Willis Pryor, BiographyPorter County biographical sketches . . . .

Transcribed biography of Willis Pryor


Mrs. Willis Pryor, and her husband, came to Portage from Chicago in the 1930's. Mr. Pryor was semi-retired when they bought their property on Central Avenue, later retired and they lived there year round. Mr. Pryor died in 1954.

The land upon which Mrs. Pryor's home rests has an interesting history. It is on what was then called the Old Chicago-Detroit Post road. In earlier days, however, it was the site of an Indian counseling and camp grounds. A creek runs through the property and often arrowheads come to the surface and countless numbers of them have been found through the years.

Johnny Appleseed came through this part of the country on his pilgrimage to help housewives plant gardens, furnishing them seeds as he walked along. He also planted apple trees throughout the eastern and midwestern states. However, in the summers of 1933 and 1934, under President Roosevelt's diligent direction, the Civilian Conservation Corps, in a burst of enthusiasm for clearing the land, cleared away all of the apple trees that had been planted in the Pryor's land.

Throughout the years gentians, wind flowers, trailing arbutus, have grown in profusion on the Pryor property. After Mr. Pryor retired they planted an herb farm, employing boys from the area for weeding, planting, and harvesting the fragrant herbs. Shelves were built for drying and when the wind came from the northerly direction, the fragrance drifted as far away as Highway 6 and people would follow the aroma to see where it could be coming from. Basil and sage were the main products and were harvested and sent in 50 pound sacks from the McCool freight station to herb dealers in New York. The boys who helped the Pryors are all grown up now; some are businessmen, some are policemen in the area, and every once in a while one will be heard to say, "Oh, yes, I know the Pryor land. I used to pull weeds for them at one time."

Then came World War II, prices went up, and the cost of growing herbs became prohibitive. Mr. Pryor gardened, growing vegetables and flowers. Mrs. Pryor is an artist and continued to paint and exhibit her paintings at fairs and shows and galleries throughout the country. She has a permanent exhibition at the Chesterton State Bank. It was unusual to see a woman painting the mills and manufacturing buildings in and around Gary but she felt, and still feels, that this is an important part of the history of Gary; steel being such an integral part of life here.

Since Mr. Pryor's death Mrs. Pryor has lived a semi-retired life. She painted for a time but has not sent to exhibitions for some years.

Source: American Revolution Bicentennial Committee of Porter County. 1976. A Biographical History of Porter County, Indiana. Valparaiso, Indiana: American Revolution Bicentennial Committee of Porter County, Inc. 180 p.
Page(s) in Source: 145-146

This biography has been transcribed exactly as it was originally published in the source. Please note that we do not provide photocopies or digital scans of biographies appearing on this website.

Biography transcribed by Steven R. Shook


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