Wilson County Kansas
People of the South Wind

James A. & James P. Vaughn

As related by Marion M. Vaughn from old family records and quotes by my father and Grandpa Vaughn that I recall.

My Vaughn ancestry starts in Green County, Kentucky with the 1841 marriage of Melissa Wright and Thomas Vaughn, my great-grandparents, their son, James A. Vaughn, being my grandfather. Thomas Vaughn was a nonbeliver in slavery so in 1857 he freed the one slave he had and moved to near Petersburg, Illinois. There grandpa grew to manhood and married.

In the early 1870s the Vaughns all migrated to Kansas, Grandpa James A. settling on a farm east of Fredonia. Thomas and another son, Levi, continued on to a farm in Pratt County, Kansas where Thomas lost his life in a runaway team accident. Grandpa James A. relocated to a farm owned by Preston Conyers, his father-in-law, the house being at the foot of "Buttermilk Hill," an old Wilson County landmark for more than 100 years. In early days, settlers living on the upland south and west of the early day town of Guilford, where there was a general store and a water powered grist mill, found it necessary to go down a long and very rough hill. One early day a family going to Guilford had a can of sour cream in the wagon and when getting to the foot of the rough hill took the lid off the can and saw buttermilk, hence Buttermilk Hill. The hill is in the county road system and being much improved is used daily by auto traffic at this time.

James A. Vaughn, my grandpa, I was told by my Dad, who was a small boy at the time, farmed the Verdigris Valley bottom ground for 13 years and the flood destroyed his crops 12 of those years. One year being more trying than the other, James A. planted, tended and raised an excellent field of corn using the best method known, then walking behind a team of horses around and around one row at a time. He then cut the crop and shocked it doing 50 shocks a day by himself, using a hand-operated corn knife. Soon after finishing the field, a big flood came down the river. The shocks floated and the current took them into the timber where they lodged and rotted. Many weeks of hard labor going "down the river" so to speak. James A. Vaughn was one of the old school pioneers who needed neither paper nor pencil to make a contract. A person's word and handshake was their bond never to be broken for any reason.

True, we have raised our standard of living many times since the 1870s, but I wonder at times if in the process we may have lost many of the valuable traits that made for strong characters in the pioneers. I am proud to say that I am a fourth generation descendant of an 1870 Wilson County pioneer.

James P. Vaughn and Josephine Morse were married and were parents of two sons, Marion and Dale.

In Wilson County we can still breathe air not used previously by thousands and still have elbow room to take a stroll down by the river.

J.G. Morse my mother's father, was a direct descendant of a family of Morses who sailed from England to Massachusetts in the year of 1635. Samuel Morse, father of J.G. Morse, came to Wilson County in 1860, homesteading in the Guilford area, 126 years from present date of 1986. In the period of 1870-1986 six generations of male Vaughns have lived in Wilson County; Thomas; James A.; James P.; Marion; Donald and Darin.
By Marion M. Vaughn

Contributed by: Kristin Vaughn


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