Col. John C. Vance


The Wheeling Daily Intelligencer, May 28, 1884

Grave marker inscription of Col. John C. Vance

Over the Subscription of $150,000 to the West Virginia & Pennsylvania R R.

Special Dispatch to the Intelligencer.

CLARKSBURG, W. VA., May 27.– There is general rejoicing among our citizens over the action of our County Court today in unanimously making the order appointing three Commissioners to make the subscription, in behalf of Harrison county, of $150,000 to the capital stock of the West Virginia & Pennsylvania Railroad Company.

This action carries out in good faith the wishes of our people, as expressed by a nearly unanimous vote of the county, in favor of such subscription.

Hon. John J. Davis and Judge Thomas Harrison opposed the making of the order with their well known ability. Their action is strongly condemned by their fellow-citizens as being against the best wishes of our community.

Colonel Ben Wilson, Judge G. D. Camden and A. C. Moore, Esq., replied in favor of the order. The argument of Colonel Wilson was especially able and convincing. Col. T. S. Spates, John C. Vance and Sidney Haymond were the commissioners appointed.

Map of WV railroad system

They are wise selections, being three of our best citizens. They will see that the pledged faith of our county to this enterprise, which will result in such great benefit to our section of the State, will be faithfully carried out.


The Railroad Bonds Are to be Issued.

Special to the Register.

CLARKSBURG, May 27– There is general rejoicing in Clarksburg and Harrison county to-day over the action of the county court in directing the issue of $150,000 in county bonds to aid in the construction of the Railroad from Clarksburg to the State line.

The court was emphatic and unanimous. Being prudent gentlemen they inserted in the order such provisions as were necessary to protect the tax-payers. We venture that no order of any court in the ancient county of Harrison ever caused such a jubilee as this one.

Our people sorely feel the need of a competing road and today’s proceedings are a long stride in the right direction.

Bonds to be Issued

Col. T. S. Spates, John C. Vance, Esq., and Judge Sidney Haymond were appointed commissioners to make the subscription in behalf of the county. They are first-class business men and the public are assured that the duties will be faithfully performed.

Sketch of what court proceedings in the late 19th century looked like, used to illustrate the decision of Col. John C. Vance and others in determining the rail bond issue

Long life to Col. Ben Wilson, R. T. Lownd, John T. Ruhl and other heroes good and true who have labored so ardently and effectively in the railroad cause. May they garner a large proportion of fortune’s harvest which today’s proceedings will bestow upon Harrison’s jubilant people.

We send greetings to our sister county Mario, for we feel assured that ere the morrow’s sun goes down she tooo will declare herself free from the bondage that makes us slaves.


The Daily Chronicle of the Movements of Individuals

Wheeling Register, July 11, 1890

Col. John C. Vance and Hoff Sommers, of Clarksburg, were in the city yesterday.


Wheeling Register., January 02, 1891


Of Clarksburg, Mr. W. F. Richards—Colonel Vance is Elected by Over Two Hundred Majority by the Vote of the Decent People of the City of Clarksburg

Sketch of 19th century voting place, the Clarksburg Mayoral Election of 1891, which Col. John C. Vance won, may have looked similar

Special Telegram to the Register.

CLARKSBURG, January 1.–Col. Vance is on top! The city election came off to-day with the following results: Col. John C. Vance, ‘Squire W. P. Camp and Jasper Pew were candidates for the office of Mayor. The REGISTER’s readers will remember that some time ago a full report appeared in the paper regarding a feud between W. F. Richards, the present mayor of Clarksburg and Col. John C. Vance, mayor-elect, which resulted in almost the death of the former.

The present election was looked forward to with more than ordinary interest by our citizens, from the fact that the fight was to be wholly one of principle and vindication between Richards and Vance. Great was the surprise when the polls opened this morning and found waiting the tickets struck last evening at the Telegram office with W. F. Richards’ name on for Mayor. This fact alone was looked upon as an admission of the wrong Richards had done, but the work by Col. Vance and that of his friends were not abandoned until the majority of 220 was rolled up. This is the largest majority ever given in our city.


Another telegram says: “At the municpal election to-day John C. Vance was elected Mayor, Marcellus M. Thompson Recorder, and T. P. Brennan, Jos. McConnell, F. A. Lang, C. M. Hart and T. B. Haymaker Councilmen, respectively of the First, Second, Third, Fourth and Fifth wards. George W. Shuttleworth was elected School Commissioner of the Independent school district.

The contest for Mayor was between John C. Vance, Jasper Pew and W. P. Camp, W. F. Richards, it is said, did not permit his name to be placed on any of the tickets.”

Excerpt of a political cartoon of the 19th century depicting the donkey which became the symbol of Col. John C. Vance's Democrat party
The Weekley Register., April 26, 1892

Col. John C. Vance, of Clarksburg, is a candidate for the Democratic nomination for State Treasurer, and his candidacy is meeting with favor.

He is an ardent Democrat, a man of influence and standing, and would make an excellent State Treasurer.


