Saturday, May 28, 2016

My 64 ~ Researching My 4th Great Grandparents : William Prior and Elizabeth Ellis

My fourth great grandfather, William Prior, was born in Enfield, Connecticut, on September 24, 1761. His father, Ebenezer, first married Hannah Simons in 1737, and had 10 children with her. Hannah likely died after their last child was born in 1754 (perhaps in childbirth), and five years later he married Catherine Simons, possibly a sister of his first wife. William was the second child of Ebenezer and Catherine, and their oldest son.

Until May 1749, the town of Enfield was part of Hampshire County, Massachusetts.

At the age of 16, William enlisted on November 8, 1777 in the Revolutionary War. A private, he served in Capt. Joseph Walker's Company, Col. Samuel B. Webb's Regiment of the 9th Connecticut Line. At the time of his enlistment, Colonel Webb was a prisoner of war, and the regiment was commanded by a Major Hunter. William affirmed in his affidavit dated April 30, 1818 that he was in the battle at Rhode Island.

Following his discharge on November 8, 1780, he married Elizabeth "Betsey" Ellis, the daughter of Samuel Ellis and Zilpah Hammond. They were married in Chester, in Hampden County, Massachusetts on December 7, 1782. Betsey was born around 1757 in Becket, Berkshire County, Massachusetts.

By the 1790 U.S. Census, the Priors were living in Cambridge, Vermont, in present-day Lamoille County. Except for a brief period around the time of the 1810 U.S. Census, when they lived in Franklin, Vermont, they lived in Cambridge.

They had six children:

Daniel, b. 1785 in Chester, Mass.
Zilpah, b. 1787 in Chester, Mass.
Catey/Catherine, b. 1789 in Cambridge, Vt.
William, Jr., b. 1792 probably in Cambridge, Vt.
Alvah, b. 1797, probably in Cambridge, Vt.
Amanda, b. 1805 in Cambridge, Vt.*

* Amanda Prior would marry Robert Griswold in 1822, the son of another 4th great grandfather of mine, Benjamin Griswold.

His "Certification of Pensioner's Estate and Income" in 1820, lists the following personal property:

1 potash kettle $10.00
1 5-pail kettle damaged 1.00
1 pail-full pot 2.00
1 dish kettle 1.25
1 spider 1.25
1 tea kettle 1.00
1 fire shovel 1.00
1 fire tongs 1.50
1 earthen platter .70
10 earthen plates .50
3 earthen bowls .25

as well as "a lease of forty-five acres of land with a log house"

He further stated that "I am by occupation a farmer but am some what[sic] infirm in consequence of a tumor on my thigh, that my wife Elizabeth is aged sixty years but almost a cripple."

Elizabeth Prior's Widow's Pension application states that William died on January 4, 1837, while staying with their son, in Westport, Essex County, New York. They had apparently moved to Westport about two years prior to William's death. Affidavits in the pension file from sons Daniel and Alvah, and his brother Heman, state that Elizabeth was "removed" to Vermont following his death, but there is no mention of where William was buried.

The only evidence of his body being returned to Vermont for burial is an article in the St. Albans (Vt.) Daily Messenger, entitled "Revolutionary Soldiers: A list of the names of the men who fought for independence and who are buried in Vermont," dated August 19, 1905. In the paragraph for Franklin County, his name does appear.

Elizabeth lived another 11 years, but her final resting place is also unknown.

P.S. I have not been able to find him in the DAR database of Patriots (even using alternative spellings of Pryor, Prier, and Pryer) so if I manage to submit him as one of my supplementals, I would be the only Daughter.


1790 US Census; Census Place: Cambridge, Chittenden, Vermont; Series: M637; Roll: 12; Page: 150; Image: 129; Family History Library Film: 0568152.

1800 US Census; Census Place: Cambridge, Franklin, Vermont; Series: M32; Roll: 51; Page: 420; Image: 237; Family History Library Film: 218688.

1810 US Census; Census Place: Fairfield, Franklin, Vermont; Roll: 64; Page: 648; Image: 00577; Family History Library Film: 0218668.

1820 US Census; Census Place: Cambridge, Franklin, Vermont; Page: 29; NARA Roll: M33_127; Image: 183.

1830 US Census; Census Place: Cambridge, Franklin, Vermont; Series: M19; Roll: 183; Page: 58; Family History Library Film: 0027449.

1840 U.S. Census; Census Place: Cambridge, Lamoille, Vermont; Roll: 543; Page: 32; Image: 73; Family History Library Film: 0027440.

Allen, Francis Olcutt, History of Enfield, Connecticut, 2 vols. (Lancaster, Pa.: Wickersham Printing Co., 1900). Revolutionary War Pensioner Census, 1841 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2004. U.S. Pensioners, 1818-1872 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2007. U.S., Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Application Files, 1800-1900 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2010. Vermont, Compiled Census and Census Substitutes Index, 1790-1860 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 1999. Vermont Pensioners, 1835 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 1998.

Dodd, Jordan, Liahona Research, comp. Massachusetts, Marriages, 1633-1850 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2005.

Elizabeth Prior, widow’s pension application no. W18783, for service of William Prior (Pvt., Capt. Joseph Walker's Company, Col. Samuel B. Webb's Regiment of the 9th Connecticut Line, 1777-1780), Record Group 15, National Archives, Washington, D.C.

Massachusetts Vital Records to 1850 (Online Database:, New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2001-2010).

“Revolutionary War Service Records,” database and images, Fold3 ( : accessed 13 April 2016); service of William Prior (Capt. Joseph Walker’s Co., in the 9th Connecticut Regiment commanded by Col. Samuel B. Webb, Revolutionary War); citing Compiled Service Records of Soldiers Who Served in the American Army During the Revolutionary War, compiled 1894 - ca. 1912, documenting the period 1775 – 1784, Record Group 93, National Archives, Washington, D.C.

St. Albans Daily Messenger.  Vermont, St. Albans.  online images.

Western Massachusetts Families in 1790. (Original Online Database:, New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2012. (From various authors, Helen S. Ullmann, FASG, ed.).

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