Martin Bunyan Evans

 

MARTIN BUNYAN EVANS


(Pictures of Martin Bunyan Evans and Family)


1872: Born February 24, Winn Parish (Near Belton Blewer Place).


1888: While in high school, one of his teachers was Delilah Cloud, whom he married 7 years later.    


1889: Enrolled in Mt. Lebanon University at Mt. Lebanon, Bienville Parish, La. (See writing exercises with written lines; also letters)  


(Note: All these letters quoted here have been donated to Hill Memorial Library at LSU and are available for checking out there. Also, original spelling has been retained in these copies.)     

  

Oct. 6: To his brother Byron at Saline.


Oct. 19: To his "Mah & Pah"..."Dr. Griffen is plinty tite for the worst of bad boys as long as one will do write he is kinde enough we are geting on fine with our drilling Professer Rudy..."


Oct. 20: To Bunyan from Mother and Dad. "I hope this will finde you well I expect you are alitle home sick If you can get a way to come home and loose no time I do not care. J.C. Evans" "Mah" writes: "....I hope you are getting on well with your studes you must make good use of you time your pa hase just got home from church with your letter I dont like to hear of you having headache fear you are going to be sicke you must take those piles and quinine I fear you are thinking too muctch a bought home to get along well with your studies we woud be all glad to see you at aney time..."  

         

Nov. 6: Letter to parents. Letter from parents.            

Nov. 11: Letter from brother, Byron.            

Nov. 12: Envelope from Annie Lou Waters.

Nov. 13: Letter from ?

Nov. 15: Report for first quarter with these grades: Arithmetic 97; Grammar 60; Geography 62; Military Tactics 80; Penmanship 85; Reading 91; Spelling 97; Deportment 100; Attendance 100.     Nov. 17: Letter to "Mah."

Nov. 29: Letter to "Mah."

Dec. 1: Letter to Bunyan from brother J.B.


1890: See following letters:

April 11, May 11, May 30: To Bunyan at Saline from J.E. Readhimer at Mt. Lebanon.

April 26: Letters to Cousin M.B. from Anna Lou Waters.

May 23: Letter from Anna Lou Waters.

June 8: General Program of 37th Annual commencement of Mt. Lebanon University.

July 4: Letter from "Nephew Warner W. Workman and Olivia from Tennessee.

July 6: Letter from Frank Gardner in Bunkie.

Aug. 28: See: "The Question of the Hour" published by Progressive League of Louisiana on State Lottery Amendment.


Sept. 15: His letter to Delilah Cloud: "Dear Friend I take the gratest of pleasure in writing you...if you will accept of it I was in your company yesterday and you did not seam as livey as usual have you heard any report about me or was you just in trouble about that faulse...I don't think I could dislike you I no you dont think half as mutch of me as I do of you you are the prettiest girl that I ever seen the love that I have for you no humons tongue can tell....pleas dont let anyone see this..."   

      

Sept. 18: Letter from Delilah: "Kind friend With much surprise indeed I recieved a letter from you.  You seemed to think I was vexed at something you had done or said if you have ever done me any harm I am ignorant of it. but I dont believe you have done anything. I was angry with Mrs. Corbit alone. I could not be lively and dont think any one els could have been in my place and been lively. I have taken several useless cries about it if I thaught crying would do any good I would cry a week. I never had a fauleshood told on me before and it shurenough gets away with me. Well Bunyan your letter was such a surprise that I hardly know how to answer, but nevertheless I will consent for you to come to see me. Also a letter or too from you will be of     great consolation...believe me to be Your True friend, Delilah Cloud."

           

Oct. 8: Note: "Delilah Cloud returns compliments to Bunyan Evans and accepts his company with pleasure..excuse paper."   

        

Oct. 15: Letter to "Dear Miss Delilah" from Bunyan: "...I know I have fell in love with you but I am afraid I am too late but I hope I am not I will close for this write soon believe me to be your True friend so good by my darling...May the gentle dews of heaven water the wayside flower of hope that chear you, and the golde rays of peace ever gilde your path way, is the wish of          your best friend. M.B.E."    


Nov. 8: Letter to "Dear Miss Delilah" from Bunyan: See account of his trip to State "fear" in Shreveport and having to stay up all night. "....I remain as ever your true friend...good by my darling...Remimber me is all I ask; Remimber me if it be a task; Remimber me and So will I Remimber you untill I die."


Nov. 23: Letter to M.B.E. from Frank Gardner in Bunkie: "...Bunyan you must tell me how you and your oncontroable gairl is geting along there are not wild but the right cine of one is hard to ceatch when you get your rop on the wright caine of one be suer and draw it tite if you daunt she will get ? and er way she will go and be caught in some other trap. I have got you a girl picked out fir you I know you will like her she has black hair and blue eyes and her knore drages the ground and her yerr flops over her back Oshe is a dary you ought to see her...your best friend,      Frank Gardner."


1891: See following letters: (First is his proposal to Delilah).   

      

Jan. 4: To "Miss Delilah," from M.B.E.: "....it seams as if marying is all the go now and I expect I had better put in a word before it is too late and that is how would you like to bee my companion through life you must not get frightened at what I say for you can depind on it I expect it will bee some time tell I see you again...I will get off to school in course of two weaks if I knew you would bee at home on the third Sunday I would pay  you a visit....let not thy friendship bee like the rose to sever, but like the evergreen, may it last forever... believe me to bee your true friend. M.B.E."     

      

Feb. 6: Letter to Delilah from M.B.E.:"...Well Miss Delilah I aggree with you in what you said that it wouldunt hurt for a few of us to wait a little while for that just suits me I expect you think I am too yong. But I will not be in the near future..."      

    

Feb. 10: Letter to M.B. from Frank Gardner: "...M.B. what do you think I found me a gairl on my way home O she is a dandy I waunt subscribe her to you because you would fall in love with her..."  

         

Mar. 13: Letter to Delilah from M.B.E. "...I have bin following the carpinders trade the last weak and accidently I mashed my finger again and thin I received such a long letter at the saim time I tell yo it gets way with me but I havint had the Doctor yet I havint started to build my house yet .. I dont expect they will bee any use to do you..."       

    

April 12: Letter to Delilah: "....you said you believed I were preparing to take care of some ones daughter of course I am prepearing to give the prettiest girl in the county a home and a plesent home if she will accept of it but it seams like she don't no whether to accept of it or not I guess you no who she is she has light hear and blue eyes and rosy cheeks. She said she got a           valentine which had I love yo on it if I don't mind I will tell you who she is.....Believe me to be your true friend M.B.E. I will sind you a kiss in this letter you must not let it out whin yo break the letter Yours truly, good by dear."     

                   

Dear John Letter: Note rough draft and then final letter: May 12: Letter from Delilah:


"...No Dear Bunyan I can never marry you. So you had as well prepare to get someone els. Someone that will suit you better than I. Never have I doubted your love. And if my letter sounded that way, am glad to have this chance to correct it. If I could think as much of you as you seem to think of me it would be entirely a different case but I can love you only as a friend. You will some day find some nice girl that will love you and be more worthy of your love than I am. But let me advise you not to care for a high tempered jealous girl that will never do you are too good natured to be led about by the temper of some woman because of her beauty. Should you ever be called upon for your true friends names please head the list with Delilah Cloud."    

      

Undated page signed M.B. Evans: "Now Farewell the well. I had rather make my bows upon some icy lake Where thauing sun begins to shine Than to trust to love as faulse as thine. Can thy this thought command And I be forgoten forever more To bid a kind friend farewell Toth make emotion in my bosom swell But duty makes me plainly see That I must say fairwell to thee."


June 15: Letter from T.B. Waters, Campti.


Oct. 28: M.B. Evans "Having paid one Dollar and Twenty-five cents to the Parish of Natchitoches is here by licensed to pursue and follow the occupation of Merchant."

(See Certificate in file)

           

1892: Oct 5: Letter to Bunion Ivans from James Brewton, Flat Creek.


1893: Jan. 20: First of many letters to Miss Belle Gardner of Bunkie, La., from M.B.E.                   "My Dearest...you dont have any idier how lonly I have bin...Well Miss Belle I dont knoe mutch to write as this is the first time to write to you but I will assure you that I have not forgotten you nor never will eye just as I said that night but I am afraid you will brake your promiss for some other ugly fellow down there that you see after. What have you done with E.B. and his ring I think I can get you a nicer one than that but you know you cant wear two at once...Ohe yess I forgot to tell you my dream. I drimp that I met you and shuck hands with you and you gave me an aple and told me that you thought you loved me..."    

       

Feb. 13: Letter from Belle Gardner to M.B.E.: "Mr. Bunyon, My Sweetest & Dearest..."

            March 1: Letter from Belle: "Yes I will kiss those eyes of yours by one sweet kiss of love....I think to mouch of your letters to show them I would be a fool to show your letters to any boddy. You said I seem to dout your love I did at first but beg your partner I will never do it again. Mr. Bunyon I love you I will love love you the longest day I live if your fool me I will still love you you my dearest ...you was the prettest fellow in that country you are as good looking young man as ever I seen the reason I say that it is because I love you better than any boddy ever I seen I will love you as long as life lastes....I will love the for ever and ever. Your Lover, B.G."


March 22: Letter from E.B. (Ben) Workman from Allapaka, GA.

March 26: Letter from Cousin Nannie Peterson, Clintonward, S.C.

March 29: Letter from S.F. Thomas, Brazos, Tex.

April 16: Letter from Samie Thomas, Brazos Tx.

April 18: Letter from Belle Gardner: "My dearest true love."

April 26: Letter from Anna Lou Waters

May 14: Letter from Sammy Thomas, Brazos, Texas.

May 16: Letter from J.C. Autrey, Brazos, Texas to M.B.

May 23: Letter from Belle Gardner: "Yours far ever,SBG."


May 29: Letter from Nannie Peterson, Batesburg, S.C.; was forwarded to Brazos City, Texas       


June 7: Letter to E.B. Workman, Neese, S.C.: "Dear Cousin..."Bunyan aims to go tomorrow to the Land Office to look up matters he has not decided..."  (part of letter gone.)   

        

June 10: Letter from Belle Gardner is addressed to M.B.E. at Brazos, Texas: "...My dear you spoke of the Texes girls how scarse they are and how ugly they are. I bet you will get stuck on them yet..."     

      

June 11: Letter from J.C. Evans (M.B.'s father) to M.B. in Texas: "...There was a disstructive Hail Storm about the time you lef a little east of Arcadia struck the Hodg Raburn Place the hail lay in places 2 feet deap. Sam Barbay and Coleman have run a way from Reidhimer and gone to Texes he has Hansil and old will hunting for them sevel days. Bunyan you nead not let home bother you. Just make your minde easy and take in all you can keep you a Book of Incidents and Towns & Counties....I think if I was you I would go and look at More Co. if you have the means...you mus write ofton all join in love, J.C. Evans."  

         

June 12: Envelope to M.B. at Brazos City, Texas, from Saline.   

        

June 18: Letter to M.B. & Samie in Texas from Mother and Dad (or C.A. Thomas?) "...Tom Waters and Bob Lucks boy went to New Town past a house the god grouled at them he got down and shot it 2 or 3 times pistal failed fier and axadently wint of Billing Luckys mule he will haf to pay for mule .... I will close respects to Mr Autry and famaly to keep you boys strat. Tutch no whisky whatever as ever, J.C. Evans"       

    

June 18: Letter to M.B. from brother Byron: "...Wel Bunyan I would go to More County while you are out thear I wouldent listen to what any body says a bout any thing I would go right strait thear and come back and go with Mr. Autry aht then I would to to ? if Mr. Autry dident go you and Samby want make mutch thear cuting wod. first thing you know you will be sick....did you pay Mr Autry for me...write as soon as you get to More Co. J.B. Evans."

           

June 21: Letter to M.B. from Belle Gardner: "...you said I need not be afraid of you findeing a girl out there I was just only jokeing you a bout the Tex girls I am not that jealous hearted by any means...I would not fool you for any thing on earth. I love you to much much to fool you my dear little sweat Bunyan..."     

