The Second Mrs. C.P. Vance

You can trust some of your sources some of the time, but you can’t trust all of your sources all of the time.

Finding information about the first Mrs. C.P. Vance was difficult. But that was nothing compared to tracking down the second Mrs. C.P. Vance.

While preparing the article I published on Wednesday about Annie Vance, I discovered something interesting. Namely that there were a number of newspaper articles published after Annie’s death in 1891 referring to Mrs. C.P. Vance.

So clearly Charles P. Vance remarried after the death of his first wife.

This was particularly interesting because neither the genealogical information for Charles P. Vance in FamilySearch or his Findagrave record were linked to a second wife.

So who was she? When did they marry? Newspapers were not in the habit of publishing wedding announcements at that time.

Nor did they seem to publish obituaries. In much of my research, I’ve discovered that for a prominent citizen, there might be a brief mention that the person had died. Or perhaps there would be notes saying “so-and-so is in Taylor for the funeral of Mr. C.P. Vance.”

But the long-form obituaries that list the person’s accomplishments, who preceded them in death, family members still alive, and that sort of thing?

Pretty much non-existent. For Charles P. Vance, though, such an article did exist. And it mentioned he was “survived by his (second) wife.” But it didn’t actually name her.

So that was no help.

Finally, there was a crack in the case.

I’d found information about Mr. James A Simons in a book titled “History of Texas, Together with a Biographical History of Milam, Williamson, Bastrop, Travis, Lee and Burleson Counties: Containing a Concise History of the State, with Portraits and Biographies of Prominent Citizens of the Above Named Counties, and Personal Histories of Many of the Early Settlers and Leading Families”

(I hope one day I can write a book with a title that long!)

In any case, that book also contains some information about Charles P. Vance, and the second-to-last sentence about him is as follows:

“December 1, 1892, Mr. Vance married Mrs. Fannie G. Conch, nee Gibbons, a native of Kentucky.”

Turns out that the date is incorrect, but the name “Fannie” is not. (Yes, Mr. Vance was married first to Annie and then to Fannie.)

Now one of the newspaper articles I found mentioned that Mr. and Mrs. C.P. Vance would be residing in Houston with his daughter.

And fortunately for me, the 1920 census was performed BEFORE Mr. Vance died in October that year… and I was finally able to find Mrs. Vance.

It was a little trickier because whoever did the census spelled their surname “Vanse” instead of “Vance.”

But there she was, Fannie G. Vance, and it gave me the next few clues I needed to find her. Specifically, it told me that she was sixty-six years old, which put her birth date around 1844.

Knowing that really helped locate other records. I found her death certificate. Fannie Vance died in 1927, from influenza, about seven years after her second husband.

And I finally found the record of their wedding, in Travis County. And it was on November 30, 1892, not December 1 (as the book reported).

So what about Mr. Conch, Fannie’s first husband?

Well, turns out the book was wrong about that too.

His surname was actually Couch.

She married Calvin Couch in Mason County, Kentucky on December 13, 1873. By 1880, they are listed as living in Brenham in the census, along with Couch’s daughter by his first wife, her husband, and family.

Calvin Couch died in Washington County on March 8, 1887 and is buried in Prairie Lea Cemetery in Brenham.

So how did Fannie and Charles meet? Did she relocate to Taylor, or did they maybe meet in Travis County? Hard to say.

The 1890 census might shed some light on this, since we’d be able to see where she lived that year.

But pretty much all of those census records were destroyed in a fire in 1921.

So for the time being, that is still a mystery.

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