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Vance, John (1819–1890)

Anne Leslie Fenstermaker Biography Entry

John Vance, merchant, son of John and Martha (Davis) Vance, was born in Strabanne, Ireland, on June 4, 1819. He came to the United States in 1826 when the family moved to New York. His mother died when he was a small child and his father, a merchant, died shortly after remarrying. Vance had very little education after his father's death and was taught the trade of merchant tailor by his two brothers, James and William Vance. He followed his brothers to New Orleans in that trade and then opened a grocery store in Little Rock, Arkansas. His brothers joined him, and all three left to follow Gen. Zachary Taylor's troops to Texas in 1846. The brothers came to San Antonio and built a hardware and dry goods store on Main Plaza in 1848. Later they had a mercantile store on Alamo Plaza. Vance sold out to his brothers and moved to Castroville, Texas, buying property on the Old San Antonio Road at the crossing of the Medina River. Here he established a mercantile and banking business, a post office, and the Vance Hotel, later called the Landmark Inn (see LANDMARK INN STATE HISTORIC SITE). He was postmaster in 1855, 1859, and 1867 to 1878. In 1850 Vance married Rowena Felt Baldwin, a Presbyterian missionary teacher who had a school in San Antonio in the late 1840s. They had three sons and three daughters, including Mary Elizabeth Vance Maverick. Vance was baptized in the Methodist Church and was a member of the Odd Fellows. He died at his daughter's home in St. Louis, Missouri, in 1890 and was buried in San Antonio.

Frederick Charles Chabot, With the Makers of San Antonio (Yanaguana Society Publications 4, San Antonio, 1937).


  • Peoples
  • Irish
  • Business

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

Anne Leslie Fenstermaker, “Vance, John,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed October 27, 2020,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.