• This Page: Vaughan/Vaughn Etymology
  • Chapter One – Vaughan Surnames Emerge
  • Chapter Two – Vaughan Families of Wales
  • Chapter Three – Vaugh(a)ns of Colonial America
  • Chapter Four – Vaugh(a)n Migration in America
  • Chapter Five – Little Egypt of Southern Illinois
  • Chapter Six – The Choates of Southern Illinois and Related Families
  • Chapter Seven – Whittenbergs Of Johnson County Illinois
  • Chapter Eight – The Great World War
  • Chapter Nine – Reverend William Thomas Vaughn
  • Chapter Ten –  Jessie Beulah Phillips Vaughn
  • Chapter Eleven – Autobiography of Jessie Beulah Phillips Vaughn
  • Chapter Twelve – The Alfred Morefield Phillips Family
  • Chapter Thirteen – Vaughn Aunt, Uncles and Others
  • Chapter Fourteen – Lawrence Eugene Vaughn (Sr)
  • Chapter Fifteen –  Lawrence Eugene Vaughn (Sr) Military Service
  • Chapter Sixteen – Marjorie Gwendolyn White
  • Chapter Seventeen – The Wallace Benjamin White Family
  • Chapter Eighteen – Vaughn and White Great-Grandparents
  • Chapter Nineteen – White Aunts, Uncles and Cousins
  • Chapter Twenty –  Hannibal, Missouri – Mississippi River Town
  • Chapter Twenty One – Childhood and School Days
  • Chapter Twenty Two – Meeting “Granmom”
  • Chapter Twenty Three – Adulthood and Related Notions
  • Chapter Twenty Four – The Danville Decade
  • Chapter Twenty Five – Our Sons and Their Extended Families
  • Chapter Twenty Six – The Walton House
  • Chapter Twenty Seven – WWII U.S. Navy Fast Carrier Task Force
  • Chapter Twenty Eight – James Joseph Hoffman
  • Chapter Twenty Nine – Robert Dean Niemeyer (Sr)
  • Chapter Thirty – Voices of U.S. Bombing Squadron 19 of WWII
  • Chapter Thirty One – U.S. Navy Armed Guard
  • Chapter Thirty Two – August Lee Bergmeier
  • Chapter Thirty Three – The Rainbow Division in World War II
  • Chapter Thirty Four – Wallace B White Jr Military Service
  • Chapter Thirty Five – LEVJr Military Auxiliary
  • Chapter Thirty Six – The Love of Railroading
  • Chapter Thirty Seven – Photos and Miscellaney

Vaughan/Vaughn Etymology

I’m a Vaughn. My Welsh ancestors usually spelled the name Vaughan. Vaughan, which comes from the Welsh name “fychan,” itself a mutant of “hychan,” and “vychan,” originally meaning little, small, or young. It could be added to a name to mean junior, and would apply to a son who had the same name as his father.  For example. the Welsh patriot who was captured by the English and executed in Llandovery in 1401 was styled as Llywelyn ap Gruffydd Fychan.

Fychan could pass from father to son in the Welsh patronymical style.  Thus the son of Dafydd Fychan ap Daffyd was Gruffydd ap Dafydd Fychan. However, his son was born at a time when surnames in the English style were starting to get used and he was known simply as Hugh Fychan.  

The earliest example of Fychan as a surname was probably Rhosier (later Anglicanized to “Roger”) Fychan who fought and died at Agincourt in 1415 (when Gryffydd of the same name was said to have saved the life of King Harry in the battle). Rhosier’s sons assumed the Fychan name.  Sometime later in the fifteenth century the Welsh Fychan changed in spelling to the English Vaughan.

Much of the ancestry of the Welsh Vaughans is detailed in Chapter Two, “Vaughan Families of Wales,” published in March of 2017, and Welsh Vaughans are easily researched online at the home of the Welsh website Y Bywgraffiadur Cymreig: http://yba.llgc.org.uk/cy/V/list.html, .

Although the American Vaughan or Vaughn may be unable to prove the connecting links between them and their British progenitors, it may, nevertheless, be assumed with almost absolute certainty, that all of that name are descended from a common ancestor who dwelt ages ago in Western Britain.

DNA research confirms my family’s Welsh roots, and the Vaughans of the time were men of importance who were meticulous about documenting their ancestry, since it was essential to proving their rights to titles and lands.

DNA Roots for Lawrence E Vaughn Jr

As a means of tracing the Lawrence Eugene Vaughn family back to its roots in the British Isles, I have gathered what information I have been able to locate about some of the earliest immigrants so we could potentially link to them as ancestors.

As a part of that research, I ran across a body of work by Eddie Davis from October 1, 2009 that focused on John Vaughans, who were some of the earliest immigrants to Virginia from Europe. With only slight modification and little updating, I present his work in Chapter Three, as the best resource available on John Vaughan at this writing.