      

July 1: Letter from Belle Gardner: "I will now reply to your hieley appreashated letter which I receaved last night which you written in Stephinsonville, Tex and that you was fixin gto go back to Brazos...My dear I will love you for ever you said in your letter the one you written before you left Brazos that you would love me untile you died if I would onley be true to you. Yes my dear I will be true to you for ever-ever you must never be afraid of me going back on my word. I will never do that I would be very foolish to promist you to be your companion through life and thean go back on it that is one thing that I dont promise unless I mean it..."  

         

July 2: Letter to Bunyan from his father: "...I suppose you think you have found the place and are satisfied with what you heve seen and learned and could do no better I recon you had as well come back and informe us of the facts an see whether I shal go or not. I rather think I could risk my chances on your and Mr Auters judement to back it. I recon it would bee tollarbly hard to get worst. we are getting verry dry had no rain in 2 weeks and very hot...Well Bunyan they have put an end to Bod Rushing he went to Tex came back and taken his Little Daughter of & around & in the woods with him. She got chance to ask protection of ther Neighbors The officers went to arest him he got in the first shot & mise. ?waited on him till he got another shell about in. Then they puled an kiled him instantly there is no one sarry burred him at Saline well Byron has come I will close. J.C. Evans Love to Mr Autry & Famely"   

                                        

July 2: Letter to M.B. from Cousin Clarence (W.C.) Thomas. "...sorry you are sick..hope you will bee able to come home your father said for you not stur out two soon and take medison along take tonic to and when you get able come home. I think there are satisfide with the place you have went to..."    

       

July 2: Letter to M.B. from cousin Nannie Peterson, Batesburg, S.C.


July 18: Letter to M.B. from Belle Gardner to Saline. Belle's sister, Fannie, was married to M.B.'s brother Byron. This letter responds to M.B.'s message written on the 11th that Fannie had died in giving birth to Nina. The letter if full of grief: "...Ah! what sorrow and trouble that letter brought us Ah! to hear my dear sister was dead, my favorite sister in this troublesome world..."           


July 19: Letter to M.B. from Samma Thomas in Brazos. 

          

July 23: Letter to M.B. from Frank Gardner, brother of Belle and Fannie, about his grief.   

Aug. 1: Letter to M.B. from J.A. Autrey in Brazos, Tex., addressed to Mr. John Evins, Saline; includes note to "Unkle John," apparently from Sammy Thomas.            


Aug. 2: Letter from Belle: "...Oh! how I do woush poor Fannie could of lived to of raised poor little Nena. ...I know your Mother will do all she can for it, but she is not like its mother. Oh! how I woush I could of seen poor sister Fannie and talked with her before she died. I would of bin much happier girl to night. but it is usless for me to fret for I guess she is much better of than I am to night. I hope to meat her in a better world beyond here and beyond her dear grave. I beleave  she is in heaven to night...My just to think poor Fannie told you that we had made it up to marrie and she had know objections and also told your mother that we had made it up to marry..."            


Aug. 13: Letter to cousin M.B. from S.F. Thomas, Myrtle Springs, Tex.            

Aug. 15: Letter to M.B. from Frank Gardner in Bunkie.            


Aug. 28: Letter to Bunyan from cousin Nancy Peterson, Batesburg, S.C.: "...I was indeed very sorry to hear of cousin Fannie's death I do think it is so sad for a young wie to have to die and leave her husband, but I guess she was taken for some good purpose if you all could only see it that way..."            

Aug. 29: Letter to M.B. from Belle Gardner: "...I know I wasent pretty as you say. There isent any one can make me beleave I am good looking. such a thing has never crossed my mind....Your truest girl for ever, Belle"            


Undated Letter from Belle: "My dearest I will tell you in my next letter wheather next Dec. will suit me or not but I guess maby it will..."            


Sept. 7: Letter for M.B. from Samma Thomas in Myrtle Springs, Tex.            


Sept. 16: Letter to M.B. from Cousin C. in Butler, La. "...Bunyan bee not uneasy about what I owe you. I will pay you by or beefore the first day of Jan. Cotton is looking up I do not want to sell unless I hafter bee fore that time if you run a way I will get out of paying it..."            


Sept. 25: Letter to "Dearest Lover" Bunyan from Belle.            

Oct. 7: Letter to M.B. from cousin C (W.C. Thomas).            


Oct. 25: Letter from Belle, apparently about marriage: "...I don't care who you go with & who you dont just so you are true to me that is all I ask of you. I will bee true to you and no one else. Will you beleave me? I am never jelous off you and some other girl that is pure nonesence of any and I will love you the longest day I live. Bunyan I dident say for you not to say next July and not mean it. You know I dident eather. I know you havent very near decided it would suit you before   July. It wouldent suit me at all before July. Now I think you can wait untill next July cant you? I beleave next July would suit me better than any other time now. But I might make up my mind before then. But realy I couldent get reddy before than Bunyan. I expect your Mother would tell you like she did Byron when she found out that he was a gonter marrie poor Fannie. She ask     him if he couldent get a younger girl would do as well as Fanney get some other girl closter by. Well dear Fannie is dead now that is all about it and I wrote your mother a letter after Fannie died she never answered. Why dident she Bunyan....           


Nov. 11: Letter from Belle: "...when in my company you musent be so sad. I will never go back on you. I will be your companion through life as I have told you... will you beleave me? Bunyan I guess you think you have cought me in a lye about the parties. Yes I wrote to  you that I had quit going to parties...men are so sily any way cant expect any better. I truely hope you will quit thinking that I will go back on you for some one else. My dearest that will never oh never be no-no... Bunyan I dont remember any thing about me writening to you for you not to mean next July. When you come please bring that letter so I can see if I did write such stuff or not I dont believe I did..." (see Oct 25 letter--short memory?)            


Dec. 10: Letter from Belle: "...you know some loves one and some loves two and I love one and that is you-you. You ask me if I could say what you have said. Yes dear Bunyon. I can and say it from my heart and I do hope you will believe me two. You musent let E.K. fret you he can never come between I and you..."             


1894: See the following letters:            


Jan. 2: "...I was looking for you all during Christimas and Im looking for you yet...I am afraid you will never get here. Bunyan do you think that you can come to your promise at the time I said, or not? or later on if you cant please tell me so in your next letter I am a girl that never do fool with any one so long I never did try to wiat on any one as long as I have you. I never did try to. Year and a half is as long as I care to wait on any one But I guess you think I am silley. but, I am telling you just the pure truth You know that it is not good two put of a weding I think you can get reddie by July...you said in some off your other letters that you dident care towait untill than, but  you dident say that from your heart it was from your lips that was where that little word was from. Now wasent it? Bunyon if I knew that you mean not what you pretend This would be my last last letter sure. I am a girl that cant beg any and to love me to marrie no nor eather can I get befor then and cry like a dunce there is two many men in this wide wide world and there may   be a many bright sun shiney day that will pass over me while in my happy youth know one man dont bother me but very little indeed. You are the first that I ever try to love and I hope and trust to the heavnely Farther above that you may be the last last and an old maids life I believe is sweeter than any...come when you can...and if you cant come stay there. Please excuse this mean hate full letter. dont get mad at it but tell me what I ask you to. B.G."   

        

Jan 16: From Belle: "Dearest Bunyon, I guess you have gotten my last letter by this time. I know I ought to make some aphologys to you for the way I have treated you and did it for nothing if you will pardon (letter has purple ribbon pinned here) me for treating you as i have and for nothing I will never do so again...Bunyon what made me so mad and angry was to think that you  should say you could find an other girl. Now Bunyon if you think that you can find an other one and as much better than I and would make you a better compannion threw life and would care more for you and love you more than I do Why just drop me, but I hope you dont think of doing that...if you will pardon me I will never do it again. I will care more for you after this than ever. I will tell you the truth I never say any one that I love as well as those sweet eyes of yours. now will you believe me I can love you for a life time. I will quit treating you mean and will never do any   thing to rumple your feelings any more if you will forgive me this time and be the same dear Bunyan... By the way, do you think that you can fulfill your promise if you cant and dont intend to and aim to draw me entwo a mari? and that is all I woust you would tell me so at once, I would thank you far it every so much yes indeed I would. Please write soon and a long letter to your dear girl excuse this writening and miss takes. I am writening by thee light of my Christmas lamp it was gave to me by a frind for my bearth day presant..."            


Feb. 6: From Belle: "Dearest lover. To night I will reply to your hily and appreciated letter which came save to hand some time back. Now send reply. Well I suppose you dident understand all of my letter...Yes Mother and some one else was the cause of me writening as I did...Mother want me to stay with her as long as Fannie did but I tell her I cant stay with her always and Dear Bunyon If you do mean what you say which I believe you do and I'l go and forsake My dear old Mother for you and you and you a lone and than you go and treat me mean like a great many men do. I dont know what I would do. But I hope you would do like you said in your letter but there is so many promises just such and than do the other way untill I have gotten kind of apprehension..."            


Feb. 6: Letter to M.B. from cousin W.W. Workman at Hauest? Roads, Tenn.           


Mar. 3: From Belle Gardner: "...Well Bunyon, Why did you tell those people up there? that I kissed you good by when you left here. this news has come to me so strait untill I cant help but to believe that you did tell it and you know that I dident want to kiss you at all and you know that you promised me youd never tell it. But you have so I persumd. Now I want you to let this be your last if you did tell it. I never did think that of you...Bunyon tell me where you did have        any such talk or not in your next letter..."                  


Mar. 13: Letter from cousin S.F. Thomas: "...I say my new girl today and she is as pretie as ever..."            


Mar. 19: Letter from Belle: "Dear Sweetheart...but Ah! Bunyon I cant give your pardon this time for telling what you did and promised me so faithfuly to that you wouldent....I would thank you very much to stop it. But one thing. I never had any business kissing you and next time I want...But of course I know you dident mean any harm by telling it but some one will make harm off it. I will know who to trust next time Bunyon. But if you wouldent of told any boddie else but Clarence that we kissed it might of done you or some one was bound to of told it..."            

April 4: Letter from Belle: "I am very sorry I hurt feelings so much...No Bunyon I havent forsaken you or rather have my love faild. My dear My love will never no never fail. I will love the for ever...I will never breake your hart my dear no never will I...My Dear you mustent think I am going to fleart with you I will never do that..."            


April 24: Letter from Belle: "...I am like a lonly bird that flies from tree to tree and sadly sings, with folded wings. But Ah, how happy I would be if only could see you and you alone. For no angel or fairy this darling of mine, but one quite as human as he is divine, this dear little one so precious to me..."            


May 15: Letter from Belle: "...Bunyon...if you do love me enough for me to be your compannion through life you had better never ask Mother for me for you would get insulted sure sure for she is biterly against our corresponding and are biterly against us ever thinking about marring....Bunyon realy it is a grate wonder that I have bin true to you this long and are still true to you and you alone and you are the only one I will ever love. you know I have so many pulling againse me and are trying to persuaid me not to love you but love you I will, and I will love you more than ever now just to aggravate several persons...."            


May 16: Letter from S.F. Thomas at Gilmer, Texas: "...you just aughter bee here It isent like Brazoz this is much faster place than eney place I have even bin in Texas thare are lotes of girles here and pretie ones...Yes Bunyon I think the sam a bout some of the girles some of them just will do to sleep with and hardley that. Bunyon I have found one here that I bleive would let a feler do what he would do if he was going to sleep with her and she clames me for her felow she has sent me tou bocayes and told these girles here that I am her felow and the aueston was ask in the debate which was he sugar or candie and she sayed that I was the seetes. I think I will go home with her some night and get her to let me sleep with her a little while I think she would go mitie well...you musen show this to my girl for she might get sortie angrie with me...how is little Annie doing now..by by by little darling. SFT Bunyon I have traied my old pistel off for a fine gold ring and now have no weapon only a fear of brake noses..."                   


Undated "Ballod of Somebodys tall and Handsome to Mr. M.B. Evans Writen by your cousin Eunice Thomas:"...Somebody will come to see me/somebody will come some night/ some  body will ask me to be his bride/ Of corse Ile say all rite...Compliments of a friend." 


