Tag Archives: Taylor

Taylor Family (Pryor Kin) in Sumner County and Overton County, TN

french-art2My ancestor John Pryor of Campbell County, VA and Sumner County, TN married Massey Taylor, a daughter of Edmund Taylor and Elizabeth Garrett. Edmund’s other daughter Spicy Taylor married  and settled in Overton County. I feel compelled to write a bit about the Taylor Family in Sumner County, TN.  Some of the twists and turns may be of interest even if you’re not related to this line.

For years I had argued with Taylor researchers that Pleasant Taylor was a son of Edmund and Elizabeth Garrett. Their relationship was stated in Edmund’s Campbell County will and in a later Sumner County lawsuit that named his son Pleasant. The dispute was that some researchers of Thomas Taylor and his wife Mildred Markham were convinced that Pleasant was Thomas’ son.  This belief originated with a transcript of Thomas Taylor’s 1836 will in Sumner County, TN.  His son’s name was erroneously transcribed as Pleasant.


But when you look at the actual will, Thomas’ son is recorded as Jarratt Taylor. The whole will is on http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~providence/will_taylorthomas.htm

Thomas Taylor Sumner County TN will

Now Jarratt Taylor is very interesting indeed. Thomas Taylor’s Revolutionary War pension application helps to support that Jarratt or even Garrett may be a family name (see application http://revwarapps.org/w873.pdf). The family record attached to the pension names his son as Garard Taylor. There’s even an affidavit from Jarratt E Taylor of Monroe County, KY who states he was Thomas’ brother and that he recalled Thomas and Mildred’s marriage in Cumberland County, VA in 1785 (after the War).  Both Thomas and Jarratt had beautiful clear signatures… no X’s.

Now this is where the whole Pryor and Taylor search takes on a wild hook. There are several family trees on Ancestry.com that link Thomas Taylor as the son of Samuel Taylor and Sophia Childress (a daughter of Abraham Childress). Remember Samuel Taylor? He was appointed guardian of John Pryor after the death of his father David Pryor in 1747. Abraham Childress was the guardian of David Pryor, the son of the deceased older David Pryor. Hmmmm, I’m approaching the link of Thomas Taylor to Samuel Taylor with a dose of skepticism because none of the trees include his brother Jarrett/Gerard/Garrett Taylor.

Are Thomas and Jarrett Taylor related to Edmund Taylor the father in law of John Pryor and William Pryor? I’m looking at records because not only do I suspect John Pryor who was in Bedford and Campbell Counties in VA was from Cumberland County, VA — I also suspect the Taylors had ties to these same counties. Here’s some additional records that make for interesting reading.

  • Thomas Taylor’s son Jarrett Taylor married Delilah Anglea in Sumner Co., TN.  In Cumberland County, VA there’s a 1795 Chancery Court case titled Creed Taylor vs. William Anglea.
  • Thomas Taylor’s will was witnessed by Wrenny Crews (his name was also recorded incorrectly on the transcript). Wrenny Crews signed a 1791 petition in Campbell County, VA  with John Deckey, Edward Deckey, Wrenny Crews, Martin Rector, Thomas Oglesby, Murrell Cunningham (Murell Cunningham also went to Sumner County). Edward Dickey was the father of Sally Dickey Giles who married Hezekiah Taylor, son of Edmund Taylor.
  • Thomas Taylor’s daughter Betsy married James Flowers (The Flowers family was connected to the Pryors in Overton County and were also in Campbell County, VA  see post)

Flowers Family with the Pryors and Campbell County Families in Roane County

5982837164_aa57b8bd61_bThis is a short post of the Flowers family connections between the Pryors and associated lines. The names are all woven together in Campbell Co., VA: Butler, Cunningham, Rector, Pryor, Taylor, Oglesby and Rev. William Flowers. If you look at Overton County records there are Flowers marriages into the Pryor line as well as the Taylor and Garrett families.

  • 1790 Murrell Cunningham on Bill of Sale to John Pryor in 1790
  • 1791 Martin Rector and John Pryor signed Petition in Campbell County.
  • 1792 marriage of John Kington/Kingston to Eleanor Caffrey, witnessed by her cousin Sarah Martin Rector, wife of Martin Rector, by Rev Flowers a Baptist Minister. Per Kington’s Revolutionary War pension. Also states Kington was acquainted with Thomas Butler, another pensioner.
  • 1796 marriage of Henry Boteler to Kesiah Oglesby, by William Flowers
  • 1799 marriage of Sarah Cunningham to William Boteler Jr. Surety William Boteler, Murrell Cunningham. By William Flowers
  • 1800 marriage of Elizabeth Pryor to John Harris, by William Flowers
  • 1802 marriage of Samuel Davidson to Frances Oglesby, by William Flowers (Likely Rev. Samuel Davidson who married William Pryor and Spicy Taylor in 1809. Frances Oglesby was Mary Oglesby’s sister).
  • 1807 marriage of Hezekiah Taylor to Mary Oglesby, by William Flowers
  • abt. 1825 Elizabeth Taylor, daughter of Thomas Taylor of Sumner County, TN married James Flowers.
  • abt. 1836 Overton Pryor married Patsy Flowers in Overton County, TN

