Abner Vance, Sr.

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Abner Vance, Sr.

Death: Died in Arlington, Virginia, United States
Cause of death: Convicted of murder and hung
Place of Burial: Sarah Ann, Logan, Virginia, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of Ephraim vance and Theodosia Vance
Husband of Elizabeth S Vance and Susannah Vance
Father of Tabitha "Polly" Browning (Vance); John Vance; James H. Vance; William Vance; Adina Vance and 12 others

Occupation: "Spy/Scout of the Revolution" Patriotic Service per DAR
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Abner Vance, Sr.

Abner Vance's early years are a mystery. His parents are unknown. Recent DNA testing has proven that he was not the son of Ephraim Vause or Vance, as previously thought. He is closely related by DNA to a Matthew Vance, but a father-son relationship has yet to be proven. He was born c.1760 in either Virginia or North Carolina. Abner Vance signed the oath of allegiance in 1777 in Pittsylvania County, Virginia. Family tradition say he was a scout or spy for George Washington during the American Revolution. He has a DAR File (Ancestor #A101861) but the organization requires more proof that this Abner is the one that took the oath of allegiance in 1777.

Abner migrated into the southwestern part of Virginia (Clinch River Valley, Russell Co) sometime around 1790. He was of the Baptist faith and spent much of his time preaching. He married Susannah Howard in Russell County, Virginia and raised 15 children.

One of Abner's daughters (and it is thought to have been Elizabeth) ran off with Lewis Horton. After several months Lewis Horton returned with the girl and dropped her off at her parent's home. The girl was pregnant. It is said that Abner and Susannah pleaded with Lewis to marry the girl. He refused and turned to ride away. Abner went into the house and returned with his gun and shot Horton as he was riding away. Horton died a few hours later.

Abner became a fugitive. He left Russell County that night, Sept. 17, 1817, and traveled along the Tug and Guyandotte Rivers where he spent the next two years. Abner returned to Russell County at the urging of his family to stand trial. Public opinion was that Abner would be freed due to his "reputation as a preacher." On his arrival he was locked in jail and held without bail. The trial ended in a hung jury. A second trial was held in Washington County, Virginia. There Abner was found guilty and sentenced to hang.

The case was taken to the court of appeals but the lower court's decision was upheld. Petitions for the release of Abner Vance were circulated but to no avail. Abner was hanged on July 16, 1819 in Abingdon, Virginia. A short time afterwards a courier arrived with a pardon from the Governor.

From the Lynchburg (Virginia) Press July 27, 1819: "On Friday the 16th Instant, Abner Vance was executed at Abingdon, in pursuance of his sentence, for the murder of Lewis Horton. He addressed the spectators, about four thousand, for an hour and a half with considerable ability; he died with the most heroic fortitude. He accused some of giving false evidence against him; and said that if he had obtained a fair trial, and nothing but the truth had been sworn against him, he thought the penitentiary would have been proper punishment for his offense."

Children of Abner Vance and wife Susannah Howard:

  • John VANCE was born 1781.
  • Tabitha VANCE "Tabby" was born 1782
  • William Harvey VANCE was born 1789 and died 17 May 1853.
  • Alena VANCE "Adina" was born 1791.
  • Richard VANCE Sr. was born 1792.
  • Elizabeth VANCE , born 1794
  • James H. VANCE was born 1794 in Russell Co., VA.
  • Nancy VANCE
  • Abner VANCE Jr. was born 1796 in Russell Co., VA.
  • Millie Mary VANCE was born 1797.
  • Elijah VANCE was born 1803.
  • Acenthia VANCE was born 1808.
  • Sarah VANCE was born 1811.
  • Minerva VANCE was born 1811.

Links to additional material:

"The Vance Song"

From: http://www.blueridgeinstitute.org/ballads/vancesong.html

Bright shines the sun on Clinch's Hill. So soft the west wind blows. The valleys are lined with flowers gay, Perfumed with the wild rose.

Green are the woods through which Sandy flows. Peace dwells in the land. The bear doth live in the laurel green. The red buck roves the hills.

But Vance no more on Sandy behold Nor drink its crystal waves. The partial judge announced his doom. The hunters found his grave.

There's Daniel, Bill, and Lewis, A lie against me swore In order to take my life away That I may be no more.

But I and them shall meet again When Immanuel's trumpet shall blow. Perhaps I'll be wrapped in Abraham's bosom When they roll in the gulf below.

My body it will be laid in the tomb. My flesh it will decay, But the blood that was shed on Calvary Has washed my sins away.

Farewell, farewell, my old sweetheart, Your face I'll see no more. I'll meet you in the world above, Where parting is no more.