             Undated letter "of Brazos mud hole Tex Dear Cousin..." maybe from Clarence Thomas: "...but about your girl we rec'da letter from her last night she has give you rip there is an old batchler have beat you now..."                   


June 11: Letter from Belle: "...you ask me to tell you the reasion mother is opposed . I will tell you but I ought not to tell you. before Byron came down to marrie Fannie he went to Billys and ask him did he think he could live with Fannie. this is what Mother dislikes and some few other little things which I will not tell.


June 12: Letter from S.F. Thomas, Gilmer, Texas. 


June 12: Letter from J.A. Autrey: "...Wall bunyan I am glad that you have decided to come to Tex a gain.any boy that can strike sulivan such blowes as you did can go thrue Tex all rite..."  


June 24: Letter from E.B. Workman, ? Roads, Tenn.  


June 29: Letter from Belle: "...Yes Dear Bunyon I would forsake Mother for you and you alone and you said this is all you could ask off me. Well I will tell you one more time never to ask Mother nothing. Bunyon what ever you do never ask mother for me...I will tell you the reasion why. She wants me to marrie a young Jew that has a store here but I would see him dead and where he   had to go to before I would marrie him...I am like a Negro I dont like his walk and I dont like his talk and  I dont like him know how and I wouldent marrie him to please Mother or anyone...Your truest, S.B. Gardner."  


July 23: Letter from Belle: "...and I hope to win thy heart by and by. I do admire your looks so much. I dont know why but some how other you take my attraction. Bunyon  you have stolen my heart and now I cant never love any other but you and you only...Bunyon if you dont come I   will get mad this time sure enough you have bin coming ever sence Dec. and havent got here yet...."   (See plant leaf enclosed)  


Aug. 21: Letter from Belle: "...I cant see why you dream so many dreams about me. I never do dream one thing about you. Oh yes, I did dream one time of you but I wont tell you what it was..."  


Sept. 11: Letter from Belle: "...you must be sure and come I have something real nice to tell you I know it would please you ever so much so good by I hope to see you soon."  


Oct. ? :Letter from Belle: "...Bunyan if this your ?ito you can send my letters home and I will send yours by the return mail and every thing you ever did give me. I know you think more of D.C. (Delilah Cloud?) than you do of me any way after she wouldent have you at first and now you are reddy to take her if you can get her that shows what you are exactly old fellow. Now Bunyan you can take your choise between she and I if you care more for her than I you can tell me so...but if you can believe what I say and think more of me..you needent send my letters...Bunyan I would be a shame to talk so big about Deligh after you loved her once to beet 75cents and she wouldent have you look at it...Dont you want the ring you put on my finger to put on D.C. finger if you do you can get it at any time if she is your choise and is your lover and your golden God uppon earth these latly days...Oh, yes I know you got foundered when you sole four bales of cotton at 5 3/4 cents a pound...No I dont woust I could of bin at D.concert...I hope I will hear of your and D weding soon I will not send my picture when it dont look like me  you can love..."

 

Oct. ? Letter from Nannie Peterson (year not clear)  


Nov. 5: Letter from Belle: "My dear lover...never mind I  dont want my letters back...you say you are true to me and will be the longest day you live. If this is true I never will want my letters back...for I do adore you so much. I will avouch positively from my heart that I do   idolize you so much...I admire your looks yes I will be the same true girl as ever to you..." 


Nov. 20: Letter to Delilah from Bunyan? (No names): "My Dearest Lover...Oh I do hope we can bee the truest of lovers from this on, with out so many thoughts and roughf letters...I never get too tiard to write to my dearest girl oh I am so anxious to see you and talk with you tho we are a long ways a part...ohe yes you said you came very near joining the church but some one would not let you join..."  


Dec. 10: Letter from Belle: "My Dear one To night I will answer your letter of Nov 29 which were red with great love...You must be sure to come Xmas and bring your Mother and Neaner (Nina)...Yes and I am affraid you will be like most of the men after get mr. you will wish you never had of married. but! I truly! hope you aint that kind of fellow. Yes, I am true to you and you only and wlways will be with out deceit!...and here I sit and sigh aloud through all the weary day...Yours   as ever. S.B. Gardner."  


1895:

Jan 2: Letter from J.W.S. Aymond?: "...Capt S.S. Evans and   his wife...are yet alive and living on Red River. Poland is their P.O...."  

Jan. 9: Letter from Belle: "...you must tell me who Byron is going to marrie I guess he is married by this time."  


Feb. 8: Dear John Letter from Belle:

"Mr. Bunyan Evans, This beautifull evening I have found the opportunity to write you a farewell letter for the last last time in this poor unluckey world for you. Yes! My love has failed at last Once I did love you and you wasent in the same notion I was and you know I told you Bunyan you would be sorry by and by. Oh! know you must wait a little while longer untill things has gone to where it is so now Bunyan you will hafter say farewell to me and me alone. Well Bunway I hope you will marry some nice girl by and by. for you needent to never once think about living in hopes for me any more. for hopes will never never never oh! never! get this little chicken any more. I once loved you but now I dont and so there fore I dont see any use in runing this thing any farther but all I wish is for you to marry some pretty girl for you are a nice boy and I hope you will do well by and by. Now, Bunyan! you musent fault anyone on this earth far all of this but my self. I am the hold cause off all this. I am the one that has broken the golden pledge and not it is broken and caint be mended in this troublesome world for you. Bunyan I dont want my letters but if you want yours you can get them any time I dont want my letters nor nothing else you can keep all picture and every thing. I dont want nothing back from you and you musent send nothing eather and I wish you a happy year wish you much pleasure. and hope to hear of your marring soon but never have a long engagement if you do you will get floped a gin. long engagements isent any thing good and you must remember when ony one is in gagend a long one or the other gets out the notion before they can marry....I am indipendent to any body but God himself. I will live in Bunkie the longest day I live...I hope you will marry a rich girl two. I dont wish you no bad luck what ever. You can spark D.C. now and can get her if you want but she aint rich nor eather is she pretty by a long jump. (Long complaint about folks wearing her dead sister, Fannie's clothes.)  ...I will close wish you all much happyness but dont weare Fannies clothes please if have any heart. Belle Gardner...Farewell Farewell no more use for you if we were married and I would die I'd be done the same dirty trick.  


May ?: Letter from Delilah Cloud: "Dear Friend, I recieved your letter and was very much surprised tho it was quite a pleasant one. I am not having much enjoyment presently, I stay at home nearly all the time...Dr. Saunders was here last week and engaged my company for to day to cary me to foot washing at Oak Grove but for some cause he did not come...Your letter has   made me very happy. I too am going to tell the truth You remember several years since you proposed to me..."  


June : Letter from Delilah at Brown, La.: "Dear Bunyan... Mr. Earley came to see me on Monday after you all left we has a real nice time going to the plumb orchard cherry trees ect, I think he is very nice don't you? You may think I am "carried away" with him but I only ask you to believe what I tell you and you'll not be decieved by me...If I understand your letter you asked me to state a time for us? to make the iron clad vow. Of course I cannot under circumstances but will say by way of encouragement probably this fall. It depends intirely upon you and your circumstances. If we war to live with old folks I can get ready by then, but if we are to keep house I will half to have more time for preparations as I intend to make home just what it should be to bring happiness indeed as you said "I'll  be the wife if you'll be the husband? that means a great eal, and it takes a noble hearted man to be real true. I believe you are one among the best I have known you too long to be decieved and I know am not. I also have great confidence in your industry I know I'll not suffer want. At least while you have power to work, I dont want you to kill your self at work for me and you shant either. I'll work by your side...I like to be independent dont you? Now if you dont think this fall an appropriate time to "get off" dont be afraid to say so I'll not think hard of you at all but only think the better of you for being modest. I'd be willing to wait even ten years if you should. Could say much more but this has already confused you and is much more than you write me. Now I am jealous, but that's diving for God hath said "I thy God am a jealous God. With best wishes I close, Your true lover..."  


June  : Letter from M.B. Evans to Delilah: "Dearest one this Sunday eaving Ill write you a few lines as I am all alone this eaving, tho I do enjoy beeing alone some time so I can write to my Best girl...Ohe yes I think well of Mr. Earley. I seen him the next day after he pade you the visit tho he did not tell me he had seen you no he doesnt bother me the least bit I am not as jealous as some you have heard of...As ever yours faithful and true, yours for ever if thou will let the.."


Undated page from letter to Bunyan from Delilah: "...I have not even shown the letters to my folks and I'm sure they would come first, neither have I told them anything whatever. I guess I know you and your ways as much as any one need to and am quite satisfied they will please me. Yet if you have the slightest doubt of my veracity or that you will in any way be as you say "cheated" you have only one thing to go, that is not to write or come any more. Remember I have not for  biden your writing or comming I only want to be understood. It would be a struggle for me to abandon you even now however a forsaken lover is better than a deserted bride. Trusting you will not think me too frank, I'll close, Faithfully yours, Delilah."  


Aug. 12: Letter from Delilah: "My own Bunyan, Your letter of 27 just came creeping in on saturday eve. I assure you it was much prised and all the more so because you had   written it while so tird..."  


Aug. 22: Letter to Delilah: "My Dearest trulove I'll answer your kind missive with out delay as I do appriciate a letter from you more than any one I ever writen to no I'll assure you that you will never confuse me by writing such chearing letters no they are never long enough I could read your letters all day and thin think and dream of you all night...Dear Miss Delilah you knoe you said as for you setting the time it depended intirly upon me and my circumstances. Well I will say this probably it will suit me better this fall than any other time for I dont see any use in puting it off for I knoe I am true to you and would bee much happier with you to shear you a home and a good home for I do put great confidence in what you say for you have said a greateal more than the most of girls can say and I do believe you will do just what you say what you have said  are great encouragement to me, you said if we were to live with old folks you could get redy by this fall, well that is with you if you can put up with thim that will suit me very well tho for my rathers I would rather we could keep house tho the old folks say I must stay with thim that they cant do with out me So we can try it one year...Ohe my Dearest you musent think I will I will kill my self at work no I'll never do that for I am too lazy Ohe yes I know how it is to have to depind on some one els and If you are true to me you can depind on beeing indipindent in that respect...I  showed Mah your last letter I dident think you would care She couldent say any thing a gainst you She says there is no use to put it of any longer than this fall. She thinks a greateal of you, but I think still more of the. It would bee quite a task for me to tell the Love I have...I have never seen the face that I thought half so much of as I do you and always have will you believe me. do you remimber whin first we met I loved you thin and I love you yet, and will the longest day I live tho whin first we met I were but quite a lad but not too yong to love tho my love were all in vain at that time. tho I guess I were to blaim or we sould of bin a happy two, sooner. So now let us love in our fairest youth while love can find its fond return...Your Fond Lover."  


Aug. 27: Letter from Delilah: "...I had much rather keep house, but did not know whether you had a house or not, tho I think can live with ? well satisfied, just know I can ? along with Mrs. Evans, she is one of the best women in the world and I love her very dearly...I am indeed a happy girl now...Hoping to see you Sunday, I am Yours forever"  


Sept. 10: Letter from Delilah.  