Wheeling Register., May 17, 1892, page 4

Daily Chronicle of the Movement of Individuals

Col. John C. Vance, Mayor of Clarksburg, was in the city yesterday on his way home from a business trip through some of the adjoining Pennsylvania counties.

Col. Vance’s name has been mentioned in connection with the Democratic nomination for the State Treasurer-ship. The Colonel says he has never announced himself as a candidate, and therefore he thinks it unnecessary to decline something he has never asked for.

The Fever

Col. Vance, in talking of the recent typhoid fever scare in Clarksburg, said it entirely subsided. The claim made that the water of the West Fork river was polluted by reason of the sewerage from the asylum was exploded when the fact is considered that persons in Clarksburg had the fever who never used a drop of river water.

Post card image of Clarksburg WV

Clarksburg only had twelve cases of fever, four of which were fatal, and two of them were really due to other causes. There never was any real cause for alarm, because interior towns that never drew their supply of water from any other source than a creek or spring were afflicted in the same way. Clarksburg is as healthy as any town in the State, and to-day there is not a fever patient in town.

The Clarksburg Telegram., May 26, 1893, page 2


Col. John C. Vance and Lee H. Vance, of Clarksburg, were here several days this week.

The Clarksburg Telegram., September 08, 1893, page 2


Col. John C. Vance, of Clarksburg was here the first of the week.

The Clarksburg Telegram., July 17, 1896, page 7

Col. John C. Vance is spending a few days at Mt. Lake Park.

The Clarksburg Telegram., February 23, 1900, page 8

Col. John C. Vance is in Georgia.

A Few Municipal Campaign Pointers 

The Clarksburg Telegram., March 02, 1900, Page 2

Col. John C. Vance says to the democrats, “No you can’t run me for mayor, I will not have it under any consideration.”

Col. John C. Vance’s Plantation.

The Clarksburg Telegram., April 13, 1900, page 2

Map image of Gordon County Georgia where John C. Vance relocated

Clarksburg will regret to lose the citizenship of Col. John C. Vance. He has decided to locate in the South and has purchased a large, 700 acre plantation at Calhoun, Gordon county, Georgia.

It lies on the Coosawatta river and is among the best in that fertile valley. This year he has 80 acres in cotton, 75 in corn, 20 in wheat, besides many acres in oats, potatoes, sweet potatoes, water melons and other truck. His principal crop, however, will be peaches and an early fruit, the product of an orchard of 4,000 trees covering 30 acres.

Col. Vance returned a few days ago from a trip to his plantation and says his peach orchard in full bloom is one of the most magnificent scenes he ever beheld. The plantation has an elegant residence on it and so situated that every point on the farm is in sight.


The Daily Telegram., August 16, 1907
The Clarksburg Telegram., August 22, 1907, page 7

From His Fine Georgia Plantation the First Time in Seven and a Half Years for a Short Visit.

Col. John C. Vance arrived here last night from Gordon county, Ga., to visit his son J. Carl Vance, and other relatives, as well as friends. Col. Vance was busy all the day shaking hands with old friends, who are all glad to see him again and to know that he looks so natural and is in such fine health.

Col. Vance left Clarksburg seven and a half years ago, going to Georgia, and has not been here since until now. He owns a plantation of six hundred acres in Georgia and grows cotton, corn, sweet potatoes, peaches and other crops, in fact, every thing grown here.

Stock image of 19th century gentleman shaking hands

His son, Captain Earl Vance, is engaged with him in the conduct of the plantation which Col. Vance has made a very productive and profitable one. He will remain here two or three weeks.


The Daily Telegram., July 21, 1908
The Clarksburg Telegram., July 23, 1908, page 6

Form An Association Here as Suggested in a Special Letter.


As Clarksburg is the coming city of West Virginia, to keep in view the trophies of her progress, it is well, that everything pertaining to her past, her history, and her advancement, should be fittingly recorded and preserved. As a part of the means to this end, it has been suggested that there should be formed, an association of the ex-mayors of Clarksburg.

The gentlemen living in the city, with the exception of Col. Vance, who have served in the capacity of mayor, are, naming them in the order of their service: Col. Thomas S. Spates, Esquire M. S. Riley, Hon. Dabney C. Lee, Col. John C. Vance, Esquire Samuel W. Gordon, Hon O. Q Owens, Hon. I. M. Kelley, Hon. P. H. Shields, Hon. Lafayette C. Crile, and Hon. Harvey W. Harmer. This association might serve a useful purpose, and the idea should be carried into effect.


The Daily Telegram., December 21, 1908, page 10

Col. John C. Vance arrived here Saturday night to spend the Christmas holidays with relatives. Col. Vance resides at Calhoun, Ga., where he owns and operates a large and successful plantation. He is in the enjoyment of fine health, his many friends are glad to know.


The Daily Telegram., September 19, 1910, page 4

Col. John C. Vance, of Georgia, who has been visiting his many friends in Clarksburg for some time, was in our town Friday a guest of Mr. and Mrs. G. F. Rogers

The Daily Telegram., February 14, 1913, page 10


Col. John C. Vance, who has been spending the winter here, will leave next Thursday for his large plantation at Macon, Ga.


