Born to Charles and Hannah Tarrence in 1843, Samuel Tarrance lived his childhood and teenage years in Norristown. When the Civil War began in 1861, Samuel enlisted with the 51st PA Volunteer Regiment on October 1, 1861. He served for much of the remainder of the war, being discharged on October 15, 1864 when his term expired. Samuel was a part of the 51st when it fought in such major battles as Antietam, Fredericksburg, Vicksburg, and the battles of the Overland Campaign against Robert E. Lee.

Samuel returned to Norristown following his discharge. He worked as a travelling salesmen and was married to Anna Tarrence sometime after 1880. He and his wife had two daughters before their divorce in 1898. Samuel also became disabled around this time. After 1898 he spent the remainder of his years in and out of National Homes for Disabled Volunteers. The homes were set up so any disabled veteran of the Civil War could voluntarily enter and be cared for no matter if their disability was caused by the war, old age or disease. Samuel died in one of these homes in 1924 and his remains were returned to Norristown to be buried in the county cemetery.