Oct. 5: Letter from Delilah: "...O if I could only see you and arrange matters. I want my Papas consent before going too far. Of course its like I told you  he cant interfere any way but I would like to know all circumstances before going to any expense...Every where I go can hear I am going to get married "Not so" is all I can say. Dr. Pitts tells me Mr. Dave Williams told him you annd I were going to get married in Nov. How he became so wise I cant determine...besides we will prove to the world shortly our intent wont we?...I dont remember the first time I met you but guess it was in the school room. I know there is where I first recollect you and there too is where you won my esteem (also to boss) Had you known it then we probably would have spent a number of happy days together otherwise spent in solitude. shortly after I learned you one of   my fellows prevailed on me to accept his favors tho I assured him he was not my first choice yet I wanted a home and would share his if he could take me on these conditions which he frankly agreed to believing he could cultivate my regards for him. You wrote me after this happened and I could but be faithful to my vows. You know what happened? Mr. Bunyan came back to see me   and I thought cared no more for me and I again agreed to accept the hand of an other one of my old fellows on the same conditions as before with the same result and I concluded not to marry if could not get the one I wanted. I rejected offer after offer until last spring when one night I was seated to reply to some ones letter (I told you who before now) and accept his propositions. As I sat there thinking how I would write Pa and Mr. Sam Cloud came in wet and Pa handed me a   packedge of mail. it it was your first letter. That was a sleepless night however I was a happy child. The other letter I never answered for over two weeks. since then my happiness increases with every letter or trip from you and I believe my life will ever be thus if in your power to make it so. I am not going to marry you just merely to have a home or a husband but for pure   happiness...Your true lover"  


Oct. 7: Letter from Delilah: "...the second Sunday if you come then, come in the morning and carry me home. Then you may tell my Papa that he will soon have an other son-in-law, so we may make all arrangements necessary   ...I send a measure of my finger. If you are going to get a ring you will not object to my saying I'd much rather have one with a set than plain. I have no   preference to the quality...Your true lover"  


Oct. 12: Letter to Delilah: "...I guess you looked for me. I got your long looked for letter this morning I had just decided you had found you a better fellow as you know that would not bee hard to do. You cant emagine wha  all I did think...I had a letter to day from a cousin in Tenn he is very anxious for me to come out there on a visit says he will thin go with me to S.C. but I dont   see hardly how I can go now as you knoe the thirteenth isint long off you must tell me whether to go or not, I'll bee there Sunday...wich I could see you to night tis bin five long weaks sincw we were to geather. Seams to me like 25. I have a trip planed out and dont knoe whether to make it or not you must tell me whether to go or not. tis to the fear at Atlanter Ga and from there to Jonesburo Tenn and thin to the old country S.C. dont you think thats two much trip for I dont   expect Ide ever get back to olde La tho I expect twould bee best for you if I were to go and never come back for you knoe Im a regular Spanter Cat and the hardest feloow you most ever seen to get along with you might get a long with me very well but you will have to love me up much for thats just what it takes to pleas me. I knoe you had a fine time on your visit and especialy with that old widerwer looks like they are taking the day. Some times wish I were one. Good night...I count the time up till the 13th every 24 secons thats prety fast aint it. Your true lover. Good night"  


Oct. 14: Letter from Delilah: "My dearest Bunyan, Here I am again writing to my little fellow without seeing him as I expected sunday...I expected to have an exceptionally nice time it being the 13th only one month "you know" I was very very sad all day...I feel just like you think   I have abandoned you but not so my dear friend. What I have said was said with firmness and I only look   forward to the day when I shall prove it...Sometimes yesterday I'd think "Well I reckon Bunyan dosant think as much of me as he aught else he'd hunt for me." Again would say its been five weeks since he was to see me... Must close as have to cook supper and only five hands besides the family. You know I hate to wash the dishes as some of them are darkeys. Believe me as be 4, your true lover...have just finished washing dishes for these darkeys...If you was just here for about two hours to night how delighted I would be, you are not and I must content myself with the hope of seeing you soon, as ever" (Last letter in file before marriage) 


1895: Martin Bunyan Evans married Delilah Cloud on November 20th.


Nov. 20: From pages taken from old family Bible by J.O. Evans in 1962: "Martin Bunyan Evans and Delethia Delilah Cloud married Nov 20th 1895 at the old Rushing place near Ashland La in Natchitoches Par La Rev Fields officiated." (About 1 mile off present road where George Morgan--Homer's father--was reared.) (See original of Marriage License dated 16 Nov. 1895)


Mrs. Henereta Pogue (died 7/79) told Constance Evans that "Bunyan and Delilah Cloud were married at the old Rushing Place between Creston and Ashland. They had a big dinner on the grounds as was customary then, but when wedding time came they discovered that Bunyan had forgotten the wedding license. Everybody waited while he rode on horse back to his home about 10-12 miles distant and returned. Earlier, before he was going with Delilah, his older brother Byron who was going with Fannie Gardner (whom he later married and who was the mother of Nena Montgomery and who died at Nena's birth), had introduced and gotten him to court Fannie's sister Belle Gardner. They planned to be married but then at the wedding Bunyan forgot the wedding license and they called the whole thing off." (This story was retold to Bruce Evans in 7/79 by Constance Evans, but the part about Belle does not seem to be supported by the letters in the file.) After their marriage Bunyan and Delilah lived with his parents, Mr. and Mrs. John Calhoun Evans at their place (later purchased by Dewey Williams). Then they built a house of their own nearby "up the lane."  


1896: Effie Esther Evans, their first child was born on Sept. 13.  


1898: Noah Otto Evans was born Friday, March 25, at 11 O'clock. (According to family Bible; other records say 1899); He married Hazel McKinney, Agnes Crayon, and Dorothy Wimberly   Sledge.

"Delila Evens" was granted a certificate to teach 3rd Grade in Natchitoches Parish on July 2. (See original in file) 


November 23: M.B. Evans paid property taxes of $5.80 in Ward 2, Natchitoches Parish (Receipt in file)  


1899:

Aug. 28: M.B. Evans purchased the N1/2 of the NW1/4 and the SW1/4 of NW1/4, Sec 13, T13N, R6W, from his brother, John Byron, 120 acres, for $180.00 (Original deed in file).   Effie Esther died on Sept. 29th, Friday night at 6 O'clock, age 3 years, 16 days "after only a few hours illness." (Newspaper clipping in file) 


1900:

Jan. 6: Deed recorded for land purchase on Aug. 28, 1899. Hansford Herman Evans was born on Nov. 6th, Wednesday, at 11 O'clock. He married Bernice Warner.  


1901:

Jan 16: Letter from A.G. Samee? "I take pleasure in informing you that the Register & Receiver this morning reveived notice from the Commissioner of the General Land Office at Washington that their decision in the case of Martin B. Evans vs. Cora E Flynt, involving the latters homestead entry No 7667 for the N 1/2 of SW1/4, Sec 22, T13N, R6W had been reversed and deciding the case in your favor..."   


Nov. 17: Letter to Delilah from her sister at Ruston, La. "...Well, Sis has Bunyan ever got you a buggy yet...How do you like your new home? Guess you made lots of nice syrup. Can Hansford walk or talk any yet....Tell Otto to come over and help me pick up hickory nuts..."  


Nov 18: Tax Receipt for $5.80 for property in Ward 2.  


1902:


Dec. 12: Tax Receipt for $5.80 for property in Ward 2.  


1903: Ruth Evans was born on March 17, Tuesday at 3 P.M. She married Jerry Lewis, A.J. Palmer, and Ross D. Draper; died January 19, 1968. (See map of 176.31 acres of M.B. Evans made by Tom Friday.)  


1904:

Feb. 8: M.B. Evans purchased land from Fannie Brown and Carrie T. Dorman: E1/2 of SW1/4; SW1/4 of SW1/4 of Sec 3, lying E of RR; N1/2 of NW1/4 in Sec 10; NE/NE E of RR in   Sec 9 (Original deed in file); price: $1,059.00. Sidney Bucklew Evans was born on May 26, Thursday at 1 P.M. He married Lillian Krousel. 


June 10: Letter to Mrs. M.B. Evans from her sister in Shreveport: "...must congratulate you on your fine boy...if he is anything like Hansford, he'll do to talk about.  


June 29: His father, John Calhoun Evans died.  


1905:

Dec. 4: Letter from La. & Ark. Railway to M.B.: "...Your letter of Nov. 22, just received. The price of the SE1/4 of NE1/4, Sec 21, T13, R6, is $2.85 per acre, equals to $114.00 The cash payment would amount to $28.50, the balance in three equal annual payments with interest at 6%. The N1/2 of the NE1/4 of the SE1/4 is also for sale at $2.85 per acre... It may be to your interest to secure the whole 60 acres at the present low price..."

 

Dec. 23: John Owen Evans was born Saturday at 11 O'clock.  


1906:

June 28: Letter from Bunyan to "Dear Ma & Neaner" (his mother and his niece, Byron's daughter): "...Every thing's getin on all right wee are all well as could bee expectes Delilah and my self are both ailding to day you knoe She has Rheumatism in her arm She was up last night with the children and fell over the heater sprained her sholder...got my back rinched cant get about hardly today... you knoe you have till the last of Oct on your ticket dont  rush you have plinty of time..." (Apparently they were visiting in S.C.)  


1907:

June 8: Letter to M.B. from Pritchete, Texas: "Dear Cousin...sory to hear of Aunt Florence (M.B.'s mother) being in such bad health..." (From C.A. Thomas)  


July 3: M.B. Evans purchased 120 acres of land for $300 from his brother J.B. Evans: E1/2 of NE1/4 and NW/SE, Sec. 14; T13N, R6W (Original deed in file). 


1909:

April 9, his mother Florence Ficklin Evans, died.  

May 3: Letter to Izora Lewis, % M.B. Evans, from Mollie (Delilah's sister) in Admore, Okla.: "...Hello Sister...come  home with Izora..."  


Sep. 7: Receipt for 12 bales of cotton sold by M.B. Evans to W.P. Lucky and Sons @ 12 cents, $703.68. Sometime during this year the family moved to a new house 2 miles south of Saline. Mr. Sam Thomas built this house for them. They lived here for the remainder of their lives. Mr. Evans farmed and operated a store. Delilah joined the Old Saline Baptist Church. Mr. Evans later joined the Magnolia Baptist Church in Saline.  


Dec. 31: Letter from Neely Thomas at Pritchett, Tex. to Bunyan & Delilah: "My dear ones...this is a butiful country come & see us...goods are cheeper here than there Calico 3 to 5 cts Jenie bought a nice suit of clothes for $4.98 worth 15 dollar...Cotton 151/2 cts....Well chilarin tell me what  Santie Claws brought you he brought me $2.00 some fruit & candy...your loving aunt, Neely."   "     


1910:

Dec. 7: M.B. Evans purchased 20 acres from W.M. Hughes for $150, in Sec 10, T13N, R6W (Original deed in file). 


1913:

Purchased oil and mineral lands in Caddo Parish "two lots   No.1516,156" for $60. "We expect to start drilling in a very few days...and from present indications and the brilliant   success made by all those drilling in our immediate vacinity we expect our first well to pay large dividens to its lot owners...The Mutual Oil & Gas Co."  


1914:

Dec. 14: Borrowed $230 on an Insurance policy on Delilah Evans.  


1924:

Letter from Bank of Saline: "We are enclosing you the bankruptcy note of Otto's which you took up yesterday with check..."  


1926:

See Certificate of Mortgage on 176 acres of land of M.B. Evans.  


1931:

M.B. Evans Tax Assesment for 1931-32: 550 acrs Land--90 acrs at $10 = $900; 460 "at $3  =$1380; 1 horse 30; 2 cows 20 ;  2 yearlins 10;  Merchendise 400;  Store Building  300 Total:   $2,940.00  


1933:

Oct. 13: Letter from Aunt Nancy (Peterson), Leesville, S.C.  


1934:

Mar. 13:   "   "   "      "  

Oct. 10:   "   "   "      "  


1935:

Feb. 22:   "   "   "      "  


1936:

Jan. 29: Oil, Gas and Mineral Lease for 79acres. Telegram to J.O. Evans from "Mother and Dad...Have just climbed Pikes Peak somewhat weary but gorgeous view fully worth it." 


1938:

Letter from Lee Cloud to Delilah. (Cloud Family information)  


Aug. 31: Letter to Bunyan from B. Workman, Neese, S.C.  


Sept. 28: Letter to Delilah from her sister, Manie.


Nov.: J.O. took his father, Bunyan to Hot Springs, Ark, for an operation. See letters to them from Delilah:"...I have nothing new to tell. a terible scandle out on Dr. J. and Lelia J they say she dips snuff and has taken one too many lips...I know Papa it seems like a long time with you but only hold your trust and be as patient as posible. When you are really well it will all seem like a dream and you will never regret having taken chances. first thing every one does when they enter the store is to ask about you... Lots of love, mother."  


