Vaughns of Monrovia, A Vintage Vignette

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Vaughns of Monrovia
A Vintage Vignette by John P. Rankin
August 4, 2011

One of the well-established pioneer families of Monrovia connects back to Micajah Vaughn, a Constitutional Convention delegate from Morgan County and signer of Alabama's 1819 original constitution. Micajah's son George Washington Vaughn (1825-1903) has been mentioned in earlier Vintage Vignettes. He married Sarah Elizabeth Yancey and established a farm of several hundred acres in what is now Monrovia. The family history is well told in “The Heritage of Madison County, Alabama” (1998), a book available in the public libraries of this area. The third of George Washington Vaughn's eight children was John Wesley (1865-1959), who married Minnie Lee Carpenter and had thirteen children. The family lived at the intersection of Jeff Road with Old Monrovia Road, where John had a house plus a store and shop. The area around that intersection became known as Vaughn Corners, and for several generations remained in the family's ownership.

The sixth child of John Wesley and Minnie Lee Vaughn was Carl, born in 1900. Carl and his wife Helen Garner had four children, the oldest being William Carl (Billy) Vaughn, born in 1931. Billy married Gladys Hutton in 1959 and worked at Redstone Arsenal and NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center. Billy also was involved in farming with his brother Ronald in the Monrovia area, where they had an interest in the Jeff Gin Company along Jeff Road. Billy and Gladys had two children, Carla Jo and Andrew Lee (Drew) Vaughn. Carla married Keith Moore and had three children when the 1998 book's family article was written. Billy's son, Andrew, was born in 1970. He worked with Moore's Refrigeration, Heating, and Air Conditioning Service. He also served the community as a member the Monrovia Volunteer Fire Department, but an accident tragically curtailed Drew's prematurely on April 26, 2009. Carl's brother, Grinell, a carpenter, first married Sarah Elizabeth Trotman, then Kathleen Huey after Elizabeth's death. Grinell lived until 1994, when he was 93 years old and retired to Vaughn Corners. His son Grinell Farley Vaughn began a career in photography with the Huntsville Times and later opened a photography studio in Madison. Afterward, Farley Vaughn remodeled the house where his father Grinell lived and established it as Farley Vaughn's Photography Studio.

During the 1940s a service station at the northwest corner of the junction of Madison's Church Street with Front Street was owned by J. C. Vaughan (another spelling of Vaughn). The 1930 Limestone County census shows that he was born in Tennessee. J. C. was listed as age 12 that year. His parents were James C. (age 56) and Susie M. (age 53) also born in Tennessee, with their parents recorded as born in Tennessee. Any connection to the Monrovia Vaughan families is unknown at this time. In fact, today Dennis and Joyce Vaughn live adjacent to the site, at 25 Front Street, likewise with no known connection to either the Vaughn or the Vaughan families above. However, it was at the service station that Claude L. Sturdivant Jr. became an eyewitness of the “shootout” on Church Street in 1944 when he was only five years old. The episode was mentioned in the Vintage Vignette published on June 1 of this year, and Claude sent me an email with his eyewitness story. In Claude's words, “Mr. Vaughan had an employee named Ferdinand ('Ferd') Hammonds. My dad, Claude Sturdivant Sr. had allowed me to tag along on a Saturday evening, I guess for gas. Mr. Vaughan, 'Ferd', Dad and I were standing near the front door when we saw a car 'jump' the railroad tracks and speed north on Church Street, with 'Doc' Hughes about 60 yards behind in hot pursuit. I heard several shots as both cars went out of sight. I still have vivid memory of sparks flying as one bullet hit the pavement right in front of us. My dad quickly picked me up and carried me into the bathroom in the rear (west side) of the service station. He made me stay there what I thought was way too long.... I don't know if Dad ever told Mom the whole story or not, but I surely didn't!”

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