Thursday, July 30, 2015

Harry G. Vance, Horseman...and Mortician?

Harry Grant Vance built a career around horses, and he was born and died in Washington County, Pennsylvania. So when I found a Harry G. Vance in the 1910 census, who was in Carnegie, Allegheny County, working as an undertaker, I was convinced that it was a different man.

Harry was born on May 10, 1868, to John and Mary Jane Shipley Vance in Smith Township, Pennsylvania. At the age of 24, he married Melissa Guthrie at her father's residence in the city of Washington, Pennsylvania. Melissa's father, Robert Guthrie, was my husband's 2nd great-grandfather.

Harry and Melissa had five children, many of whom appear to have been well-educated. Daughters Mary and Gladys were teachers and son Carl was a pharmacist who operated his own drug store. Harry surrounded himself with horses. In 1900, he was a "livery man." By 1912, he was a horse dealer, a profession that continued for 20 years. Here's an ad from 1907 when he was part of Vance & Hood:

The Daily Notes (Canonsburg, Pennsylvania), February 26, 1907

But where was he in 1910? I couldn't find him in Washington County. A search on kept pointing me to Carnegie, Pennsylvania. The names of the wife and four children matched, but I was still skeptical. This H.G. Vance was a funeral director and even had an ad in the city directory:

R.L. Polk & Co.'s Carnegie Directory, 1910-1911

It turns out that it was the same man, and searching newspapers helped me confirm this fact. I found the following blurb in The Daily Notes from Canonsburg, Pennsylvania in 1909:  "Harry G. Vance is moving to Carnegie, where he has purchased the Steele undertaking establishment. Mr. Vance was for a number of years engaged in the livery business in Canonsburg."

Harry's time as a mortician was also mentioned in his 1950 obituary: "He engaged in the livery and undertaking business in Canonsburg for several years as an associate of the late William H. McNary. He also engaged in the same business in Carnegie for a number of years."

Partial Obituary:  The Daily Notes (Canonsburg,
Pennsylvania), January 17, 1950

It appears that his time as an undertaker in Carnegie didn't last long. Three years after his move was announced in the newspaper, the Carnegie city directory showed him working as a horse dealer.

Harry Grant Vance died in Washington Hospital on January 16, 1950, at the age of 82. I'm sure he loved horses to the very end.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Do you have a genealogy problem or need guidance on where to search next? Send me a message if you'd like me to help!