Pleasant Taylor and the Fentress County Witchcraft Trial

A Halloween Tale From Old Tennessee

I was looking for information on Spicy Taylor Pryor of Overton County and thought I had stumbled upon her brother Pleasant Taylor. This isn’t really Pryor information, but I thought it was kind of interesting and am passing it along.

There was a Pleasant Taylor in Fentress County who wasn’t Spicy’s brother but a son Isaac Taylor and a grandson of George Taylor. George was a Revolutionary War veteran from VA and there is information on his family in the pension application filed by his wife. His wife was Catherine (last name unknown) and they married in Greene County, TN in 1782 and that George died in about 1797—he died of what sounds like a heart attack at about 37 to 40 years of age.

Revolutionary War service is interesting but maybe not as interesting as old-time, hill-folk medicine and spells? I found an article in August 8th, 1831 New York Evening Post.  It’s titled Witchcraft and was originally published in the Nashville Herald on 22nd July, 1831. It speaks of young women in Fentress County who experienced possessions (similar to the days of the Salem witch trials).  A Miss Rebecca French was the only woman who didn’t recover from the reported tremors, so the local witch doctors were called. And who were these witch doctors? Isaac Taylor and his son Pleasant Taylor! 

I have to stop for a moment to ponder. — What the heck was going on in Fentress County that made this a large enough story for the Nashville papers and then brought  the story into a big New York City newspaper! Good grief, what the east coast folks must have thought of the people out in Tennessee!

It talks about a Mr. Stout who brought a buckeye rope to Miss French’s house and her symptoms resumed. I’m presuming folks thought there was a magical power in buckeye rope or that Mr. Stout had put a hex on it. Rebecca French “procured a warrant” against Stout for witchcraft—that sounds like criminal proceedings to me.  Stout took out a warrant against the Taylors. Rebecca didn’t show up to court so court costs were levied on her. Isaac Taylor was found guilty in the suit brought by Stout and his case at the time of the newspaper account had gone to the circuit court.

I tried to ID the parties. The Taylors were easy through George Taylor’s pension file and the 1830 Census.  Isaac Taylor is on page 8. There was a William Stout counted on page 8.  The newspaper article states Charles Staunton originally filed charges against Stout—Charles Stanton is on page 8 with Stout and Isaac Taylor.

Two French families were counted on page 9: Joseph and Martin L. were heads of households. The newspaper article describes Rebecca French as 40 years old—Joseph French has a woman in his house age 60 to 70 and another age 30 to 40, who may be Rebecca. There’s a Revolutionary War pension application filed by Joseph French in 1832 which states he was the father of Rebecca French.

I wondered what became of everyone after the trial—did they pick up stakes and move away? I found Charles Staunton (back to spelling in the news article) on page 15 of the 1840 Census of Fentress County.  Martin French was counted in Overton County.  Isaac Taylor was still in Fentress county in 1840, living near Spicy Taylor Pryor’s brother Hezekiah Taylor (Isaac and Hezekiah were counted on the same page among many of Spicy’s Garrett relatives).  I found no signs of Rebecca French; neither on the 1840 nor on the 1850 Census. William Stout was in Overton County in 1840, no longer near Isaac Taylor or Charles Staunton. I wonder if the county lines changed or if people moved.

I’m still wondering if there was a connection between the two Taylor families. They were both from VA. They both had sons named Pleasant. They both lived in close proximity of each other on the 1840 Census.

Sumner County: Jonathan Pryor Who Was in Nashville Penitentiary


Where’s the Pony Express when you need them?! The records I’ve ordered are drifting in S-L-O-W-L-Y. I received parts of a lawsuit filed against Jonathan Pryor of Sumner County, TN in the 1850’s. To get an idea of Jonathan and his neighbors I’m going to refer to the 1850 Census.

