John A. Hughes, Father of "Doc", A Vintage Vignette

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John A. Hughes, Father of "Doc",
A Vintage Vignette by John P. Rankin
May 27, 2007

There is an attractive old 2-story farmhouse near the north end of Hughes Road, on the west side. The house and surrounding lands were owned by John A. Hughes, son of Edmund James Hughes, who was born in 1820 in Virginia. Edmund was the first known schoolteacher of this area, at a school that was located about a quarter-mile south of the depot before the town was established. He continued to teach at that school until the Civil War broke out. After the war, John T. Lipscomb became the teacher, and the school was moved into Madison Station. Edmund married Sarah Abernathy (granddaughter of James Bailey and daughter of Jesse Abernathy and Sarah Bailey) in 1857. They are both buried in the Bailey Cemetery, south of Mill Road, east of County Line Road, in the Cedar Springs development. Jesse Abernathy (1812–36) is also buried there. Edmund and Sarah Hughes had two sons, Robert L. (born 1865) and John A. (born 1869). Robert Hughes married Nannie Vaughn in 1888, and they were the parents of at least seven children, including Gordon Pelham Hughes (born 1896) and Howard H. Hughes (born 1906), who are both buried with their wives in the new section of the Madison City Cemetery, north side of Mill Road, west of Hughes Road. John A. Hughes married Laura Vaughn in 1901.

The Vaughn girls who married the Hughes brothers were sisters, two of the eight children born to George Washington Vaughn (1825 –1903) of Monrovia. One of their brothers also married a sister of John and Robert, Ella Hughes. G. W. Vaughn married Sarah Elizabeth Yancey. He was a son of Micajah Vaughn, who was a signer of the 1819 Alabama State Constitution. One of G. W.’s sisters (Tabitha) married Hezekiah J. Balch, while a half-sister (Rebecca Walker, from his mother’s previous marriage to Jesse Walker) married Alfred Wall. It is the Wall family that gives Wall-Triana Highway its name. The Balch families of Madison descended from Hezekiah, and their ancestry has been traced back to the 1600s in Beverly, Massachusetts, where the family built the oldest still-standing wood frame house in America. The family history includes residence in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, where in 1775 an ancestor (also named Hezekiah J. Balch) was primary drafter of the world’s first Declaration of Independence, which became the model used by Thomas Jefferson and others when the United States Declaration of Independence was created in 1776. The Balches were charter members of Mount Zion Baptist Church, and Hezekiah was its first Sunday School superintendent. He and Tabitha have the oldest marked graves in the church cemetery.

John Hughes and Laura had three sons: George Walton (1903), Luther (1907), and Yancey (1908). It was Walton Hughes who became known as “Doc,” the local pharmacist for many years in Madison. “Doc ” Hughes married Sarah Parham in 1921, and they had daughter Marion P. Hughes, who married Eugene Anderson. Gene Anderson served as mayor of Madison in 1957–65. He and his sons, Walt and Larry, owned the Hughes Hardware store at Main and Church Streets after receiving it from Marion’s father. Gene and Marion developed a housing subdivision in town, south of Old Madison Pike and east of Hughes Road. Many of the street names commemorate family members.

John Hughes in 1910 sold land for a school near the junction of Hughes Road with Highway 72. “Forest Hill School” was a one-room building that served students from Monrovia as well as the north Madison area. When the school was consolidated with the Madison Training School in 1919, the land was sold back to John Hughes. By providing for education of area children in the early 1900s, John Hughes complemented the efforts of his father, Edmund, fifty years earlier toward developing the intellect of the population. His descendants are still pioneering developments in the area today, and the house stands witness to the farmer who planted seeds for the town’s growth and whose descendant kept it healthy for generations.

{Extracted from Memories of Madison: A Connected Community, 1857 – 2007}

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