Family Stories

The Hughes Family

Lest We Forget – History of Washington County, Kentucky

by O. W. Baylor

The Hughes Family, once prominent in Washington County, was of Irish extraction.  Edward Hughes, a native of the Emerald Isle, came to America in company with two brothers, a short time subsequent to the Revolution.  In a short time he was in Kentucky and settled near Danville.

Edward Hughes married Letitia Reed, who was a sister of Thomas Reed, United States senator of Missouri, and John Reed, first Clerk of the Washington County Court.  By her he had 15 children, 14 of whom grew to manhood and womanhood.

By occupation Edward Hughes was a farmer.  During the latter years of his long and successful life, he moved to Washington County.  His parents educated him with the view to entering the priesthood, but he turned from the Catholic and united with the Presbyterian Church, of which he died an elder in 1833, a victim of the cholera, the disease which also took his son in the same year.

John Hughes, Jr., son of Edward and Letitia Reed Hughes, was born in March 1797.  At the age of 14 he entered the Clerk’s Office in Springfield as a deputy under his uncle, John Reed.  When he was 19, his uncle died and he was chosen Clerk pro tem of both County and Circuit.  Two years later, when he had attained his majority, he was elected without opposition.

During the short span of his life, for it ended in 1833, when like his father, he fell a victim of the cholera, John Hughes, Jr., was considered on the of most popular young men of Washington County.  It is safe to presume that had he not died at the early age of 26, he would have continued to serve the county in some official way for many years.  He was buried on Cemetery Hill, Springfield.

John Hughes, Jr., married Martha H. Nantz, daughter of Frederick and Harriet Watkins Nantz.  They had 7 children.  Frederick Nantz was born in Virginia, as was his wife, Harriet Watkins.  He served from the beginning to the close of the Revolution and was a participant in the riots when the indignant colonists threw the tea overboard in Boston Harbor.  Frederick Nantz and Harriet Watkins (she was probably related to Mrs. Frances Watkins Walton, wife of Matthew Walton), were married in Virginia and immediately thereafter then moved to Kentucky to settle in Washington County.  Harriet Watkins Nantz died after the emigration to Kentucky and after she had borne 11 children.  For his second wife, Frederick Nantz married a Miss Cosby of the family of that name in the vicinity of Hog Run, Washington County.  By her he had 4 children.

James R. Hughes, second child of John Hughes, Jr., and his wife Martha H., was born in Washington County July 8, 1821.  He was 12 years old when his father died in 1833.  for 7 years thereafter he remained at home with his mother.  during that time he received a good common school education, attending Marion College one year.

In 1840, James R. Hughes commenced reading medicine in the office of Drs. Linton and Polin in Springfield.  In 1842 and 1843 he took two respective courses of lectures at St. Louis, Missouri, graduating in the latter year.  Coming back to Springfield he hung out his shingle and continued practicing until 1848, when he retired and took up farming.  In 1858 he removed to Missouri and remained there three years.  On Jun 10, 1843, he married Miss Susanna Davison of Springfield, who died March 25, 1846, leaving one son, Davison Hughes.  On June 1, 1847, he married Mary R. McElroy and by her had 6 children:  Susanna married Dr. R. H. Gale; Sallie married Dr. William Ray; James R.; Mamie; John L. and Bessie.

3 replies »

  1. In the article on the Hughes family, you mention Letitia Reed’s brother was Senator Thomas Buck Reed. He was a Senator from Mississippi not Missouri.

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