JOHN MARTIN EVANS

 


JOHN MARTIN EVANS


John Martin Evans, perhaps the third son of John Evans, was born in the Edgefield District of South Carolina in 1804. No information is available on his childhood. In 1832, at the age of 28, he married Sarah Wheeler, aged 22. Apparently he grew up attending the Tabernacle Baptist Church, of which his parents were charter members.


Sarah was the fifth of nine children of the apparently prominent and relatively wealthy Daniel Wheeler family. The Wheeler family had a large plantation and its own family cemetery (see pictures made in 1992). The Wheeler family was active in Salem Baptist Church, organized in 1795. Church records include many references to various members of the Wheeler family, including Daniel's baptism in 1825, plus that of several of Sarah's brothers and sisters (her own in 1832). Her father was appointed to a committee of Salem Church "to labour with brother McDaniel" who had "drank too much ardent spirits, and cursed and rioted" in 1832. Records of 1840 show that he was present at all church meetings between July and November. In 1841 "Bro Daniel Wheeler brought to the notice of the church that a report was in circulation that some of the brethren had been playing at a frolic contrary to the rule of the church." When Daniel Wheeler died in 1843 he willed "to my beloved wife Mary Wheeler...a Negro girl named Mary (valued at $450 in later appraisal), a stock of horses, sheep, hogs, cattle..." The Bill of the Estate also included a tract of land valued at $1520.00, another "negro woman" valued at $625, plus other items totaling $2797.84.


The first information on John Martin Evans is from his last daughter, Nancy, born in 1847. She noted in her diary: "Tabernacle Baptist Church, the old family church of my grandfather Evans, was my father's church until one year after he married he brout his letter to Edgefield to Old Salem Church...." Minutes of the Salem Baptist Church (home church of the Wheeler family) confirm that in April, 1833, "Martin Evans and his wife Sarah came forward, and put themselves under the watch care of the church, untill they could obtain letters from their church." Their letters were received from Tabernacle Church in June, 1833.


This move seems especially significant since Salem Church is located some 60-70 miles NW of Tabernacle Church on today's roads. By horse or buggy and roads of the early 1800's, the move would appear to be a real challenge. Why did John Martin move to a church that far from his own home church and apparently near his old home place? The Kitchings Mill community (20 miles East of present Aiken, S.C.), where Tabernacle Church is still located, was the likely area of John Martin's birth. There is still (1992) a road named William Evans Road in that community today. Recalling the question noted above, whether his father's name was John or William, the continuation of a road bearing the family name is indicative of their presence in this community. Is it only coincidental that John Martin went that far from home to a church where the girl to become his wife had grown up?


Since Sarah was baptized in Salem Church in 1832, she apparently moved first to Tabernacle Church with her new husband before he moved back to Salem with her in April, 1833. Apparently they were active members, attending regularly. "A true list of the Salem Male Members attendance at their church Meetings" lists Martin Evans present in July, August, September, October, and November, 1840. Also "A correct table of the attendance of the male members of Salem Church during the year 1841 at their Regular monthly conferences" lists Martin Evans present in February, March, May, July, August, and October.


The 1840 U.S. Census of Edgefield District lists "Martin Evans; 1 male, 5-10; 1 male, 30-40; 2 females, 0-5; 2 females 5-10; 1 female, 15-20; no slaves." These would be Martin and his wife Sarah, son, John Calhoun, born in 1833, plus daughters Mary Elizabeth born in 1834, Casandra Amanda, 1835, Julia, 1837, and Sarah, 1840. Who is the fifth female? Marthena was not born until 1843.


The 1843 church minutes note: "11th March Conference...Brother Giles Martin said he saw brother Evans that morning, who stated that he could not be with us for several meetings, and gave as his excuse that his present engagements would prevent." We do not know what his pressing "present engagements" were during this period. However, at 1850 minutes also record: "March Church Meeting. Bro. Martin Evans ordained Deacon of The Church by the Rev. Watkins & A.S. Dozier, By order of the Church in Conference." Also their first daughter, Mary Elizabeth, aged 16 was baptized.


In 1850 the U.S. Census of Edgefield District records Martin Evans as a Farmer with Real Estate Valued as $173. Those in his home included wife Sarah, 31, and 7 children: John C., 17, farmer;Mary E., 15; Amanda, 14; Julia A., 12; Sarah, 10; Matherne, 5; Nancy, 3. The Agriculture Census of South Carolina of that same year lists Martin Evans with 25 acres of improved land, 173 acres of unimproved land,; value of farm, $173; of farm implements, $12; plus 3 horses, 4 cows, 7 other cattle, 8 sheep, 50 swine; value of livestock, $250; plus 8 bushels of wheat, 200 bushels of Indian Corn, 90 bushels of oats, 2 bales of cotton, 16 bales of wool, 50 bushels of sweet potatoes, 52 pounds of butter; value of home made ? , $20; value of ? , $50.


Thus his 198 acre farm and possessions were valued at $505. This farm was apparently located at Perry's Cross Roads, 2 miles South of the Saluda River and 2 miles Northwest of the Salem Baptist Church (Hwy 70, in 1992).


