The Jackson Purchase region of Kentucky is comprised of the eight westernmost counties - Ballard, Calloway, Carlisle, Fulton, Graves, Hickman, Marshall and McCracken. It is bordered on the west by the Mississippi River, on the north by the Ohio River, on the east by the Tennessee River and the state of Tennessee to the south. By Kentuckians it is generally referred to simply as "the Purchase".

Andrew Jackson and Isaac Shelby purchased the land lying west of the Tennessee River from the Chickasaw tribe and opened the area for settlement around 1820. Within the next few years, my grandfather's ancestors came there from Virginia, North Carolina and Tennessee - the Beadles, Clapps, Pryors and Wingos settled in Graves County with the Reeves and Halls in neighboring Ballard County.

Friday, August 15, 2014


The Pryor DNA Project is working to find clues to the origins of our Pryor families. Most Pryors of western Kentucky are descendants of Jonathan and James Pryor of Graves County. After the revolution, their father Richard Pryor of Virginia moved his family to eastern Tennessee then to Logan County, Kentucky where he died in 1797. Countless Pryor researchers have searched Virginia records to locate Richard’s origins but to date there is no proof of a relationship to any of the Pryor individuals living in Louisa or Albemarle counties where he is known to have lived before migrating westward.

If you are a male descendant of James or Jonathan Pryor with the Pryor surname, your participation in the Pryor DNA Project could greatly benefit Pryor research. A Descendant of James Pryor would be especially important since James' father is listed as Richard Pryor on his death certificate and therefore documented.

Vanessa Wood creator of the Tennessee Pryors website and blog is also the coordinator of the Pryor DNA Project. With her permission, I am sharing her most recent blog post here:

Group 104 on the FTDNA Y-DNA results are Pryors who can trace their line to Matthew Pryor of Marion Co., TN and Granville Co., NC, some to Samuel Pryor and wife Prudence in Virginia, and others to more distant Pryors in CT.

This group is working with genealogist Laurie Scott to gather together solid documentation of this line and use DNA to prove relationships. This group is committed to the process and recently began the process of upgrading their Y-DNA tests to 111 markers to improve their ability to interpret the results. Their connection to one another is the most definitive of all the Pryor families who’ve tested through

Vanessa recently asked Laurie if they need more testers and offered to let folks know here on the blog. Yes, they have “wish list” of ideal testers. These testers aren’t just needed to prove what they already know about their line, but are needed to advance what they know.

Are you a male Pryor or have a male Pryor in your family who fits these wishes?

1. Bourbon County, Kentucky: Pryor male testers that claim lineage to a grandson of Joseph Pryor who died there in 1812. This will help one tester prove they are closer Y-DNA to another tester (this is needed to clarify relationships that are somewhat vague on paper). The tester needs to establish they are “grandson” of Joseph Pryor with original documents.

2. An ancestor in the wilderness of Kentucky or Tennessee before or just after the American Revolution. There were many. The wilderness was the western counties of VA and what is now WV, into OH and the parts of NC that became TN. Or those there by the first U.S. Census in 1790. More still were there. Not all were from Virginia originally. Testers will help this group and possibly other groups of Y-DNA testers in the Pryor Project.

3. Lineage to Samuel II, son of Samuel and Prudence; through a specific son. This will help the entire group. A male Pryor will need to identify which son he descends from.

4. Luke Pryor in their lineage. There were many. They are treated as one, but this group is discovering they were different men. Can you show which Luke you descend from by using only original sources? That rules out all those genealogy articles written in the 1880′s and early 1900′s — original sources are birth records, death records, military records, deeds, wills, etc.

Contact Vanessa through the TNPryors Websire or message through the Pryor Facebook page.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Jamestown Colonist Thomas Garnett

Jamestowne, established in 1607, was the first of the English colonies in America that endured the food shortages, indian attacks and countless other hardships to become a lasting settlement. The only earlier English colony had been Sir Walter Raleigh's ill fated 1585 settlement on Roanoke Island in North Carolina. The 115 colonists left at that settlement in 1587 had vanished when an expedition returned three years later to resupply the colony.

