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.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Identifying Our Morgan DNA

The search for the origins of our ancestor Charles Morgan who died in Warrick County, Indiana in 1832 has been ongoing for many years. The internet is full of theories of supposed family lineages none of which are verifiable. After participating in an autosomal DNA project several years ago, one of my primary goals has been to identify the location of our Morgan DNA by chromosome and segment. Until recently I had found no matches that appeared to descend from our Charles Morgan but several weeks ago, I found two descendants of his son Anthony who match my DNA and that of my two first cousins from this lineage on Chromosome 4. Once these Morgan descendants were identified, an entire block of matches that had previously been complete mysteries became probable candidates as descendants from either the Morgan family or an allied maternal lineage. This listing shows matches to myself and my cousins with the segments and size of the match as well as a notation of any known ancestral lines.


In a statement given when applying for a Revolutionary War pension, Charles Morgan stated that he was born 1757 in Fauquier County, Virginia and was living in York County, South Carolina by 1775 when first called into service. One of the most common theories is that Charles Morgan who died in Warrick County, Indiana was the son of Benjamin Morgan and Phoebe Settle of Fauquier County, Virginia who migrated to Wilkes County, North Carolina around 1770 and eventually to Tennessee where they died. A thorough search of the records of Wilkes County has produced proof that Benjamin's son Charles was still living in Wilkes County, North Carolina in 1780 when he married Ann Hall on the 21st of January 1780. This Charles Morgan has been identified in countless websites and family pedigrees as the son of Benjamin's brother John Morgan and Martha Settle, however, the deed records of Wilkes prove that to be incorrect. A 1784 deed from Benjamin Morgan to William Johnson for 300 acres includes as part of the legal description of the land that Benjamin Morgan was selling the phrase "along a line between Benjamin Morgan and his son Charles" (Deed Book A-1, p. 504). Various sources had identified all of the younger Morgan individuals in Wilkes County as children of John Morgan and Martha Settle, but there is no record that John Morgan ever lived in that county. The Capt. John Morgan who served in the Revolution from Surry County, North Carolina was a completely different person and never migrated to Tennessee, dying in Stokes County, North Carolina (formed from Surry). See a previous post regarding documented information for Benjamin and John Morgan along with errors in the online family pedigrees for the Morgan family in Sumner County, Tennessee.

Another of the primary theories of Charles' lineage identifies him as a son of Anthony Morgan of Brunswick County, Virginia who was a grandson of the earliest known ancestor of this family, Anthony Morgan of Glamorgan, Wales, who died in Old Rappahannock County, Virginia in 1688. The elder Anthony Morgan's son Charles was the father of Benjamin Morgan and his son Anthony the father of Anthony Morgan of Brunswick County. Numerous sites list Anthony Morgan's son Charles' date of birth as 1764 in Brunswick County which definitely disagrees with our Charles Morgan's stated date and place of birth. I have been unable to find any primary source to document a connection to Anthony Morgan. The theory appears to have been based upon proximity in York, South Carolina and the fact that Charles named a son Anthony.

In reviewing any lineages that could be found for the individuals who are matches on this segment of Chromosome 4, besides the two who descend from Charles Morgan's son Anthony, one appears to descend from Anthony Morgan of Brunswick County, Virginia and four are from Duncan families which may be related to the family of Ann Dunkin or Duncan, wife of Anthony Morgan (II) and mother of Anthony Morgan of Brunswick, Virginia. It has been suggested that Charles Morgan, born 1680, married an Ann Duncan but no reliable sources have been located for that assumption.

I am in hopes that more matches on this segment of Chromosome 4 will be forthcoming and can eventually definitely identify Charles' family. If you're reading this post, are a descendant of this Morgan family and have participated in an autosomal DNA project, drop me a note in the comments. And if you've uploaded your raw DNA data from Ancestry, 23andMe or FtDNA to GEDMatch where we can compare matches that would be excellent.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Pryors of Bourbon County, Kentucky

Joseph Pryor, Sr., son of Samuel Pryor and Prudence Thornton, settled in Bourbon County, Kentucky by 1810 when he was recorded in the census of that year. He had previously lived for some years in Botetourt County, Virginia where he is listed each year as a taxpayer from 1783 until 1792. By 1800 he is found on the tax lists in Woodford County, Kentucky before his move to Bourbon. Woodford County was formed from Fayette County in 1788 as was Bourbon in 1786. By 1810 Joseph was recorded in the census of Bourbon County. He wrote his will there on the 30th of December, 1812 and by February Court of 1813 he was deceased when his will was presented for probate.

There is much speculation on possible family connections between the various Pryor families who settled in Kentucky and Tennessee after the American Revolution although at present nothing has been found to document a connection. Joseph Pryor used some of the same given names that are common in our Pryor family of the Jackson Purchase descending from Richard and Mourning Thomson Pryor such as William, Joseph, John and Richard but we have no documented proof to connect the families. My two first cousins and I have numerous autosomal DNA matches to descendants of Joseph in Ancestry's DNA system but it is not as reliable as Y Chromosome DNA tests. The participation of Pryor individuals who descend from our Richard Pryor who died in Logan County, Kentucky in 1797 is needed to truly confirm the relationship.

Recently in the course of searching the wonderful collections of original documents at Family Search, I found scans of several original documents by Joseph Pryor and his sons which include their signatures. Original signatures are a great benefit to genealogical researchers especially since early American colonial families favored ancestral names and used the same given names repeatedly. It's wonderful to have scans of these signatures that help identify various individuals.

This 1810 consent to the marriage of his daughter Prudence to Robert Hall was signed by an elderly Joseph Pryor just two to three years before his death in early 1813. The consent also includes the original signatures of his sons John, Richard and Edward Pryor as witnesses.


Another interesting document found at Family Search is the following bond executed by Joseph Pryor (Jr.) and his brother John in November of 1815 to the Commonwealth of Kentucky when requesting a license to allow Joseph to keep a tavern in his house in Bourbon County.


If you're a male descendant of Richard Pryor and Mourning Thomson with the Pryor surname, please consider participating in the Pryor Y-DNA Project.