On August 3, 1808, the New Orleans City Court issued a citation or summons against Chribbs based on a claim by J.F. Gray and John Taylor that he owed them $397. (Note 1.) The sheriff returned the citation to the court on March 8, 1809, with a notation that the defendant had not been found.
No documents have been found that place Chribbs in New Orleans after 1808. He nevertheless continued to operate river boats in the region.
In 1810, he was operating on the Red River in Louisiana. On May 12 of that year, John Sibley, the federal Indian agent in Natchitoches, recorded that he had sent cotton to New Orleans on Chribbs’s barge. (Note 2.)
Shipped on Board William Chribbs’ Barge for N. Orleans Thirteen Bbls. Cotton from Mr. Bludworths gin marked J.S. consigned to Messrs Kennar & Henderson on Commission & gave to Wm Chribbs a draft on them for $340. & Saunders & Knop Do. 123.
On the following December 24, Sibley recorded that he bought 2121 pounds of bacon from Chribbs at six cents a pound. (Note 3.)
Chribbs had been divorced since October 1806, and he may have had no contact with his children after he went to New Orleans in early 1807. Although he had been granted custody of daughter Hannah and son John, it seems likely that both children remained at Fort Massac or Smithland (perhaps with the McClains), unless John was old enough by then to accompany his father. (Note 4.)
For her part, on February 2, 1809, Elizabeth remarried in Randolph County to Drury (Drewry) Prichard. Prichard had been at Fort Massac for a number of years and is listed in several contexts in the 1805 settlers’ petition to Congress described in Part III. (Note 5.)
Of particular note is that Elizabeth is described in her certificate of marriage to Prichard as “formerly the Wife of William Chribbs.” (Note 6.) The certificate reads:
Indiana Territory } Near Fort Massac
Randolph County }
I certify by these Presents that on this Day the 2d day of February 1809 I have married together in Form & Manner as the Law of this Territory prescribes Drewry Prichard with Elizabeth Deny formerly the Wife of William Chribbs & both residing in the Place aforesaid
[signed] Frederick Graetere
Elizabeth’s maiden name was apparently Denny, although the certificate spells it with only one “n.” (As documented by the 1790 U.S. Federal Census, various Denny families were living in western Pennsylvania at that time.) Subsequent references to her would use the surname Prichard, sometimes spelled by others Pritchard or even Pritchett.
The Prichards Move to Missouri
In December 1811 and early 1812, earthquakes centered on New Madrid shook the mid-Mississippi valley. There was at least some damage at Fort Massac. (Note 7.)
By the time the earthquakes hit, the Prichard family had moved to the Missouri Territory. On November 29, 1811, Prichard served on a jury in St. Charles. (Note 8.) In May 1812, he purchased a lot in the town of St. Charles, located at the northeast corner of present-day French and Second Streets. (Note 9.) The Prichards would sell this lot the following year, but would continue to own property in the town until March 21, 1818. (Note 10.)
By March 1812, Prichard was serving in the St. Charles County militia or “cavalry” under Captain James Callaway. All of the members of the company signed a receipt that reads as follows. (Note 11.)
2d March 1812. Saint Charles –
We the undersigned acknowledge to have received of Capt James Callaway of the Cavalry of St. Charles one sword & belt and one pistol arms of the United States which we severally promise to be accountable for and return when demanded by the said Capt. Callaway. Witness our hands the day & year above written.
Prichard’s rank was third sergeant. (Note 12.) His militia service did not go well. Later that year he was involved in an altercation that resulted in a court-martial on September 22, 1812. A record of the proceeding describes the charges against Prichard. (Note 13.)
At a court martial held on the head of the River La Vans on the 22nd day of Sept. 1812 for the purpose of trying Sergt Drury Prichet for raising a riot while on guard & James Clay for striking the Sergt of the Gard. Present Maj. Daniel Boon [Daniel Morgan Boone]. Capt. Christopher Tolbert. Lieut. P.K. Robbins. Coronet John B. Stone. Purser Riggs.
