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Observations on History and Genealogy

In the State Library of New York, in Somers, I found a book on English Ancestors in America. Listed was "Prit, Pret," a clan that left Normandy, France in the 11th Century and settled in Southern England.

In 1066 William, Duke of Normandy, raised an army in Northern France and invaded Southern England. There he defeated Harold at the Battle of Hastings to claim the throne of England.

In the 17th Century most people left Europe to settle in America for religious freedom. In 1620 the Pilgrims left England for Jamestown, Virginia. They got lost in storms and landed at Cape Cod instead.

On March 24, 1634, Leonard Calvert with 200 followers, who sailed on the Ark and the Dove, founded St. Mary's City, Maryland, seeking religious freedom.

Sometime around 1635, a Pruitt family sailed from Cornwall, England and settled in Virginia along with the Crockett, Dize and Parks families. At first, they settled on Virginia's north shore. John Crockett brought his eight sons and their families with him.

The settlers found that it was unsafe to stay where they settled, so they moved to Tangier Island near the mouth of the Potomac River. To this day, nearly four hundred years later, these same families are still present on this island.

Over the next sixty years, the Indian menace became less, due to disease and internal fighting. By 1700, the coastal Indians had completely disappeared and people started moving further up the Chesapeake Bay.

The Pruitt and Hawker families moved up the Maryland peninsula to the area near present-day Washington, D.C. By the early 1760s, the Pruitt, Hawker, Seals and Butts families had settled in the area of present-day Pittsylvania County, Va.

It's a mystery why so many of our ancestors left Maryland and northern Virginia to travel to southern Virginia in the mid-1700s. Among them were John Pruitt and Samuel Pruitt II, William Seales and Hazel Butts. Ambrose Hawker followed about 1770. Over the years these families intermarried several times.

Now that we have moved from Maryland and northern Virginia south to the area of present-day Pittsylvania Co., Va., we find the number of descendents of Samuel Pruitt I growing. It seems that Samuel Pruitt II and his son dealt a lot in real estate, while John Pruitt's family were mostly farmers.

Asa Pruitt and Tabitha Ferguson were my great-great-grandparents. I have been mystified as to why they died so young. I know that Asa fought in the War of 1812, but what was the cause of his death around 1815? What was the cause of Tabitha's death a year or two later? They were so very young.

After the Revolutionary War, some family members started moving westward again. About 1800, the Turner family of Pennsylvania and Virginia and the Brown family of Pennsylvania moved to the Cincinnati, Ohio area. At this time, the Seals family of Pittsylvania Co., Va. moved into the Clinch River and Powell Valleys of eastern Tennessee. After the Civil War, the our Parker ancestors moved from North Carolina into the same area of Tennessee. The Pruitt and Climer families remained in Pittsylvania County until the late 1890s, when they, too, came west to Cincinnati, Ohio.

My great-grandfather Thomas Stuart Prewitt married his second wife, Icyphenia Ford, in 1858. On the marriage document he listed his occupation as Planter, his father as Zachariah Prewitt and mother as Tabitha. It seems odd that he forgot his father, Asa, but not his mother, Tabitha.

My grandfather, Asa Pruett, married Mary Alice Climer on Dec. 31, 1891. He had no schooling and never learned to read or write. He brought his family to Cincinnati, Ohio around 1898 and worked for the Traction Company for 24 years before he died.

Our ancestors served in most major wars from the Revolutionary War to the present day. At least two of our relatives are presumed to have died in the Civil War, one on the North and one on the South.

Now we come to the end of our part of the story. We stopped with our children. We will leave it to the hands of others to carry on these writings. We hope that each of you will add to the story as it unfolds.

Ralph E. and E. Ruth Pruiett
December 1, 1996 and September 9, 1997
Cincinnati, Ohio
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