Sunday, November 30, 2008

Vaughn Family of Livingston County, Kentucky


Above is a photo of David Vaughn, his children and his mother. David is holding my grandmother, Nettie C., who was born in 1897. The older woman in the long black dress is Julina "Lina" Vaughn, David's mother.

Everyone has at least one brick wall in their research. I have several, but one of the families that has been most difficult to research is my Vaughn line of Livingston County, Kentucky.

I have solid documentation back to my great-grandfather, David Vaughn and to David’s mother, Julina Caroline Vaughn (July 1827 - after 1900). From Julina backwards, the picture gets murky. It appears that Julina, aka Lina, had four sons, William (ca 1844-before May 1859), David (1846-1924), W. Richard (1854-1930) and Jackson (1859-after 1910) and one daughter, Eliza J., a twin to William. The murkiness partially stems from Lina’s inability or refusal to acquire a husband. Researching unmarried mothers and their ancestors presents a challenge.

In his will, William McCrosky of Salem left to Lina’s “oldest son William 10 shares of capital stock in the Southern Bank of Kentucky, being $1000 in my own name on the books of the bank, certificate dated 17 October 1853.” Whether there was a blood relationship between McCrosky and William Vaughn remains a mystery, but it hard to believe that he would single out this child if there was no connection. If McCrosky was the father of William Vaughn, he had to have been the father of William’s twin, Eliza J. [aka Jennie]. Why did he not leave any property to her?

I haven’t a clue about the father or fathers of the other children. A number of years ago, an older relative said she thought David Vaughn’s father was named Howard. She also said Mr. Howard went away to war, possibly the Civil War, and when he came home, Lina had made different living arrangements. Search for a Mr. Howard did not reveal any likely candidates and the Civil War was just a bit too late to fit what I have documented.

Another brick wall within this brick wall family has to do with Rebecca Vaughn, who most likely was Lina’s mother. Almost every researcher of this Vaughn family has stated that Rebecca’s maiden name is unknown and she was a widow when she married John Jacob Burner the 21st of April 1834 in Livingston County. Maybe, but I think not. I believe the marriage to Burner was her first - no matter how many children she had before that marriage. Perhaps she started the tradition of children before marriage in this family.

Rebecca was born between 1810 and 1812, either in Kentucky or Tennessee, depending on which of the two 1850 Livingston County census listings you favor. In one census, she is listed as head of household and in the other she is a member of the household of Henry and Elizabeth Vaughn, likely her son and daughter in law. I believe she had several children, including Julina Caroline, born 1827 and died after 1900; William Henry, born circa 1829, married Eliza Jane Hull 8 January 1850 and died before 15 June 1853; George W., born circa 1838, married (1) Susanna Morgan 1857 and (2) Amanda Martin Porter 1867, moved to Dunklin County, Missouri; and Jerome, born circa 1841 and died during the Civil War in 1864.

So, if Rebecca Vaughn married Mr. Burner in 1834, what happened to him? He is not on the 1840 Livingston County census, but Rebecca appears and is listed as Rebecca Barner. There is an older man, between the ages of 70 and 80, in her household, but seems much too old to have been Mr. Burner. My hunch is that older man was Rebecca's father. On the 1850 census listings, Rebecca is once again Rebecca Vaughn.

Quite by accident, I learned that John J. Burner filed for divorce from Rebecca “Faughn” in 1843 in Caldwell County. He stated he lived with her from the time of their marriage [1834] until about five years ago, at which time Rebecca “voluntarily abandoned ... and positively refuses to live with him any more” and he prays for a divorce. Andrew Brown gave a deposition, in which he stated that he saw Rebecca when she was “moving and heard her say she had left Jake ... and would never live with him again.” Brown also stated he saw her “suckle a child which she claimed as her child that must have been born more than a year after she left her husband.”

The divorce was granted, Rebecca became Rebecca Vaughn again and John Jacob Burner disappeared. Often in early Kentucky, a woman was summoned to the county court to name the father of an illegitimate child so the child would not become a charge on the county. In other cases, the family of the husbandless mother would take on the responsibility of the support of the child and there might not be a record in the county court minutes. Possibly this was the case with Rebecca and Lina Vaughn as no bastardy bond or summons to court for either of them has been found.

Now, the next brick wall. Who was the father of Rebecca? There are two candidates: Daniel Vaughn and Hector Vaughn. According to the 1810 and 1830 Livingston County census records, Hector was born between 1770 and 1780. Daniel was born between 1780 and 1790. At this point, it is impossible to determine if Daniel was a younger brother or a son of Hector. He may not have been either, but they lived in the same general area and I feel there was a close relationship. Also, I feel it is likely that Sarah Vaughn, who married George Fisher in 1828 and who was enumerated a few households away from Rebecca and family on the 1850 census, was a close relative, maybe a sister to Rebecca. For the most part, the Vaughns and Fishers are buried at Ditney (New Union) Cemetery near Lola, Kentucky.

I still have much to do, but, bit by bit, I am adding pieces to this puzzle. Anyone had any luck with seances?

Published 30 November 2008, Western Kentucky Genealogy Blog,


Apple said...

I have no suggestions but it is very interesting trail to follow. My great-grandmother was informally adopted so I doubt I will ever find a record and I have no surname to search for.

Anonymous said...

Brenda, I appreciate all of the hard work you've done on the Vaughn's. I am related through George W Vaughn, Rebecca's son. Rebecca has caused much confusion as to the last names of her and her children. Your work on the Burner vs Barner cleared things up also. Do you think Rebecca and JJ Burner had children? George was born during the time of their marriage about 1836. My grandfathers sister remember Grandpa George as an old man with a long white beard when she was young, about 1907.

Brenda Joyce Jerome, CG said...

If you will email me at, I may be able to help you.