Although James Clay was also apparently called to account for his own conduct, his complaint formed the basis for Prichard’s court martial. (Note 14.)
James Clay complains of Sargent Prichet of ill language, cursing, and threatening to pull out his eyes and stabing of him with his knife and he also threatened to shoot me and presented his gun and knife in a menacing manner.
The next month, Prichard was indicted by a grand jury in St. Charles for assault against Ebenezer Ross. (Note 17.) The date of the alleged assault was August 30, but there is no indication that this was the same event that resulted in Prichard’s court martial by the St. Charles militia.
The records don’t reflect the outcome of the assault charge, but they do include a bond dated February 22, 1813, by Prichard and his security, H.H. Stephenson, guaranteeing appearance in court. In addition to Prichard’s signature, it contains the signature of his wife “Eliza Prichard” as a witness.
Surviving court records also describe two suits filed against Prichard at St. Charles to recover debts. In 1816, he was sued by Edward Olden for $150. (Note 18.) And, in 1818, he was sued by James Price for $275 upon an assignment from Lemuel Price. (Note 19.) In the latter case, the plaintiff was represented by attorney Rufus Easton.
In May 1816, Prichard obtained a tavern license in St. Charles County and probably had a tavern on the Flauherty property he purchased in 1814 at 340 South Main Street. (Note 20.) No other records refer to Prichard’s tavern business in St. Charles, but several years later he ran a tavern at Franklin.
War had been declared against England in June 1812. In Missouri, conflict with Indians who were allied with the English made travel west of St. Louis and St. Charles particularly dangerous until the war ended in 1815.
Shortly after, the Prichard family moved further west in Missouri. By 1815 Mary Chribbs was married to William Becknell, and by 1817 Hannah Chribbs was married to George Washington Evans. What else is known about Drury and Elizabeth Prichard is told on the William Becknell pages.
Did Chribbs Emigrate To Spanish Mexico?
Possibly the last reference to the whereabouts of William Chribbs appears in the records of the Republic of Texas.
Prior to 1821, the territory of Texas was part of the Spanish colony of Mexico. Even before 1821, there was a small emigration from the United States to settle land in what is now Texas. Mexico won its independence from Spain in 1821, and the Republic of Texas split off from Mexico in 1836. Texas would then join the United States in 1845.
During its decade as a republic, Texas made grants of land to settlers. In 1838, the Land Office Department of Red River County, which included a large portion of northeastern Texas, documented its “list of the names of persons to whom certificates have issued from the board of land commissions for said county during the 4th month to wit May 1838.” (Note 21.)
The list identified certificate number, name of person, amount of land, and date of emigration. Certificate number 594 was given to the “Heirs Wm Cribbs dcd” with 1813 listed as the date of his emigration. This date is the earliest on the list, with most dates in the 1830s.
Chribbs’s daughter Mary, with her husband William Becknell, emigrated from Missouri to Texas before its independence from Mexico. She would therefore have been in a position to obtain a land certificate in 1838 based on her father’s earlier residence—whether he had actually gone to Texas or she only believed he had.
There are undoubtedly more traces of William Chribbs to be found in the court records and property records of Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, and Tennessee, if not also in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Missouri, Louisiana, and Texas.
As for his nemesis, in 1809, Daniel Bissell was transferred as a lieutenant colonel to command Fort Belle Fontaine north of St. Louis. This must have been a bittersweet assignment because his brother, Captain Russell Bissell, had died at that fort at the end of 1807. (Note 22.) Daniel Bissell saw combat service during the War of 1812 and was promoted to the rank of brigadier general. After the war, he returned to the St. Louis area where he acquired a substantial amount property and where he lived until he died in 1833. The house he built there was lived in by generations of Bissell descendants and is still standing.
Copyright 2012-2014 Gregory Hancks
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