John Pryor's Ancestors                               by Patricia A. Johnson                    November 2005

In searching for the parents of John Pryor, finding Simon Pryor, Jr. and Margaret Storms and Simon Pryor, Sr. and Susanna Morgan, was absolutely the biggest breakthrough of 2005. I knew very little about John Pryor before 2005. I knew he was born in 1816 in Kentucky and died in 1856 in Coles County, Illinois. He married Faithy Champion in 1839 and had five daughters and one son. He was age 40 when he died and was buried in Old Baptist Cemetery near Etna, Illinois. Finding his parents and where he was from in Kentucky seemed like an impossible task. I would work on his case for awhile and then put him away on the shelf.

Periodically I would look for new information about him, and this is exactly what happened in January 2005. I found a Margaret Cole married to an Isaac Hart in Kentucky, with the mention that she was also the mother of a John Pryor. I had found this information before, but without something substantial it was just a theory. However, this time I found something different. Another descendant had posted a statement that Isaac Hart had given permission for Hannah Pryor to marry in Kentucky - as her stepfather - and that his family Bible stated that he had married Mrs. Margaret Pryor and she had two Pryor children, Hannah born in 1814 and John born in 1816! This perked me up and got my attention. Here was something other than theory.

Many years ago I had ordered the 1855 Coles County Illinois census through Interlibrary Loan. Since I have so many people from that county, I decided to copy the whole county, and I have those pages in my Pryor binder. I immediately went to that census to see if there were any Harts near John Pryor in 1855. Imagine my delight when I found several of Isaac Hart's sons living as neighbors of John Pryor. Then I went to the 1860 Coles County Illinois census and found Isaac and Margaret Hart living on the next farm to John Pryor's widow, Faithy and her second husband! Now there was no doubt - I had found conclusive evidence that John Pryor and Margaret Hart could be connected. But I still needed something more than assumptions before I would rest easy.

Among the items posted on the Internet was a mention of Margaret's first husband being Simon Pryor, Jr. and that his family was of Grayson County, Kentucky. I immediately went to Grayson County, Kentucky (via the Internet, of course). I learned a great deal about Simon's father, Simon Pryor, Sr. and his mother Susanna Morgan. This couple stayed in the Grayson County area for all of their adult lives, so there were many records about them. One thing that lit my enthusiasm even more was that Simon, Sr. was a Revolutionary Patriot!!

One of the neat things on the Internet is the American Revolution Pension Applications. This is available free on Heritage Quest, through the Fort Collins Library if you have a library card. I immediately went there and found that Simon Pryor, Sr. did indeed file for a pension and even better than that -- Susanna filed for a widow's pension after he died! When the veteran filed for his pension the primary concern was proving he served -- when the widow applied for her pension she had to prove she was married to him and often times submitted great genealogical information in fulfilling that requirement. How could I have been so lucky? Susanna submitted her family Bible pages to show her marriage, births of her and her husband and all 13 children, deaths of all that had deceased at that time -- and the marriages of her children that were married at that time - including Simon, Jr! It said very plainly "Simon Pryor married Margaret Storms" it listed their children as Hannah born 22 June 1814, John born 27 May 1816 and Baby born 31 December 1818. Simon Jr., died 9 April 1818, eight months before the Baby was born. We all presume this Baby was a son named Jesse Pryor, but his name is not mentioned in the family Bible.

This proved the names of John Pryor's parents beyond my wildest dreams. I spent quite a bit of time investigating Margaret Storms Pryor and Isaac Hart's children in hopes of finding out more about Margaret. I was totally engrossed in finding out about their 7 children. This venture introduced me to several Civil War Veterans; children that moved to Texas, Missouri, Oklahoma, and back to Illinois. All I really learned about Margaret Storms is that she was alive in 1865 and no where to be found in 1870. I learned that her father was John Storms and her mother was Hannah Collard. There is still much to be learned about these frontier Kentucky people.

I was totally amazed to receive a copy of Simon, Sr. and Susannah Morgan's marriage bond from the original in the possession of Celia Keeling 116 Circle Dr. Bardstown, KY 40004. Celia had the actual marriage bonds in her home as the result of a transcribing project. She made a copy of that very old document and mailed it to me. The marriage bond was dated 25 August 1785!

So, at last, John Pryor has been found. He seemed like an impossible case for many years and now I know a great deal about him. He died so young that there wasn't much to find about him, and his children all moved far away and memory of him was lost in far off Kansas and Oklahoma Missouri and California. Following is a recap of what I know about each of these Pryor couples:

John Pryor:

Born 27 May 1816 in Grayson County, Kentucky

Married 29 Oct 1839 in Coles County Illinois to Faithy Champion

Died 01 Aug 1856 in Coles County Illinois

Faithy Champion:

Born about 1818 in Tennessee to Richard Champion and Dorcas Manning

Died 20 Aug 1910 in Coles County, Illinois

Simon Pryor, Jr.:

Born 03 Oct 1789 in Bullitt County Kentucky

Married 20 May 1813 in Grayson County Kentucky to Margaret Storms

Died 08 Apr 1818 in Grayson County, Kentucky

Margaret Storms:

Born 11 Dec 1796 in Kentucky to John Storms and Hannah Collard

Died after 1865 probably in Coles County Illinois

Simon Pryor,Sr.:

Born 19 Feb 1760 in Essex County, New Jersey

Married 25 Aug 1785 in Nelson County, Kentucky to Susanna Morgan

Died 10 Feb 1842 in Grayson County, Kentucky

Susannah Morgan:

Born 10 Jun 1765 in Virginia

Died 22 Dec 1861 in Grayson County, Kentucky

Added notes:

1. Margaret Storms was believed to be Margaret Coles because someone saw that a Reverend Coles married Margaret and Simon , Jr. Fortunately Susannah's Bible proved her correct maiden name.

2. Some researchers believe Susanna Morgan's father was Charles Morgan and he and her mother were killed by Indians in about 1780. That she went to live with a married sister in Bardstown, Kentucky after their death. This may never be substantiated but could be entirely possible due to the violence of that early time in Kentucky (before Kentucky became a State in 1791)

3. Simon Pryor, Sr. served in the American Revolution and he entered the service of the United States under the following named officers, General Maxfield, Colonel McFarlan, Capt Edmerson, Lieuitenant Seth Rament, that he was first drafted and joined the army in the militia of New Jersey in May 1776 and was stationed at Elizabeth Town State of New Jersey and marched from there through Pennsylvania and was at the Battle of Long Island at which place Gen Sullivan commanded at this time. He served six months in the militia of the State of New Jersey, that he afterwards volunteered for nine months in the militia of the State of New Jersey and served out the nine months under the before named officers and at the end the nine months he enlisted for three years under the same officers and served about two years and then enlisted under Capt Craig in Col Miles Regiment of Lite Horse and served in it some time and then hired a substitute, that in the whole he served in the Army upwards of five years.

That he was in the battle of Monmouth, battles of Springfield, Long Island, besides some skirmishing. That he was acquainted with Genl Mifflin, Genl Lee, Genl Green, Genl Sterling, Col Ford. (From his pension application dated 27 Aug 1832)

There is a great deal to find out about these people, but I thank God that I have been privileged to find out this much.