Similarly, I gathered much insight from the book by George Hodgdon, written in 1883 and published in 1899 and 1918, entitled Reminiscences and Genealogical Record of the Vaughan Family of New Hampshire. A great deal of online research and collaboration led to a treasure trove of information about the Vaughan and Vaughn families, and much of it is accurate.

One can now follow online the migration of the Vaughans from the earliest colonies down the Eastern Seaboard, along the Southern Coast and up to the Midwest states. I have not reproduced much of that information here, as it will continue to be improved and expanded online, where it will be easily accessible to researchers and historiographers.

Dates in British History

In regard to dates in colonial records, it is important to bear in mind that prior to 1752, within the British Empire, the year started on the 25th day of March. In enumerating the month, March was designated the first and February the twelfth month, etc. Therefore, the 24th day of March, 1740, according to the Old Style, was the last day of the year, and the day following was the first day of the new year, and called the 25th day of March, 1741.

The Roman calendar originally had 10 months; Martuis, Aprilis, Maius, Iunius, Quintilis, Sextilis, September, October, November, December. You’ll notice that months 5,6,7,8,9, and 10 all start with their (correct) Latin prefix. Each month had either 30 or 31 days, which made about 304 in a year.

It was soon realized that the months did not align with the seasons and so Julius Caesar added January and February at the beginning of the year; bumping the rest of the months back by two. Quintilis was renamed Iulius (July) in honor of Caesar after his death. A short time later, Sextilis was renamed August after Augustus. They never bothered to rename the other months that now had incorrect prefixes.

It should be observed, however, that in almost all documents, both public and private, before the adoption of the New System of Chronology, between the first day of January and the 25th day of March, both dates were given. For example, January 29, 1740, would usually be written January 29, 1740-1, so it reflected the old and the new system simultaneously.

Family Histories

Researchers must always be cautious and diligent about the validity of published information, taking the extra measure to ensure accuracy. It is with this in mind that I pull all this information together in hopes that one day it will be useful and helpful to family members who would like to know a little more about our roots. To them, these writings are dedicated.

I didn’t become interested in studying my family’s history until after my father’s death, and there were no real family connections to learn from. My mother was not close to my father’s family, and consequently, had very little information to share. I did, however, get her to write down for me what she could recall, and her notes appear near the conclusion of this chapter.

Dad got involved in researching my mother’s ancestry in order to get her admitted to the Daughters of the American Revolution at a time that was important to her. She had made friends with a lady in Chillicothe, Missouri who was involved in the local chapter of the DAR. and got my mother interested in researching her family’s background.

As dad’s research grew, he converted his two car garage into a study, and had family charts pinned and taped to the walls to help follow her line back to Revolutionary times. He was successful, she was admitted to the DAR, and then went on to begin researching his own family history.

Genealogy is about learning your family’s lineages and history. Genealogists use oral interviews, historical records, genetic analysis, and other research methods to obtain information about a family and to demonstrate kinship. The results are often displayed in charts or written as narratives. The pursuit of family history comes from a sense of responsibility to preserve the past for future generations, and a sense of self-satisfaction in accurate storytelling.

Historiography is about understanding the historical conditions that existed or contributed to the circumstances for those who lived at that time. Combining history and genealogy became my passion in an effort to pass along to my grandchildren and succeeding generations some insight into their ancestors and how they lived.

Genealogical Research Methods

Before the Internet and online genealogy databases, genealogical research was all about writing lots and lots of snail mail letters to family, family friends, and even old neighbors, to learn what they knew about the relatives being researched, and any related stories.

I wrote letters responding to queries in genealogical magazines such as, “Looking for Daniel Ardington, Quincy, Adams, IL b 1743 d unkn Confed Army,” and then waited eagerly for replies.

Hearing the mailman drop letters into the mailbox by the front door was a highlight of each day. If it was a personal letter from a friend or relative, or even better, a large manila envelope from a name I didn’t recognize, it created a lot of excitement. What magical revelation might be included? What missing bit of family history might be included?

The research was similar to putting a puzzle together, or, like turning a spotlight on some member of the family to examine them more closely. Sometimes I’d spend an hour reading and re-reading what I’d received, thoughtfully putting it into context with existing information, and in the early days, typing up a summary and placing both into a file folder for the person or family concerned.

Research Road Trips

Lea, my devoted wife and I went on many road trips to distant courthouses, clerks offices and libraries where ancestors lived, or might have lived. We  tediously slogged through microfilm, reel after reel, screen after screen, or leafed through old records in the County Recorder’s Office, usually in a basement archive..

Nothing was indexed in those early days, and finding an ancestor in a census record meant looking at one page after the next, reading every name, until that magic moment when an ancestor’s name jumped off the page at us. It was a lot of fun, especially if you had someone with you who enjoyed the same sense of detective work.

When dad died, I “inherited” his four-drawer cabinet of genealogy materials and moved them to my home. In the intervening years I have digitized most documents, and when the Internet came along, entered his research information into online family trees, which I have maintained and expanded upon over the years. When DNA results became available, distant cousins were discovered, which made it possible to share information and expand our individual trees even further.

Next: Chapter One- Vaughan Surnames