Settlement of Jamestowne
Recently I found that Thomas Garnett, the father of Sussan Garnett, sailed from the Port of London as a passenger on the ship Swan from June through August 1610 to the Jamestowne Colony. His daughter Sussan, born in Elizabeth Cittie around 1622, was the mother of Robert Foster, born about 1651 in Gloucester County and ancestor of the majority of the Foster families of Amelia County, Virginia which include our Mary Holt Wingo. The children of Thomas Wingo and Mary Holt were some of the earliest settlers to the Jackson Purchase. Thomas Garnett, his wife Elizabeth and baby daughter Sussan, survived the attack in 1622 by the Algonquin tribe who had become disenchanted with the colonists. The indians attacked the out plantations and killed over 300 of the colonists but a late warning saved Jamestowne.

Thomas Garnett may have come from Lancashire in England. English records show that there were Garnetts settled there from at least the 12th century and the parish records for the church at Kirkby Lonsdale, Lancashire show a Thomas Garnett, son of Robert Garnett, baptised there on the 14th of December 1585.

It appears that Thomas Garnett came to the American colonies as an indentured servant to Capt. William Powell. Tyler, Narratives of Early Virginia cites a conflict between Thomas Garnett and Capt. Powell from the record of the first meeting of the elected assembly at Jamestown on August 3, 1619:
Captaine William Powell presented a pettition to the generall Assembly against one Thomas Garnett, a servant of his, not onely for extreame neglect of his business to the great loss and prejudice of the said Captaine, and for openly and impudently abusing his house, in sight both of Master and Mistress, through wantonnes with a woman servant of theirs, a widdowe, but also for falsely accusing him to the Governor both of Drunkennes and Thefte, and besides for bringing all his fellow servants to testifie on his side, wherein they justly failed him. It was thought fitt by the general assembly (the Governour himself giving sentence), that he should stand fower dayes with his eares nayled to the Pillory, viz: Wednesday, Aug. 4thm and so likewise Thursday, fryday, and Satturday next following, and every of those dayes should be publiquely whipped.
The Virginia Colony
There is nothing to prove that the accusations made by William Powell against Thomas Garnett were true. Only William Powell who was known to be a drunkard and a gambler testified. Powell was also closely associated with the governor having been known to have lost his estate Chippokes, on the James River, in a card game with him.

In a "Muster of Inhabitants" taken in 1624-25, Thomas Garnett, aged 40, was living at Elizabeth City with his wife, Elizabeth, aged 26, who came in the ship Neptune in 1618, and their young daughter, Susan aged three. Elizabeth must have died sometime in 1624 because another census apparently taken later that year lists the wife of Thomas Garnett as Joyse Gyffith, age 20, who arrived in 1624 on the ship Jacob.

Whatever the truth of the conflict with William Powell, within fifteen years Thomas Garnett was no longer an indentured servant and had become a land owner in his own right. There is patent dated 3 July 1635 recorded in the Land Office at Richmond in Grant Book 1, page 201 from Governor John West granting 200 acres of land lying along the Little Poquoson Creek in Elizabeth City County to Thomas Garnett. The land was granted to Thomas Garnett for transporting four colonists to Virginia at his own expense for which he received 50 acres each.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

JP Ancestors in the Court of Henry VIII

As unbelievable as this sounds, I have recently discovered that the documented ancestors of Sarah Loy who married John Isaac Clapp and Sarah M. Rozzell, wife of Lewis Yancey Beadles, Jr., the daughter of Thomas Rozzell and Nancy Abernathy, were in fact descended from Sir Thomas Boleyn through his daughter Mary Boleyn. Several years ago a movie The Other Boleyn Sister was made about Mary, but her sister Anne, second wife of Henry VIII and mother of Queen Elizabeth I, is the most famous of the two sisters.

Mary Boleyn
Both of these Graves County families descend from Christopher Tilghman and Ruth Blount who are documented as coming to the American colonies in 1638. Sarah Loy, the daughter of George Loy and Mary Catherine Tillman (Tilghman) descends from Christopher's son Gideon while Sarah M. Rozzell descends from his son Roger Tilghman.

The great granddaughter of Mary Boleyn and William Carey of Aldenham, and mother of Ruth Blount was Penelope Devereux. The history of this family is filled with the intrigues of the courts of both Henry VIII and his daughter Queen Elizabeth I. Mary Boleyn is recorded as having had an affair with the king before her sister Anne became his second wife and the mother of Elizabeth.

