Copyright © 2011-2018 John N. Lupia III
Randolph Laughlin (1875-1933), was born on March 21, 1875, to Ella “Nellie” Haynes (1853-), and Judge Henry David Laughlin (1848-1931), both natives of Kentucky. His parents were divorced in 1900. He was an attorney in St. Louis beginning in 1897. He was also an ancient coin collector, who, over the years purchased many fine gold, silver and bronze Greek and Roman coins from the Chapman brothers.
On June 21, 1898, he married an English woman named Marie Highley (1875-) and they had a son Robert Randolph Laughlin. In the summer of 1899 he invented the sport "Archery-Golf" where one shoots an arrow to a mound and golfs there.
In January 1901 Laughlin, the attorney for the St. Louis board of election commissioners filed an injunction against the principals in the Horton-Butler congressional election contest blocking them for producing the ballots in the last election. In August 1902 he and his brother and his wife went to Yellowstone Park and then left Idaho to Jackson's Hole looking for the hideout of the infamous Outlaw Tracy before he was killed. The high point of their adventure was when Randolph's brother Robert, an avid fly collector, attempted to net the large fly on the neck of the horse that carried their wagon. Robert slipped off the tongue of the wagon and frightened the horse causing him to run wild toward a precipice of a very high cliff. Robert managed to hop on the horse and bring everyone to safety. They were lost in the canyon for over a week but were finally brought to safety.
In 1910, he loaned his Greek and Roman coin collection to the St. Louis City Art Museum. In 1911, he with his father Judge Henry David Laughlin and Robert H. H. Hern, all of St. Louis were to share $1 Million fee for winning the case in the Cherokee land suits that was held up in the courts for twenty years. The lawsuit gave large tracts of land in Oklahoma and elsewhere to freed negro slaves who were enslaved by the Cherokee Indians. Oil was discovered in these fields which amounted to many millions of dollars. The account of the litigation began with Milton Turner, a former slave who was born a royal prince of Morocco but was kidnapped and sold into slavery. He became the personal attendant to President U.S.S. Grant, who appointed him the U.S. Minister to Liberia.
In 1922 he had contact with Sir Arthur Evans (1851-1941), purchasing thirty-two ancient Roman gold coins which Evans discovered at the Suez Canal, Egypt. After his death his extensive Greek and Roman coin collection amounting to over a thousand pieces was sent to England.
He was also the attorney in the famous Charles R. Forbes and John W. Thompson Veteran's Bureau Conspiracy trial from 1924-1926, representing Thompson. He was also the attorney in the annulment lawsuit of the famous St. Louis millionaire, 70-year old Hugh W. Thomasson, from his pretty 30-year young wife Grace Caroline Mahood Thomasson. In that suit Randolph Laughlin also represented his niece Elizabeth Strock Laughlin in a lawsuit for $20,000 for the loss of her eye in a fishing accident (ouch!!).
The 1930 U. S. Census lists his residence at Washington Street, University, Missouri.
He died on February 23, 1933 in St. Louis, Missouri. His obituary read:
"At his St. Louis County home, a $100,000 residence, hand carvings of the woodwork and beams and the interior plastering, in the old
style known as pargetry, are Laughlin's own work. Randolph Laughlin was a collector of furniture and various antique objects, and had
one of the world's most complete collections of portrait coins of the Roman emperors. This collection is now in England."
Fig. 1. Business envelope of Randolph Laughlin sent to the Chapman Brothers to purchase Roman silver and gold coins postmarked
February 17, 1902. Courtesy of the Lupia Numismatic Library-Special Collection-The Chapman Family Archive. Click on photo to enlarge.
Fig. 2. Business envelope of Randolph Laughlin sent to the Chapman Brothers to purchase Roman silver and gold coins postmarked July 8, 1904,
franked by Scott #324-A131 Louisiana Purchase Expo 2c Jefferson, carmine, canceled by St. Louis World's Fair Expo meter. Very scarce. $160.
"Mrs. Laughlin Seeks Divorce," St. Louis Republic, November 17, 1900, page 3
"Wandered For Days in Outlaws' Lair. Attorney Randolph Laughlin, Wife and Brother Were Lost in Jackson's Hole," St. Louis Republic, September 28, 1902, page 23
"Rough Experience of Party of Tourists Who Sought To Explore Famous Fugitive's Roost in Wyoming," Salt Lake Telegram, October 11, 1902
City Art Museum, St. Louis, Annual Report (1910) : 57
"Fortune For Cherokee Freedmen" Savannah Tribune, April 1, 1911
Edward B. Weston, "Archery-Golf," Forest and Stream, Volume 80, February 1 (1913) : 145
"Find Coins Which Were Struck B.C." Sullivan Daily Times, September 18, 1922
Jefferson City Tribune, Friday, February 24, 1933 front page death notice.