John Marshall Vaughn Jr. was born in 1814 or 1815 in Cumberland County, Kentucky. He was married to Louisa Richardson prior to 1840. Louisa Richardson was born 25 March 1819 in Kentucky. They were my great, great grandparents. They had 13 children. Louisa died sometime between the birth of her youngest child John Alexander in 1862 and prior to 17 January 1870.
Family lore says that John Marshall Vaughn Jr. was living in Morgantown, Kentucky with his children when he and one of his sons died in a tornado. The family slept in two rooms of their home. All the females slept in one room and all the men in one. The men would sleep in one or two beds together and the women would do the same in their room. My great grandfather Creed Edbert Vaughn was sleeping in the middle of the bed on this particular night. There were either 3 to 4 people in the bed. When the tornado came through a tree fell onto their home and into the bedroom. It killed the two males that were sleeping on the left and right hand side of the bed leaving the one or two in the middle unharmed. I knew that the father Thomas Marshall Vaughn Jr. had been killed, but didn’t know the name of the son that had been killed. By process of elimination I knew that it had to be James, Asa P. Sumpwell, William Watson, David or Fayette that died in the tornado. None of the females were hurt. In my early research I didn’t find where there had been a tornado in that area of Kentucky.
Recently I decided to delve deeper into the story and see what I could find. I did an internet search for all tornadoes that happened in Kentucky instead of just limiting myself to the Morgantown area. I found a newspaper article with the title Cave City, KY Tornado Demolishes Most of Town, Jan 1870. The article ran in the Cincinnati Gazette on 18 January 1870. One of the sub headlines mentioned eleven persons killed and many wounded and that houses were blown away like wisps of straw.
The tornado demolished approximately one-third of the small town. One gentleman reported that he put his clothing on a chair before going to bed. After the tornado his pants were found on a stake a half mile west of the house, his vest was two miles west of the house, and his coat three-fourths of a mile east of the house. This gentleman – Professor Williams – and his family were some of the lucky ones. They only lost possessions and their home. Eleven lost their lives and a number were injured.
The newspaper article listed those that died. They were: George W. Pynter, his wife and child; Margaret Sterrett, Andrew J. Davidson, John S. McCown and child; Mrs. Juel Y. Wilson; Mr. Fite’s child; two persons named Vaughan. When I saw the last entry I knew that I had found them.
Now that I had a date of the tornado, 17 January 1870, I could search other records to see if I could find Thomas Jr. and the name of his son and I did. I found death records that listed Thomas Vaughn Jr. and William Watson Vaughn as dying on the same day (17 January 1870) and the cause of death was negligence due to tornado.
Even though it was such a tragic event, I was happy that it was a big enough event for a correspondent from the Cincinnati Gazette to cover and that he decided to list the names of the dead.