Oregon Pioneer Biographies


"Portrait and Biographical Record of the Willamette Valley - Oregon," Chapman Publishing Company, Chicago, 1903

NOTE: Additional family information below this article

Thomas J. Vaughan

Connected as he was with the earliest history of the state, Thomas J. Vaughan, a resident of Lane county for a half century or more, is familiar with all that has gone before the greatness and prosperity of Oregon. Toward the fulfillment of developed resources he has given the enthusiastic help of youth, the steadier decision of more mature years, and in the evening of his life enjoyts the peace and contentment which rewards labor well done. His name is surely enrolled among the useful pioneers of the state, and the honor accorded such is given to him by all who know him.

Mr. Vaughan was born in Wayne county, W. Va., August 13, 1830. Five years after his birth his parents removed to Illinois and located near Springfield, where they remained six months, then returning to the former state. In 1839 they moved across the river into Kentucky and remained for a period of four months, then continuing the journey west until they located in Platte county, Mo., from which state they emigrated toward the more remote lands. In 1845 the father was attracted toward the opportunities of Oregon, traveling by pack animals across the plains in the party, which had an unpleasant experience in Meekís cut-off, and on his arrival in the state he went to work in a sawmill in Salem, where he remained throughout the winter. He returned to the Mississippi valley in 1846, and found that his own family did not know him, as he had not cut his hair nor beard in the entire time. Having been a favorably impressed with the outlook, he outfitted with oxen and three wagons and necessary supplies, and in the spring of 1847 started again across the plains with his wife and nine children. Just before leaving he had purchased some cows and two hundred and fifty-eight sheep, and, these were the first blooded sheep brought into the state from the east, some of which were afterwards sold to Benjamin Fields, who purchased fifty head of the original flock, but Mintoís history of the sheep industry of Oregon makes an error by giving Benjamin Fields the credit of importing these same sheep. During the trip which occupied the time from May 17 to September they lost all but one hundred sheep. Mr. Vaughan first located in Marion county, where the family remained for a few months, after which the father took up a donation claim in Linn county, consisting of six hundred and forty acres in the neighborhood of West Point. In August, 1848, Mr. Vaughan went to California by pack animals and mined on the American river, and while there helped to hang some men at Hangtown. He was successful in his venture and came north with $14,000 in gold. Again in 1849 he and two sons, Alexander and Thomas, went to California and mined on the Trinity, and were once more successful. Returning in the fall, of the year to Oregon, he remained at home until 1851, when he again tried his fortunes in the Golden state, in that year being one of the first to discover the Yreka mines. He returned home, and the family continue to live in Linn county, until 1857, when the removed to Lane county, the father purchasing three hundred and twenty-five acres near Coburg. He continued a resident of that county until his death, which occurred near Thurston, November 18, 1888, at the age of eighty years and twenty-seven days. His wife died October 12, 1901, when nearly ninety-one years old.

Thomas J. Vaughan was seventeen years old when he crossed the plains with his parents, his duty on the trip being to drive the sheep. In 1849 he accompanied his father to California, and June 5, 1850, he was married to Elizabeth S. Sampson, a native of Platte county, Mo., with whose sister and brother-in-law, Luther White, he had crossed the plains in 1847. He then moved to his fatherís six hundred and forty acre donation land claim, where he lived seven years, when he came to his present location and purchased a farm of three hundred and twenty acres, upon which he now carries on general farming and stock-raising. Eleven children were born to himself and wife, of whom Phoebe E. is the wife of Mr. Meyers and lives in Washington; Benjamin F. was postmaster at Heppner, Ore., and he and his wife were both drowned in the Heppner flood; Oren is a cattleman of Nevada; Olive is the wife of Henry Bollin, of Lane county; Martha is the wife of A. Simmons; Orella lives in Seattle; Mary J. is the wife of Joseph Klien, of Healdsburg, Cal., Emma is the wife of J.W. Shumate, of Walterville, Ore., Jeremiah is located near his fatherís farm, Alta G. died in 1888; and Lizzie is the wife of P.L. Barber, who is connected with the interests of Mr. Vaughan.

In politics Mr. Vaughan is a Republican, and as such has represented his party in various offices, and was a member of the state legislature in 1897 and a justice of the peace for many years. He was the first chairman of the convention to organize the Republican party in Lane county, which was held in 1856, and he now has the minutes of the meeting in his possession. Out of forty men present he is one of three now living. In fraternal relations he has been an Odd Fellow for forty-three years, and also belongs to the Ancient Order of United Workmen. He is a member of the Christian Church.


Additional information: [provided by Carol,]

Children of Thomas Jefferson Vaughan and Elizabeth Sampson:

Thomas Jefferson Vaughan was the son of William Tyler Vaughan, who settled DLC #1500 RB, Township 15/16S, Range 3W, Sections 33, 34, 3, 4. This was a 640.64 acre claim near Harrisburg/West Point, and it was settled 15 May 1850. William Tyler, born 22 Oct 1808 was married to Phoebe Hazlett 6 Dec 1827 in Cabell Co., West Virginia.

Children of William Tyler Vaughan and Phoebe Hazlett were:

William Tyler Vaughan was the son of Thomas Vaughan and Nancy Ford; Thomas Vaughan was the son of William Patrick Vaughan and Ferebe Luna/Looney Benton.

Return to Main Oregon Page

Return to Pioneer Biographies

Copyright © 1998 by Jan Phillips

Last updated Saturday, 01-Mar-2014 16:58:00 MST.