Greene County owes much to Joseph C. Vance

Joseph C. Vance was a man who frequently moved Westward and established towns as he went. Originally from Virginia, he earned the title of general when he served in the American Revolution.

About 1781, he and his new wife moved to Pennsylvania. A few years later, Vance and his family traveled by flatboat down the Ohio River. They lived in Kentucky for a time where he helped found the town of Vanceburg, Ky.

In the spring of 1797, Joseph Vance and his brother, David, came to the Little Miami country looking for land to settle.

Joseph Vance settled on Little Sugar Creek, about a mile west of the Little Miami River, in the hills of what later became Sugarcreek Twp. He built a rough log cabin, the first building in the area.

It was located along the east side of present day Main Street and south of its intersection with Walnut Street. Thus, he became the first settler in what is now Bellbrook.

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His cabin was the place where the township was organized and where elections were held. Vance was elected as the first clerk of Sugarcreek Twp.

Greene County was organized in 1803. At that time, Vance sold his cabin and moved into Xenia.

In Greene County, Vance was appointed director of the county by the associate judges. On Aug. 3, 1803, he was given the task of surveying the county seat and laying out the town. Vance, along with two other men, gave $1,500 as a bond that the job would be performed.

On Nov. 14, 1804, Vance purchased about 257 acres for the town site.  He bought it for $250 from John Paul. Paul had already given 1.5 acres to be used for sites for public buildings.

To begin the survey, R. F. Dills wrote in the book, “History of Greene County,” “There was a stone set ... at the crossing of Main and Detroit streets, which said stone was about five inches square, with a cross cut on its crown ... and a hole drilled in the center ...; that this said stone was the center ... of the town of Xenia, and the starting point and governing monument for all subsequent surveys and lines run....”

Vance furnished chain men to perform the survey, made a plat of the town, and sold some lots.

When the job was complete, Vance was paid $49.25 for his services.

In 1805, Vance resigned his office and moved to Champaign County, where he became the county’s first clerk of court.

Vance died in 1843 and is buried in Buck Creek Cemetery, near Urbana.

His son, Joseph “Joe” Vance, served as governor of Ohio from 1836 to 1838.

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