Vance DNA Project

Correspondence with Vance DNA group: "Hi Keith, Sorry to take so long getting back to you. We have at least two Abner descendants in the project already. One of them is, like you, a descendant of Abner's son Richard (through his son Paris). We have about all we need on the DNA front when it comes to Abner. You're still welcome to test if you want, but it probably won't advance our understanding of Abner's genealogy. You can see the results here: http://www.vancegenealogy.com/results.php#. As you can see, Abner's descendants closely match several other participants. I don't think there's much debate over Abner being the son of Ephraim Vaus/Vance. Simply put, there's no good evidence to suggest that he was Ephraim's son. I'm sure a DNA test from an Ephraim descendant would settle the issue, but I think that's just one of those things you see floating around the internet that looks like it's on good authority, but actually there's no evidence for it. Incidentally, there's no evidence to suggest that Ephraim himself was the son of Andrew Vance. At one point, every single Vance in America was supposed to be descended from Andrew, so if the generation fit, people just made the person Andrew's son. On the other hand, based on DNA it seems very likely that Abner was closely related to Matthew Vance of Pittsylvania County, VA. The DNA evidence and other traditional evidence link the two families. Opinions differ over whether Abner was Matthew's son or perhaps a nephew, but it is very likely that they were closely related. Let me know if you'd still like to participate in the DNA project or if you have any other questions. - Adam Bradford, Administrator, Vance Y-DNA Project - adam.bradford@gmail.com"

On Sun, Oct 5, 2008 at 10:58 PM, <keithvance@cox.net> wrote:"I have documented my ancestry to the infamous Abner Sr who was hung in Abington, Washington County, VA in 1819. He was my GGGGGfather. There seems to be a debate whether Abner Sr was the son of Ephraim Vance (vaus) son of Andrew. Do you have any information on this and would I be a good canidate for your project? Thank you - Keith Alexander Vance, San Diego, CA.


Misc. Correspondence and Notes

http://boards.ancestry.com/surnames.dempsey/625.1.1/mb.ashx Subject: Jack's real name was William Harrison Dempsey, Author: SpookiestRider, Wednesday, September 12, 2001 - Surnames: Dempsey, Vance, Solomon, Baisden, Lake, Workman: "Hi, It was good to hear from you. Jack's real name was William Harrison Dempsey. His great grandparents were Joseph and Alena Vance Dempsey. Alena's father, Abner Vance, Sr., was the unfortunate soul who was hanged before the governor's pardon arrived. I'd have to check my records (or the book), but I'm pretty sure Abner's mother was Rachel Solomon, who was Jewish, a fact "Jack" was proud of. At one point in his career, he was proclaimed "The King of Jewish Boxers" in New York City, by his managers in order to sell more tickets. Haha. He was proud of his Irish-Cherokee roots also. He mentioned attending a family get-together in WV in 1957. He said someone called him, and 27 Jack Dempseys waited in line to answer the phone! My ggg grandmother was Teena Ann Dempsey ( married to John Smith Baisden), and she was Jack's great aunt. Teena Ann had a son named Anthony Baisden (married to Gordia Anise Lake). It is commonly spelled Gordiannis here on Ancestry.com. Their daughter, Teny Ann Baisden married John Floyd Workman, and they had my grandmother, Grace. Incidentally, Teny Ann was named after her grandmother, Teena Ann. Teena Ann Dempsey was a sister to Jack's grandfather, William Anderson Dempsey. This makes his son, Hyrum (Jack's spelling of his father's name), and Anthony Baisden first cousins. So, Teny Ann Baisden Workman (my great grandmother), was a second cousin to Jack. My grandmother knew Jack, and his eldest two daughters would have been her third cousins. Jack was born in 1895, and passed away in 1983. Hope this helps you some. P.S. I guess all of Jack's children were Grandma's third cousins, DUH....Write me back when you can-----Bev"

Message Boards > Surnames > Vance URL: http://boards.ancestry.com/surnames.vance/953/mb.ashx Subject: Samuel Vance and Abner Vance Author: Tim Vance Date: Saturday, July 17, 1999 Surnames: Vance Vause Howard Burnsides Elswick Helton Smith White Whited Kiser Kennedy - "I visited a man today by the name of John Vance, this John Vance is a direct decendent of Samuel Vance & Sarah Colville. Samuel b. 1716, d. 1778. Sarah b. 1715, d. 1792.This John Vance is the 4th great grandson of Samuel Vance, My Father was the 3rd Great Grandson of Abner Vance & Susannah Howard, Abner b. 1753-63, d. 1819. Susannah b. 1767, d. aft. 1850. This John Vance I visited today could be my Father's twin brother, they are definately related. I have no documented proof that Samuel Vance and Abner Vance were related, but I saw living proof of it today, two people with the same last name could not look so much alike and not be related. I believe that Samuel Vance was the Uncle to Abner Vance. Any clues about these relations would be most appreciated by everyone related to both Samuel & Abner Vance. Tim Vance" drwho1955@aol.com

This research says Abner is kin to Alexander: 

view all 22

Abner Vance, Sr.'s Timeline


Per Tazcova

Age 21
Russell, Virginia, United States
Age 22
Tazwell, Virginia, United States
Age 24
Vance Bottom Russell, Virginia, United States
Age 29
Russell Co, Virginia, United States
Age 31
Age 31
Age 32
Russel Co, Virginia, United States