Thursday, August 22, 2013

Lost and Found, Hide-n-Seek in Ypsilanti

English: The back of Starkweather Chapel, an e...
English: The back of Starkweather Chapel, an example of Richardsonian Romanesque architecture, in Ypsilanti, Michigan's Highland Cemetery. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
In my last blog post, What Happened to "Them"? on this ongoing Daughters of the American Revolution - United Empire Loyalists saga, I revealed my Vaughan family's possible ties to St. Luke's Episcopal Church in Ypsilanti as well as my hopefulness at finding "them," which are my 3rd great grandparents, Benjamin Brown and Susanna (Rook) Vaughan.

I was also hoping that tucked inside that white microfilm box would be confirmation of Benjamin's father's ties to St. Luke's. Had John Towner Vaughan and his family been members there?

And I was also hoping to find some more evidence of Daniel's birth and something about his life before he volunteered for the 1st Infantry Regiment when Lincoln first called up the Union troops at the beginning of the Civil War.

Too much to ask from a little white box?


But one thing I've learned in life is you don't get it if you don't ask for it.

And in genealogy I've found you don't get answers until you start asking questions and looking for the answers.

And in family history you don't get the story until you start writing it.

And, boy howdy, I was quite pleased with the answers that were jam-packed inside that little white microfilm box. {Opening that box was better than opening a box from Amazon.}

According to St. Luke's Parish Register, John T. Vaughan and his family had, indeed, been members at St. Luke's. I'd imagine when the Anglican John T. and his second wife Hester settled in Ypsilanti, joining the newly formed St. Luke's Episcopal Church seemed like the thing to do.

According to the well-kept records, here's what I also learned about the Vaughan family:

  • John T. Vaughan was listed as a pewholder in 1840 at St. Luke's.
  • John T. Vaughan had been baptized and confirmed at some point in his life in the Episcopal/Anglican church and that he had been received into and a communicant in good standing at St. Luke's.
  • John T. Vaughan had been on the vestry {the elective governing body of an Episcopal parish} at St. Luke's.
  • John T. Vaughan had died 21 Jul 1865 of "malignant erysipelas" {skin infection} and was buried in Highland Cemetery 22 Jul 1865.
  • Benjamin Brown Vaughan had been received into the St. Luke's parish, but beyond that had not participated at St. Luke's at all. He had not married Susanna there nor did it look like they were members there.
Now, I knew they'd probably come to Ypsilanti between 1840 and 1850 because the 1850 census is the first one they appear in America. The records go on to confirm all of John's family with his first wife Prudence {Brown} Vaughan {She passed away in Quebec and John remarried there. At least, that's what I've determined.} and the children he had with both wives in Canada and in Ypsilanti, Michigan. And, right there, in really clear handwriting is John's son, my 3rd great grandfather, Benjamin Vaughan.

This parish register entry for the Vaughan family is priceless because it pulls together the whole family and lists who was dead {at the time the family was received into the parish}, who had been baptized, who had been confirmed, and who had been married.

So, it was a bit disheartening to find that Benjamin and Susanna were seemingly not members of the same church as Benjamin's father. However, I learned bunches about John's life in the church, and the information was definitely needed for my application for United Empire Loyalist membership.

Then I "skipped" in the microfilm to the back of the Parish Register Book to look for an index before combing through all the baptisms, confirmations, marriages, and burials, which are in chronological order by event. 'Cause duh. I'm lazy like that.

And? I wanted to verify there were no other Vaughans in the parish and that there was really no trace of Benjamin and his family, especially Benjamin's son, Daniel Rook Vaughan. I mean, I really need his information for my DAR and UEL applications.


Found: Good News!
They were the only Vaughan family in the St. Luke's Parish through 1893.

Found: More Good News!
There was a Dan'l R, an Alice B., and a Prudence B. listed in the index with their baptismal registry number.

Found: Good & Bad News!
There was a Mrs. Susanna Vaughan listed with her burial registry number.

