Nathaniel “Nathan” Vaughn: Establishing Paternity

On the trail of Nathan Vaughn, husband of Susannah McGraw, daughter of Martin McGraw Jr and his first wife Nancy Wood, I mistakenly surmised that Clement Vaughn was his father. Clement is a little better documented in Fayette and Nicholas County history. Nathaniel/Nathan or “Nat” as he appears in the 1840 Fayette Census (Fayette County having been formed from part of Nicholas), is considerably younger. Clement had been around a while, and appeared out of thin air, so why not attribute Nathan to him?

March 4, 1830, Clement Vaughn is recorded for the first time in Nicholas County, WV in the Tax Records. The 1830 Censuses are alphabetized by name and therefore no good for determining actual neighbors or locations within a given county. They are only good for establishing that individuals lived in a specific county for a given year. The same does not apply to subsequent censuses.

“Familysearch: Sign In”. Familysearch.Org, 2022, Accessed 30 July 2022.

Since there are only (about) fourteen years between Clement and Nathan (or Nathaniel) as I now realize, I think it is safe to assume that the two may have been brothers, not father and son as I initially surmised. That’s what I get for being trigger-happy and placing Clement in my tree as such. Shame on you if copied my tree: I’ve modified it to show an unnamed father both men.

So where-oh-where on the planet did these two men originate and “who’s their daddy?” Let’s explore. First, the math. If Clement was born about 1804 and Nathan about 14 years later, I think it’s safe to assume that Clement could have been one of his father’s eldest children, if not the eldest. With that in mind, I subtract 25 years from Clement’s assumed year of birth (1804) to get an approximate year of birth for his father: 1779. Now, I’m looking for someone surnamed Vaughn/Vaughan (and every corrupted spelling of the name) born within ten years of 1779, either five years before or five years after (1774-1787). It’s a ballpark figure, not an exact science.

Next, who is the closest person in the area with the same surname born between 1774 and 1784? My first search reveals John N. Vaughn, born in 1783, listed in Greenbrier County in the 1850 Census. He has a wife, Lucy, three years younger than himself, and several adult children living in his household. I’m not stopping here: I’m on a fact-finding venture. The question is did John N. Vaughn live in Greenbrier County prior to 1850?

Then there is William A. Vaughn, born about 1787, living in Botetourt County, VA in 1850, one of the counties from which Greenbrier was formed in 1778. According to the census, he was a school teacher. The individual who appears to be his wife, most likely a second wife, named Mason, was eighteen years his junior. She was most likely married before as another female in the household, 13-year-old Susan, was surnamed Waddell. Like John N., was William A. Vaughn a long-time resident of Botetourt County?

The next closest Vaughn in the ( database is Jesse Vaughn who married Elizabeth Byrd in Montgomery County, Virginia on 21 November 1787. As you may already know, Montgomery County neighbored Greenbrier County along its western border until about 1806.

The first documents I want to investigate are the Greenbrier County Tax Lists to see if any of these other Vaughns are listed. The only Vaughn I’ve uncovered so far, is Clement Vaughn listed beginning in 1823 (Tax List A) through 1828.

Greenbrier County 1829-A, B – none (* probably meaning he is by this time in Nicholas County, formed in 1818)
Greenbrier County 1828-A Clement Vaughn
Greenbrier County 1827-B Clement Vaughn
Greenbrier County 1826-A Clement Vaughn
Greenbrier County 1825-B Clement Vaughn
Greenbrier County 1824-A Clement Vaughn
Greenbrier County 1823-A Clement Vaughn
Greenbrier County 1822 none
Greenbrier County 1821 none

James Vaughn, is listed in the Personal Property Tax List of Botetourt County, Tax List 1822-A, but not before.
“Familysearch: Sign In”. Familysearch.Org, 2022, Accessed 30 July 2022.

In Montgomery County, we find listed in the 1820 Tax List Phebe Vaughn and Anderson Vaughn, meaning Phebe is likely (not definitely) a widow and Anderson possibly her son. In 1821, Phebe is listed but Anderson is not. Let’s continue moving backward through the lists. In 1819, Phebe appears with ? white males in the household, the ? meaning it is questionable whether any individuals within are aged 16 and older. Again in 1818, there may be three white males in the household but the number, if in fact it is a number and not ” or the letter “u”, is indistinguishable. In 1817-A, she appears with only one male in the household. In the 1816-A Tax List for Montgomery County, we hit the mother lode of Vaughns: Robert (1 titheable); Harrison (1 titheable); Selby/Phebe (? titheable); James (1 titheable), all surnamed Vaughn (citation follows). However from this year back to 1813, there are no further listings for anyone surnamed Vaughn. Of course, I’ve assumed that Phebe is female. I can’t imagine someone naming a son “Phebe” but who am I to question?

“Familysearch: Sign In”. Familysearch.Org, 2022, Accessed 30 July 2022.

Back in Greenbrier County, there are these marriages (from the WV Archives) under the surname “Vaughab.” Whether this is an actual surname or corruption of Vaughan, I am unable to readily ascertain: Here’s the link to the document (it is an unsecured site, if that gives you jitters):
Listed are:
Vaughab Christopher to Martha Humphreys (1795-6, meaning possibly about that time)
Vaughab Nathaniel to Margaret Moore; John Alderson, 3 Dec 1801
Vaughab John to Agnes Beard; John Pinnell, 24 _ 1803
Vaughab Joseph to Betsy Price; Josiah Osborn, 16 Feb 1804
Vaughab James to Nancy(?) Price; Josiah Osborn, July 1808
Vaughab John to Nancy Cutlep; Josiah Osborn, 1812
*Side note: Josiah Osborn lived, I believe, in either the Sinks or the Sweet Springs District. However, he was a “circuit rider” meaning, as an authorized minister of the Gospel, the individuals he joined in matrimony could have lived anywhere in the county.

In Monroe County, this marriage permission is listed under Vaugn:
Vaugn James, authorization to marry Catherine Trout dated 4 Aug 1808, signed by father Daniel Trout.

This is by no means exhaustive as I went no further through the tax lists than listed above. The earliest tax records for both Greenbrier and Monroe counties may reveal much more than what I have provided above. Surely someone researching the origins of Clement and Nathan/Nathaniel Vaughn can use this information to continue their research or exclude the individuals mentioned herein.

To conclude, I was unable to establish who was the father of Nathaniel Vaughn and whether he and Clement Vaughn were brothers.

Please follow and like us:

Leave a Comment