1939:

Jan. 11: Letter from Mollie in Calif.  


Feb. 7: Letter from Aunt Nancy in Leesville, S.C.  


Ap.24 & May 2: Letters from Mollie in Calif.  


1940:

Aug. 21 & Oct. 8: Letters from Aunt Nancy in S.C. 


1942:

Feb. 2: Letter from Mrs. W.W. Matthews in Leesville, S.C.  See "War Ration Books" for Delilah and Martin B. Evans.  


1945:

Dec. 13: Letter from Overton Brooks, Congressman: "The years slip by and now I congratulate you upon your Golden Wedding Anniversary...."  


1948:

Jan. 26: "Mrs. Delilah Cloud Evans died of a cerebral hemorrrhage at her home near Saline, Monday morning, Jan. 26 having been stricken Sunday night, after returning from church...."  


Sept. 27: Letter from Ruth Palmer, his daughter, asking for money.  


1949:

Sept. 2: Letter from Lee Cloud.  


1951:

Oct. 16: "Martin Bunyan Evans, age 80 years, died after a short illness at his home near Saline....Mr. Evans's parents pioneered here from South Carolina. He was born Feb. 24th, 1872 and lived near Saline all of his life, having been a  merchant here for the past 45 years. He was an active member of Magnolia Baptist Church of Saline..."


Mrs. J.O. Evans recalled the following incidents about Bunyan and Delilah in 1988: "At Byron's funeral (his brother) at Old Saline, M.B. stayed at the grave digging and would not come in to the church."  She speculated that he was too emotional and "couldn't stand it."  She also remembered Delilah describing Bunyan: "He was stingy; he wouldn't have much to do with the kids.  I've seen him sit there on the porch, watch them fall off and not do a thing. He would make me so mad." 

Delilah described further that when she wanted something he would want the opposite. "If I wanted the garden in one place, he would want it in another. When he'd come in when it was time to start the garden I'd think 'He's gonna ask me where do I want it. Wherever I say, he'll put it in the other place, so I just tell him the place I don't want it." ("reverse psychology," it would later be called.)  


********


(This genealogy collected by Bruce Evans, grandson of M.B. Evans, father of Mark Evans)


(M.B.’s shaving mug and razor were taken by Constance Evans after the death of M.B., and later given to Bruce Evans, who passed them on to Mark Evans, great grandson of M.B., on the occasion of Mark's 44th birthday, September 11, 2007)


********


MARTIN BUNYAN EVANS

NARRATIVE HISTORY

(FROM: EVANS BLOOD)



Martin Bunyan, the second son of John Calhoun and Florence Fickling Evans, then aged 39 and 34, was born February 24, 1872, in Winn Parish near the present Belton Blewer Place. His older brother John Byron was almost three years old at the time. The family had probably been in Louisiana for about a year.


The first information available about Martin Bunyan's childhood is in a letter from his father to Nancy in South Carolina, written October 3, 1874, when Martin was 2 and 1/2 years old: My boys ar verry fat and smart. Billy can pick 60 lbs cotton...but is mighty slow on the move... Billy was 5 and a half at that time.


In February of the next year (1875) he wrote that I believe our boys are taking Hooping caugh. The 1880 Louisiana Census of Natchitoches Parish lists Bunyan Evans, age 8, at school, born in La (he was apparently being called by his second name by this time). A photograph of Martin about this time shows him well dressed, wearing a black bow tie and holding a book.


In April of 1882, when Bunyan was 10, his father purchased an 80 acre tract in Natchitoches Parish (N 1/2 of SE 1/4, Section 11,T13N, R6W) from John G. Readhimer for $80. They built a log house on the property (either then or previously) which was still standing in 1992 (See pictures in file). A year later his father, again writing to his sister in South Carolina, notes: ...I am laing bye my corn...I have a little crop, 12 acres corn, will make 15-20 to the acre if seasons holde, 4 acres cotton. I am not much for cootton. have one acre of upland rice and of cane, one potatoes. Me and Bunyan do the worke. I am sending Byron to school. can only send one at time. We have a good Sunday School...That summer, Bunyan had Whooping Caugh.


Bunyan's grandmother (his father's mother) died in South Carolina later this year (1883). So far as is known, he had never met her. 


Next information is from 4 years later. Bunyon received a letter from his brother, John Byron (called J.B.) who was attending school in Mt Lebanon La (Mount Lebanon University, officially). Dated October 23, 1887, J.B. wrote: ...a few lines to let you know that I am wel and hope you the same. I received your leter on the 21. Was glad to hear from you...I was to preaching today but didn't hear any sutch preaching as Mr. Warren. But we have a very good Sabath School. How is your Sabath School geting a long and who is Seckern tery. have you killed any squirels latly or or there many in the Swamp. I wish I could be there Saturday. if a boy isent ready wen breakfast is redy he doesent get any a tall for he isent aloud to go to town and get it...(In this same letter J.B. includes a message to Dear Mah...I cant rite mutch for I havent any goo ness to rite bu sompthing that you wouldent ter believie it if any body had told you so. It is a shame. Some bad boyes per sweaded me to by a Pistol and then told it on me. I was very sory afterward about five minutes but it was to late then and know ask you and Pah to for give me ove it and I will never do so again as long as I live. I acknollegged that I did wrong and went of and took a big cry and preyed to the Lord for giveness and know I beg you all to for give me. Mr Rease is a good man. He for gave me. It is al rite know. You all nead not be uneasy not a bit. It will make a man out ove me. Ples dont let any body sea this. dont let it bother you. You was asking a bout my close. I nead a coople calico shirts, a pair geans pant lons, too or three pr socks wool. You ask about the Books. cost 2 1/2. they or seckond handed. I will close of this time. J.B. Evans 


Does J.B.'s guilt about bying a Pistol reflect the actual moral strictness of his parents, where Bunyon was growing up? Or was it simply J.B.'s emotional nature? Also note his use of seckond handed books and his father's previous note about only being able to sent one of his sons to school at a time. Also, Bunyon apparently liked to squirrel hunt and go to Sabath School. Was he also running for Secken tery of the school?


Bunyan, aged 15 at this time, was attending the Line School (on line between Bienville and Natchitoches Parishes). One of his teachers was a very popular (evidenced by letters from her boy friends) young woman, Delilah Cloud. Delilah, 18 at the time, had attended Mt. Lebanon College in 1884, and then went to Mansfield, La., where the female part of the school, called Keachi College had been moved. After her graduation she returned home to teach at the Line School. She was apparently talented and artistic. Her handwriting and correspondence indicate her intelligence. (Art from her Sketch Book at Keachi is still available. I currently have two of her sketches framed in my home). Also it seems that the young Bunyan must have been considerably impressed with her.


In August of 1888, Bunyan, aged 16, was treated by Dr. E.T. Edgerton of Montgomery? La. The doctor's bill was $2.50 for his visit (house call?).


The following year (1889), when he was 17, Bunyan enrolled in Mount Lebanon University in Bienville Parish, La., where his brother had attended before him. An Oct the 6. 89. letter from Mt. Lebanon La.: Dear Brother as this is Sunday eavining I will write you a few more lines. This leaves me well. I and a parsel of boys has just taken a walk down to Sulpher Springs...You must bee sure and come upp Friday. You must get Jack Wallice to come too. Also as many as will come, and try to get hear before they dismiss school. whin you come, come right strait over to the colage and you will finde mee. The train passes gibs at dark. We can go upp Friday night and come back Saturday night if we wish to. The train will go and come every day durring the year. you must bee sure and come if you possably can. I hear the train passing now. tell Pah to pleas send mee five $5.00 dollare whin you come. I had to spind a few dollars and it will take sixteen $16 dollars to get the uniform and I will haf to have some shoes and some other things.... you must bring that trick with you. I have learnd that home is the best place. I was very lonsome for a few days. I thought I couldnt stand to stay away from home but I am geting satisfied now. Well Byron I will try and finish my letter to night.... I have just got in from church...I am going look for you all friday eavining, and you must come if nothing prevales. Wall I am geting sleepy. Your Brother. M.B. Evans


Two weeks later (October 19, 1989) Bunyan wrote: Dear Mah and Pah, I will try and write you a few lines this morning as it is Saturday morning. This leavs me well at presint. I had a bad headache yesterday eavining but I feal all rite this morning. A yong lady in School received nuse yesterday eavining that hur brother was dead. She taken it very hard. The school is geting on very well. Hohney Robison started this weak. Dr. Griffin is plinty tite for the worst of bad boys. As long as one will do write he is kinde enough. We are geting on fine with our drilling Professer Rudy. Says we are doing succeedingly good. He is going to sind for our unaforms next weak. I would like to see Clarnce before he leavs. I would like to noe if you have any objecon of me coming home next friday eavining. I can come home friday eaving and go back Sunday and not loose any time from school. I think I can bory a horse from Mr. King if you have no objecton to my coming....I will close as I want to get this in the male to day. You must rite as soon as you get this. M.B. Evans.


His mother wrote the following day, October the 20; My Dear Bunyan, As I am all a lone today I will take this opportunity to write you a few lines thinking you would like to hear from us. We are all well except coles. I have sore throat. did not go to church. Your Pa and Byron went. Clarence staid with us last night. They are going to start of next Wensday for Texes. I feal very sorey to see him go. Lewes Holman was over last Saturday night. Ses he thinkes he will go on the river with Capt Bapers to ? next year. We has a letter from your Aunt Nancy. They sent us Uncle Basels picture. It is a very nice one. They are all well except her self. She hase hay feever. Her Daughter Nanney hase joined the church. Well Bunyan I hope you are getting on well with your studes. you must make good use of your time. Your Pa hase just got home from church with your letter. I dont like to hear of you having head ache. Seams you are going to be sick. you must take those pills and quinine. I fear you are thinking too mutch about home to get along well with your studies. We would be all glad to see you at aney time. I looked for you friday. Was some what disapointed you did not ?..Your Mah.


On the top of the letter his dad adds: I hope this will finde you well. I expect you are a litle home sick. If you can get a way to come home and loose no time I do not care. J.C. Evans. Apparently this letter did not get mailed immediately as the following letter written on the 27th is on the back of the first from his mother: Addressed to M.B. Evans, Mt. Lebanon Col, postmarked at Saline: Dear Bunyan, I wlll write you a few lines this Sunday morning whch leaves us all well except coalds. myself and Maw has been nearly sick though better now. Clarence and Mr. Autery lef for Texas Thursday last. Myself Maw and Aun Nely are thinking of going to Arcadia on next Wedensday. I have had only 2 more Bales gined at Slaughters. Got carried 1500. Each got 500 & 488 each. We have something over a bal to pick yet. finished up the corn yester. got something 200 bushels for 50 cts per bushel. the horses are gitting fat. I havent cut any cane yet. Byron went to Prair Meeting last knite at Morgan Sprawls. not back yet. We would have wrote you sooner bu been so bisy we let the time slip. I have kiled a beef and in the barrel the yillow side steer was 120 to the quarter. I wan to go to the office to day. Mah joines in Love to you. your pah J.C. Evans.


Florence wrote to her son Bunyan who is away at school in 1889: My Darlin Boy. Ill writ a few lines. we are all as well as usual. I was goad to hear you was well and satisfied. Byron and your Pa is going to hall coton to day. we have some to picke yet they are to go to Arcady and by the as next weak if they have good weather don't looke to hard. I would like vearey mutch to see you all on drill. I knoit is a pretey site. I hope you are geting on with your studes Just doo not take up aney bad habets that is smoking and chewing. I havent time to write. they are geting the wagon redey to start. this is a vearey cole morning. I must close write soon. mutch love. I hope the Lord will be with you and bless you in all that is rite. your Mah.