Lady Penelope Devereux, although married to Robert Rich (3rd Baron Rich), had an affair with Charles Blount, Baron Mountjoy. Lady Penelope and Charles Blount are documented as having had four children, one of whom was Ruth. Penelope's brother Robert Devereax, the Earl of Essex, a favorite of Queen Elizabeth was eventually tried and sent to the Tower of London where he was executed. After Devereux fell from favor with the Queen, Lord Rich divorced Penelope in 1605. Prior to the divorce, Lord Rich threw Penelope and her Blount children out of the house. She then began living in his house and having a very public affair with Mountjoy. After Queen Elizabeth's death when James I became King of England, he created Mountjoy the 1st Earl of Devonshire.

Once divorced, Penelope and Mountjoy requested to be married in order to legitimize the children but King James I refused. They did marry in a private ceremony performed by Mountjoy's chaplain but afterward were banished from court by King James.

The above photos of paintings depicting Penelope's parents, Walter Devereux, 1st Earl of Essex and her mother Lettice Knollys make the disparity of their lives and that of their descendants, our Jackson Purchase ancestors, extremely apparent.

It was not uncommon for young men from well to do families like Christopher Tilghman to leave England and settle in the new colonies. The English practice of primogeniture which is the right of the firstborn child to inherit the family estate was the law or custom at the time of the settlement of the American colonies. Many younger sons who were left to make their own way chose to seek their fortunes in the New World. Here they could own vast tracts of land and become affluent as they never could have in England.

I love genealogy but it has never been my aim to find titled or famous ancestors, this information came to me recently from another researcher who called to my attention the identity of the parents of Ruth Blount (sometimes called Devonshire). It is still amazing to me that these are my ancestors and not just the subjects of history books and PBS series.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

My 5th Great Grandmother Sarah

Sarah was the grandmother of Jerman J. Wingo who settled the town of Wingo, in Graves County, Kentucky. She married Thomas Wingo, Jr. around 1757 and by 1765 she was a young widow with four small children. There are no clues to Sarah's surname and the identity of her family although they were surely neighbors of the Wingo family in Amelia County, Virginia living among the families between Flatt Creek and the Appomatox River.

Various family trees online, particularly on list Sarah as Sarah Rucker, but that is incorrect as Sarah Rucker was the wife of Thomas Wingo's brother John. This is substantiated by a court case following Sarah Rucker Wingo's death around 1780. In 1791 her father, William Rucker, executed a deed of gift to the heirs of his deceased daughter. The disputed slaves Milly and her children Sam, Ben, Nan, Charles, Becky, Lewis, Rueben, Edy and Moses were still in the possession of John Wingo, Sarah's husband, as late as 1797. A settlement was finally negotiated between John Wingo and his children wherein they received the slaves given by their grandfather and agreed not to make any claims or demands against the estate of John Wingo. (Amelia Co., VA; Book 9; Page 275; Probate records; 22 Nov 1821)

Sarah is also listed as Sarah Foster in many online family trees which is probably the result of some confusion because she married John Foster the son of William Foster of the Stock's Creek area in Amelia County after Thomas Wingo, Jr.'s death. In 1779, Sarah's son Obediah was listed as a tithe of John Foster and in 1782, Thomas Wingo was. This indicates that it was Sarah and John Foster who raised Thomas Wingo, Jr.'s children, not his brother John W. Wingo as some speculate. It is not impossible that Sarah was the daughter of one of the other Foster families in the area but much research has failed to identify a family with a daughter Sarah who was of the right age and available to have been the wife of Thomas Wingo and William Foster's son John.

Over the last 30 years, I have researched many of the Amelia County neighbors of the Wingo family searching for a family that might have been Sarah's. Richard Borum's 1785 Amelia County will named a daughter Sara Foster, but no records can be found that definitely identify Sarah Borum and the Foster family she married into. Colonial Amelia County is filled with countless families like Meador, Burton, Worsham and Seay which are all names I see repeatedly in autosomal DNA matches but have no documentation of any family connection. For now I'll just keep researching each of the neighboring families as I find a DNA match and maybe someday I'll find Sarah.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

A Step Forward in Beadles Research

For many years, Beadles' family researchers have been trying to find some documentation that would link our ancestor William Beadles of Louisa County, Virginia to other Beadles' families. There were numerous individuals living in Virginia in the late 18th century whose ages and geographic locations suggest that they may have been siblings but no documents to support that conclusion could ever be found.

