Keweenaw County Michigan

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JAMES PRYOR, who has been a resident of Houghton County, Michigan, almost continuously since 1852, is a well known contractor of the village of Houghton, and for many years was actively engaged in the mining business. Mr. Pryor was born October 4, 1833, in Devonshire, England, and is a son of Joseph and Elizabeth Pryor, being the I2th of 14 children born to them.

Joseph Pryor was a mine agent in England, and came to America in 1852, locating with his family on Lake Superior, at Eagle River, Keweenaw County, Michigan. He died at Houghton in 1858.

James Pryor attended school until he was 16 years old, then worked in the mines in England until 1852, when he came with his parents to this country. Here he worked first as a miner and later became captain of the Albion mine. In 1853 he moved to Portage Lake and helped to locate the New Albion mine at Houghton. He attended Gregory Commercial College at Detroit, graduating in 1854, and in 1855 went back to England, where he was married. He returned to this country in 1857 and was again engaged in the mining business in Houghton County, and in 1859 he was appointed captain of the Columbian mine and served one year, then took charge of the Boston mine near Eagle River, in Keweenaw County, for three years. He next went to Eagle Harbor, Keweenaw County, where he engaged in the mercantile business until the fall of 1868, and then spent two years as surface superintendent of the Franklin Mining Company in Houghton County. In the spring of 1870 he engaged with the Portage Lake & Lake Superior Ship Canal Company as chief bookkeeper and cashier, and held that position until the canal was completed in 1873, when he was given general charge of the company's business as superintendent. At the same time he served as secretary and treasurer of the Portage Lake & River Improvement Company, continuing in these capacities until 1892, when the canals were sold to the United States government. Since 1892 he has been a general contractor for the construction of public works, and river and harbor improvements at Houghton. He has taken and completed a number of important government contracts and has been very successful. He also owns and conducts a lumber yard under the firm name of James Pryor & Son,—John C. Pryor being junior member and active manager. Mr. Pryor served as township clerk and school inspector in the early days, and has the distinction of having been the first county superintendent of schools in Keweenaw County.

Mr. Pryor was first married in England, in 1855, to Emily Warne, who died in 1863, leaving three children: Joseph F., a dredge engineer; Charles H., now deceased, who was manager of the planing mill of his father; and James R., a machinist and engineer. Mr. Pryor was again married, July 6, 1865, in England, to Isabella J. Chappell, who died leaving four children, namely: Edwin J., a mechanical engineer, who died July 7, 1899, at the aged of 33 years; Reginald C., a civil and mining engineer, now president of the Citizens' National Bank of Houghton, Michigan, whose sketch is given on pages 92 and 93 of this work; W. T., an architect, who died in 1899, at the age of 29 years; and John C., who is now managing the lumber mill of James Pryor & Son. May 1, 1877, our subject married Mary J. Gale, and they have six children: Blanche E. L., Alfred Tennyson, Estelle Belle, Francis C. G., Ethel J. and Clarence E. Mr. Pryor was formerly an Odd Fellow, and filled all the chairs of that order. He has always been a firm supporter of teh Republican party, but has never sought office. He is a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church at Houghton, Michigan, which he helped to establish in 1853.