John Weir Vantine, Oil Man


History of Northwestern Pennsylvania

by Joseph Riesenman, Jr., Volume III, Lewis Publishing Co, Inc, NY 1943.

Pgs. 97 - 99

Picture pg. 98


This information is provided by MC Fairbanks.

Photo Album

John Weir Vantine

As a young man more than sixty-four years ago, John Weir Vantine began his connection with the life of Bradford and McKean County. Throughout this long period he had been an oil producer in the Bradford field and an influential figure in the city in which he made his home until his accidental death, August 16, 1941. (Fairbanks Note: he was killed in an automobile accident)

Mr. Vantine was born at Fairview, Allegheny County, on January 31, 1858, and was a member of one of the old Dutch families of Dutchess County, New York, where his forebears resided up to and including the time of his grandfather, Thomas Vantine. His father, who came to Pennsylvania in early life, operated a ferry at Freeport for many years, but at the time of the oil excitement at Oil City he moved his ferry and poled the river until the first covered bridge was built. He then went to work for Philips and Van Ausdale in Venango County and devoted himself to agricultural pursuits from that time on. He was a veteran of the Civil War, in which he served as a member of the 14th Pennsylvania Cavalry. Marguerite (Weir) Vantine, the mother, was born in Westmoreland County.

John Weir Vantine received a common school education. His early boyhood was spent at Freeport and Oil City, and in the early 1870s he moved with his parents to the Shaw farm in Venango County. A neighbor there was John P. Zane, who later became his father-in-law. Mr. Zane was an oil operator and besides his Venango County properties had some oil leases in McKean County. In 1878 Mr. Vantine came up to McKean County to work for him. In the following year he married Mr. Zane's daughter, at Plummer, Venango County, and returned with his bride to McKean County. They established their home at Gilmore, but after two years moved into Bradford. Meanwhile, Mr. Vantine was gradually acquiring additional oil properties. Since then he had been an active producer in this field and although his properties for several years had been managed by his sons, he remained one of the best known oil men of the Bradford area.

Mr. Vantine was always a power for the good in the Bradford community and through his leadership or effective support, contributed largely to its civic progress and the success of its prinicpal civic institutions. He was a member of the Bradford district branch of the Pennsylvania Oil Producers Association, had been a Rupublican committeeman for fifty years and was prominent in local councils of his party. At his death he was the oldest living member of the Epicurean Club. In feligious faith he was a Methodist. Mr. Vantine's kindly sympathetic and ready wit reinforced his influence and won him a host of friends. His career covered an epoch in the development of Bradford, whose beginning he well remembered. The very property on which he lived is a part of the original sixty thousand acres purchases in 1831 by Daniel Kingsbury for six and one-quarter cents the acre.

In September, 1879, John Weir Vantine married Anna Jane Zane, daughter of John P. Zane, who helped to write the history of this region, and Jane (Herrington) Zane. They became the parents of the following children: 1. Katie, who died in 1890. 2. Charles Snowden, who married Mae McKinney, and followed his father in the oil business. 3. Roscoe, also in the oil business. He married Gertrude O'Connor. 4. Laura, who married Henry J. Beck, of Bradford, and has three children: Henry J. and Theodore Roosevelt, both attending the University of Oklahoma: and Paul Zane. 5 Florence Newell, who married Robert Morgan (died in 1919), and later married Lee L. Lawry, of Derrick City. She has five children by her first marriage. Hazel Rebecca, who married Dr. Arthur D. Marsh, of New Haven, Connecticut, and has one daughter, Jean, now attending Williamantic (Connecticut) High School. 7. John, who served in the United States Army during the first World War period, spending three years in Company C, 112th Regiment, as sergeant in the Sanitary Detachment. 8. Elizabeth Phillips, who married R. A. Deloe, of Derrick City, and has two children: Anna Jane and Betsy Anne.

John Weir Vantine's record will stand in the annals of the petroleum industry as that of the "Grand Old Man of the Oil Industry," a title conferred upon him, with a gold medal, by the International Petroleum Exposition meeting in Tulsa Oklahoma, in 1938. It was an honor well deserved, and supported by the testimony of the wide circle of friends and associates.


The Vantine House

Provided by MC Fairbanks

Go to this site on Victorian homes in Bradford, Pennsylvania. The last house on the page, the one with the steep roof/peaks, is the VanTine house. It was called the House of Seven Gables.

It belonged to John Weir VanTine and was built by his father-in-law, Mr. Zane. John married Anna Jane Zane. (Jennie)

It was also featured in a book on homes in Bradford of the millionaires from the oil industry and is, of course, still standing. Last trip in town, I noticed that it was being fixed up.