The births of several of the older children of William Beadles and his wife, Ann Yancey, are recorded in The Douglas Register of St. James Northam Parish in the 1780's and during this same period, the births of children of James Beadles and his wife Susannah "Sukie" West are also recorded. Both William and James Beadles are listed as taxpayers in Louisa County in 1782 and in that year, another possible sibling, Revolutionary War soldier Edmond Beadles is also listed as a taxpayer in Louisa County. 1783 tax records in neighboring King William County record James Beadles and another likely brother, Joseph Beadles. It has always seemed that surely these individuals must be brothers or at the very least cousins, but in the end, the only connection between them was proximity which is never credible evidence of kinship.

As the Library of Virginia continues to add more scanned documents to their Chancery Suits Index, I occasionally return to their website and again search for Beadles in Virginia. This week to my great surprise, I found a Louisa County court case - Wm. & James Beadles vs Achilles Tandy, Admr. of Wm. Tandy dated 1804 but pertaining to events that took place during the late 1780's. As I read through the 59 pages of original documents, I finally found on the second page of an affidavit by William Thomson proof of the relationship between William and James Beadles. William Thomson stated "James Beadles informed him that his brother Wm. gave three bonds of Fifty pounds each for the purchase of Wm. Tandy's land..."

Finally there was proof of one sibling relationship between these Beadles. A statement by Lewis Yancey Beadles regarding events at his father William's plantation in Albemarle County in the late 1780's further confirmed that this was the correct Beadles family. Another small document torn from a larger one which appears to be a 1786 deed, had the signature of Edmond Beadles as a witness linking him to this court case along with William and James.

After 30 years of searching, we've finally taken a step toward finding the family of William Beadles. As with so many other genealogical mysteries, the answers are probably going to be found in the minute details of Albemarle, Hanover and any of the other adjacent counties whose records have survived wars, courthouse fires and other disasters.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

DNA Matches Among My JP Families

This week the results of my recent DNA test have begun to show in Ancestry. There is currently no new information and nothing that will solve any lingering mysteries, but there have already been many matches to Jackson Purchase families where valid historical documentation already exists.

Numerous matches to Clapp descendants have already been identified including this match between William and Mary Clapp, children of John Isaac Clapp and Sarah Loy ~

Matches to John Isaac Clapp and Sarah Loy

Also a match to the previous generation George Loy and Mary Catherine Tillman, the parents of Sarah "Sally" Loy ~

A Wingo family match links Thomas and Sarah Wingo of Amelia County, Virginia to their sons Thomas Wingo and his brother Obediah who migrated to Spartanburg County, South Carolina after the Revolution. Thomas Wingo was the father of Jerman Jeduthan Wingo of Graves County ~

Marilla Pryor, wife of James Rodgers Cargill, of Graves County has always been considered a daughter of Jonathan Pryor and Elizabeth White although there are no historical records to confirm that relationship because of the courthouse fire that destroyed Graves County's earliest records. Now a DNA match to Eustacia "Stacy" Pryor for whom there is historical documentation, confirms that Marilla was descended from Jonathan Pryor ~

And finally, a match to Susannah Mary Pryor Newby confirms the long held belief that Jonathan Pryor and his brother James of Graves County were the children of Richard Pryor and Mourning Thomson of Virginia who migrated first to Tennessee and lastly to Logan County, Kentucky. In the past there has been much debate, discussion and some disbelief that Jonathan and James were truly the children of Richard and Mourning Pryor. Susannah Mary Pryor's husband, Henry Newby, was named among the heirs of Richard Pryor in a Logan County deed of 29 Nov 1811 wherein Richard Pryor's heirs were selling a tract of land to Jonathan Pryor whose relationship was unstated. (Logan County KY DB C:467-469)

I'm looking forward to many more interesting matches and hopefully a few new revelations as the matches continue to arrive.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Wyatt Wilkerson

Wyatt Wilkerson was the maternal grandfather of Sidney Preston Reeves and his brother William Harrison Reeves who settled in the Jackson Purchase around 1840 in the area that became Ballard County. Wyatt was born about 1740 in Virginia and his marriage to Mary Britt on 26 Dec 1765 is recorded in the Douglas Register of St. James Northam Parish, Goochland County. Mary was the daughter of William Britt and Hannah Connelly of Goochland County and is named as Mary Wilkerson in his 1787 will.

