Author and Historian Lisa Lindsay Speaks at the Camden Archives & Museum
April 18, 2017
Scipio Vaughan: The Camden to Nigeria Story
In 1805, trans-Atlantic slave traders captured a young man of the Yoruba tribe, inhabitants of what is now Nigeria in Africa. He was sent in chains across the Atlantic and sold into slavery in Charleston, South Carolina. Bought by Wylie Vaughan and brought to Camden, the young slave went by the name of Scipio Vaughan. Scipio was a talented carpenter. Wylie valued him so much that he requested in his will that Scipio be given his freedom, his tools, and one hundred dollars after his death. In 1827, Scipio became a free man.
Scipio married Maria Conway, the second daughter of Bonds Conway, a free black of Camden. Scipio and Maria had eleven daughters and two sons. On his deathbed in 1840, Scipio told his sons to return to his native land, then called Liberia. James Churchill Vaughan and his brother left Camden and sailed to Liberia in 1853. There they made a new life and Churchill Vaughan rose to a place of prominence in that country.
The Nigerian Vaughans and their American relatives stayed in touch through the years after Churchill’s departure. Today in the United States, they are a network of more than 3,000 cousins from 23 states – along with their Nigerian cousins - who remain connected through periodic “Cousins” reunions.
Professor Lindsay has researched the Vaughan family’s lives in Camden, South Carolina and in Liberia for many years. Her book on the Vaughn family, Atlantic Bonds: A Nineteenth Century Odyssey from American to Africa, traces the family’s journey from Camden, South Carolina to Liberia to several parts of Yorubaland (present-day southwestern Nigeria).