Sumner County, TN – 1850 Census – Dist 17
House 83 David TAYLOR 48 VA, Frances (Russell) 51 VA, Elizabeth 17, Edmund 15, Mariah 11, Matilda 10
House 84 James TAYLOR 26 TN, Catherine (May) 22, Thomas 1, William 21
House 116 Jonathan PRYOR 30, Ellen (Lee) 30, William 4, Philip 6/12
House 120 Major May 45, Jane 40, Elisha 15, Mary 8, James 10, Joseph 5 (no birthplaces stated)

In 1850 Jonathan was living near David Taylor, brother in law of John Pryor and William Pryor and brother of their respective wives Massey and Spicy nee Taylor. He was also near Major May who had Jonathan’s children in his household at the time of the next census in 1860.

The lawsuit paints a sad picture of the Jonathan’s circumstances in the 1850’s. His friend William Equnels (sp?) stated in a sworn statement that he had know him for 4 years, he was insolvent and he had nothing but a tract of land. He also knew Jonathan owed debts. In 1856 his land was sold by the county (back taxes?) and Jonathan reclaimed it only to have it sold at the instance of Von? and James Partin. Equnels? purchased the land. He described Pryor as “trifling” and that he had never made much money and “he is a bad pay master.”

In the paperwork I found that an answer was filed by William E Prior and Mary E Prior, minors. This is helpful because we have long suspected that Jonathan was the father of William E. and Mary E. (Mary Pryor Kincaid), however since he was never counted on a census with both of them in the household more proof was needed. The answer to this suit refers to Jonathan as “the father of said minors.” This seems to be the proof!

The answer dated 26 September 1860 also states their mother was Eleanor Prior. That’s OK because she seems to be referred to as Ellen on the census and Ellen N on other parts of the suit. I think she’s the same person. It also states she was dead which makes perfect sense because Ellen is on the 1850 census and missing from the 1860 census.  And here comes the whollop! The answer also states “their father is unfortunately confirmed in the State Prison and they are left in a dependent condition without means of support and of tender years.” Bingo, this IS the Jonathan Pryor who was in the State Penitentiary (he was received into the prison on 12 March 1860!

The decree in the case is also helpful. Perhaps because of the Civil War, the case wasn’t heard until 12 May 1866. It gives the boundaries of Jonathan Prior’s land– it was bordered by Eli Reddick on the north and James Byron on the south, and Asa Martin on the west.

It’s revealed in the case that in 1854 Jonathan was indebted and conveyed the land to his wife. This move sounds like a an attempt to avoid debt. An additional statement in the file from William Cooley (or Cooly, Coolie) states that Jonathan was in debt to him in 1854. Cooley, though, states that even when imprisoned, Pryor paid him what he owed.

Some of names of creditors I picked out of the very wobbly handwriting were Lewis L. Martin, Syrus Stewart (Cyrus Stewart?).

Jonathan was incarcerated in 1860 for a “malicious stabbing”. William and Mary, children from his first marriage, went to live with Major May and family. His second wife, Eliza Beasley, filed for divorce in the same year and asked to go back to her maiden name– her “good” name probably to separate herself and her children from her disgraced husband. And then the Civil War broke out 13 months into his sentence! The divorce was granted after the war,  so presumably Jonathan was still alive at that time. If he were dead then Eliza wouldn’t have needed a divorce decree.

The book Tennessee Convicts: Early Records of the State Penitentiary, Volume 2, 1850-1870, by Charles A. Sherrill is the best source for the information on John Pryor and many other convicts in TN. I’ve taken numerous names out of the book and attempted to locate the men after their terms were served and was unable to do so. It’s unknown if John Pryor survived the Civil War and survived his term in the penitentiary.

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Pryor Clue? Taylor Land in Campbell County and Appomattox County, VA

Campbell County Pryor FamiliesI think I’ve found another clue as to where John Pryor and William Pryor (of Sumner and Overton Counties) may have lived in Campbell County, or at least where their Taylor in-laws had lived.

About a decade after the Pryors and the Taylors moved to Tennessee, the heirs to Edmund/Edward Taylors estate sold some land in Campbell County.

Horatio Goff (grantee), from (grantors) M., Hezekiah, Chesley, Spicy PRYOR, Pleasant, Elizabeth, Polly Taylor 11/1838 Book 22 Page 213

I went to the 1840 Census to get a sense of where Mr. Goff was living. He was counted in the North East District of Campbell County. His neighbors’ surnames aren’t anyone I recognize with a connection to the Taylors or the Pryors: Dobins, Thurman, Saunders, Echols, Legrand, Buckley.

I looked again at the 1850 Census. Horatio Goff 66 was counted in Appomattox County (this county was formed out of part of Campbell County in 1845). His neighbors share surnames very familiar to this line of the Pryors: Elbert Legrand 50, Wilson M Wright 46, James D Wright 51, Josiah Woodson 50, Jacob Woodson 85, and several Stratton families (the Taylors married into the Strattons).

This information helps to support that the Pryors and Taylors were from the part of Campbell County that became Appomattox County.