Monday, August 3, 2015

Have You Heard the News* About the Rev. Albert Bell Vaughan, Jr.?

the Reverend Albert Bell Vaughan, Jr.
photo in personal collection

My GreatGrandfather Albert Bell Vaughan, Jr. spent most of his life preaching the gospel. He preached in Baptist churches in both Georgia and Texas, to large and small congregations, and I grew up hearing many stories about this learned, respected minister. Still, I was able to learn more about him through my newspaper research.

As a college student in 1878, he presented a speech concerning the future of college students at his graduation from Mercer University.(1) In a little over twenty-five years, his oratorical skills lead him to be named to preach the main sermon at the Georgia Baptist Convention of 1905.(2)

One fascinating article was basically a testimonial Rev. Vaughan gave concerning the success of his eye surgery which had been performed by an Atlanta oculist. It read like a news article but in actuality seemed to be more like an ad for the surgery.(3) It was touching, though, to read how the surgery enabled him to then be able to read the New Testament in Greek. You can't help but be impressed by that!

Another interesting article related how Rev. Vaughan visited a young man in jail who had been accused of murder. Following a visit in jail from the Rev. Vaughan, the young man broke down and confessed to the crime he had committed.(4)

I was surprised to read how my GreatGrandfather, the minister of the Baptist churches in both Canton and Woodstock, Georgia, at the time, was also involved in local politics. At a meeting in 1892, Rev. Vaughan was the individual who proposed the slate of candidates to be endorsed by the county's Democratic Party.(5)

News of some of his church pastorates appeared in the Atlanta newspaper. Apparently the local church would have what amounted to an annual reelection of its pastor as when A. B. Vaughan was reelected to pastor the Baptist Church of Canton in 1900.(6) This information, interestingly enough, followed information about cases heard in Superior County Court the previous week and before news of the new telegraph operator for the railroad station in Canton. There were several short articles relating how Rev. Vaughan had turned down the opportunity to become the pastor of other churches.

My favorite article appeared in the fall of 1899. Albert Bell Vaughan, Jr. had been the minister at Canton [Georgia] Baptist Church for 13 years. However, in 1898 a schism divided the congregation over some unspecified issues. (I would love to have found an article about which happened, but there was no word in the paper about the situation in the church.) When he was not able to unify the congregation, Rev. Vaughan left the Canton church and moved to Nacogdoches, Texas to serve a church there. His daughter Miriam wrote of the family's year in Texas in her private diary. After a year, the church in Canton, Georgia, asked Rev. Vaughan to return. He accepted their offer, resulting in this article in The [Atlanta] Constitution.(7) After he returned to the Canton church, he never left the state of Georgia again, only serving Georgia churches until his death.

* Have You Heard the News is a series of posts about family information gleaned from newspapers available through,, the Digital Archives of Georgia, and the Library of Congress Chronicling America.

(1) "Mercer University Commencement Day", The Daily Constitution, Atlanta, GA, 6 Jul 1878, accessed
(3) "A Canton Clergyman Has Remarkable Experience in Atlanta", The Constitution, Atlanta, GA, 16 Dec 1894, p 27; accessed
(4) "Willis" Confession", The Constitution, Atlanta, GA, 2 May 1896, p 3. accessed
(5) "The Democrats of Cherokee". The Constitution, Atlanta, GA, 8 Jun 1892,p 2, accessed
(6) "Was Very Hard Week's Work", The Constitution, Atlanta, GA, 16 Sep 1900, p 8; accessed
(7) "Canton Baptists Are Happy", The Constitution, Atlanta, GA, 2 Dec 1899, p 3; accessed

Monday, July 27, 2015

Have You Heard the News* About Oscar Dean Perkinson?

It turned out that my Great Grandfather William Howard Perkinson wasn't the only family member who had been active in politics. Thanks to my newspaper research, I learned that his son, my Grandfather Oscar Dean Perkinson, was also involved in local government.

Articles in The [Atlanta] Constitution documented my Grandfather's election to the Woodstock [Georgia] City Council in 1903, 1913, and 1914. He was also elected Mayor of Woodstock in 1916, as related in this brief article. It was interesting to see the names of those elected to the Woodstock City Council in 1916. Almost everyone listed was part of the extended Perkinson family or a close family friend. So much for life in a small town.

The [Atlanta] Constitution, 5 Jan 1916, accessed through

Finding these articles about local politics helps me understand why my Grandfather probably decided to attend the inauguration of Woodrow Wilson in 1913. That event turned out to be yet another unexpected story!

* Have You Heard the News is a series of posts about family information gleaned from copies of Atlanta newspapers available through,, and the Digital Archives of Georgia.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Have You Heard the News* About Paul Myren's Accident?

"Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds."(1) This unofficial motto of the US Postal Service covers a lot of conditions. But what about fire?

My Great Uncle Paul Severin Myren was a rural postal carrier in Traill County, North Dakota, for many years. A brief newspaper article told of his brush with a fire in which he was seriously burned. Apparently getting rid of weeds so that the mailboxes remained accessible was part of the job for a rural mail carrier in those days.

