John R. Hance, whose fine farm "Maple Grove," situated in section 1, Spencer township, adjoins the city limits of Spencerville, was born September 9, 1846, in Gallatin County, Kentucky, and is a son of Richard and Margaret Jane (Knox) Hance and a grandson of John and Keturah (Clements) Hance, natives of Lexington, Kentucky.

Mr. Hance comes of Revolutionary stock and of one of the old-established families of America. His great-great-grandfather, John Hance, who was a large slaveholder, came from England and was one of the very early settlers on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. His great-grandfather, Richard Hance, took part in the Revolutionary War and removed from Maryland to Kentucky, locating first in Scott County. He was one of the workmen employed in the building of the State House, at Lexington. Later he took up land in Bourbon County and passed the rest of his life there. He was considered a man of prominence and substance. His son John, born at Lexington, was the grandfather of our subject.

Of the family of 10 children born to John Hance and his wife, Keturah Clements, Richard Hance, the father of our subject, is the only survivor. He was born September 7, 1824, in Bourbon County, Kentucky, and was reared and educated in that State, where he remained until 1849, when he came to Ohio. During his 18 months of prospecting, he lived on the Auglaize River. Finally, in April 1851, he took up a tract of land in Jennings Township, Van Wert County, and on its southeast corner erected a round-log cabin, with a stick and clay chimney. The county at that time was still practically unsettled and deer and wolves were plentiful in the surrounding forest and even bear were not unknown. Mr. Hance, with the assistance of his son John, cleared 80 acres of land and fenced his property with rails. All the luxuries and almost all of the necessities of what was the deemed comfortable living were produced at home, each member of the family having appointed tasks.

The family continued to occupy the first log cabin for a term of 11 years and then a more comfortable and commodious one was built of hewed logs, the work being done by Mr. Hance and his sons. The old house still stands solid and secure, although the family moved to Spencerville in 1899. While residing on the farm, Mr. Hance was supervisor of his road district at times; he had much to do with making good roads.

In 1844 Richard Hance was married in Henry County, Kentucky, to Margaret J. Knox, who was a first cousin of James K. Polk, elected President of the United States in 1844. The Knox family is of Scotch origin and our subject's maternal grandfather took part in the War of Independence. The family first settled in Virginia and later assisted in establishing the colony on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Prior to the marriage of Margaret J. Knox, her people had located in Kentucky. She died in 1880. The children of this marriage who reached maturity were: John R.; William Clements, of Bartlett, Kansas, who married Caroline Masters and has two children living; Wilkison K., of New Carlisle, Ohio, who married Sarah Allen and has five children; Austin a resident of Lima, who married Rebecca Shoemaker and has three children; Edward, who died aged 25 years; Icem, a resident of Lima, who married Eliza Snyder and has three children; and Anna Eliza, who married Gordon Baker and has two children living. Mr Hance has 19 grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren.

On October 12, 1882, Richard Hance was married, second, to Mrs. Sarah C. Townsend, who was the widow of Jesse Townsend. Mr. and Mrs. Hance belong to the Baptist Church and reside at Spencerville.

John R. Hance accompanied his parents to Jennings township and grew up surrounded with pioneer conditions, these, perhaps, serving to develop both body and mind, for he was but 20 years old when he became a successful and popular teacher in the district schools. His first term was taught in the winter of 1866-67. He continued to teach for 12 terms, mostly during the winters as his summers were employed in carrying on agricultural operations. In 1882 he located in Spencer Township, Allen County, securing a partly improved farm on the edge of the corporation limits of Spencerville. Here he has continued to make improvements and has built and remodeled buildings so that his property has greatly increased in value. The Chicago & Erie Railroad passes through his farm, the rails having been laid in the year he secured the property.

On April 13, 1869, Mr. Hance was married to Margaret J. Van Sweringen, and to this union have been born these children: Sarah Isabelle, who died May 26, 1886, aged 16 years; Thomas E., who resides in Peru, Kansas; Jennie, who married David A. Parrott, of Spencerville, and has two children living and two deceased; Charles and Franklin (twins), the latter deceased at the age of 17 years the former married Ellen Rose and has four children living and one deceased; Mary, who is the wife of Robert Gracely Kossuth; Millie Ann, who married Clyde Robbins and died July 17, 1905, leaving two children- two other children died before their mother went to her reward; Nora Catherine, who married Webb D. Metzger, of Spencer Township, and has one child; and Martha Rachel, who lives at home.

 

 

From History of Allen County, Ohio  and Representative Citizens, Edited by Charles C. Miller. Richmond & Arnold, Publishers, Chicago, 1906