[Note: Many researchers refer to Samuel Vance that settled in Edgar County, Illinois as Samuel Colville Vance, and believe that his grandparents were Samuel Vance and Sarah Colville Vance; however, this is disputed by more recent researchers. Few if any documents refer to him as having a middle name or even middle initial “C”, nor do the histories of Edgar County, and so here we will refer to him as simply Samuel Vance.]
Samuel Vance was born December 27, 1769 in Frederick County, Virginia to John V. Vance and Jane Black Vance. His parents moved the family to Washington County, Virginia. He married Mary Jane Blackburn, daughter of William Blackburn, in Washington County on February 4, 1793. William Blackburn had fought and was killed at the Battle of King’s Mountain, North Carolina, on Oct. 7, 1780.
Samuel Vance and Mary Blackburn Vance had 12 children. Sometime after their 9th child was born in 1810 they moved from Virginia to Maryville, Tennessee, where Samuel secured two islands in the Tennessee River by grant from the state of Tennessee. Their last two children were born at Maryville. Samuel sold the islands for $850 in 1822 and almost immediately set out with several of his children and their families, as well as other families, for Illinois.
(Historical note: The area of Illinois was formerly inhabited by American Indians, and then controlled largely by the French and British; the British ceded the area to the United States at the end of the American Revolution in the 1783 Treaty of Paris. It then was part of the Northwest Territory, which the U.S. government had surveyed into potential townships and saleable lots with attractive prices in order to encourage expansion and settlement. Samuel Vance’s colony of settlers very likely went west to take advantage of the cheap land being offered.)
At that time Illinois was very sparsely settled. Henry Clay had entered sixteen hundred acres in the east part of what was later Edgar County in 1817 from government lands. Clark County had been organized and included all the area north to the Wisconsin Territory.
The Edgar County, Illinois Archives: Brief History of Paris, Illinois states:
“The territory embraced in Paris Township was a part of the Kickapoo hunting grounds for years after settlements were made on the east side of the old boundary line. The lands west of this line were not bought from the Indians until 1822 and were then surveyed and placed in the market. Thomas Jones is conceded to be the first settler in Paris township. He came from Christian County, Ky., and settled in the southern part of the township in July, 1821. Samuel Vance came to Illinois in the fall of 1822 and settled in Paris township near the city. He donated twenty-six acres of land upon which the county seat was located, this section was all a wilderness, and until 1834 it is said the Public Square was a brush thicket and the town was designated by a board nailed to a tree upon which was painted the name Paris. The first addition made to the town of Paris, after its first laying out, as shown by the records, was made in April 1829, by Mr. Vance, who gave the original site. This addition consisted of twenty-two lots, streets and alleys on the south side.”
Samuel’s first tract was 80 acres entered on October 11, 1822. He subsequently entered several other tracts (at least 7). Edgar County was organized on April 3, 1823. The 26 acres donated by Samuel Vance for the town had its center at a certain jack oak tree which had been blazed and agreed upon by Samuel and the commissioners. Surveys for the town were all made from this jack oak tree and the streets laid out with the jack oak as the center. Samuel moved to the edge of the prairie and built his log house. The town became Paris, Illinois. His sons John P. Vance and William Blackburn Vance also entered tracts in 1824 to 1829. Another son, Andrew Milton Vance, arrived in 1826 and secured two 80-acre tracts in 1830 and 1831 and another 40 acres in 1848.
Samuel was an aggressive businessman. He subsequently bought more land further north and west of the new town and sold it at a good profit. He was one of the town’s leading citizens. He was also determined and known to have a bad temper, as he was involved in several trials. Samuel, Mary and others in the family founded the Presbyterian Church on November 6, 1824. Samuel was involved in a church trial over a land dispute between his son John P and another townsman, and when he lost, Samuel was said to never have entered the church doors again. These trials and other details about the Vance settlers are detailed in the church record of the Parish Presbyterian Church, a copy of which is in the Paris Public Library and one copy in the State Historical Library in Springfield.
Samuel died May 6, 1856 in Paris, Illinois; Mary died there May 1, 1852. They were both buried in the old Presbyterian Cemetery which was later moved and became Edgar Cemetery.
Children of Samuel Vance and Mary Blackburn Vance (from Paxson Link’s Incidental History]
Jane Vance, b. Jan 1, 1794, Abingdon, Va, d. Feb. 26, 1840 Paris, Illinois
Elizabeth b. March 19, 1795; d. Dec. 12, 1795
William Blackburn Vance — b. Aug. 3, 1796, Abingdon, Va; d. Sept. 17, 1875, Paris, Illinois
John P. Vance — b. Feb. 13, 1798, Abingdon, Va; d. Oct. 12, 1829
James — b. Feb. 16, 1800, Abingdon, Va; d. May 10, 1824, Paris, Illinois
Stephen Bovell Vance — b. Dec. 1, 1801, Abingdon, Va; d. Nov. 12, 1815 Maryville, Tennessee
Andrew Milton Vance — b. Jan. 3, 1804 Abingdon, Va.; d. Sept. 10, 1868, Cassville, Missouri
Young Vance — b. Nov. 5, 1805, Abingdon, Va; d. Nov. 13, 1815, Maryville, Tennessee
Joseph Black Vance — b. Feb. 15, 1808, Abingdon, Va.; d May 29, 1883, Paris, Illinois
Elisa B. Vance — b. July 15, 1810 Abingdon, Va.; d. July 17, 1847, Paris, Illinois
Samuel Colville Vance — b. Feb. 2, 1813, Maryville, Tenn.; d. March 27, 1864, Paris, Illinois
Mary Vance — b. May 25, 1817, Maryville, Tenn.; d. Dec. 24, 1883, Paris, Illinois
“Incidental History of Families from which Paxson Link and Louise Cole Link are Descended,” by Paxson Link, 1964, Vance Section (pp. 41-76 and appendix thereto) (available on ancestry.com)
“Edgar County IL Archives History: Early Schools And Churches Of Edgar County IL 1921,” found at http://files.usgwarchives.net/il/edgar/history/other/earlysch280gms.txt
“Edgar County IL Archives History: Brief History of Paris,” found at: http://files.usgwarchives.net/il/edgar/history/other/briefhis117nms.txt