Hamilton County Pioneers - the Priddys

  • Tuesday, December 26, 2006
  • John Wilson

Davis Priddy was on the first County Court when James County was organized. One of his sons, Burke, was a well-known physician who lost his life in a smallpox epidemic when he refused to abandon his patients.

The Priddys are said to trace back to Capt. Robert Priddy of the English Navy, who was given a land grant about 1650 in New Kent County, Va., “for ridding the English shipping lanes of Spanish pirate ships.” A descendant, George Priddy, was born about 1746 in Hanover County, Va. He married Penelope Davis at Goochland County. The family migrated to Halifax County, Va., then down to Stokes County, N.C. about
1800. George Priddy operated a mill and farm worked by 18 slaves. His children included James, Lewis, Elizabeth who married Joseph Abbott, Frances who married Armistead Abbott and then Phillip Wortham, William, John, George, Jane who married John Carr, and Pettis. James married Elizabeth Hodges, and Lewis married Elizabeth Tyler. Pettis married Mary Wood.

John Priddy, who was born in Virginia in 1781, married Nancy Whitlock in Stokes County two days before Christmas in 1806. She was the daughter of Charles Whitlock, a native of Ireland. The John Priddys made their way to Cocke County, Tenn., then moved west to Polk County, Mo. John Priddy died there in 1861. Nancy died in 1857.

One of their sons was Burke who married Minerva Walker. Burke went to Missouri and on to Grayson County, Texas. Another son of John was Davis, who was born in Stokes County March 12, 1809. He married Eliza McDowell, whose family had moved to Missouri from North Carolina by the time she was born in 1812. Davis Priddy was
among the major purchasers in the Ocoee sale of the former Indian lands. He obtained 160 acres in 1839 at $2 an acre, then got four grants of 40 acres and one of 80 in 1841, paying as little as 12 cents an acre. He first settled in Meigs County, where he gave land for the Limestone Baptist Church. The County Line Baptist Church was built on Davis Priddy property at Georgetown in 1846. The Priddy School was set up to serve the children and grandchildren of Davis Priddy and several neighboring families. The children were John, Elizabeth Catherine, Martha, Burke, James, Nancy A., Mary M. “Polly” and Daniel McDowell “Mack.” Elizabeth married Alfred Thomas A. Day, and Polly married James Davis. Davis Priddy was chairman for two terms on the James County Court. When he died in 1882, he was buried at the Ball Hill Cemetery.

John married Eliza Jane Denny in 1866 soon after returning from the Civil War. Their children included Nancy E., William D., Burke, Henrietta who married Jim Millard, Davis Charles who married Sena Pendergrass, Mary “Molly,” James G., Jennie, Malissa who married Newt Roark, and Elizabeth who married Dyke Eldridge. Elizabeth named a son, Davis Eldridge, for her Priddy grandfather. James G. married Lena Collins and their large family included Hollace, Crawford, Minnie who married John A. Allison, Ruth who married James Clyde Blankenship, L.J., Betty Jane who married J.V. Allison, Wallace, Dewitt, John H. and William Burke. James G. Priddy served as trustee of Meigs County.

Children of Davis Charles Priddy included Pearl who died at nine months, Morris who married Lela McRee, Frank who married Helen Hockenhull, Orma who married prominent medical researcher Floyd Ratliff, Ruth who married Douglas Milburn, and Dorris. Louis Priddy, a son of Morris, operated the Front Runner athletic store on Hixson Pike. He married Sandra Brown. Their son, Wade Priddy, is a captain in the Marine Corps. A daughter, Laura, married Ron Pope. Other children of Morris are Evelyn who married Leslie Arms, Margaret, Mary Ann who married Harold Plumlee, and Rita who married Bob Adams.

Burke, son of Davis, was briefly married to Harriet Moon, then he married Isabel Jane Irwin. After she died in 1885, he married Jane Talley. Burke studied medicine under local doctors and at Vanderbilt University. Dr. Priddy quarreled with Henry Yarnell and in January 1881 was charged with his murder. But the case was dismissed in January 1882 at Ooltewah. Dr. Priddy moved to Daisy when he became physician for the Sale Creek Coal and Coke Company. He contracted smallpox from a patient and died May 3, 1914. He was buried at the Rogers Cemetery.

One of his daughters, Nancy, was studying under her father to be a doctor when she died at a young age. She was buried “under the big cedar tree by the driveway to the old homestead of Dr. Priddy on Highway 58 (Jack Davis farm).” Other children of Dr. Burke Priddy included Martha “Mattie” who married George Clingan, Addie, Mary Maude “Molly” who married Thomas Asbury Roark, Caroline Nevada “Neva” who married Thomas C. Solomon, and Lyda Bell who married John Shelton.

One of the sons of Dr. Priddy was John George, who was a government doctor in the Philippines. He later lived in California and left on a business trip from San Francisco to Holtville in 1915, but was never heard from again. Another son, Daniel McDowell, married Maude Rogers, and their children included Addie, Cecil, Fred, Robbie and Glenn.

Another son of Dr. Priddy was James Burke Priddy. He married Margaret Coleman at Sale Creek in 1903. Their sons were Mitchell, James Burke Jr. and Lewis Thomas. Mitchell married Dorothy Evans. Their daughters were Dolores who married Rufus Yates, Myrna who married James Boyd DeBerry, and Margaret Jane who married Darrell Blevins. James Burke Jr. was unmarried. Lewis Thomas married Alma Juanita Layne, and their children were Evelyn Elaine who married William Carter, Lewis Jr. who married Catherine McCrary, Faye Ruth who married Thomas DeBoard, and James Burke.

Dr. Priddy also had twins, Franklin Monroe and Jesse Clay, in 1884. Franklin died when he was three. Jesse married Ruth Rees. Jesse died in 1930 and Ruth in 1928. Their children were Jessica “Jessie,” Blanche, Helen and William Kennedy “Billy.” Jessie married George Mayer, and Helen married John Shaw.

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