J. D. Evans|
Evans, the pioneer merchant of Saint Jo, Texas, is a native of the Lone Star
state. He was born in Titus county, Texas, January 4, 1850, son of Henry and
Lennie (Smith) Evans, natives respectively of Kentucky and Missouri, who
came to Texas in early life and were married here. John Evans, the grandfather
of J. D., was a native of Kentucky, of Welsh descent. In 1850 he moved from
Kentucky to Texas and settled in Titus county, on lands which he bought and
improved, and where he became a prominent and influential citizen, and passed
the rest of his life and died. He was a slave owner and brought his slaves with
him to Texas. His wife, a most estimable woman, was a member of the Primitive
Baptist church. Their children in order of birth were: Samuel, Isaac, Edward,
Henry, Lewis, Mrs. Ellen Brodis, Mrs. Nancy Jones, John, Ward, Perry and Mrs.
Lizzie Crawford. All the sons served through the war in the Confederate army.
Henry and Edward came to Texas together and got a homestead grant of land from
the republic of Texas, and each improved a farm in Titus county, where they
remained for many years. In 1870 Henry sold out and moved to Upshur county,
whence, a year later, he went to Grayson county, bought land and improved
another farm, on which he lived six years, and then sold out and moved to the
Cherokee Nation, where he died in 1876. He was a Royal Arch Mason, a good
neighbor and true friend, and had the respect of all who knew him. His wife,
Lennie, died in 1863. She was a daughter of A. Smith, one of the early settlers
of Texas, who at one time owned a portion of the land on which Dallas now
stands, which he sold for a trifle and afterward moved to Titus county. A farmer
by occupation, he was a plain, honest, much respected man. His children were:
Isaac, Lennie, Adeline, Mary and Charles. To Henry and Lennie Evans were
born five children, namely: Mrs. Ellen Hudnell, J. D.; Murlweather L.,
Henry and Edward, all of Texas. The father had a second wife, who died without
issue, and by his third marriage, to a Mrs. Culpepper, he had four children,
Miles, Rhorsa, Media and Thomas.
J. D. Evans was reared a farmer boy, with educational advantages limited to the
common schools. He remained in his father’s home until 1870 when he married and
settled on a farm in Grayson county. Two years later he came to Montague county
and pre-empted a claim of one hundred and sixty acres, about four miles from
Saint Jo, which he developed into a good farm and where he lived six years, at
the end of that time selling out and moving into the town of Saint Jo. Here for
awhile he ran a restaurant, but had sickness and other reverses and lost what he
had saved. Then for four years he was employed as a marble salesman and traveled
extensively. In 1882, in partnership with a Mr. Cunningham, he engaged in
mercantile business, and continued the same for five years, selling out to the
Alliance, after which he was engaged in the grocery business one year. His next
venture was in farming and stock-raising in Wilbarger county. Two years later he
sold out and returned to Saint Jo, and in 1891 engaged in general merchandising,
carrying dry goods, clothing, boots and shoes and millinery, which he has since
continued successfully, catering to a trade that extends over a wide territory.
He owns the brick building which his store occupies and also a beautiful home in
Saint Jo, surrounded by extensive grounds, ornamented with trees and shrubbery.
Mr. Evans is a Democrat. He has always taken a deep interest in politics,
attending county and state conventions and using his influence to advance the
party’s interests, but has never sought official position. He is a member of the
Masonic order and the Christian church.
Mr. Evans has twice been married. He first wedded Mrs. Josie Allen, daughter of
James Green, an early Texas settler, identified with Montague county as its
first high sheriff after the war and is well remembered as an Indian fighter.
One of his sons was killed by the Indians, and he himself received a wound from
an Indian arrow which caused his death. Afterward his widow and family moved for
safety to Whitesborough and later to Bowie, where she spent the closing years of
her life and died. Their children were: Mrs. Josie Evans, Mrs. Maria
McDonald, Mrs. Anna McDonald, Mrs. Mary Carter, Mrs. Mattie Thorn, Joe, Mrs.
Betty Ford and Thomas. Mrs. Josie Evans died March 4, 1880, leaving three
children: Mrs. Lena Austin, of Greer county, Texas; Mrs. Josephine Carr,
deceased; Pearl, wife of J. Boswell of Durant, Indian Territory. All had good
educational advantages. Lena and Josephine finished their studies in the
Polytechnic College, Fort Worth, and both were teachers, Lena’s specialty being
In May, 1883, Mr. Evans married Mrs. Susie Witham, who as born in Georgia in
1857, and came to Texas with her mother. By her first husband she had one son,
Charles Witham, who died at the age of twelve years. She is a daughter of John
and Elizabeth (Anthony) Roberts, the former of Georgia and the latter of North
Carolina. John Roberts died in the Confederate army in 1862. His widow, now
eighty-three years of age, lives in Oklahoma, with her only son, Asbury. She has
another daughter, Mrs. Lue McCannon. Mr. Evans has no children by his present
B. B. Paddock, History and Biographical
Record of North and West Texas. Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1906, Vol.
II, pp. 270-271.