Pryors of McNairy Co., TN
researched by Nova A. Lemons
(article updated 19 Jun 2013)

When I posted the first version of this article a several years ago, the main goal was to identify the Pryors of McNairy Co., TN and to find proof that Philip Pryor was the father of William Jackson Pryor and/or Lemuel M. Pryor.  DNA test results showed that the descendants of Lemuel M. Pryor matched with another descendant who descends from William A. Pryor, son of Matthew Pryor Sr. and Mary Neeley.  Matthew and Mary had a son Philip Pryor who was said to have married a Miss Reeter and moved away.  This same Philip moved to McNairy Co., TN as shown in the information presented below.  Please be aware that the information on these families are far from complete and the research is still ongoing.  I welcome any comments, additional information, and records.

Philip PRYOR was born circa 1791 in North Carolina, likely in Granville Co., where his father Matthew Pryor (Sr.) bought some land in 1790 from Edmund Carnes [N:108].  The 1800 census showed the Matthew Prior family living in Stokes Co., North Carolina.  Philip, about 9 years old, was one of the young males counted in this household.  By 1807 the Pryors were in Roane Co., Tennessee.  Unfortunately no 1810 census exist for Tennessee but other records show them still in Roane County.

The earliest record on Philip Pryor at this time was his War of 1812 military record, listing him as a private in 5th Regiment (Booth's) East Tennessee Militia where his brother Samuel N. Pryor also served in.  Some of Col. Edwin Booth's men were from Roane Co.  Philip went into service on 13 November 1814 and was discharged on 12 May 1815, having served 6 months.   The regiment was sent to the area of Mobile, Alabama to protect that region from Indian and/or British attacks.  He was about 23 to 24 years old. 

By 1816 to 1817, possibly earlier, Philip Pryor was married.  Researchers have his wife as a Miss Reeter but no one had a source for her surname.  The published 1801-1838 marriage book by Whitley for Roane Co. does not list a marriage for Philip.  TN statewide marriage books by Sistler also do not list a marriage for him.  He could have married in Marion Co. or Morgan Co. whose early marriage records were unfortunately destroyed in courthouse fires.  Research showed Rector families living in the same areas as my Pryors, indicating that perhaps the surname was actually Rector, not Reeter.  According to the death certificate of his granddaughter Elmira Rosalie Pryor, the birthplace of Elmira's father, William Jackson Pryor, was listed as Morgan Co., Tennessee where he was born in 1818.  Philip's brother Green H. Pryor's first child, Jackson Pryor, was also born in Morgan Co.  Morgan County's marriages begin in 1862 and Marion County's in 1881.

Philip was married by 1817 since his oldest and proven child Jacob was born circa 1817.  He would be about 25 to 26 years old.  It is possible he was married a few years earlier and may have had an older child who died young, before 1830 census.  The 1820 census would have been of help if it existed.  We do know for sure that Philip was married by 1817.  According to census information, his wife was born circa 1790 to 1800.  The 1880 census data on son Jacob listed her birthplace as North Carolina.

Philip Pryor was mentioned as one of the land owners in the Marion Co. deed between Enoch Owens and Thomas Smith dated 25 Feb 1826 [B:245-246].  The 1830 census finds Philip Pryor and his family in Marion Co. on page 65:
PRYOR, Philip - males:  1 (age 0-5) [Lemuel]; 1 (5-10) [Samuel]; 2 (10-15) [Jacob and William J.];
1 (30-40) [Philip];
females:  1 (0-5) [Rebecca]; 1 (5-10) [Nancy]; 1 (30-40) [wife].

The last record on Philip in Marion Co. was the deed dated 2 January 1832 between Thomas Smith and Richard Blevins in which he was one of the witnesses [C:243].   In 1834, his father Matthew Pryor, Sr. died in Marion Co., Tennessee.  His mother Mary had died in 1830.  Matthew might have left a probate record which no longer exists.  We may never know what Philip and his siblings were to receive as an inheritance.  I believe that shortly after his father's death, Philip and his family decided to relocate to the county of McNairy where his brother Samuel N. Pryor lived from circa 1830 to 1833.  There is no deed records in Marion Co. showing Philip buying and selling land.  One deed did indicate that he had some land.  Perhaps he was living (and renting) land from his father.

Philip Pryor first appeared in McNairy Co. in 1835 when he bought 100 acres from James Stewart on 24 Dec 1835 [A:364-365]. 

Alfred Pryor was a witness to a Deed of Trust between Churchwell Smallwood and Dr. Armour & Co. in September 1836 [A:329].  It is not known how Alfred Pryor was related to Philip Pryor.  According to records, he was born circa 1810-1812 in Tennessee and married to Cary Sweat by 1836.  He died 2 Oct 1871 in McNairy Co.  If he was a son, he was not mentioned as one of the children of Philip Pryor in the probate records.

By December 1839 Jacob N. Pryor's name appeared as a witness on a deed [B:452].  He would be about 22 years old.

