A One-Name Study
for the BARNUM/BARNHAM Surname
Notes for Thomas PRUITT
Thomas Pruett "Ole Tygar Tom" was born in 1692 at Varina Parish, Henrico County, Virginia Colony, the eldest son of Henry Prewett, Sr. and Rebecca Ann Dobbs. His early life may have had some interesting twists and turns, as related in the following excerpt from the book The Bugger Saga, written by Dr. Maurice Pruitt (pen name Wade Pruitt):
This brings us to the "Pruitt Rose". It seems that "Ole Tygar Tom" Pruitt, when about two years old, was sleeping one spring day in his cradle under the cool of a tree, watched by his nurse. Something caused her to leave the babe for a few minutes and while she was gone, he was stolen by a passing Indian woman, who had recently lost her child. He remained with the Indians for four years until traders began bringing back word of a redheaded, blue-eyed boy running wild among the Cherokees. The Pruitts finally got him back, positive identification having been given by his foster mother, admitting where she had stolen him, and a birthmark on his left shoulder blade. The yarn goes on that the boy recently restored to his parents was none too happy and several times ran off to his foster mother, only to be returned. Finally, his foster mother agreed to come and live with the Pruitts if her stolen son would remain with his parents. This she did, and he took care of his foster mother as long as she lived.
The Indians welcomed traders, but they were hostile to those after their land and poachers ? especially the latter who killed their game just for their skins. As I have written, several times, the Pruitts were blacksmiths. It seems that the whole family spent their spare time making nails. Then once a year they would go among the Cherokees, trading these as well as their skills at blacksmithing for furs ? they were shrewd operators ? after taking a gun apart during the day, they would say that they had not the time to fix it, but if the Indians would guide them and help with their baggage they would finish by campfire that night. Thus they were given expert guidance and help with their belongings.
Old "Tygar Tom" Pruitt, although he had no doubt been adopted into the Cherokees, fell afoul of the "Law of the Path". This was a simple life-for-a-life business. If a white man killed an Indian, the first white man who came down the path, regardless of his attitude toward the Indians, was killed ? usually by any member of the dead Indian's clan. This law also applied to murder of one Indian clan member by a different clan. Anyway, one day "Ole Tygar Tom" Pruitt was returning from some business with his Cherokee friends. Shortly before this a white man had killed an Indian. Just as he was going along a path whose sides were thick with wild red roses, a Cherokee lay in wait. He got "Old Tygar Tom" in his sights and fired, but just as he pulled the trigger, the former ducked to avoid a rose bush with its thorns that stretched neck high across his path. Thus he ducked just in time and his life was saved by a red rose. Hence the wild red rose became the flower of the Pruitts and they took it everywhere they moved and planted it on their farms.
My grandfather Wade, whose father John Dickie Wade, was closely associated with Thomas Pruitt upon his arrival in Lauderdale County, Alabama, until the latter's death in 1857, told me of a trip these two made back to Halifax County, Virginia, about 1833, where both had been born. On this trip Thomas Pruitt procured some cuttings of the Pruitt rose, which "Old Tygar Tom" had set out along the Catawba River in Halifax County, and brought them back to Alabama with him. The Pruitt and Chisholm roses were very numerous about Pruitton, Alabama when I was a boy.
Source: Pruitt, Wade. 1977. Bugger saga: the Civil War story of guerrilla and bushwhacker warfare in Lauderdale County, Alabama. Columbia, Tenn: P-Vine Press: Thomas Pruett, a blacksmith, may have married three times, but no record survives of any of the marriages. His first wife, name unknown, appears to have been the mother of his eldest son, Thomas Prewett, Jr., born about 1711.
Thomas's second wife, Mary Chastain, was a French Huguenot widow of Nicholas Ducray, who had come to Virginia in 1699 with her husband aboard "The Nassau." Mary was said to be the daughter of Etienne Chastain and Jeanne Laurent, and was also sometimes confused in records to be the daughter of Dr. Pierre Chastain, who was born about 1709 and died between 1728-31 unmarried. Mary had two sons from her first marriage, Nicholas and Jean Ducray, born between 1701-14 in Goochland Co. Virginia. The exact year of Mary's birth is uncertain. She was married by 1699 and it is estimated that she was born about 1680, though she may have been younger than nineteen years when she arrived in Virginia.
