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The Pruiett Family

Part 4

The 1810 personal property tax list for Pittsylvania Co., Va. showed as persons chargeable for the tax, Asa Prewit and R. Parker, 2 white males over age 16, 2 horses, mules, etc., and the amount of tax as 24 cents. Zachariah Prewit, who was listed on the same date, appears immediately after Asa Prewit; this likely means that Zachariah Prewitt lived fairly close to Asa Prewitt. On Nov. 12, 1810 Asa Prewitt went surety on a marriage bond for Richard Parker (Page 49 Marriages by Williams).

Asa Prewitt died in Pittsylvania County around 1815. The March Court of 1815 essentially appointed Zachariah Prewitt as administrator of his estate and four other gentlemen as appraisers of his estate. An appraisement was listed in his name dated May 15, 1815. Tabitha evidently died by 1817 because on Feb. 17, 1817 Robert Ferguson was appointed guardian of Robert, John, William, and Thomas Prewitt, orphans of Asa Prewitt, deceased. (Pittsylvania Co. Order Book 18, p. 142)

On June 16, 1817 William Tucker and Thomas Stuart Prewitt, orphans of Asa Prewitt deceased, were bound out to Zachariah Prewitt (Pittsylvania Co. Order Book 18, p. 207). Zachariah Taylor Prewitt raised Thomas and William saying they were sons of a cousin Asa Pruett. According to the 1840 census, Zachariah Pruit was 83 years old and a pensioner for "Revolutionary or Military Services."

The Will of Zachariah Prewitt
The Will of Zachariah Prewitt

Zachariah Prewitt died in Pittsylvania Co., Va. in 1843. His will was written Jan. 16, 1840 and probated May 15, 1843. His will provided for his daughters Sally Brown, Polly Richardson, Jincy Love, Leahanna Hall, Rhoda Prewitt and Catherine Smith, his son Wiley Prewitt, a granddaughter Mary Ann Prewitt, a grandson Alexander Prewitt and his deceased cousin's two sons Thomas Prewitt and William Prewitt.

Thomas S. Pruett married Susan W. Epperson in Pittsylvania Co., Va. on Jan. 8, 1836. Surety, Fountain Epperson. Susan was born in Virginia in 1812. Thomas S. and Susan W. Pruett had the following children:

According to the 1840 census, Thomas Pruit was living in the Southern District of Pittsylvania Co., Va. In his household were three females, one age 20-30 (presumably Susan) and two under five years of age (presumably Francis and Sarah). Thomas was likely already living on the land he had purchased from "Elisha D. Waller and Hugh Fallen," known as the Mann tract, given the proximity of two individuals with similar names (see Hughey Falling immediately above Thomas and Thornton Walters above him). While we don't have an actual record of the land purchase, we do have a Deed that gives some particulars about the land (see Pruiett, Part 5 for a copy of the deed between Thomas Pruitt and his three oldest children). It appears that Thomas Pruitt and his family owned this land from the late 1830s until 1900 when it was turned over to Joseph Booth and his new bride, Francis Ann, Thomas's oldest daughter by his first wife, Susan Epperson. As far as we can tell, this 125 acre farm was located in the Laurel Grove area. This is based on 1880 and 1900 descriptions of the census enumeration districts in which the Pruitts resided and by comparing an 1881 Danville City Directory list of farmers residing in the Laurel Grove area to 1880 and 1900 census records. Some of the Laurel Grove farmers lived near the Pruitts according to this analysis while no farmers from other areas were close neighbors. We also found additional evidence that places the location of the farm on modern day Rt. 729, about a mile east of Kentuck and about five miles south and west of Laurel Grove. See Pruiett, Part 7 for more information about this evidence.

At the time of the 1850 census, the Thomas and Susan Pruett household appeared as follows:

1850 Census - Southern District, Pittsylvania County [Census Record]
NameAgeSexProfessionReal Estate ValuePlace of BirthAttend SchoolRead/Write
Thomas S. Pruiett36M$435VirginiaNo
Susan Pruet38FVirginiaNo
Francis Pruet13FVirginia
Sarah Pruett10FVirginia
Thomas Pruet5MVirginia

The Pruett family's last name was spelled three different ways on this census record. Thomas's last name appears to be "Pruiett." This is probably the first time this spelling of the name was used and is likely just a mistake by the enumerator since Thomas could not read or write. The last name was also spelled "Pruet" and "Pruett."

Two households away from Thomas Pruett was a 45-year-old black man named Lewis Ronalds who lived with the William Slayton family. It's interesting to note that 1850 Property tax records for Pittsylvania Co., Va. listed Thomas S. Pruett and Lewis Reynolds FN [Free Negro] as a single taxable entity. Between 1835 (when Thomas first appeared in Property tax records) and 1847, Thomas Prewett/Pruett was usually shown as the owner of one slave and was generally the only member of the Pruitt family to own a slave. In 1848, 1849 and 1850, Thomas did not own slaves, but as shown in the 1850 property tax record, he seemingly worked side-by-side with Mr. Reynolds, a "Free Negro." We do not know if Lewis Reynolds had previously been owned by Thomas Pruett. We do know, based on the 1850 Slave Schedules, that Elisha Waller and Hugh Fallen, the individuals from whom Thomas bought his 125-acre parcel, were the owners of significant numbers of slaves (see Pruiett, Part 5 for more on this land transaction). Perhaps there's a connection between that land transaction and Thomas's slave ownership; however, more research will be required to determine how Thomas became a slave owner.

William C. Pruett married Frances P. Epperson on Nov. 8, 1834. Surety, Fountain Epperson. According to the 1840 census, William Pruit was living in the Southern District of Pittsylvania Co., Va. In his household were two males under 5 years of age (perhaps sons who died before the 1850 census) and two females, one age 20-30 (presumably Frances or "Fanny") and one under five years of age (presumably Sarah). Thomas Pruett, William's brother, appears on the preceding page of the 1840 census, probably indicating that the brothers lived close to each other.

At the time of the 1850 census, the William and Fanny Pruet household appeared as follows:

1850 Census - Southern District, Pittsylvania County [Census Record]
NameAgeSexProfessionReal Estate ValuePlace of BirthAttend SchoolRead/Write
William Pruet35MLaborerVirginiaYes
Fanny Pruet39FVirginiaYes
Sarah Pruet15FVirginia
Thomas Pruett9MVirginia
John Pruet7MVirginia
Robert Pruett5MVirginia
Taylor Pruet4MVirginia

It's interesting to note that the enumerator checked the "Attends School" box for both William and Fanny and did not check that box for any of the children. It's likely that the enumerator meant to check the "Cannot read or write" box.

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