Jonathan Fairbanks and Clyde Edwin Tuck

Past and Present of Greene County, Missouri

Early and Recent History and Genealogical Records
of Many of the Representative Citizens


JUDGE JAMES R. VAUGHAN. The life and record of the late judge James R. Vaughan, for many years a prominent attorney and business man of Springfield, are typical of that class of men who in the earlier history of this country helped to lay the foundations of its present greatness, the same being true of his honored father and grandfather before him. He was austere in his relations with his fellow-men, puritanical in his ideas of right and wrong and zealous to live up to them. While on the bench he had a proper sense of dignity and research which was due to his court, and was not slow to insist on them. Nevertheless he took a lively interest in the careers of young men starting their work at the bar, and many of them have reasons to remember the kindly aid and suggestions from him which saved them from the pitfalls and traps of the law into which, in their ignorance, they might otherwise have fallen. In his public career as well as in his private life no word of suspicion was ever breathed against him. His actions were the result of careful and conscientious thought; and when once convinced that he was right, no suggestion of policy or personal profit could swerve him from the course he had decided upon. His career was complete and rounded in its beautiful simplicity; he did his full duty as a public officer and as a private citizen; and he died, in the fullness of years, beloved of those near to him, and respected and esteemed by his fellow citizens.

Judge Vaughan was born in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, January 6, 1845. He was the eldest son of Thomas and Susan B. Vaughan, and he was four years old, when, in 1849, his parents moved to Christian county, Missouri, locating on a farm, and there the elder Vaughan became a prominent citizen; he took much interest in public affairs, and was one of the political leaders of that county. He was a Whig until that party was succeeded by the Republican party in the fifties, and he was a stanch Union man during the Civil war, and after the war he was a Democrat. His death occurred on August 18, 1880, his widow surviving several years. She was a native of Tennessee, and was a daughter of Robert Lawing, who was an early settler of that state. James Vaughan, Sr., paternal grandfather of our subject, was a native of Virginia. Thomas H. Vaughan, father of our subject, was a soldier in the Seminole Indian war in Florida. He and his wife were members of the Presbyterian church, but late in life she joined the Methodist Episcopal church. To these parents seven children were born, only three of whom grew to maturity, namely: Samuel R. died in 1899 at the age of twenty-two years; a daughter who became the wife of James R. Bell; and James R., of this memoir.

Judge Vaughan grew to manhood on the home farm near Ozark, Missouri and attended the district Schools near his home, and the schools in Ozark, and in 1860 entered the University of Murfreesboro, Tennessee, where he remained until the commencement of the Civil war, when the institution was closed. Young Vaughan then returned to Missouri with an uncle, Dr. David A. Vaughan, and remained with his parents until March 19, 1862, when he took "French leave" of his home and joined the Sixth Missouri Volunteer Cavalry under Gen. Samuel R. Curtis, enlisting at Cassville, this state. Although but a boy of tender years, he proved to be a faithful and courageous soldier and participated in a number of engagements in western Missouri, such as Sarcoxie and other places, later going south, and was with the army that invested the renowned Confederate stronghold at Vicksburg, later went up the Arkansas river to Arkansas Post, after which he was assigned to different transports on the Mississippi river. Besides the siege of Vicksburg he was in the engagements at Jackson and a number of cavalry raids in eastern Louisiana; was in the Red river expedition led by General Banks, and fought at Sabine Cross Roads and Pleasant Hill and was again in an expedition to southeastern Mississippi, along Mississippi sound. Although in many campaigns and engagements he was never wounded. For meritorious conduct he rose to the rank of sergeant-major, and as such was honorably discharged after the battle of Baton Rouge, March 22, 1865, and returned to his Missouri home. After teaching school a short time he entered Illinois College, at Jacksonville, Illinois, where he spent one term, and in 1866 entered the law department of the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor from which he was graduated in March, 1868. Soon thereafter he began practicing his profession at Ozark, Missouri, and built up a good clientage, ranking among the leaders of the Christian county bar, and became a public school commissioner. Remaining at Ozark until 1877, he came to Springfield, where he spent the rest of his life, and was one of the ablest and most successful lawyers in Greene county, and enjoyed a large business. He was possessed of a logical and analytical mind, was resourceful, tactful and tenacious, and as a pleader at the bar he had few equals. In 1886, upon the death of Judge W. F. Geiger, Governor Marmaduke appointed Mr. Vaughan to the position of circuit judge, to fill out the unexpired term of several months, and he discharged the duties of this responsible position in an able and most satisfactory manner. Although a very busy man professionally he found time to look after extensive business interests, which accumulated with advancing years under his able management and keen foresight. During several years he was vice-president of the First National Bank, of Springfield, and he did much to further the prestige and success of the same by his able counsel and management. Aside from that he owned considerable valuable real estate, and was attorney for several corporations, and was widely known as one of the most successful corporation lawyers in the state. Politically, he was a Democrat and was one of the local party leaders, however was not a seeker after political preferment, preferring to devote his attention exclusively to his extensive professional and business interests.

Judge Vaughan was married, May 10, 1871, to Barbara A. Weaver, a daughter of John R. Weaver, a native of Tennessee, from which state he emigrated to Christian county, Missouri, in an early day, and there became a prominent citizen, and he served that county twice in the office of county treasurer. Mrs. Vaughan was born on December 17, 1852, and was one of seven children.

To Judge Vaughan and wife eight children were born, six of whom are still living, namely: Lena V., who married John A. Taylor, president of the Springfield Business College and a prominent business man of this city; they have three children and live in a cozy home at 800 South National boulevard; the other children are Anne C., Charles and James; Susie died when fourteen years of age, and Mary died at the age of two and one-half years; Eleanor and Robert H. Mrs. Vaughan lives in a beautiful home on East Walnut street, and she has a host of warm friends.

Judge James R. Vaughan was summoned to his eternal rest on February 4, 1904. Of him the Greene county bar will ever cherish his many virtues in fondest memory, and his many friends will lay up in their hearts in highest esteem the pure worth of him whose exemplary life and character were manifest in all his professional, judicial and business relations.

[1413-1416]


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