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Below is a family biography included in The History of McDonald County, Missouri published by Goodspeed Publishing Company in 1888.  These biographies are valuable for genealogy research in discovering missing ancestors or filling in the details of a family tree. Family biographies often include far more information than can be found in a census record or obituary.  Details will vary with each biography but will often include the date and place of birth, parent names including mothers' maiden name, name of wife including maiden name, her parents' names, name of children (including spouses if married), former places of residence, occupation details, military service, church and social organization affiliations, and more.  There are often ancestry details included that cannot be found in any other type of genealogical record.

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Judge Harvey J. Laughlin, judge of the eastern district of McDonald County, Mo., was born in Morgan County, Ind., on August 1, 1836. He is a son of Melvin A. Laughlin, who immigrated with his family, in the spring of 1839; to McDonald County, Mo. He settled on Big Sugar Creek, at the mouth of Trent Creek. The country was unsettled, and was full of Indians and wild animals, which made the nights hideous with their cries. Mr. Laughlin had to shut up his hogs at night to keep the bears from killing them. The subject of this sketch attended the first school in this settlement, and has a vivid recollection of the pioneer school-house with its primitive furniture. The first teacher knew nothing whatever about arithmetic, and only reading, spelling and writing were taught. He also remembers when their lumber was sawed with a whip-saw, and their wheat was cut with a hand-sickle. When the first cradle made its appearance the settlers thought it a wonderful invention. The wheat was either tramped out by horses or beat out with flails, and was cleaned by hand. Wild meat was the chief meat of these sturdy pioneers. Wild honey was also in abundance, and, besides being used for food, was used for soap by some of the settlers. In March, 1855, Mr. Laughlin was united in marriage with Angeline Pendergraft, a daughter of Moses Pendergraft (deceased), an early settler of the county. They were the parents of three children, all of whom are now dead. Two of them lived to be grown, Emily C. and Melvin Jonathan. Emily married John Lawson, and left three children: William, Annie and Harvey. Mr. Laughlin’s first wife died on April 15, 1859 and he was married again, on December 9, 1860, Delpha A. Hall, a daughter of John Hall, becoming his wife. The following children have been born to this union: Jonathan S., Margaret M. J., Harvey A., John M., Lettie A., George Calvin, Sarah A., James F. and Lois V. (twins), Thomas L. and Martha J. S., and eight of them are living. Harvey married Martha Harper, and has two children, Myrtie and Arminda. John married Ellen Roller, and has one child, deceased. Lettie married George Lawson, and has one child, Georgia B. Judge Laughlin has served as justice of the peace, and was constable at the breaking out of the Rebellion. He enlisted in the Confederate army, joining Capt. Clanton’s company, of Gen. Greene’s regiment, and participated in the battles of Pea Ridge and Beaver’s Mill. He is a consistent member of the Methodist Episcopal Church South and of the Farmers’ Alliance.

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This family biography is one of 82 biographies included in The History of McDonald County, Missouri published in 1888.  For the complete description, click here: McDonald County, Missouri History, Genealogy, and Maps

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