Although there is still some controversy, many genealogists now subscribe to the belief that my great-great-great grandfather, Nathaniel (Miguel Luis) Pryor (c. 1800-1850) was, indeed, the son of Nathaniel Pryor, a well-documented member of the famed expedition of William Clark and Meriwether Lewis, the first American overland expedition to the Pacific coast and back (1803-1806).
There have been numerous books written about the expedition, of course, and also one written specifically about Nathaniel Pryor (the elder), so I won't go into his history here. His son's history, however, lies scattered in odd remnants which are only partially in any assembled form despite his own contributions to the saga of the Old West and California.
He was, it seems, raised in the Kentucky area (much larger then as a frontier place than today state boundaries) and, at some point in his early adulthood, made it out to the Colorado River area of northern New Mexico, particularly around Taos. He was a trapper and trader, perfecting his skills before running into some trouble with the authorities around Taos. The Mexican governor of New Mexico, for example, accused Pryor and his associate James Ohio Pattie of trapping without a license and possibly being spies for the "Norte Americanos". Pattie, Pryor, and a small band of other tappers made their way to California about 1827. They were promptly jailed under suspicion of being spies for the United States which was even then considered to have an eye toward annexing Mexico's western territories.
Nathaniel Pryor, however, made himself useful by repairing silverwork for the Catholic missions, and later converted, being baptized in the Catholic faith in 1836. His godfather for the baptism was a former Frenchman, renamed Jose Luis Vignes, who had come to California about 1821 and had developed a large vineyard in what is now downtown Los Angeles. Considering the grapes and vines of the California missions inferior, Vignes had imported vines from his native Bordeaux in France and been so successful he was eventually exporting California wines throughout California and other places.
Pryor, too, owned a vineyard area in Los Angeles (around First and Commercial Streets), and the two men were probably business associates to some degree.
In 1838, Nathaniel Pryor, now known as Nathaniel Miguel Pryor, had somewhat proved his worthiness and security to the old established Californio families and married Maria Teresa Sepulveda at the San Gabriel Mission. Two years later, Don Ygnacio Sepulveda surrendered his claimed interest in Rancho de los Palos Verdes to his brother-in-law Nathaniel Pryor for $50.
Through the 1840s, Pryor was named as godfather for several new sons and daughters born among the old Californio families, including the Dominguez, Ontiveros, Romero, Aguilar, and Lugo. H. H. Bancroft's exhaustive history of California records that Pryor was also named a "regidor" (city councilman) for Los Angeles in 1846 and 1847. His first wife, Teresa Sepulveda, had given him a son -- my great-great grandfather, Pablo, in 1839 -- but died from complications of childbirth with a second son, Manuel, who also died in 1840.
Pryor remarried to Maria Paula Romero in 1848. They had two sons, Daniel in 1849 and Nathaniel in 1850. Nathaniel Miguel Pryor died in 1850, according to Marie Northrup's seminal research, from a series of epileptic fits.
Legal machinations and drawn out, expensive court cases would plague Pryor's widow and sons for over a decade after his death.