Based upon information from the 1807 will of Wyatt's brother, Joel Wilkerson, recorded in Logan County, Kentucky, Wyatt was originally from the southside of Virginia since he was described as being "of Prince George County, Virginia". Wyatt was named as the executor and primary heir in Joel's will which also mentioned possible legacies left by their father Frederick Wilkerson of Prince George County. 

Southside of Virginia, below the James River
Frederick Wilkerson was probably born around 1720 in Prince George County and died sometime before the 19th of November in 1803 based upon a notation on page 98 of Prince George County Surveyor's Book 1794-1824 in regard to a survey of "Frederick Wilkinson, decd., 486 A. in 2 tracts".

A Prince George County deed of 9 Jun 1789 identifies Frederick's wife as Sarah:
Frederick Wilkerson and Sarah his wife of Prince George County to William Edwards, Sr. of same, land where John Chambless's buildings formerly stood, 1 acres, bounded by the old line of John Chambless, Sr. No witnesses. Recorded June 9, 1789.
The birth of Wyatt and Mary's first child, Sally, on the 25th of October 1766 is recorded in the Douglas Register as well as the births of Hannah in 1769 and Lucy in 1771. Sometime after 1771, Wyatt and his family left Goochland County and returned to the southside of the James River where he is listed on the rent rolls of Brunswick County in 1779. It appears that in 1779, Wyatt moved just south of the state boundary line between Virginia and North Carolina. There is a deed recorded in Granville County, North Carolina from Isaac Williams and Jesse Williams administrators of James Moore of Southhampton County, Virginia to Wiatt Wilkerson of Granville County on 3 Aug 1779 (Deed Book M, Page 174-175).

Wyatt and his family moved into the Granville County area and during the next 20 years, several other Wilkerson families settled there as well. There are numerous Wilkerson deeds recorded there in those years but no known family connection between them. In 1786, Wyatt purchased a tract of land on the north side of the Neuse River at the mouth of Knap of Reeds Creek. Knap of Reeds Creek would have flowed from the north into the Neuse almost directly across the river from William Reeves' land where Ellerbe Creek joins the Neuse River on the south side. Living in such close proximity it's possible that Betsy Wilkerson became acquainted with George Reeves prior to their arrivals in Madison County, Kentucky.

Consent by Wiatt Wilkerson for Marriage of Elizabeth to George Reeves
Wyatt left Granville in the late 1790's and is recorded in the 1800 census of Madison County, Kentucky and is also recorded as having been a resident at Fort Boonesborough. In Madison county sometime after the 1st of January in 1802 when the marriage bond was issued, Elizabeth Wilkerson and George Reeves were married.

In the course of the next ten years, Wyatt is also recorded on the tax lists of Wilson County, Tennessee circa 1804-1809. Additionally there is an 1809 suit "Harmon Hays, Plaintiff vs Wyatt Wilkerson, Defendant" in Tennessee that is over a land transaction. Harmon Hays was a land speculator in the Sumner/Robertson County area. It appears that Wyatt may have become involved in a land deal that went wrong. The names of numerous other Madison County settlers are also listed in those Tennessee tax lists. By 1810, Wyatt is once again listed in the census of Madison County, Kentucky which may indicate that he never actually lived in Tennessee, just purchased land there.

Before 1820 Wyatt and Mary Britt Wilkerson joined their daughters and their families - George and Elizabeth Wilkerson Reeves and John and Polly Wilkerson Thompson in migrating further west to Warren County, Kentucky where they are all listed in the 1820 census. Wyatt died in Warren County in 1821 and his will recorded there names his children as Elizabeth Reeves, Polly Thompson, William Wilkerson, John Wilkerson (deceased), Sally Searcy and Jesse Wilkerson (deceased) in addition to grandson Jonathan Parker, son of deceased daughter Lucy Wilkerson Parker.