Vance Family Tree: Roots Branch in All Directions

IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT for all the Jones, Powell, Allen, Dobson, Turner, Wilson, Falconer and Harmon descendants out there:  WE MAY be related!

I’ve been digging around among my family tree roots lately. Like quack grass roots, they seem to run every which way. ☺

I’ve dabbled in genealogy off and on for years and have been pleased to find out some things about my great-grandparents, but hadn’t been able to discover anything beyond the names of my gr-gr-grandparents Vance and Smith. So I finally joined the Vance Family Association back in January to see if they could help me.

I sent the records I had and a lady named Elizabeth kindly replied two weeks ago with the names of my great-great-great-grandpa’s parents, plus an address for the online Mormon’s Family Research Center where I could find more info. Since then I’ve been doing more digging and have found out more about some of my gr-gr-grandmother’s ancestors.

Now as I face the start of a new decade, I’m contemplating all this input that has made me who I am, where I come from in the great gene pool of life. I decided to post this info; perhaps some of you who read this are even long lost relatives and/or can connect more of the links.

Studying genealogy is a bit bewildering. It makes me think of dandelion seeds you’ve blown into the wind; who knows where they may have landed, plants may have sprung up and produced their own offspring to blow farther and wider yet.  I have a clipping about a Vance Family reunion in Oxford County, Ontario, and by then the family had spread from NY to MI to BC.

Originally Norman French, they settled in the Galloway region of southwestern Scotland.  My own family records go back to a David Vance, born in Galloway in 1783, who moved to the Penninghame or Kirkcowan area of Wigtown shire.

Robbing the cradle in most shocking fashion – at least it would be in our day – he married Agnes Jones, age 13, in June 19, 1803(?). Agnes was born in 1790 and died in 1850. (Tracing the Jones Family Tree would really be exhausting!)

Their children were:
Robert (1804); Joseph (1807); James (1809); George (1812); David (1815); Mary (1817)
James stayed in Scotland but the other four brothers came to Ontario.

Joseph Vance married Sarah Shannon on April 29, 1830
Their first son John born 1830 in Scotland, came to Canada with his father; death date or place of Sarah unknown. He then married Sarah Allen in 1835.

Sarah Allen was born May 13, 1807 in Madrid, St. Lawrence County, New York to
Samuel Russel Allen and Sarah Jane (Powers) Allen, who were born in Vermont.

Joseph and Sarah had seven children:
Robert (1835), Sarah Jane (1837), Joseph (1839), James (1841) George (1843), David (1847), Samuel. (FRC records list a William, too, but I’m dubious – unless he died young.)

According to the 1851 Census Sam was two years old but our family records say he was born Jan 28, 1853.  An inexplicable discrepancy; usually census takers don’t list children born two years after. ☺  His mother would have been almost 46 in 1853 so let’s hope he was the baby of the family.

Samuel Vance married Mary Smith on April 10, 1878. Sam was killed in Oct 1899 in a hunting accident. Mary died in 1924.

Mary was born in 1856 to John Smith and Ruth Dobson. John told his son that he was a lad of nine when he was kidnapped off the streets of a city in England – he believes it was London – by a navy press gang and made to serve as cabin boy. So we can’t even be sure his name was even Smith or if the navy tacked that handle on him so he couldn’t be found by searching relatives. Did he have a family or was he one of the many street urchins? A this point only God knows.

He was confined to that ship for four years, but made his escape in Halifax harbour and hid in the woods until the ship had sailed again. Later he made his way to Ontario, where he met and married Miss Ruth Dobson

Ruth was born in August 1825 in New Brunswick, the second daughter of John and Ruth Dobson. I was excited to come across the listing of their family in the 1851 Oxford County, ON, census as well.  Evidently Ruth’s father bought a farm and the whole family moved there from NB.

I’m told Ruth had a brother who was a well-known evangelist in the Methodist church in the later 1800s. She claimed to be a Methodist or Presbyterian on subsequent censuses, but John called himself an unbeliever and so did the children. (That must have been a serious disappointment to her.) Ruth died Sept 29, 1891, age 66 years. According to the family history she died of “women’s complaint.” (Let’s all stop complaining, Ladies, just in case!)

John and Ruth’s oldest child, Mary Smith married Sam Vance; they had two sons, Allen and William James. All four of them joined the Reorganized Latter Day Saints together in 1905.

Allen (born 1879) married Emily Priscilla Turner (1885) on Feb 6, 1907 in Saskatchewan. Allen was killed in the fall of 1921; he was going down a steep hill pulling a threshing machine when his rig overturned and crushed him. Emily died in 1973. I have her Turner family history back to 1800 in Kilkenny County, Ireland

Allen and Emily had four sons and two daughters: Pearl; Charles; Steven; Daniel; Myrtle; Allen.

Allen’s son, (Wilfred) Allen Vance, married Louise Harmon in 1950.

Louise’s father’s family originated in Penn; James and Mary (Wilson) Harmon came to Canada via Minn & Iowa. Her Mother was a Thelma Falconer whose parents Leath and Rebecca(?) immigrated directly from Scotland with their two daughters.

Allen and Louise have five surviving children:
James Allen; Christine Evelyn; Donna Emily; Rose Marie Pearl; Wilma May; Lorraine Margaret;  plus a son Martin who died at birth.

And that brings me to the here and now, yours truly, sitting in front of this computer relating all this.  All this has made me what I am, genetically speaking. I thank God that He put His hand to the work, too, and has been shaping the spiritual part of me.


I was talking with my sister one day about the many accidental deaths in our family tree and how few males there are who carry on our line. Of Great-grandpa Sam’s descendants there are only two, cousin Brian and my brother Jim, who have passed on the name. Jim had two sons, but his oldest son, Clinton, was killed in an accident in 2010 at age 32, leaving two daughters.

Our Uncle Danny married in his old age and had a son, Terry; sadly, we’ve never had any contact with him. This leaves Jim’s son Michael and Uncle Charlie’s grandson Patrick to carry our clan’s banner. And we have only one daughter, so haven’t done our part in propagating the Goodnough name, either. Oh, well. There are lots of other people in the world.

It’s mind boggling to think how many of them may actually be my relatives!


4 thoughts on “Vance Family Tree: Roots Branch in All Directions

  1. Hi Christine. Thanks for stopping by and reading my post the other day. I found your comment made me chuckle. It’s really funny that you wrote this blog about ancestry. You’re not alone. So many people including myself want to know their history. I recently discovered from my father that my surname is not my surname. My grandfather and my grandmother were not married and for some unknown reason my grandmother gave my father a surname that is unrelated to hers. A name many of my family carry today. The mind boggles. I too want to know the missing part of the puzzle. Great post.


    • Thanks for visiting and commenting. It would be quite a shock to find out after years that your name doesn’t match the family. You’d sure wonder: did your grandmother mean it to be a second name, or why did she choose that one? Spite? An old flame?
      I have a friend whose father named her after an old girlfriend (first name), to the everlasting annoyance of her mother. No mercy on the poor girl; she finally changed her name.


  2. Hi, you mentioned “the many accidental deaths in our family tree” but you missed the earliest known such event: the first David Vance of Wigtownshire is said to have died from being struck by lightning! Didn’t you know?


    • I only read that he was killed in an accident, but not how. Great-great Grandfather Joseph Vance lived a full life and so did my father, but the others all died in their 30s & 40s. From our great-grandfather Samuel there are only a couple of male descendants that have produced sons to carry on the name.
      Do you know anything of the parentage of David Vance of Wigtownshire? I only know he was born in Galloway.


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