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Vance, James Milton (1857–1930)

Zelime Vance Gillespie Biography Entry

James Milton Vance, dairyman, livestock promoter, and civic leader, was born in San Antonio, Texas, on March 11, 1857, the son of Frances E. (Tabor) and William Vance. He was educated at the old German-English School, San Antonio; Earlham Academy, Richmond, Indiana; and the University of the South, Tennessee. His father was a merchant in San Antonio, and Vance's first business venture was in a partnership grocery store, Vance and Edwards, at the corner of Houston and Navarro streets, from 1877 to 1881. This was the first store on Houston Street, now San Antonio's main business street. For reasons of health he gave up the store and established Hillside Dairy Ranch five miles north of the city, where he resided until his death. He built up an outstanding dairy herd and became known throughout the state for his interest in the dairy industry and agriculture. His was perhaps the first registered dairy herd in the Southwest. Hillside Ranch became a show place and was extensively written about in Texas farm papers before 1900. Vance first introduced the DeLaval cream separator in Texas and became agent for the entire state and a large part of northern Mexico. Vance was one of the organizers of the San Antonio International Fair and served as its secretary-manager from 1899 until its close in 1909. He was active on the board of directors of the San Antonio Chamber of Commerce and was chairman of the agriculture department for many years. He helped organize the Texas Jersey Cattle Club, the State Dairymen's Association, the Lone Star Poultry Association, and the Texas Farmers Congress. He was president of the Bexar County chapter of the Texas Pioneer Association at the time of his death. Vance was an Episcopalian. He was appointed food administrator for Bexar County and served in that capacity throughout World War I. He was married to Mary Ellen Tobin on September 10, 1878; they had three daughters. Vance died on January 26, 1930, and was buried in the Tobin family plot in City Cemetery No. 1, San Antonio.

Frederick Charles Chabot, With the Makers of San Antonio (Yanaguana Society Publications 4, San Antonio, 1937). DeLaval Monthly, September 1908. Texas Farm and Ranch, October 19, 1895.


  • Agriculture
  • Farmers
  • Promoters

Time Periods:

  • Progressive Era

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Zelime Vance Gillespie, “Vance, James Milton,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed November 25, 2020,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.