Taken from Kentucky: A History of the State by Battle, Perrin and Kniffin.
Dr. James R. Hughes, one of the extensive farmers of Nelson County, was born in Washington County, Kentucky, July 8, 1821, of a family of seven children born to John Hughes, Jr., and Martha H. (Nantz) Hughes; he was next to the eldest. His paternal grandfather, Edward Hughes, was a native of Ireland, where he grew to manhood. He, in company with two brothers, came to the United States a short time subsequent to the Revolutionary War, coming immediately to Kentucky and settling near Danville, where he was united in marriage with Miss Letitia Reed, who was a sister of Thomas Reed (United States senator of Mississippi), grandaunt of Humphrey Marshall and aunt of James Birney. By her he was the father of fifteen children, fourteen of whom they reared to manhood and womanhood. By occupation he was a farmer, in which vocation he was very successful; but later in life he removed to Washington County. His parents educated him with a view of his entering the priesthood, but he digressed from the Catholic and united with the Presbyterian Church, of which he died an elder in 1833, a victim of the cholera, which was so prevalent that year. Frederick Nantz, maternal grandfather of J. R. Hughes, was born in Virginia, and served from the incipiency to the close of the Revolutionary War; he was a participant in the riots when the indignant colonists threw the tea overboard in Boston harbor. Before leaving his native state for Kentucky he married a Miss Harriet Watkins, by whom he became the father of eleven children; by a second marriage to Miss Cosby, he was the father of four children. Upon moving to Kentucky he settled in Washington County, where he continued to reside until his death. John Hughes, Jr., our subject’s father, was born in March, 1797, and was, perhaps, during his short life, one of Washington County’s most popular young men. At the age of fourteen he entered the county clerk’s office as deputy under his uncle, John Reed. At nineteen years he was elected clerk pro tem. of both county and circuit, and upon attaining his majority, that election was confirmed without opposition, the county then embracing what are now Washington and Marion Counties. He died while an incumbent, in 1833, of cholera, and in his death the county lost an efficient, honest and obliging official. James R. Hughes remained at home with his mother until he was nineteen years old; he received a good common education, attending Marion College for one year. In 1840 he commenced reading medicine with Drs. Linton and Polin; in 1842 and 1843 he took two respective courses of lectures at St. Louis, graduating in the latter year. He immediately located and began the practice at Springfield, where he continued until 1848, when he retired from the medical profession and began farming, in which vocation he has since continued and has been very successful, owning a farm of 1,043 acres well improved. In 1858 he removed to Missouri and remained there three years. Jun e , 1843, he married Miss Susanna Davidson, who died March 25, 1846, leaving one son, Davidson Hughes. Jun 1, 1847, he married Mary R. McElroy, by whom he is the father of six living children: Susanna, now widow of Dr. R. H. Gale; Sallie, wife of Dr. William Ray; James R.; Mamie; John L. and Bessie. Dr. Hughes and wife are members of the Presbyterian Church. In politics he is a Democrat.