James Andrew Vance was born on October 11, 1841 in Urbana, Champaign County, Illinois to Andrew Milton Vance and Esther Shelledy Vance. He grew up in Edgar County, Illinois and probably attended Paris public schools. His mother died when he was 6 years old.
He served for 3 months as a private in Company E of the 12th Illinois Infantry at Paris Illinois in May 1861. Although he was on the draft roll in June 1963, he was listed as a student and was not redrafted. His wife received a pension for his service after his death in 1920.
In 1867 he married Rachel A. Scott in Hamilton, Butler County, Ohio. She was daughter of Judge Josiah Scott who was a Justice of the Ohio Supreme Court, including chief justice. We do not know where James studied law, but perhaps he met Rachel through her father the judge. A biography of Judge Scott describes James Vance as “an Attorney [who] cultivates a taste for rural pursuits.”
In July 1867 James was road commissioner for Barry County, Missouri. We do not know exactly why he went to Missouri, but his father Andrew M. Vance seems to have moved to Missouri later in life and to have died there in 1868. Perhaps Andrew and his son James went to Missouri for similar reasons.
In 1868, James was one of twenty delegates to the Arkansas Railroad convention, the object of which was to encourage the building of a railroad from Verona to Fort Smith, Arkansas via Cassville and Washburn. In 1868 the Barry County Banner, the county’s first newspaper, was issued with James A. Vance as manager and co-editor; he also advertised his law practice there. The subscription price was $1.50.
He was the Marshall for the census taken in Cassville, Capps Creek and Kings Prairie (Missouri) in 1870. We have two letters from James to his wife Rachel during this time. One letter dated June 1, 1870 said that he would be busy for the next couple of months taking the census, that he would earn $500, and that he would have $700 to $1000 that fall and would be able to build them a house. They were waiting to see where the railroad ended up so they could build near it. His letters to Rachel told how the railroad expansion would ease their travels.
As of the 1870 census, they were living in Cassville, Barry County, Missouri. With them were Elmer C., age 8 (probably a nephew), Josiah S., age 1, and Austin E., 3 months. It is apparent from James’ letters that Rachel had just had a baby, Austin Eldridge. Since James was writing from Cassville, and stated she might want to go to Hamilton (Ohio where her mother was), it is unclear where Rachel was at the time. James was working on his many pursuits. It is clear that Rachel did travel. Hamilton was 600 miles northeast of Cassville. We know from these letters that on these trips Rachel would go through Paris, Illinois (over 400 miles north) where some of James’ family lived, including his older sister Julia, who had married James Collum. Collum was a produce merchant; he and Julia had 5 children of their own. Rachel’s father Josiah would travel with her on the Paris-Hamilton leg of the trip, and then James Collum would assist Rachel with the Paris-Missouri leg. Much of this was by horse-buggy, although the railroad was becoming available.
James ended one of these letters: “Write me very often Darling and tell me all the smart tricks of the babies for I delight to hear about my Darling babies, and from my sweet darling wife. How I long to press your loved self to my bosom and imprint kisses on your sweet lips. I would not stay away from you only that I might take the census and earn money to make my Darlings comfortable. Ever your living husband, James A Vance”
In 1876 James was a Justice of the peace at Cassville. He practiced law in Cassville throughout his life, though it appears they eventually resided at Pierce City, Missouri, 25 miles to the north, in Lawrence County. The 1880 census shows James and Rachel in Capps Creek, which is 5 miles south of Pierce City, and this may be where they built their house. They had Josiah S. (11), Alexander Milton (9), Julia (7) and James A. (3). (Austin may have passed away for he is not seen again in any records.) Another son, Herbert Earl, was born in 1884, but he would pass away at the young age of 20 years, from typhoid fever while working for the Missouri Pacific railroad in St. Louis.
James A. Vance is listed as Justice of the Peace in Pierce County in 1919-1920. (He would have been almost 80, and died in 1920, so this could have been his son.)
Children of James A. and Rachel Vance
Josiah S. Vance – born 1869, Missouri
Austin Elbridge Vance – born March 1870, Ohio
Alexander Milton Vance – born July 15, 1871, Cassville, Missouri
Julia Vance – born March 1874 in Missouri
James A. Vance – born May 1877 in Missouri
Herbert Earl Vance – born September 1883 in Missouri