Friday, September 18, 2015

Is That Albert Peeping Through a Crack in the Brick Wall?

Albert Bell Vaughan Jr
My Great Grandfather, Albert Bell Vaughan, Jr, is someone about whom a lot has been written. Several articles written about this Baptist minister mention how he had been apprenticed as a painter in Jackson, Tennessee in the early 1870s.(1) His early stint as a painter had fascinated me. He left this occupation after just a few years then attended college and became a full-time minister, educator, and college president. Talk about a career change.

I had been trying for some time to learn more about the "painter years", especially since he seemed to have vanished during the 1870 federal census. He wasn't listed as living with his family, nor could I find him living on his own. Articles sometimes mentioned that he lived in Jackson, Tennessee during this time in his life, but no Albert Vaughan seemed to be listed in an 1870 Tennessee census record.

Recently I tried a slightly different search technique in's 1870 census records. Instead of searching for his last name, Vaughan/Vaughn, I just searched using his first name of Albert, his birth year, and the Georgia birthplace, no surname. I filtered the search to view only Tennessee records.

1870 Federal Census, Jackson, Madison, Tennessee, accessed through

Eureka! I finally found a possible Albert Vaughan in the 1870 Tennessee census. Granted the census record I found listed an "A Vann" rather than Albert Vaughan, but the age, occupation, and birthplace agree with my Albert Vaughan. He was living in the household of another painter, a circumstance that was quite probable for a young apprentice, and he was living in Jackson, Tennessee.

So now, I have a possible 1870 census record for 18-year-old Albert, the apprentice painter. One possible answer had lead to several new questions. Who in the world were the Huddlestons? They were about the same age of Albert's parents, Albert Bell Vaughan, Sr and Charlotte Slade Vaughan. Could M Huddleston have been a relative or at least a close friend of either Albert Sr or Charlotte? And what about Mary Huddleston? She was the age of Albert Jr's grandparents. Could she have been a relative of Albert Jr's?  I keep wondering if there might be some family connection. After all, it is hard to imagine sending a teenager several hundred miles away to live with strangers. Surely, there were other painters living closer to the family in Georgia with whom Albert could learn the painting trade.

I'm calling this census record only a crack in the wall, not a wall buster. After all, one line of census information is already leading me to more questions about Albert and this period in his life. The questions don't end, but then that's a reason researching our families can be so interesting.

(1) Memoirs of Georgia: Containing Historical Accounts of the State's Civil, Military, Industrial, and Professional Interests and Personal Sketches of Many of Its People, vol. 2. Atlanta: Southern Historical Association, 1895. accessed through Google Books.

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