For some unknown reason the family left this farm and moved the following year (1851) about 10 miles Southwest to a community known as Red Bank (later renamed, Saluda, site of Red Bank Baptist Church and county seat of Saluda County, S.C.). Their youngest daughter, Nancy, then aged 4, later wrote in her diary: "I was borned 1847 in Old Edgefield Co now Saluda River or neare on a farm neare the Negro Church out a few miles from Saluda Church and my father and mother ware Baptist. Thare membership was at Old Salem Church and he sold out down there and bought neare Red Bank Church."


The site of the Evans Land in Red Bank (now Saluda) is said to be East of town on Hwy 178 across from the Fire Tower, across road from Saluda Baptist Church, just outside city limits, behind Bane's Food Court (see pictures in book). However, this information is contradicted by a deed recorded in 1855 (see below).


Their daughter Amanda was baptized at Salem Church in September, 1854. Apparently the family continued to make the 10 or 12 mile trip to their old family church. The next year, 1855, Martin sold 28 acres of his farm to Thomas Jones for $160 ($5.71/acre). The deed (recorded in Vol III, p 214 at Edgefield Courthouse), describes the land as on the waters of Burnetts Creek of Little Saluda River, adjoining Middleton Graham. (Burnetts Creek is about 1 mile North of Red Bank), and "is a part of the tract on which I live."


The 1860 Census of Saluda Regiment, Edgefield District, Richardsonville Post Office (about 4 miles West of Red Bank at that time), "enumerated on August 21" lists "Martin Evans, 56, Farmer, Real Estate value $1300, Personal Estate $815; Sarah, 50; Amanda, 24; Sarah, 18; Matherney, 16; Nancy, 12; all born in S.C." Four of his six daughters, aged 12-24, were still living at home.


The Agriculture Census of that same year lists "Martin Evans; Post Office, Perry's Cross Roads" with 75 improved and 55 unimproved acres; value of farm $1300; of Farm equipment, $50; value of livestock, $515; including: 3 horses, 5 milk cows, 5 other cattle, 11 sheep, 20 swine, 24 bushels of wheat, 200 bushels of corn, 75 bushels of oats, 3 bales of

cotton, 20 of wool, 5 bushels of peas and beans, 10 bushels of potatoes, 30 bushels of sweet potatoes, 156 pounds of butter; value of home made equipment, $30; of animals slaughtered, $100.


Apparently Martin had been quite successful since his total estate 10 years earlier had been valued at only $505 but was now valued at $2115. It is unclear why the family and agriculture censuses of this year were recorded at different locations--Richardsonville and Perry's Cross Roads. As noted earlier, the family had moved from the Perry's Cross Roads farm nine years earlier. However, this census notes the farm to be 130 acres (75 improved, 55 unimproved) and the previous census listed 198 acres (25 improved, 175 unimproved). Did they keep the same farm and move to Red Bank? The 28 acres sold on Burnett's Creek in 1855 would have left 170 acres, but Burnett's Creek is some 8 miles South of Perry's Cross Roads. Perhaps the Evans land was always on Burnett's Creek and the census of the area was simply listed as Perry's Cross Roads.


John Martin Evans died on July 4, 1864, during the difficult times of the Civil War. He was 60 at the time and apparently not engaged in the war. Family tradition, as reported by Delilah Cloud, wife of John Martin Evans' grandson, says: "All the men were gone to war so the slave Darkies made his coffin, covered it with soot, and drove the wagon to burry him. He was a deacon of Old Salem Baptist Church all his life after he was grown. They were all Baptist on both sides."


No will is recorded but the record of the administration of his estate is located in the Edgefield County Courthouse. Sarah Wheeler Evans, appointed Administratrix of the estate, posted a $10,000 bond on October 8, 1864, signed X (her mark). The "Appraisal Bill of the Property of Martin Evens Deceased" (listed in history) totaled $5145, not including the farm which was valued at $1300 four years previously. This would make his total estate at time of death as $6445.


The 1870 census, 6 years later, lists Sarah Evans, 56, at the Richardsonville Post Office, "Keeping House; Real Estate $350; Personal Estate, $250." She is recorded next to "Julia Walton, 33 (her daughter), Farm Laborer; Luther, 10; John, 8, and Benjamin, 3." In 1877 she was listed in the Salem Baptist Church membership roles.


Sarah Wheeler Evans died in 1883, age 73, 19 years after her husband's death. She is possibly buried in old Wheeler Cemetery, but no marker was found in 1992. In a letter of Dec. 6, 1883, her son, John Calhoun, wrote from Louisiana to his youngest sister Nancy in S.C: "We receivs your letter on the las day of Nov Bring the Sad Intelligence of the death of our dear Old Mother Sad Indeed though not at all unexpected to me for long have I Expected the and felt the Sadness on opening your letters and of the Suffering of Her Our great consolation Is trusing that She Is at rest and pain no more Doctor Pitts tole me when I was thare that She mite live 2 or 3 years yet though after all life is but a span..." (See letter in file)