Tavern was occupied and operated by Ross’ agents (Capt. John Hunt by 1792; Thomas Hopkins by 1811; Perley Fairbanks by 1816, among others).
  • 1792, George Roulstone, offered a handsome reward for his high spirited brown mare, lost near Ross Ironworks. (David Ross made his fortune in the Revolution with his foundries in VA and NC.  TN was part of NC until 1796).
  • 1793, David Ross purchased 5 acres of King’s iron bank.
  • 1790, David Ross’ Iron Forge was operated by his agents.
  • 1818, F. A. Ross settled on land inherited from his father (David Ross) and built the first bridge (ruins SS) over North Fork Holston River.

OK, we’ve got David Ross figured out but who’s the John Pryor in Sullivan County? Is it Major John Pryor of Richmond? — Nope, he died in 1823. Is he John Pryor who married Mary Dennis?– Nope, he died in 1785. Is he the John Pryor of Campbell County whose sons John and William settled his property in 1812? — Nope, he was deceased. The list of who he ISN’T seems rather long.

Was John in Sullivan County really from England or are we still missing some Virginia Pryors from the family tree?

James B Pryor of Stewart Co., TN and Pike Co., IL

I recently posted all the information I have on William Pryor in order of a timeline. Since William and James are mentioned in records together I’m now posting what I have on James.

  • Born 1778 in VA (per 1850 Census in Pike Co., IL) My Notes: If he is related to William Pryor, also of Stewart Co., TN, then James too may be from Botetourt County, VA.
  • 1802 Smith County court order_ William Pryor and James Pryor ordered to lay a road from Lancaster’s Ferry on the Caney Fork River to Walton’s Road.
  • 1809 Tax List Stewart Co.
  • 1812 Guardian Bond in Stewart Co. for orphans of Samson Trammell. William Pryor and James Pryor.
  • 1815 Stewart Co: Alexander Walker made a bastardy bond, with James Pryor & Richard Blanton securities, for keeping an orphan child of Alsey King from becoming a county charge
  • 1818 Land Grant in Stewart Co. The first grant in April assigned to James Pryor 100 acres in 1st District of Stewart Co. on the North side of the Cumberland River. In the barrens of …(not legible).  The second grant in May: James Pryor assignee of Duncan Johnson, Thomas Hickman, and John C. McLemore. 96 and 1/4 acres in the First District in the Barrens of the Cumberland fallons.
  • 1820 Stewart Co., TN census: James Pryor oldest male in his household was 26-44 yrs., born 1776-1794 and a second head of household Mary Pryor.
  • 1820 Stewart Co: James Pryor & Henry Powell vs. Robert Walker, administrator: plaintiffs drop their suit. William H. Henderson & Levi Wimberly testify that the signature of Alexander Walker on a bond given by him to James Pryor & Henry Powell for the conveyance of 2 tracts of land is Walker’s, and that Walker has died
  • 1825 Stewart Co: sale of the estate of Henly Acree by Joseph B. Neville; buyers include Mary Acree, John J. Acree, William Parker, Thomas G. Downs, Josiah Outlaw, Joseph B. Neville, John Fullerton, James Pryor, Berry Hambelton, Thomas Parker, Patience Acree, Hosea Boren, Ezekiel Harrell, Stephen Mallory; rec. August term 1825
  • 1827 Stewart Co. sale of the estate of Benjamin Griffin on 20 Nov 1826; buyers included Penelope Griffin, Jesse Stalls, Caleb Ellis, John Clary, Henry King, Elijah Fletcher, Joseph Griffin, James Pryor, Etheldred Wallace, John Lee, Eaton Wallace, Nathan Stancil, Edward Whitehead, Eli Ross, John Pryor, Nimrod Fletcher
  • 1829 Stewart Co: Appointed overseer of the road beginning at the Cross Roads where John Francis new mill road intersects with the said road to the State line and the following work: Clement Aldrey’s, William Williams, Ricks Henry, Henry E. Gibson, James Pryor, Lawson Pryor, and Mr. Edwards.
  • 1830 Stewart Co., TN census: James Pryor oldest male in his household was 40-49 yrs., born 1781-1790. Other Pryors on the census were Jane, John, and William. My Notes: I suspect William Pryor is the man who was on census records in White Co., Illinois (not TN). William in White Co., IL stated on Civil War records that he was from Stewart Co., TN. Perhaps he is a son of James Pryor.
  • 1832 Stewart Co. administrator’s return of Martin Howard by administrator Alexander Howard, with commissioners William Williams, James Pryor, Henry E. Gibson
  • 1833 Stewart Co:Deed of conveyance from Charles Matheny to Edward W. Moore, 80 acres on oaths of James Pryor and Cartwright Smith.
  • 1834 Stewart Co. sale of Jeptha Morris by administrators Lamuel Morris and William Morris; buyers include Polly Morris, James Tyson, Noah Tyson, William Morris, H. Rorie, Benjamin Morris, L. Williams, James Randolph, Joseph Kenady, L. Sills Sr., Charles Bogard, William Dunbar, R. Bagwell, Willie Baker, T. B. Sills, D. Bayliss, J. Pryor, L. Morris, Charles Matheny; returned Feb. term 1834
  • 1835 Stewart Co: will of Squire Reynolds: wife Cresey Reynolds, children Young Reynolds, Ewin Reynolds, Emaline Reynolds, Lavina Reynolds, Eliza Bailey; executors are George W. Atkins and James Pryor; test: Henry H. Gorin, Nathan Parker; written 31 Jul 1834, proven Aug. term 1835
  • 1836 Stewart Co: Joseph Griffin, James Pryor, indenture bond for orphan William Jobe (age 8); 2 Feb 1836. My note: Is William Jobe related to Caleb Job and Daniel Job who were heirs of Richard (and Mourning) Pryor?
  • 1840 Pike Co., IL census – James Pryor born between 1781 to 1790 with a female slightly older, 2 younger females and a younger male. My Notes: There are other Pryors in Pike Co. who appear to be related to John Pryor b. 1757 who was in Sullivan, Knox, and Jefferson Co., TN. Pike County is on the river as are the counties in which John Pryor lived. His family were boat builders and river pilots.
  • 1849 Notice of Rebecca Pryor’s death published in the Nashville Chirstian Advocate:
    REBECCA PRYOR wife of James Pryor, died Pike Co., Ill., Jan. 7, 1849; moved from Christian Co., Ky. to Stewart Co., Tenn., to Pike Co., Illinois. My Notes: I suspect the William Pryor who appeared on records with James up until his departure from Stewart County in 1816 was a relation of James. This William purchased land in Christian County, KY. (see link to information on William at the top of this post).
  • 1850 Census Pike Co IL, James Pryor aged 72 (born 1778), occupation postmaster. Jane Pryor age 24 also in the household.

Possible Children of James Pryor and wife Rebecca – There were 11 children in his household in 1820 AND in 1830 – 6 males, 5 females.

  • Nancy Pryor who married Alfred Blake (b. 1817) in Pike Co., IL in 1841. Nancy deceased by 1850.
  • Sarah Pryor b. 1823 and is on the 1850 Census in Pike Co., IL (married to Moses Conner)
  • Jane Pryor b. 1826 and is on the 1850 Census in James’ household in Pike Co.
  • William Pryor b. 1802 in Sumner Co., son James b. 1825 in Stewart Co. Both lived in White Co., IL.
  • Lawson Pryor b. bef. 1809 – he was ordered to maintain road in Stewart Co. with James Pryor in 1829.
  • Possibly some of the Pryors in Trigg Co., KY, they were born in Stewart Co., TN