The Daily Telegram., May 27, 1914, page 3

Colonel John C. Vance, of Calhoun, Ga., arrived here Tuesday night to spend the summer. He expects to remain until after the fair the first week in September. Colonel Vance, a lifelong resident of Clarksburg until a few years ago, is successfully engaged in operating a large plantation in Georgia.


The Daily Telegram., November 09, 1915

Former Prominent West Virginian is Claimed by Messenger of Death.

Sketch of Death coming

Colonel John C. Vance died Monday midnight at Calhoun, Ga., where he and his son, Earl, have operated a large plantation since 1900. The body will be brought to Clarksburg for burial arriving Thursday night. The hour of the funeral will not be announced until after the arrival of the funeral party. Colonel Vance had been in failing health several months. The news of his death came here by telegram to his son, J. Carl Vance, who paid his father his last visit only last week.

Early Life

John C. Vance, son of Colonel Cyrus and Minerva Vance was born in Harrison County, Va., now W. Va., November 28, 1835. His education was obtained principally at the Northwestern Academy at Clarksburg in his native county.

When he grew to manhood he took up the study of the law and after reading a number of text books he became a student in Judge Brockenbrough’s famous law school at Lexington, Va. There he remained through the sessions of 1856-7 and 1857-8, and thoroughly equipped himself for the profession upon which he was about to enter.

He returned to Clarksburg and was admitted to the bar in the early part of 1859 and began to practice. The outlook was most encouraging. From the first he had a paying client-age.

Flag commemorating WV statehood

Having a taste for politics he was made an elector in the campaign of 1860 on the Douglas and Johnson ticket for president and vice president, and he took an active part in the campaign. Though young in years in that noted contest Mr. Vance made for himself an enviable reputation as a political speaker and worker.

Civil War

The war coming on, Mr. Vance naturally fearless and energetic was very active in raising the first company of volunteer Union soldiers in Harrison county. He accompanied them to Wheeling, where they were mustered into the federal army.

He was elected a delegate to the June, 1861, convention which assembled in Wheeling and organized the restored government of Virginia, and was an active and able member of the first legislature of the reorganized government in 1861-1862 and opposed much of the legislation that he considered unnecessary and fanatical.

In 1862 when the emancipation proclamation of President Lincoln was issued Mr. Vance, believing that the war had been perverted from its original and declared purpose, resigned his seat in the legislature and with others who maintained like opinions attempted a reorganization of the Democratic party.

On April 19, 1862, he was arrested by the federal authorities and was confined to Fort McHenry, near Baltimore, as a political prisoner of war. After his release from prison Colonel Vance returned to his home at Clarksburg and was active in the early efforts to organize the party of his faith.

The State of Virginia Before WV Split off

During and since the war he was an engetic partisan and did as much perhaps as any other man in West Virginia to place the Democratic party successfully on its feet throughout the state.

In January, 1870, Colonel Vance was elected cashier of the West Virginia Bank and for nineteen years he held that trust to the satisfaction of stockholders and people. All of his time and energies were given to that enterprise, which steadily grew.

Active, contributing member of Odd Fellows

Colonel Vance was an active, contributing member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows since 1859. He passed all the chairs in the subordinate bodies and three times represented the grand encampment of West Virginia in the Soverign Grand Body, in 1881 at Cincinnati, 1882 at Baltimore and 1883 at Providence, R. I. In that benevolent institution he bore an enviable reputation. He was once Grand Patriarch of the Grand Encampment for West Virginia and remained a member of Adelphi Lodge No. 8, here until his death. He frequently expressed the desire the Adelphi lodge officiate at his funeral.

On November 28, 1861, Colonel Vance and Miss Amelia Hornor, daughter of the late James Y. Hornor, of this city, were married. Mrs. Vance died a number of years ago. The survivors of the immediate family are J. Carl Vance, Postmaster here, and Earl Vance, of Calhoun, Ga., sons.

Odd Fellows' Banner

In appearance Colonel Vance was medium size, fair complexion, of sanguine temperament and always courteous, gentlemanly and polite. He enjoyed great popularity among those with whom he associated and had a large acquaintance in many portions of the state.

Col. John C. Vance Dies in the South

The West Viriginian, November 10, 1915, page 4

CLARKSBURG, W. Va., Nov. 10–

The body of Col. John C. Vance, father of J. Carl Vance, postmaster of Clarksburg, is on the way to Clarksburg from Calhoun, Ga., where he and his son, Earl, operated a large plantation since 1900 and where he died after an illness of several months. The funeral will take place here, probably Friday.

For many years Col. Vance was a prominent figure in West Virginia affairs. He was a son of Col. Cyrus and Minerva Vance and born in Harrison County, Va. (now West Virginia), November 28, 1835. In 1859 he was admitted to the bar here and built up an extensive practice.

When the Civil War broke out he raised the first company of volunteer Union soldiers in Harrison County and took it to Wheeling, where it was mustered into the Federal army.

Harrison County Map

Returning home after the war he was elected cashier of the West Virginia Bank, a position he filled for 19 years. Col. Vance was an Odd Fellow and once was grand patriarch of the West Virginia Encampment.

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