The son and grandson of breeders of Shorthorn cattle, Howard Vaughn was born and raised on a farm near Marion, Iowa. He worked his way through Iowa State College, graduating with a Bachelor's degree in 1911. In 1924 his alma mater awarded him an honorary MS degree.
Howard came to California in 1920 and established his home near Dixon with the intention of breeding Shorthorn cattle and Chester White hogs. Caught in the depression he soon found himself broke and in debt. It was then that he turned to buying lambs and selling them on commission. His good judgement of values and his innate sense of fairness caused him to quickly rise to great popularity among lamb producers all over northern California. Branching out in his business, he acquired extensive holdings of irrigated pasturelands and became one of the state's largest lamb producers.
His great interest and hobby was his flock of registered Suffolk sheep. He went to England and Canada to buy the best possible rams to inprove his flock.
He recognized his responsibility as a citizen, serving as president of the California Wool Growers Association and vice-president and president of the National Wool Growers Association. Howard was a member of the Dixon School Board, the Textile Advisory Committee of the Army and Navy Munitions Board, and the United States Department of Agriculture's Wool Advisory Committee.