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.


Richard Pryor is the earliest known ancestor of the Pryor families of the Jackson Purchase. He is first found in Albemarle County, Virginia where he is recorded as serving in the Albemarle militia guarding the western Virginia frontier during the French and Indian War in 1758.

The birth of a child, Richard, was recorded on the 11th of Dec 1763 in the Douglas Register of St. James Northam Parish, Goochland County to Richard Pryor and Mary Mooney. Mary obviously died shortly after the birth of the child for Richard and Mourning Thomson married circa 1765, probably in Louisa County, Virginia. Mourning is named as "Mourning Pryor" in the 1774 Louisa County will of her father, Thomas Thomson.

In 1780 Richard Pryor is reportedly on a list filed showing names of those building a road to Kentucky through the Cumberland Gap during the Revolution. He was recorded as serving on juries in Washington County, North Carolina in 1779 and again in 1782. Greene County, Tennessee was established out of Washington County by the North Carolina general assembly on 18 April 1783 and in 1783 Richard Pryor is listed in an Assessor's Return of the 4th District of Greene County. Richard is also recorded as an overseer of a road from Camp to Cove Creek that year.

On December 6th, 1787, Mourning "Prier" was one of the charter members of the Big Pigeon Primitive Baptist Church in Greene/Cocke Counties, Tennessee. In February of 1794, the church minutes record Mourning "Prier" as making application for dismissal which was presumably in preparation for the family's move to the Logan County, Kentucky area.

Richard Pryor was taxed for 200 acres on the Red River in Logan County in 1796, but was deceased before August 8, 1797 when Mourning was appointed administratrix of his estate. (Logan County Court Order Bk. A-1, p. 67)

The only document recording his heirs is an 1811 Logan County deed wherein ten heirs sold their portion of a tract of 250 acres in Logan County to Jonathan. The deed specifically states that the sellers are the heirs of Richard “Prior. It was common practice for legatees to sell their portions of an estate to one sibling but the problem with this deed is that it does not make an assertion that Jonathan was also an heir of Richard Prior.

On the 19th of June 1800, Mourning Pryor married Thomas White in Logan County, Kentucky and the following Smith County, Tennessee deed confirms that she was in fact the widow of Richard Pryor:

10 May 1802 - Smith Co., TN Deed Book 1801-17 p. 94

Between Thomas White and Mourning White, formerly Prior (Pryor) admx. of Richard Pryor, decd of Logan Co., KY and James Ewing of Smith Co., TN...During the lifetime of said Richard Pryor, he bound himself in the penal sum of 200 pounds to execute a deed to William Pryor for 400 acres of land, his choice of 1280 acres part of 3000 acres lying on the Caneyford of Cumberland River, Mourning White (formerly Pryor) widow of Richard obtained letters of Administration of said decedent and said William Pryor has sold to James Ewing his rights to 200 of the 400 acres of land etc.
Five years after Mourning married Thomas White, on September 28, 1805, Jonathan Pryor married his youngest daughter Elizabeth. When Thomas died in 1806, he named Mourning as the executrix of his estate in his will dated 18 Mar 1805. She is recorded, as Mourning White, in Logan County tax records after Thomas’ death and in the 1810 census. It had been presumed that she died sometime before 1820 for she is not found in that census. Trips to Logan County to search extensively for more information failed to produce any further record of Mourning or a gravesite until the recent discovery of both Jonathan Pryor and Mourning White having been listed in the 1823 tax lists of Calloway County. See newest post regarding Mourning - Mourning Pryor in Calloway County.

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