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.


  1. I recently discovered a detail on a document for this Kentucky line. It then connects to a unique migration. I think we now have a kit line to match any new tester. In particular, those from Little Osage area in Missouri.


    I have found a connection to a tester that thought he was another line. The documents now show a detail on a document that leads to this line. Since they have already tested, the new person should match. In particular, a tester at Little Osage in Missouri circa 1840 preferred Pryor line.

  3. Thanks so much Laurie. I'm going to send you an email in a few minutes.