James D. Vaughan Gospel Music Museum

Life of Vaughan

Early LifeJames D Vaughan Banner

James D. Vaughan, the eldest of four sons, was born near Minor Hill, Tennessee in Giles County on December 14, 1864.  He was the son of George Washington Vaughan and Mary Eliza Shores Vaughan. His parents had migrated from the North Carolina Piedmont. His father was a Confederate soldier in the Civil War. Learn More at the James D. Vaughan Museum

James D. Vaughan attended private schools because they were in session longer than public schools. He received and education much superior to most of the youngsters of that time. After high school graduation, he taught school for several years. Vaughan's prime interest was music and he went to school under some of the best music teachers in the country. 

Start in Music

As luck would have it, there was a man living close by who knew the primary rudiments of music and who taught a music school. Four of the Vaughan brothers attended this school and all learned to sing do-re-mi's. This was a fore runner of the many gospel quartets that crisscrossed the nation a few years later.  James D. and John sand bass, Will sang tenor and Charles sang alto. Later James D. Vaughan attended several Normal schools taught by Professor E T. Hildebrand and learned to write music and to understand harmony.

Midlife and Publications

James D. Vaughan had several of his songs published by the Hilderbrand-Burnett Company in the late 1890's and began to collect material for his own song book. In the meanwhile, he continued to teach literary and singing schools in order to make a living.  In 1890, he and his wife moved to Sisco, Texas where he continued to school there. Both of their children, Glenn Keiffer and Mable Grace were born while they lived in Texas. There was a massive 'Cyclone' at Sisco in 1893 and the Vaughan family lost everything they had. Because of this, the family returned to Middle Tennessee in 1899. In 1900 Vaughan published his first book, "Gospel Chimes" in Minor Hill. At that time he was principal of the school at Elkmont Springs in Giles County, Tennessee.

Life in Lawrenceburg

In 1902, Vaughan moved to Lawrenceburg, Tennessee and founded the Vaughan Publishing Company. The next year, his youngest brother, Charles W Vaughan also moved to Lawrenceburg. Vaughan's first business was in the back of the law office of Colonel D. W Starnes behind the Post Office, which was located on the Public Square at that time. This building was damaged by fire and Vaughan moved to North Military Avenue just off the square. In 1909, Vaughan purchased the building on the south side of the square owned by the Lawrence Bank and Trust Company. The bank had moved to a new building on the corner of the square and Pulaski Street.

Vaughan Publishing CompanyJames D Vaughan Working at the WOAN Radio Station

The Vaughan Publishing Company grew steadily in the early years of the 20th Century. In 1909, the company sold just over 30,000 books, and in 1910 he more than doubled this number.

The steady stream of Gospel song books coming out of Lawrenceburg all looked very much the same. Even with inflation, they could be purchased for 50 cents in the 1960's. Book sales averaged more than 200,000 per year during the peak of the Vaughan Publishing Company. But Vaughan did not leave the sale of song books to chance.

Learn More

Learn more about James D. Vaughan at the James D. Vaughan Museum and the related website.