J. D. 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, Vard, 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 Grayosn 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 Car, 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 art.
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 wife.
Source: B. B. Paddock, History and Biographical Record of North and West Texas (Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1906), Vol. II, pp. 270-271.