Home |  PublicationsEncyclopedia |  Vaught, Edgar Sullins

The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture

Edgar S. Vaught
(9221, Oklahoma Historical Society Photograph Collection, OHS).


Attorney and federal judge Edgar Sullins Vaught was born January 7, 1873, in Cedar Springs, Virginia, to Noah Trigg and Minerva Atkins Vaught. Vaught earned the bachelor of science degree from Carson and Newman College, Jefferson City, Tennessee, in 1899 and then pursued graduate study at Emory and Henry College, Emory, Virginia.

Vaught taught in the public schools of Tennessee and served as a county superintendent before coming to Oklahoma City in 1901. There he was high school principal and later superintendent of Oklahoma City schools from 1902 until 1906. In the latter year he was admitted to the Oklahoma Bar and began the practice of law.

Vaught was associated with a number of lawyers over the years. His last firm before going on the bench was Everest, Vaught, and Brewer. Primarily a trial lawyer, Vaught tried sixty-three cases one year, and won fifty-seven of them. He represented Ford Motor Company for more than twenty years and never lost a case.

A Republican, Vaught was appointed as the U.S. District Judge for the Western District of Oklahoma in 1928 by Pres. Calvin Coolidge in the waning days of his administration. Likely Judge Vaught's most famous case on the bench was the trial of George A. "Machine Gun" Kelly for the kidnapping of prominent Oklahoma City oilman Charles F. Urschel. Vaught sentenced Kelly to life imprisonment. When Vaught retired from the bench in 1956, he had earned a reputation as a "durable, conservative jurist."

Throughout his life Vaught remained very active in civic and church affairs. A Methodist, he served as trustee for Oklahoma City University. In 1951 he received the Distinguished Service Citation from the University of Oklahoma. In 1899, Vaught married Mary Holtsinger, and they had three children, Mary Eleanor, Edgar Sullins, Jr., and Ruth Loretta. Vaught died December 12, 1959.

Von R. Creel


Harold W. Chase et al., comps., Biographical Dictionary of the Federal Judiciary (Detroit, Mich.: Gale Research Co., 1976).

William C. Kellough, "Power and Politics of the Oklahoma Federal Court," The Chronicles of Oklahoma 65 (Summer 1987).


The following (as per The Chicago Manual of Style, 17th edition) is the preferred citation for articles:
Von R. Creel, “Vaught, Edgar Sullins,” The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture, https://www.okhistory.org/publications/enc/entry?entry=VA006.

Copyright and Terms of Use

No part of this site may be construed as in the public domain.

Copyright to all articles and other content in the online and print versions of The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History is held by the Oklahoma Historical Society (OHS). This includes individual articles (copyright to OHS by author assignment) and corporately (as a complete body of work), including web design, graphics, searching functions, and listing/browsing methods. Copyright to all of these materials is protected under United States and International law.

Users agree not to download, copy, modify, sell, lease, rent, reprint, or otherwise distribute these materials, or to link to these materials on another web site, without authorization of the Oklahoma Historical Society. Individual users must determine if their use of the Materials falls under United States copyright law's "Fair Use" guidelines and does not infringe on the proprietary rights of the Oklahoma Historical Society as the legal copyright holder of The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and part or in whole.