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Granddaughter of Marion doctor to recount polar expedition tale

BY Scott Fleener - ctreport@indy.rr.com

Marion residents have a chance to hear the story of Dr. John Colin Vaughan, a man who practiced medicine in Marion and was a part of the failed 32-man Ziegler expedition to the North Pole in 1903, as told by his granddaughter, Heddi Vaughan Siebel.

The event, “An Evening with Heddi!” will take place at the Hostess House, May 22 at 6 p.m. and will cost $25 per person through pre-paid reservations.

During the polar expedition, the ship Vaughan was aboard struck an ice floe and the crew was stranded for 19 months, said Hostess House historian, Sharon Wilson.

He was at Columbia University in medical school when the opportunity to join the expedition came along.

“In his past he had been to Alaska during the gold rush time,” Wilson said, “but while he was there ... he learned how to drive the sled dogs and that’s why they hired him, (for) the sled dogs if they needed it.”

The Arctic Expedition wasn’t the only notable experience Vaughan had. Wilson said that he was born on a ship and at the age of 15 he was left in New York with family and would later go to Columbia University for medical school.

“When he lived here (in Marion) he greatly participated in the community,” she said. “He was active in the Boy Scouts, he went to the schools and gave talks – which at that time they called lantern slides.”

Wilson said children would come to his medical office and he would help them with various things.

“He was very involved and friendly,” she said.

Wilson said she came into contact with Siebel when she called the Explorers Club, which Vaughan was a member of, to see if they had any information the she didn’t have on Vaughan.

On Wednesday Siebel will also be talking about her own life experiences, including journeying to the arctic herself.

“She’s an artist too,” Wilson said, “and so she’s done a lot of artwork connected with her voyages.”

Attendees will be served a chicken marsala dinner, said board member Betsy Coss. The Hostess House is located at 723 W. Fourth St., Marion.