JOSEPH R. HUGHES was born at Gadsden March 14, 1842, and is a son of Gabriel and Asenath D. (Young) Hughes, natives of Haywood, Lincoln County, N. C. The senior Mr. Hughes migrated to Georgia in early life. There, in 1832, was married, and in 1838 came to Alabama. He located near Jacksonville, in Calhoun County, and in 1840 moved to Double Springs, near Gadsden, and in 1845, with his associates, James Hughes and John S. Morgan, founded the now thriving city of Gadsden. He died in March, 1886; his wife died in 1855. He was one of the first postmasters at Gadsden, then known as Double Springs. It seems that he made his home where now stands the town of Atalla from 1857 up to the time of his death. He was a prominent Mason, and his wife a consistent member of the Methodist Episcopal Church. The Hughes family, after coming to America, settled first in Pennsylvania, removing thence to the Carolinas. This branch of the Young family are of German descent.
The subject of this sketch lived on his father's farm until the year 1857. He was attending school in April, 1862, when he entered the Confederate Army as a member of Company G, Forty-eighth Alabama, and with that regiment participated in the Seven Days' Fight around Richmond, at Manassas, where he was slightly wounded, and at Sharpesburg. In October, 1862, he was, on account of failing health, honorably discharged; came home, and in November following joined Tracy's Brigade as chief clerk of the Commissary Department, under Major Hollingsworth. He was in the memorable siege of Vicksburg; was present at the surrender of General Pemberton, on Fourth of July, 1863, and, being paroled, joined his command at Missionary Ridge, in September, 1863. He was afterward in the campaigns of Dalton and Atlanta; at the battle of Jonesboro; was with Hood in his raid into Tennessee, and all the battles from Nashville to North Carolina, where he surrendered with Johnston.
Returning home, he entered a dry goods establishment as clerk, and in a short time moved to Cherokee County, where he was deputy in the Circuit Clerk's office. He came to Gadsden, and on December 14, 1867, was married to Mary E. Davis, daughter of Robert and Elizabeth (Adams) Davis of this place.
Mr. Hughes built the Exchange Hotel, and was its first proprietor ; erected the first steam flour mill at Gadsden, and was in the milling business until 1874, when he was elected Clerk of the Circuit Court of Etowah County. He was reelected Clerk in 1880, and since 1886 has been engaged in the real estate business. He owns a large number of acres of land gives some attention to agriculture ; is interested in the new Gadsden Hotel, and is also secretary of the Gadsden Real Estate Company.
Aside from the office of Clerk of the Court he has been several times a member of the City Council. He is an extensive owner of mineral lands, and is more or less identified with the leading industries of the booming town of Gadsden.
The family are members of the Methodist Episcopal Church, and Mr. Hughes is a Knight of Honor and a staunch Democrat.
Their three sons are named William F., Robert G. and Preston M.
Source: McCalley, Henry, Northern Alabama : historical and biographical. Birmingham, AL: Smith & De Land, 1888, pp. 835.