The next remaining letter is from Bunyan, aged 17, dated Nov. 6st 89, Mt Lebanon. Well I will write you all a few lines. this leavs me well, hoping will reach you the same. Eye got back all right last Sunday nigh @ 7 oclock. We have had a very bad weak for school. it has bin so wet and cold that we couldent hardly get to school. Eye dont exspect you all done mutch to worse getting the cane ready to grind. you spok of going to Aracie and comeing by here. You must come as soon as you make the syrp. I dont expect you could sell any more hear for Mr. Kaing says they have bin severl trying to sell him syrp. You spoke of bringing the oxons and did not know how you would bring thim. If eye was you I would put the horses in the wagon and drive it and let Byron ride Sealmon and drive the oxons. you must leave home time to get hear the first night. you must bee sure and put mee a few stalks of cane in the wagon whin you come. as it is 10 oclock eye will stop for to nigh. good by....Then written in pencil rather than pen...Well eye will try to finish my letter as this is friday night. eye reckin eye will help Mr. King work on his house to morrow as eye am very anctious for him to get the house done so we can get in it. I gess our grades was mailed out to day. eye gess we will get our unaforms next weak. Professer Rudy says he got a hearing from thim. I had a lonsom ride Sunday. eye got very tired riding before I got back. This is sutch a lonsom place but eye am mutch better satisfied than eye was before eye made my trip home. have you heard from Clarence and Mr. Autry since theye left. eye will close. you must write whin you get this. Love to all M.B. Evans, Saline.


On the back of this letter: We have not seen any of them. Byron was the Sunday before. Said was verry sick with pneumonia. he had Exposed his self some that bad weather he of pneumonia plurasy and maingetus. I supose John dide ove his old diseas this tuesday. we are working at cain. will not get done this weal. have simon and Lee today. Little Lucky has baught the Linch place. The Clark Show will show at Mr. Reidhimers thursdah 10 oclock...We have Jef Morgan to help us today. this is tuirsday. Byron and Cornelious is going to the show today. We will make surup this eavening. We have 125 gallons made. your Pah is getting so he can work a little again....then on the same page: Friday Evening. We are all well at presant. hoping to may finde you the same. As ever your Father J.C. Evans.


On November 11, J.B. Evans wrote him this letter: Dear Brother. I will write you a few lines. this leaves all well except bad coles. We received your leter on the 9. was glad to hear from you. Aunt Neal got a leter from Clarence Sunday. he is at Lake Charles. thay will stay thear thre months. he says he can get $1 and 1/2 to 2 dollars pr day sawing shingels. we havent done nothing to the cain yet. it is rainning now. I reckon we will makee it up this weake. Capt Babers killed a Negrow on the River last Saturday weake in self defence. he was out untill ten or levan oclock in the nigh. the Negro stopped him and asked him to see him out in a fight. That they wanted to duoble teem on him. Cap tole him all wright and got down and they went to fighting. Cap handed his gun to one to hold. the one under the botom started to cut the other Negro. he sayes Mr. Cap dont let him cut me. Cap Sayes hand me your nife and he handed him his knife and then he sayes take him off. dont let him hirt me and Cap told him to get off and he got off and in this time a big Negrow runes up and makes a lick to cut Cap. and the Negrow that holdes the gun nocked the lick off but he cut Cap on the coat and brakes to run. Cap grabed his gun and shot him. he put 17 buckshot in the Negrow. fifty more started on to him. he told them to stop or he would shoot them and thay stoped. he is not scouting around. he would stand a trial but they swaires so many lies on him. the sherif went to take him. he said he dident hafter be taken. Mr. Joah Henry give him ten dollars and a winchester and said if he wanted any more mony he could get hit. Sam rains give him $20 dollars and told him to leave and I rekon he is gone. Tomb give him some mouney. Bob Halman is very sick they think he has pheuewmonie. I said we hadent done nothing to the cain. We have one patch stript. Cap shot another Negro also before that in self defince. he started to shoot Capt and Cap shot him the same night. the Negrowes have put out a five hundred dollar reward for Capt. I will close. J.B. Evans 


His mother, Florence, wrote soon thereafter: Dear Bunyan, I'll try to write you a few lines to night as I am siting up to give your Pah calomel. he hase bin on the sick list near two weakes. taken a seveare cole case a very bad caugh. has night sweats. dont seame to get aney better so he concluded to take calomel to night. I doo hope it will have the good affect to cure him. I was sorey indeed to hear you had bin sick a gaine. you need that over coat we wanted you to take. I have some bad nuse to tell you. John Holman and Bob H are both ded. John died thursday and was bearied friday and Bob died that night at nine oclock and was bearied saturday. Oh dont you know that was grate destrest for Cousen Marlen and Mr. Holman. and oh to thinke they wear not prepearied to meet the Lord in peace. you see now Procrastination was the thieaf of time with them. the scripture ses be rededy. we kno not the hour. that is a warning to all young boyes. Byron and Cornelious is working at the cane. hase this first patch all cut down. The other is strip yet have fiftey three gallons made...


On November 13, 1889, Bunany's cousin, Clarence (W.C. Thomas) wrote him from Lake Charles, La. (beautiful handwriting): Dear Cousin, I seat myself to write you a few lines. when I was at home I wrote you a letter and never got eny answer so I will wirte again to you. I hade a long lonesoom trip of it. we was eleven day on the road. we are at Lake Charles. La. now and will stay here untill spring. I can get one and half dolers a day. There is ornges her and per? to. I can get a dolar and a half a day working at the saw mills or too dolars a day rafting logs. or I can get one $1.00 a cord halling wood. I can hall four cords a day. hauling wood is my work not. you must write as soon as you get this. I will look for a letter from you. I am very lonesome ever Sunday. if ever day was like Sunday I do not know what I would do. you must write and tell me all the nuse. I remain your cousin as ever, W.C. Thomas.


Bunyan's grades for the first quarter, ending Nov. 15, 1889, at Mt. Lebanon, University, Mt. Lebanon, Bienville Parish, La. were: Arithmetic - 97; English Grammar - 60; Geography - 62; Military Tactics - 80; Penmanship - 85; Reading - 91; spelling - 97; Deportment - 100; Attendance - 100; signed: G.W. Griffin, President, Mt. Lebanon University.


Two days later Bunyan wrote: Dear Mah. I seat myself to write you all a few lines as this is Sunday night. this leaves me well. I would like to hear from home. I have wrote too letters since I was home so I would like to get an answer. I received a letter from Clarnce this weak....I got my uniform yesterday. I got a good fit and was very well pleased with it. it makes a nice suit. the suit cost $16.50, a little more than I exspected. tell Pah to bring the syrp as soon as he can for we are needing it. well Mah I am very well satisfied know. we have a good room out to our selves now, but that dont make mutch differnce with mee. I wll bee glad to see Christmas come....then in pencil: well Mah I will finish your letter as this is ? night. I have just received ? letter just got through reading it. I am sorry to hear of Cap. Babers having to ? allso of Bob Holmons ?...I wish you could see us drill som eavening. Roody drilled us all over town this eavining. I havint got my reports yet or I would sind it in this letter....You all must write long letters. I love to read long letters. I would write more but it is 10 oclock, so good by...pleas dont say anything bout my not liking to go to school, M.B. Evans Nov. 18... then at the bottom: if you get this before Pah, bring the syrp. pleas write and let mee know he is coming so I will know whin to look for him. I will bee glad to see Christmas come. M.B. Tuesday morn.


A photograph of M.B. Evans made about this time in his uniform, seated handsomely on a horse, is available in my file.


Ten days later he wrote...I have taken two dosts of pills this weak. they have acted well. I will hafto get some quinine...I was very sick last night. I think I had a chill butt I feal all right this morning. I am taking plenty of quinine. Mr. King said he got 9 1/2 for his cotton...


On December 1, 1889, his dad wrote: ...glad to hear that you...are in your new house. I am gettin awlrite again. me and your Mah are alone today. Byron gone to Mill Creak today...I cant say excactly when I can come. we have so much bad weather. If I can get off the last one tho I may go so thouugh I expetc it wll be tomorrow week before I can get of. I haf to finish as the cane is wanting grinding and that got frostbitt. The show was not much. Byron and Cornlas went. he siad that thare was not people anough to justify him to spread his canvas so they paid 25 cts to see the anamals.


On the back of the same letter Byron wrote: ...we finished up the cain today. made 240 gal. wee will cumb up the first ove next weak....we had a party the knight of the show at Bin Eds....Bob Rewskin jumpt on Frank Stward a gain and nocked him dow with his ax and Frank taken the ax away from him and cut him in the back to the back bone. Bob shot him 3 times. hit him onst in the neck. Frank run and grabed Bobs winchester from his horse to shoot Bob but Dobson taken it away from him. They are both bad wonded. We wont comb untell the last ove the weak. we are threw with the sirup. I will close, J.B. Evans


Bunyan's school work papers still available, dated J. 1889, include pages of writing exercises, each line written 10 or 15 times. Included in the lines written when he was 17 years old are these:

It is not honorable to dispute about trifles.

Discourage is cunning to the ape of time.

The soul is immortal it will not die.

Our bodies are mortal they will soon die.

A treatise is a written composition.

Before no idol bend they nee.

Primeval denotes what was first or original.

A tribunal is a court for deciding causes.

You must be good or you cant be happy.

The path of duty is always the path of safety.

The most necessary part of learning is to learn our errors.

Never postpone until tomorrow what ought to be done today.

Tomorrow may be never.

Kindness wins friends.

Botany is the science of plants.

Paper is made of linen and cotton rage.

Washington was not a selfish man.

He labored more for his country than for himself.

The wicked transgress the laws of God.

Confess your sins and forsake them.

An unjust judge will give a faulse judgement.

Washington is the capitol of the United States.

Otawa is the capitol of British America.

A mercer is one who deals in silk and woolen goods.

A glossary is used to explane obscure words.

An elegy is a funeral song.

It is our duty to exert our talent in doing good.

Meany things are lawful which are not expedient.

Love and friendship concileate favor and esteem.

Each president's term is four years.

Harrison is the president of the United States.


Also included in his remaining papers were these poems: When we get old we will smile/that we had no care in child hood/But it will not be true/I have one care/I care for you.


Remember me whin far away/For with this page love will stay/Around thy hart a begger/Be whispering the words remember me.


Forget the will I ever/Tis vain for mee to try it,/forget thee I will never,/I will love thee till I die/There is nothing but death, my affections can sever/untill lifes latest breath/Love shall bind us forever.


Sweat is the one who reads this line/I wish her sweetness were all mine.


Did thy spirit tell thee ever/of its loneliness without thee/of the happiness it never/can find but in the rays about thee.


I'm bound over California sands to roam/unless dear girl, you share with me my home.


Say, wilt thou bless these eyes of mine/by one sweet smile of love from thine.


I think of thee whillst far away/I think of thee both night and day/I think of thee and always sigh/I think of thee and almost cry.


Last in your album/last in your thought/last to be rememberd/first to be forgot.


These are signed: Compliments of M.B. Evans. Were they written to Delilah Cloud, who apparently kept these papers?


In July of 1890 Bunyan's father wrote to his sister Nancy: ....I have no cropper, just me and Bunyan. we have a good crop. our corn is make some 350 bushels....Byron was 21 years old the 21 day of May. he is working a crop of his own...a pourful worker, stout and able. Bunyan is just as good. they are good boys and t finest workers I ever saw. they work too hard...


During this year, School Mistress Delila Cloud, was boarding with Cornelia Fickling Thomas, sister of Bunyan's mother, Florence Fickling Evans. (There were many letters from various male friends during this time found in her belongings recovered by Constance Evans after her death. Those not from persons known were destroyed at this time.)


Bunyan's father, again to his sister in S.C., wrote about his family in June, 1897:... Florance had all thes Teath tacon out...she dont hardly look ntural. her and Bunyan and Cornelier and Steller and Nene Burther all left for Nacatoch this morning with load of chickens. Bunyan is juriman this week...Myself and boys have made a big corn crop....Bunyan is hawling up lumber. he will have a good start. is a splendid manager. has a smart and good wife and a smarte little baby 9 or 10 moths old. just beginning to walk...


