My grandma Genevieve's grandparents were Otis and Fannie Vaughn. Otis's parents were some of the original settlers of Walworth County, coming here in 1837, just one year after the land became available to white men
Otis and his siblings went on to be fixtures of Walworth County in the years as it transitioned from wilderness in the Northwest Territory to a rural pastiche of prosperous, orderly villages. In their lifetimes, they saw some of the biggest changes the modern world would bring: electricity, automobiles, industrialization. They started life in log cabins or westward wagon trains and ended up in comfortable houses on paved streets in fully formed towns that would have been unimaginable in these locations at the start of their lives.
Otis was one of five children (a sixth son, Melvin, died in infancy.) His sister Abbie only lived to be 14; we don't know which childhood illness claimed her life, but sadly this was not an uncommon story in the days before vaccines and antibiotics. His oldest sibling, a brother named Benjamin, was significantly older than Otis; 13 years separated them. Though Ben initially married and had children in Walworth County, he eventually moved his family out to the west coast. (More on Ben and his wife Martha to come in a later post.)
|Phebe and Otis, around 1844|
|Phebe and possibly Abbie, around 1848|
It seems that throughout his life, Otis was closest with his two sisters, Delia and Phebe. Delia was eight years older than Otis, and Phebe was only four years older than he was.The three of them lived in Walworth County all their lives; Delia and Phebe ended up living closer to Elkhorn, and Otis eventually moved into Burlington, but they visited each other often and from the newspaper clippings, we know that their families often traveled together.
|Phebe poses alone a few years later|
The sisters lived in Elkhorn because they both married men from that city. Phebe married Rufus Harriman; Delia married LeGrand Latham.
Delia (back left) and Phebe pose with their husbands. (The couples were arranged diagonally; Rufus is on the left in front.)
But that is a story for next time.