Pioneer Express, 17 Nov 1922(2)

Fortunately, this accident did not end Paul's long-time career with the post office. In fact, at the time of his accident, Paul was serving as President of the Rural Letter Carriers in North Dakota.(3)

Lessons Learned: That wonderful picture of Paul found at the beginning of my post was one I obtained some years ago, back before I realized how important it was to keep up with sources. The picture came from a local history book probably written in 1930-1940 in Traill County, North Dakota. Online I had come across an index to the book, saw Paul listed, and wrote to ask if someone could send me a copy of the picture. A look-up volunteer promptly honored my request. I'm just sorry that I cannot tell you the title or compiler of the book or anything about the photograph. Lesson: as soon as you find or receive information, attach a source to it. If only I had followed my own advice.

* Have You Heard the News is a series of posts about family information gleaned from copies of newspapers available through,, and Chronicling America by the Library of Congress.

(1) "Postal Service Mission and 'Motto'",
(2) "State Summary", 17 Nov 1922, Pioneer Express, Pembina, ND; accessed through Library of Congress Chronicling America.
(3) "State Summary", 30 Sep 1921, Pioneer Express, Pembina, ND; accessed through Library of Congress Chronicling America.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Military Monday : Following the Trail of a Spy, John Howard

John Howard might have been only 15 at the time, but he had his place in the events of the Revolutionary War. It turns out that young Howard was a spy for the colonial troops along the North Carolina / South Carolina border. This story about my 5 Great Uncle has been told with this one sentence in many places, but I wanted to see if I could learn more about him.

My interest in John Howard started as I was looking for more information about the family of my 3GreatGrandmother Elizabeth Howard. It was not too difficult to move back another generation and find her father Samuel Howard, his brothers (among them John Howard), and their father John Milton Howard, thanks to a will transcription I found online.(1)

Later, looking at several sources for burial information, I found a photo of the grave marker for John Howard with a birth date that matched what I already had known about John. His marker was clearly one that had been added long after his death, and it appeared to be a military-style marker.

John Howard, 1767-1851
FindAGrave memorial #108835867, photo by "cliffoflancing"

Knowing he had been in a soldier lead me to explore the Revolutionary War resources available on What I found was a 56-page folder of papers related to John's filing for a soldier's pension in 1832. It also included various paperwork filed on behalf of his wife Nancy for a widow's pension through the years after John's death in 1851.(2)

There was so much information contained in the file that I ended up putting pertinent information into a timeline spreadsheet. That way I had a clearer picture of what went on in the lives of John and Nancy since the files themselves were not in chronological order. It was worth looking over each document in the file in order to get all of this information.

1767Feb 11John Howard bornLawrence County, SC
1781abt Feb - OctJohn entered service in Rev. WarLawrence County, SC
ca 1782-1892John resided in Laurens, SC for 20 yrs after the warLaurens, SC
ca 1800-1809John Howard in KentuckyChristian County, KY
1810January 29Marriage bond for John Howard and Nancy HowardKnox County, TN
ca 1810-1811Marriage of John Howard and Nancy HowardKnox County, TN
     1814-1815John and Nancy moved from Knox to Morgan County
ca 1832-1833John started receiving military pension under act of 1832, $20 per yearMorgan County, TN
1851April 9John Howard diedMorgan County, TN
1853Mar 23Nancy Howard applied for widow's pensionMorgan County, TN
1855Apr 11Nancy Howard applied for widow's pension Morgan County, TN
1860Sep 4Restoration of pension for NancyMorgan County, TN
1862Jul 14Nancy Howard applied for restoration of pension Morgan County, TN
1866May 28Certificate of Widow's Pension Morgan County, TN
1872Mar 22Nancy had ?s about losing her pension certificateMorgan County, TN

It was a special moment when I found the following statement in John Howard's application for a pension. In it, he has sworn that at ...

Here was John Howard's statement that he had been a "volunteer indian spie" during the war and that he had served under Capt. Berry and Lt. William Brown. The document was written by his lawyer and related the various events John provided as proof of military service. This is probably the same document that someone else found years ago, added to an online family tree, then had it repeated (but without a source) on countless other family trees. At least, there is a source for saying John Howard had been a spy.

I decided to pay another visit to J D Lewis' information-packed website Carolana, the place where you can find  "almost everything you ever wanted to know" about the Carolinas. Here I also found verification of John Howard's military service. In the database of "The Privates, Horsemen, Fifers, and Drummers", I found a listing for John Howard which indicated that he enlisted in the New Acquisition District Regiment in 1781, completed his service in 1781, and served under Capt William Barrey and Lt. William Brown during these months.(3) This agreed with the statements in Howard's pension application plus provided the name of the regiment in which he served.

Trailing this spy lead me to learn more about his military service, his marriage and the various places where he lived. It also explained why I had found marriage, census, and burial information in Tennessee instead of near his birthplace in South Carolina. If so many people had not noted his service as a spy, I might never have taken the time to even look for information about this John Howard. Now, I need to start looking for more about his father, my 5 GreatGrandfather, also named John Howard, but who was apparently not a spy.

(1) West, Mary E, "Ancestors & Descendants of Thomas and Harriet Compton Howard", accessed on the website of the Hamilton County Tennessee Genealogy Society,
(2) "Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Application Files", folder for John Howard, publication M804, National Archives Catalog ID 300022, record group 15; accessed through
(3) Lewis, J D. "The American Revolution in South Carolina,  The Privates, Horsemen, Fifers, Drummers, etc",