Apparently Bunyan was not in school in April of 1890. He received a letter from J.E. Readhimer at Mt. Lebanon: ....well I dont know what to write that would interest you. there have been a protracted meeting going on up here for three weeks at night. only there have been 12 proffessions. dont know when it will break up. I know that I am getting mighty tired of it....I guess that you and your girl is getting all right. I have the best looking girl in school. I tell you the girls was stuck on you. they said you was the best looking boy in school. you better had staid. you aught to be at the society. we have a fine time every Saturday night. Well I guess that you dont aim to ever come up here again. Well you must come to the commencement sure.


A letter from Anna Lou Waters in Campti, La. on April 26 (1890?) invites trading pictures and tells of having a sociable heare some time next month...I will send you and invitation. She ends with: When pleasure sparkles in thin eyes/And every scene is fair to see/When swift away the moments fly/O then remember me....A.L.W. On May 23 whe wrote again: ...I now reply to your true letter. I was glad to get my fellows photo but dont think that it looks much like him. I will send your girls photo....signed, Your fond friend. A.L.W. Oh then remember me. Another letter from Campti from Your true friend V.E.B includes a pressed rose ant ends: May heaven on you its choicest blessings shower is the sincere wish of your friend. Be kind to all. be itimate with few and may the few be well chosen. Then the rose is pinned with this message: Roses without thorns for you.


In May his friend J.E. Readhimer again wrote: ...Well how are you getting along farming. I guess that you are through planting and nearly through chopping cotton....Well Bunyan do you ever see my girl down there. and is she as pretty as ever. I expect you have cut me out by this time....Well Bunyan we have quit the drill and I have sold my uniform... Later that month he wrote again about how hard school is: ....the examinations commenced yesterday and it will go on all next week. I had as soon be in purgatory hauling pine knots. They are going to give us the devil and dont you forget it. You must be sure and come up ...about Sunday the 8th. the Society concert will be on Tuesday night. You must be here. We are having some lively old debates sure. We are going to discuss the Lottery question tomorrow night. Guess we will have a lively time....


In a July 4th, 1890 letter from Tennessee, Bunyan's cousin, Warner Workman wrote: ...you must write soon again and tell me all about your self and fir. and tell who Byron's going with....and tell me when you are going to marry...


The first preserved letter to Delilah Cloud, later to become Bunyan's wife, was written Sept. 15, 1890. He was 18, she, his former high school teacher, was 21. Addressed to Saline PO, Bienville Pa, La: Dear Friend I take the gratest of pleasure in writing you...if you will accept of it I was in your company yesterday and you did not seam as livey as usual. have you heard any report about me or was you just in trouble about that faulse...that Ginnie Corbit has told. if I were you I would straten that up with hur. you must not think that that report will hurt you for we all no it is not so and that she has no reputation. it will take more than that to make me dislike you. in fact I dont think I could dislike you. I no you dont think half as mutch of me as I do of you. you are the prettiest girl that I ever seen. the love that I have for you no humons tongue can tell. I will write you a line to no if you will accept of my coming to see you and of my corasponding with you when you go home. If you will accept of this pleas drop me a few lines to let me no. I remain as ever your loving friend by by by. M.B. Evans....pleas dont let anyone see this...


Three days later she replies on Sept. 18: Mr. M.B. Evans. Kind friend. With much surprise indeed I recieved a letter from you. You seemed to think I was vexed at something you had done or said. if you have ever done me any harm I am ignorant of it. but I dont believe you have done anything. I was angry with Mrs. Corbit alone. I could not be lively and dont think any one els could have been in my place and been lively. I have taken several useless cries about it. if I thaught crying would do any good I would cry a week. I never had a fauleshood told on me beforeand it shurenough gets away with me. Well Bunyan your letter was such a surprise that I hardly know how to answer, but nevertheless I will consent for you to cometo see me. Also a letter or too from you will be of great consolation after I go home. I have written this in a great hurrah so please excuse. believe me to be Your True friend, Delilah Cloud.


This note dated Oct. 8, 1890: Delilah Cloud returns compliments to Bunyan Evans and accepts his company with pleasure..excuse paper. On October 15, Bunyan wrote: Dear Miss Delilah. My Kindest friend. It is with much pleasure indeed that I now imbrce my pen in hand to write you a few lines for the first since you left the sand hills. I tell you I did miss you so much at church last sunday. I missed you so much that I could not keep from being lonesom. you need not be surprised....I believe he is thinking of getting him a girl but I am afraid he is like my self afraid to ask a girl to have him for fear she would say no and thin wouldint I feal bad...I know I have fell in love with you but I am afraid I am too late. but I hope I am not. I will close for this. write soon. believe me to be your True friend so good by my darling...May the gentle dews of heaven water the wayside flower of hope that chear you, and the golde rays of peace ever gilde your path way, is the wish of your best friend. M.B.E.


A month later he wrote on Nov. 8: Dear Miss Delilah...He tells her of his trip to the State fear in Shreveport and having to stay up all night. ....I remain as ever your true friend...good by my darling...Remimber me is all I ask; Remimber me if it be a task; Remimber me and So will I Remimber you untill I die.


On Nov. 23 Bunyan receives this letter from Frank Gardner in Bunkie:...Bunyan you must tell me how you and your oncontroable gairl is geting along. there are not wild, but the right cine of one is hard to ceatch. when you get your rop on the wright caine of one be suer and draw it tite. if you daunt she will get luse and er way she will go and be caught in some other trap. I have got you a girl picked out fir you. I know you will like her. she has black hair and blue eyes and her knore drages the ground and her yerr flops over her back. O she is a dary. you ought to see her...your best friend, Frank Gardner.


On January 4, 1891, Bunyan, aged 18, first hints at a proposal of marriage to Delilah Cloud, then aged 21: Miss Delilah, ....it do seam like I am disapointed in nearly all of my undertakins. my next undertakin will bee to get some girl to say yes or no. and if she likes me as well as I do her she will bee sure to say yes. it seam as if marying is all the go now and I expect I had better put in a word before it is too late and that is, how would you like to bee my companion through life. you must not get frightened at what I say for you can depind on it. I expect it will bee some time tell I see you again...I will get off to school in course of two weaks. if I knew you would bee at home on the third Sunday I would pay you a visit...I would come after you but I am afraid to undertake it with out knowing for I might bee disapointed again. I will close. believe me to bee your true friend. M.B.E...let not thy friendship bee like the rose to sever, but like the evergreen, may it last forever..


Apparently he got a gentle Dear John. A month later, on Feb. 6, he wrote again. After telling Delilah about being away for a week with Byron and Clarence working at Mr. Slaughters Mill on a half. We cut the timber and hall it for half. We three average $12 dollars a day....Well Miss Delilah I received your new Years present and did apreciate it very much. you can count on my new years gift. I was disapointed in going to school. It seams like they cant do with out me at home that long...Well Miss Delilah I aggree with you in what you said that it wouldunt hurt for a few of us to wait a little while, for that just suits me. I expect you think I am too yong. But I will not be in the near future...I dont expect you can read what I have scribled. pleas look over bad writing and spelling. write soon. I remain as ever your True friend. M.B.E.


On the 10th of February, this letter from Frank Gardner: ...M.B. what do you think. I found me a gairl on my way home. O she is a dandy. I waunt subscribe her to you because you would fall in love with her...


On March 13 M.B. wrote to Delilah ...I have bin following the carpinders trade the last weak and accidently I mashed my finger again. and thin I received such a long letter at the saim time. I tell yo it gets way with me, but I havint had the Doctor yet..I havint started to build my house yet .. I dont expect they will bee any use to. do you....Belive me to bee your true friend as ever. M.B.E....


A month later he wrote again to Delilah at Campti on April 12: ...Esteemed friend. I received your letter and it was red with much pleasure...you spoke like you thought the carpenders trad was a good profesion. but I hardly think so as I cant keep from mashing my finger...so I think whin I get my house bulit I will close the trade. I think I can beet that. you said you believed I am preparing to take care of some ones daughter. of course I am prepearing to give the prettiest girl in the county a home and a plesent home if she will accept of it. but it seams like she don't no whether to accept of it or not. I guess you no who she is. she has light hear and blue eyes and rosy cheeks. She said she got a valentine which had I love you on it. if I don't mind I will tell you who she is.I think it is a sory fellow that will think of such a thing and not prepear for it, dont you....Believe me to be your true friend M.B.E. I will sind you a kiss in this letter. you must not let it out whin you break the letter Yours truly, good by dear.


The following Dear John Letter was found with a rough draft and then this final letter on May 12, 1891, from Delilah: ...No Dear Bunyan I can never marry you. so you had as well prepare to get someone els. Someone that will suit you better than I. Never have I doubted your love. And if my letter sounded that way, am glad to have this chance to correct it. If I could think as much of you as you seem to think of me it would be entirely a different case, but I can love you only as a friend. You will some day find some nice girl that will love you and be more worthy of your love than I am. But let me advise you not to care for a high tempered jealous girl. that will never do. you are too good natured to be led about by the temper of some woman because of her beauty. Should you ever be called upon for your true friends names, please head the list with Delilah Cloud.


Next to the above letter this undated poem was found, signed M.B. Evans: Must I teach my looks to shun thee/When coaldly we have met/Can I forget thee never/Forget -O! forett me more/Until your sun sets forever. Can thy this thought command/and I be forgotten forever more/To bid a kind friend farewell/Doth make emotion in my bosom swell/But duty makes me plainly see/That I mus say fare well to thee.


(The above poem is written in pencil on one side of the page, as though he where just composing it; then, in ink on the other side:


Now Farewell thee well/ I had rather make my bows upon some icy lake/Where thauing sun begins to shine/Than to trust to love as faulse as thine/Can thy this thought command/And I be forgoten forever more/To bid a kind friend farewell/Doth make emotion in my bosom swell/But duty makes me plainly see/That I must say fairwell to thee.


Breaking up, it seems, has always been hard to do!


Bunyan began what was to be his life long profession on October 28, 1891. At the age of 19 he was issued a license by the State of Louisiana, Parish of Natchitoches, Office of the Parish Treasurer to become a merchant: Having paid one Dollar and Twenty-five cents to the Parish of Natchitoches is here by licensed to pursue and follow the occupation of Merchant.


No information is available on any relationship between Bunyan and Delilah Cloud during 1892. However, letters she kept indicate a number of her male friends during this time. (As noted earlier, those from men not known to Constance Evans after Delilah's death were destroyed).


In October of 1892 Bunyan heard from his friend James Brewton at Flat Creek ...kind friend, wishing to have you in school I will write you...we have the cheapest school in south La. Friend do come if you want to edgicate your self cheap. you can obtain board at the low rate of $6 to $8 per month....I could tell you more than I have. we have the best scool in the world. I am your friend...


Sometime during late 1892 Bunyan apparently began what must have been an exciting relationship with Miss Belle Gardner of Bunkie, Louisiana. Belle was the younger sister of Francis Rebecca Gardner who had married Bunyan's brother, John Bryon, on February 2, 1892. Their father, Thomas Gardner, was the son of Eunice Thomas and Thomas Gardner. Eunice Thomas was a sister of William E. Thomas who married Cornelia Fickling and came from South Carolina along with Bunyan's father and mother. (Did Eunice come along with her brother from S.C. in 1870, or did she come later?) Belle was also the sister of Bunyan's good friend, Frank Gardner (see previous letters). Curiously many of their love letters were kept, as were Delilah's, throughout the later marriage of Bunyan and Delilah. 


The first of many remaining letters to and from Belle Gardner was written by Bunyan on January 20, 1893. I wonder how he got his letters back after the relationship ended? The first begins: My Dearest...you dont have any idier how lonly I have bin...Well Miss Belle I dont knoe mutch to write as this is the first time to write to you. but I will assure you that I have not forgotten you, nor never will eye just as I said that night. but I am afraid you will brake your promiss for some other ugly fellow down there that you see after. What have you done with E.B. and his ring. I think I can get you a nicer one than that but you know you cant wear two at once...Ohe yes I forgot to tell you my dream. I drimp that I met you and shuck hands with you and you gave me an aple and told me that you thought you loved me...