1840 McNairy Co., TN census, p. 52
PRYER, Philip - males:  2 (age 0-5) [Washington and Benjamin]; 1 (5-10) [Philip]; 1 (10-15) [Lemuel];
1 (15-20) [Samuel]; 2 (20-30) [Jacob and William J.]; 1 (40-50) [Philip].
females:  1 (0-5) [Mary]; 2 (10-15) [Nancy and Elizabeth]; 1 (15-20) [Rebecca]; 1 (20-30) [?];
1 (30-40) [wife].
The unidentified female is not known and could be the wife of Jacob, if he was married by then. 

Between 1840 and 1850 Philip Pryor's wife died.  Their last child, George Washington, was born circa 1840.  She could have died in the childbirth of George or shortly afterwards.  Their daughter Rebecca (Pryor) Odom died in 1849.

1850 McNairy Co., TN census (all born in TN unless otherwise noted)
p. 6b - Nancy SWEAT 78, Hary [Cary, wife of Alfred] (f) 35, Alfred PRYOR 40 TN, Mary 16.  [It is not yet known how Alfred is related to my Pryors, if he is.]
p. 97a - Jacob PRYOR 33 TN, Elizabeth 27, Sarah 5, Jackson 3, William 7/12.
pp. 97a-97b - Philip PRYOR 59 NC, Philip 17 TN, Mary 15 TN, Benjamin 12 TN, Washington 10 TN, Nancy
p. 97b - Samuel MOSS 25, Elizabeth 20 TN, Rebecca 1/12.
p. 97b - Samuel PRYOR 28 TN, Sarah 27.

On 27 Jan 1853, Jacob N. Pryor and Samuel C. Pryor as administrators of Philip Pryor dec'd. handled the sale of 172 acres of Philip's property to William S. Wisdom [F:508].  This shows that Philip died late 1852 to January 1853.  He would be about 61 years old.  A record dated 15 March 1855 by Nancy L. McLaughlin to James A. Larue indicated that there were 11 heirs of Philip Pryor [E:560-561].  At court on 4 Jan 1858, a petition was made regarding sale of land and slaves from the estate of Philip Pryor Sr. who departed this life about September 1854, leaving the following who survived him:  Jacob Pryor, Samuel C. Pryor, Nancy who intermarried with Wm McLaughlin and from whom she obtained a divorce, Elizabeth who intermarried with Samuel Moss, Benjamin Pryor, Washington Pryor and Philip Pryor who has since died; Philip, Jacob and Sarah Odom minor children of Rebecca Odom dec'd; Mary Jane Pryor, who has since died; residents of McNairy Co.; William Pryor and Lemuel Pryor, residents of Texas; his only children and heirs at law [loose probate file].  While the 1858 record gives the year of death as 1854, the 1853 source suggested that Philip was already deceased.  The petitioners might have given the court the wrong death year. 

The area where the Pryors lived is in Enville in the northeastern part of McNairy County.  Later this area became part of Chester County when the new county was created.  Since daughter Rebecca (Pryor) Odom and her son are buried at Johnson Cemetery near Enville, it is possible that several of the Pryors are also buried there and that their markers, if they had one, no longer exists today.  It is also possible they could have been buried on their property.

Children of Philip Pryor (11 heirs):
1)   Jacob Neeley PRYOR was born circa 1817 in TN and married by 1845 to Elizabeth ______.  He died after
1880 McNairy Co., TN census.  
2)  William Jackson PRYOR was born 1818 in Morgan Co., TN and died 1876 in Rusk Co., TX.  He married
Martha Jane MONTGOMERY by 1844. 
3)  Samuel C. PRYOR was born circa 1822 in TN and married Sarah A. _______ by 1850.  He died after 1861.
4)  Rebecca R. PRYOR was born 9 Apr 1824 in TN and died 28 Sep 1849 in McNairy Co., TN.  She married
Wiley ODOM circa 1841.
5)  Lemuel M. PRYOR was born circa 1826 in TN and died 1878 in Smith Co., TX.  He married Elizabeth C.
HARDEGREE on 19 January 1854 in Smith Co., TX. 
6)  Nancy PRYOR was born circa 1829 in TN and married to William McLAUGHLIN mid to late 1840s.  She
was living with her father pn the 1850 McNairy Co., TN census, being divorced by then.  She died after 1860.
7)  Elizabeth PRYOR was born circa 1830 in TN and died after 1880 McNairy Co., TN census.  She married
D. Samuel MOSS circa 1849 to 1850. 
8)  Philip PRYOR was born circa 1833 in TN and died circa 1851-58.
10)  Benjamin F. PRYOR was born circa 1838 in McNairy Co., TN and was deceased by Sep 1860.
11)  George Washington PRYOR was born circa 1840 in McNairy Co., TN and died circa 1873.  He married
Rebecca LINDSEY shortly after the 1860 census. 

My information on the above children and their families are scant and early marriage records for McNairy Co., TN were also destroyed in a courthouse fire.  They begin in 1861.  I would love to have more information added to the children and their families.  If you descend from any of them, please contact me!

go to next page for other PRYORs in McNairy Co., TN

click here
Descendants of
Philip Pryor
McNairy Co., TN