Well, I knew something bad had happened to Susanna. I've written about it before. It's just not always a thrill to find out you're right about some things.

I quickly jumped back in the microfilm to the burials section to look for the details of Susanna's burial. And there, on page 314, is listed Susanna as having been buried 12 Jan 1852 in Ypsilanti at the tender age of 26. No cause of death and no date of death were listed. However, she is listed as having been baptized, confirmed, and a communicant at the time of her burial. {Really? Which church?}

According to the date, that means she left behind a 5-year-old Prudence, a 4-year-old Daniel {my 2nd great grandfather}, and an almost-2-year-old Alice. {Big sigh.}

Found: Good & Bad News!
But then listed right underneath Mrs. Susanna Vaughan's burial register entry was an entry for an 11-month old Rachel Roselia Vaughan who had been buried 24 Mar 1852 in Ypsilanti. And, again, no cause of death or date of death was listed.}

Just who was Rachel Roselia Vaughan? Had she been a younger and until-now-unknown-to-me sibling of Daniel's? And if so, then the "them" who had been lost between 1850 and 1860 had really been 3 and not 2.

With a heavy heart, I quickly looked up Prudence's, Daniel's, and Alice's baptismal entries for my records and society applications. {Oh yeah. The societies. That's why I was here in the first place. *snort*} And then I found some more surprises. The 3 children had been baptized in a private ceremony under their full names -- Prudence Brown Vaughan, Daniel Rook Vaughan, and Alice Barbary Vaughan -- in a private ceremony all on the same day, 30 Aug 1851. And because the mythical genealogy gods and goddesses didn't want to make anything too easy for me, their grandparents -- John T. and Hester Vaughan -- are listed as their parents and Daniel's birth year is different by 1 year from what I know it to be based on other pieces of evidence.

But, then, listed right underneath their baptismal entries is a baptismal entry for Rachel Roselia Vaughan who was baptized 21 Mar 1852 at St. Luke's, which was just 3 days before her burial.

So. What's the story? Well, I dunno for sure, but it seems that Susanna became incapacitated in some way and, by the end of August in 1851, was unable to take care of her children. It doesn't seem that Benjamin, Susanna, and their kiddos had been members of St. Luke's either. At least, not at first.

So, it seems that Benjamin's father and step-mother -- John and Hester -- came in and took their grandchildren in order to care for them and by the end of August in 1851, they had Prudence, Daniel, and Alice baptized at St. Luke's in Ypsilanti. And then almost 7 months later, they had Rachel Roselia baptized there as well 3 days before her burial.

Good for me, paper-trail-wise. Sorta.

But? I wonder how Susanna had been incapacitated? Illness? Postpartum depression? Accident?

And what about the baby, Rachel Roselia? I'm definitely assuming that she is Benjamin's and Susanna's baby. But I could be wrong about that. Regardless, why did she die? Illness? Birth defect?

And? Forget Waldo. Where in the world is Benjamin in all this upheaval and crisis? Hurt? Ill? Working elsewhere?

So. Some losses and finds in Ypsilanti. And one is still playing hide-n-seek.

And? O Susanna, how I cried for you.

And your babies. For just when I found you and Rachel Roselia, I lost you both. And so did your family.

{Stay tuned for Part 2 tomorrow and the Vaughan Family Surprise -- some things found and shared with me because of what I wrote. Will Benjamin be revealed?}


Note: Sources available upon request because if you think we're related, then contact me at cmpointer [@] gmail [dot] com and we'll figure it out together.
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  1. Caroline,

    I want you to know that your blog post is listed in today’s Fab Finds post at

    Have a wonderful weekend!

  2. First time I've found and read your blog (via your Evernote Youtube broadcast!). I am reading in Ypsilanti right now! That entry caught my eye! Cool discoveries.
    I am starting to do 'field work' for my family lines, not trained, but learn as I go in each direction. I imagine I will learn a lot from you so thanks for posting!

    1. Excellent!! And we all have to start somewhere!!

      And thank you very much for stopping by and reading! =)



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