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

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