Thomas Pruett and the recently widowed Mary Chastain Ducray were married about 1719 in Henrico Co. Virginia. Thomas was probably a few years younger than Mary. They had at least four children together including William, Abraham and Rene, each born in the 1720s. Mary is the only one of Thomas's wives to be named in Virginia records with her husband.
In Henrico County, Virginia, February 1719 court: Thomas Randolph sued Andrew Pruit, and later Hugh Pruit and Thomas Pruit. In February 1720 court: Michael Holland entered suits against John Pruit, Thomas Pruit, and Hugh Pruit. In one of these, Hugh Pruit, John Lewis, and John Hucabee stand security for Thomas. In Henrico County, May 1721 court: Thomas Jefferson (grandfather of future president) vs Thomas Pruit and Mary (Mary Chastain, his wife) for debt of 3 pounds 16 shillings. He settled for 15 shillings and 10 pence.
Upon petition of William Kent and John Robertson, ordered the sheriff summon Thomas Pruitt to appear at the next court and give security for estate of Nicholas DuCrey, deceased. In Henrico County, Sept. 1722 court: Upon part of William Kent, who was security for Mary DuCray's administration estate of Nicholas DuCray, deceased, obtained an order from July Court to deliver said estate into his hands... upon inquiry he finds a great part of the said estate wasted by Thomas Pruit who married the widow of said Nicholas DuCray. Ordered John Lewis, William Giles, William Womack, and William Elsup to appraise the estate of Nicholas DuCray.
Thomas and wife, Mary, settled up James River from his father's land at Almond Creek in Henrico Co, Virginia, for when Goochland Co. was formed from Henrico County in 1727, Thomas was one of the first residents.
The 1729 tithables for Parish of King William, Goochland County, Virginia, lists: Thomas Prouet - 1 tithe. In 1729, Thomas paid a fine of 50 pounds of tobacco for saying a bad word. The 1730 tithables for Goochland County list : Nicholas DuCrai - 1 tithe and Jean de Crais - 1 tithe. These were probably stepsons of Thomas.
On March 2, 1731 Deed between Thomas Pruit and Edward Scott, administrator of John Stephens, deceased, in Goochland County. The 1731 tithables for Goochland County June 1731 court: Thomas was fined 50 pounds of tobacco for swearing.
On December 16 1733, Mary Prouit, godmother to Zacarie, son of Jacque Robinson and Susanna, born December 15, 1733, presented to baptism by Jean Chastain and Rene Chastain. There are no further records of Mary Chastain Ducray Pruett found.
Thomas Pruett purchased land on Stock's Creek, Amelia Co, Virginia, in 1737, and resided there until his move to southern Virginia.
Thomas Pruett probably married a third time by 1735, her name unknown, (possibly to a Miss Snowden) the mother of his youngest sons Michael and David Pruett. (David named his first son Snowden Pruett, perhaps after his mother's maiden name?)
On July 19, 1745, Thomas began to dispose of his land holdings on Stock's Creek and over the next two years purchased 1,000 acres on Catawba Creek in Brunswick Co. (Lunenburg) Virginia. In 1752, the portion of Lunenburg Co. where Thomas lived was placed in newly organized Halifax Co. Virginia.
On May 16, 1756, Thomas Pruitt, Sr, blacksmith, gave two of his sons, Renny Pruitt, and Abraham Pruitt, and his son-in-law John Farmer, 150 acres each on Catawba Creek, Halifax County, Virginia. All three deeds were witnessed by Thomas Pruitt, Jr, and William Pruitt.
It is believed that Thomas Pruitt, Sr. died in 1759 and following the English law of primogeniture, the home plantation and the bulk of the estate went to the first born son, Thomas, Jr. On Feb. 21, 1760, Thomas, Jr, sold 100 acres each to his brothers William Pruitt and David Pruitt. On June 20, 1765, William Pruitt sold 50 acres to Michael Pruitt, and on Feb. 18, 1767 William, David, and Michael all sold their lands in Halifax Co, Virginia, back to Thomas Pruitt, Jr.
Varina is a former unincorporated town and current magisterial district in the easternmost portion of Henrico County, Virginia. It was named for Varina Farms, a plantation established by John Rolfe on the James River about 45 miles upstream from the first settlement at Jamestown in the Virginia Colony, and across the river from Sir Thomas Dale's 1611 settlement at Henricus. Varina became the county seat of Henrico when it was formed as one of the eight original shires of Virginia in 1634, and remained in that capacity until 1752, when a new courthouse was built at Richmond.
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