Tag Archives: West Virginia

Charles McClung on the American Frontier

log house

Charles McClung is mentioned in Kanawha County, VA– more precisely with George Clendenning’s fort that began the settlement of Charleston, WV (see researcher’s post). McClung, Clendenning, and 3 Pryors were recorded on the 1792 Kanawha Tithetables.

Joseph Carroll
Geo. Clendenin
Wm. Clendenin
Alex. Clendenin
Shadrack Harriman (married to Susannah Pryor, probably daughter of William Pryor of Amherst County, VA)
John Jones
Chas. McClung
Leonard Morris
Abner Pryor
Allen Pryor
Wm. Pryor

There’s record of Allen Prior (the man from Connecticut?) meeting with Clendenning and McClung in 1793.

Jan 27th, 1793 – George Clendenin to the Governor (of VA). Clendening wrote the governor concerning two scouts that were appointed to protect the garrison in Kanawha from Indian attach. The Scouts were Charles McClung and Lewis Newton. Clendenin sent the Governor a certificate of service to sign for the scouts. Allen PRIOR brought him the certificate and request for payment to the scouts. [Calendar of Virginia State Papers and Other Manuscripts]

Earlier in the same month, Clendenning was recorded with the name William Pryor:

Jan. 1st, 1793 – Information from Col. Clendenin, Major Clendinin, and co. received Col. Donnelly (Donnally?) and Watkins. Received from Capt. John Morriss, from Capt. W. Morris, Leonard Morris, William Pryor, Joseph Carroll, and John Jones, with all their people,were at one time collected at Will. Morrisses–some continued two weeks some 6 some, 3 weeks.

In 1809 a  Charles McClung comes up again when a William Pryor was deeded…

35 acres on waters of the Indian Fork of Poplar Creek in Roane Co., TN Beginning on Charles McClung’s 3,000-acre tract…corner to Michael Hosstlar’s 25-acre survey…near foot of Waldens Ridge.

I have to wonder if this William Pryor mentioned in the Kanawha was the same man in Roane Co., TN or were names over-lapping as people moved into the frontier.

Mary Prior, Indian Captive on the Kentucky Frontier


It 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. (see themorrisclan.com)

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.

Abner Prior, A CT Yankee Among the Wabash Indians

Capt Abner Prior WoundedI saw this weekend that someone had “liked” an old Pryor post on Facebook– a post about Capt. Pryor and the Wabash Indians.  I realized that I haven’t disclosed the identity of the Captain. I think it was Capt. Abner Prior. It’s always tough to ID a Pryor when we don’t have a first name. OK, you can stop laughing… yes, I know it’s hard to identify Pryors even when we DO have a first name! Continue reading

Connecticut Yankees on the Southern Frontier

Kanawha FallsWhen sorting out the Pryors in Kanawha County, I’ve wondered who were Abner and Allen Pryor. I’ve wondered if Allen (sometimes spelled “Allyn”) was kin to my ancestor Allen L. Pryor who settled in Sumner County, TN.

Nope, no connection.

I’ve wondered if Abner Pryor was the same man who was in North Carolina. An Abner Pryor died in Caswell County, NC in 1778 (during the Revolution), so he would not be the Abner Pryor on the 1792 Tax List of Kanawha County. A younger Abner Pryor was in Stokes County, NC at the time of the 1820 and 1830 Census. In 1820 he was 26 to 45 years old, which means he would have been 17 in 1792. I think that precludes the NC Abners from being the Abner who was in Kanawha.

I found the answer to Allen and Abner’s identity in The History of Ancient Winsor, Connecticut published in 1859 (http://books.google.com/books?id=Qg0WAAAAYAAJ). Abner and Allyn Pryor were from Connecticut and served in the Revolutionary War as young men in a Connecticut company http://www.genealogy.com/24_land.html . Connecticut and other developed northern states offered bounty land grants in the frontier, so it is likely that they came to Kanawha to pursue a land grant. Further support of the land grant is a letter written in 1820 by Allyn Pryor of Mason County which queries lands in Kanawha County received for his services in the Revolutionary War.

The 1850 Census would have answered the exact age and origin of these men. When it’s not available, so good to find another source!

James Pryor of Harpers Ferry, VA

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I’ve wondered if the Ross Co., OH Pryors were related to established Pryor families in Virginia.  James Pryor was on the census in Ross Co. in 1830 and 1840. His children: Hiram, Wesley, Silas, and Bennett were all born in VA; his son Silas was born near Harpers Ferry, VA (now WV).

The US government purchased 125 acres at Harpers Ferry, building the Armory and Arsenal in 1796. The town became an industrial center after 1800, producing small guns for the US Army up to the time of the Civil War in 1861. And yes, it’s the same arsenal raided by abolitionist John Brown.

James Pryor was on the 1810 and 1820 Census in Jefferson Co., VA. The census record for 1820 is unique in that actually states the town: Harpers Ferry. It’s even more unique in that an extra column has been added with the occupation of the head of household. James was recorded as a “musket stocker.”

Unfortunately James died before the 1850 Census when birth places were recorded. Only his son Bennett B. Pryor lived long enough to state his father’s birthplace on the 1900 census and 1910 census: Virginia.

Researchers state that James was the son of Silas Pryor who also was recorded in Ross Co., OH. Like his son, Silas died before the 1850 Census. A research has posted in their Ancestry Family Tree that Silas is the same person named as an heir, and probably a son, of James Pryor in a 1761 Chester, PA.

So it’s likely that these Pryors immigrated in through Boston or Philadelphia and are not related to Pryors who were early immigrants to the tidewater counties of Virginia.