A letter from Belle to Bunyan, dated February 13, begins: Mr. Bunyon, My Sweetest & Dearest... A March letter affirms: Yes I will kiss those eyes of yours by one sweet kiss of love....I think to mouch of your letters to show them. I would be a fool to show your letters to any boddy. You said I seem to dout your love. I did at first but beg your partner I will never do it again. Mr. Bunyon I love you. I will love love you the longest day I live. if your fool me I will still love you you my dearest ...you was the prettest fellow in that country you are as good looking young man as ever I seen. the reason I say that it is because I love you better than any boddy ever I seen. I will love you as long as life lastes....I will love the for ever and ever. Your Lover, B.G.


In a March 22 letter, E.B. (Ben) Workman from Allapaka, GA. wrote: ...I would of liked very much to of read that letter you spoke of. You had better be careful or that girl will get you cornered... In April Belle wrote: My dearest true love...your letter made me as happy as a dove. Yes my dear I will beleave you to be my truest lover and I hope you will beleave me to be yours...who but lovers can convers like angels, by the eye discourse? Address and compliment by vision, make love and court by intuition. Oh! my dear I love you now and always...you was the first man that I ever loved and you will be the last also. My dear you asked me how would I like to live up there in...another year. My dear I cant tell you in this letter for I think I am to young to marrie that soon. dont you? I think you can wait longer than next year....yours forever. S.B. Gardner


Next letter from Belle: ...I will finish with poutry and I mean every word of it: Oh how can I part with you since I loved thee barely one/I am like and oppressed with grief and only thou can give relief/ I love the dearley and only thee/Say ? wilt thou love me/or shal love binde us in his charge/Let me now thy sweet voice hear. I'll be the object of thy care/And the weary senes at life/Ill be the wife and thou the husband/When I lay my pen to rest/but not my heart withen my brest/ and shall I see the happy times/when I am youres and you are mine...Yours for ever and ever.


This same month Delilah Cloud received a long letter from R.B. Matthews. On page 9: ...Yes I supposed that I was the first to talk love to you. It will be 7 years next June...I agree with you in saying that "one who truly loves will not allow independence to interfere with his love. True love will melt the stoutest heart into the dust of humility." I'm indeed glad to hear you say that my disposition is like others who won your affection...


In the Summer of 1893 Bunyan, then aged 21, went on a trip to Texas, apparently exploring with the possibility of the family's moving there. On June 10 Belle Gardner wrote to M.B.E. at Brazos, Texas: ...My dear you spoke of the Texes girls, how scarse they are and how ugly they are. I bet you will get stuck on them yet...I am not like some girls. they can tell a man yes and never mean it. that is one thing I cant do. I will love you for ever...some men can up and tell girls that they mean every word they say and dont mean it eather, but I dont say you are one of those kind. If I knew you was I would feel like a chicken with its head cut off...I love you more than tongue can tell. Oh! I hope I will see the time when I am yours and you are mine, but I beleave your love will fail before that happens...


An undated letter to Brazos mud hole Tex, Dear Cousin... probably from Clarence Thomas: ...but about your girl. we rec'd a letter from her last night she has give you up. there is an old batchler have beat you now...Bunyan your mother and father have ben here. your Pa said tell you to go to more co. they seem to think that is the plase. he said for you to go to Beeville and see farther. look all around...if you could find old Mr. Autry go to his place and talk to him. your pa said it wouldent cost you a cent after you got to Beeville. the collany will take care of you and he said if you wanted more money send to him. he will send it to you...


On June 11 his dad also wrote to M.B. in Texas: ...There was a disstructive Hail Storm about the time you lef a little east of Arcadia. struck the Hodg Raburn Place. the hail lay in places 2 feet deap. Sam Barbay and Coleman have run a way from Reidhimer and gone to Texes. he has Hansil and old will hunting for them sevel days. Bunyan you nead not let home bother you. Just make your minde easy and take in all you can. keep you a Book of Incidents and Towns & Counties....I think if I was you I would go and look at More Co. if you have the means...you mus write ofton. all join in love, J.C. Evans.


June 18: Letter to M.B. & Samie in Texas from Mother and Dad: ...Tom Waters and Bob Lucks boy went to New Town. past a house the dog grouled at them. he got down and shot it 2 or 3 times. pistal failed fier and axadently wint of Billing Luckys mule. he will haf to pay for mule .... I will close respects to Mr Autry and famaly to keep you boys strat. Tutch no whisky whatever. as ever, J.C. Evans.


That same day, June 18, M.B.'s brother Byron wrote: ...Well Bunyan I would go to More County while you are out thear. I wouldent listen to what any body says a bout any thing. I would go right strait thear and come back and go with Mr. Autry. an then I would go to ? if Mr. Autry dident go. you and Samby want make mutch thear cuting wod. first thing you know you will be sick....did you pay Mr Autry for me...write as soon as you get to More Co. J.B. Evans.


Three days later, June 21, this letter to M.B. from Belle Gardner: ...you said I need not be afraid of you findeing a girl out there. I was just only jokeing you a bout the Tex girls. I am not that jealous hearted by any means...I would not fool you for any thing on earth. I love you to much much to fool you, my dear little sweat Bunyan... On July 1, she wrote again: ...I will now reply to your hieley appreashated letter which I receaved last night which you written in Stephinsonville, Tex and that you was fixin to go back to Brazos...My dear I will love you for ever you said in your letter, the one you written before you left Brazos... I think the next time you take a trip ought to be to Bunkie...the first letter you ever wrote to me you wanted to know what had I done with E.B. and his ring. you said you would give me one but I couldent wear two and be true to both. I told you I gave his ring back and would assept of yours. but you dont think that mouch of me. I beleave you are like some one else that I have bin enformed of by a young lad. I really beleave your love are fales. But, Oh! I hope it is not. I hope your love will never be false while we both live...you said in your letter before you left Brazos that you would love me untile you died if I would onley be true to you. Yes my dear I will be true to you for ever...I would be very foolish to promise you to be your companion through life and then go back on it. that is one thing that I dont promise unless I mean it.


In July Bunyan's father wrote to him in Brazos,Texas: ...I suppose you think you have found the place and are satisfied with what you heve seen and learned and could do no better. I recon you had as well come back and informe us of the facts an see whether I shal go or not. I rather think I could risk my chances on your and Mr Auters judement to back it. I recon it would bee tollarbly hard to get worst. we are getting verry dry had no rain in 2 weeks and very hot...Well Bunyan they have put an end to Bob Rushing. he went to Tex. came back and taken his Little Daughter of & around & in the woods with him. She got chance to ask protection of ther Neighbors. The officers went to arest him. he got in the first shot & mise. ?waited on him till he got another shell about in. Then they puled an kiled him instantly. there is no one sarry. burred him at Saline. well Byron has come I will close. J.C. Evans. Love to Mr Autry & Famely.


Also on July 2, 1893, his cousin Clarence (W.C.) Thomas, wrote:...sorry you are sick..hope you will bee able to come home. your father said for you not stur out two soon and take medison along. take tonic to and when you get able come home. I think there are satisfide with the place you have went to...Bob Rushing was killed the other day. shot by the sherif and three or four guns fired the same time. cant tell who killed him...your father said tell you there was no use of going to Bee Co. and not go to them places you spoke of. he was afraid you would stur out too soon and make your self sick again...


. Bunyan apparently returned from Texas, visited Belle in Bunkie, and came home. Shortly thereafter his brother Byron's wife, Fannie, died giving birth to Nina. On July 18 Belle wrote to My dear darling Bunyan, in Saline. This eaving Ill try to take courage and chearful heart to answer your dear letter which was written on the 11. ...Ah! what sorrow and trouble that letter brought us. Ah! to hear my dear sister was dead, my favorite sister in this troublesome world. When I saw her last which was last January I did not think that would be the last time I would ever see her...I told her good by and she cried so and I thought I would cry my poor self to death...if only I could of seen her and kissed her the last time like you all did. but I beleave she is in a better world beyond. she always was so good to me....I will never get to see her in this world. hope I will meet her in heaven. I beleave that is where she is gone. I never went to the last Ball, something told me not to. the last time I danced was on 23 of May. That will be my last time ever to try to dance if God will onley forgive me for that. I will never do the like again. You must tell me in your next letter what she said about me before she died....My dear I dident think you was glad to leave Bunkie. I did hate to see you go. I had to cry when you got out of the gate, but I am glad you got to see the last of My dear sister Fannie. My favorite sister. she was loved by every boddy every where she went. (On the top of this letter is a note: We have just reseaved a letter from Byron. it was sad sad indead...)


A week later Bunyan heard from his friend Frank Gardner, brother of Belle and Fannie, about his grief...how I remember her lovely lively intelligent and affectionate, ever displaying a thoughtfulness beyond her years...but remember that light sometime will break through and there will be a glad and happy reunion in the great beyond...we will all meet dear sister Fanie in hevan...

Another letter from Belle on August 2...Oh! how I do woush poor Fannie could of lived to of raised poor little Nena....I know your Mother will do all she can for it, but she is not like its mother. Oh! how I woush I could of seen poor sister Fannie and talked with her before she died. I would of bin much happier girl to night. but it is usless for me to fret for I guess she is much better of than I am to night. I hope to meat her in a better world beyond here and beyond her dear grave. I beleave she is in heaven to night...My, just to think, poor Fannie told you that we had made it up to marrie and she had know objections and also told your mother that we had made it up to marry... My dear, you wanted to know if the rest of the family would be wiling or not. I cant tell you to save my life. as for my Mother, she never do give away any of her girls. Paper does all of the givening. Mama always sais if they love a man enough to marrie him and it suit us, it is all wright with her. you will hafter ask them then you will fine out. but it dont make any difference where they are wiling or not. it is all the same with me. Oh, my dear you asked whether I would like to live in Texas or not...you seam to want to put me off untill next December one year. I rather not quite so long if it can be possiable. you seam to think next Dec is to earley for you. if it is, I will say next July. that will be planty long enough. I think far next Dec a year is longer than I want to wait. but I expect you would like to wait untill then and expect longer.... Now if next July dont suit you, please tell me and if it dont. you must set the time your self so you can please your on self about it. for I dont care about saying what time any more. much rather for you to say than me. I guess we wont fall out and fight about it any way. I guess we will do like a young man and a young lady. ever time she would set the time to marry he would say I am not quite ready. and so one time he came to see her she sais I suppose you are not quite ready. he sais no. she sais you never will be eather and she sais I am not redy eather and you can quit coming here. he sais that is what you ought of tole me long ago. so they broke up. he never did care anything for the girl. Miss Mary Scroggs is her naim. Well I will close. hope to hear from you soon. G.B.


His Aunt Nancy Peterson, Batesburg, S.C., wrote to him on August 28: ...I was indeed very sorry to hear of cousin Fannie's death, I do think it is so sad for a young wie to have to die and leave her husband, but I guess she was taken for some good purpose. if you all could only see it that way...


The next day Belle wrote again:...I know I wasent pretty as you say. There isent any one can make me beleave I am good looking. such a thing has never crossed my mind....Your truest girl for ever, Belle. 


In another undated letter, perhaps in January, 1894, Belle wrote: My dearest I will tell you in my next letter wheather next Dec. will suit me or not but I guess maby it will...You ask me to give my reasons in full for not wanting to wait untill next Dec. I havent any reasons perticullar. but I dident care much to wait untill Dec. next. But I will wait on you longer than July. I will tell you in my next letter how much longer I will wait on you. If I dident love you I wouldent wait on you but I am willint to wait on you if that will please you and will suit you. yes you can be mine for ever if you want to. Bunyon you siad you dident get any thing for Xmas. that was to bad. I got a nice lamp fruit stand and a pare of silver knives and forks and a presearve dish and one spoon holder and a silk handerchife and an accordian. She also tells of her plans to teach school....I am going to take a school...where they want me to teach now is at New Saline at my old home. but I wouldnent go there among those people for nothing. they are not much people so tryfling any way.


Bunyan's cousin "C" (W.C. Thomas) wrote on September 16 from Butler, La:...there are more fiddlers here than I ever seen. ever thing is an an fiddler. I think I will learn perhaps: I have had a fine time. I taken dinner with Katie a gain wensday. she hasent antid yet. She is a hard case. now I will try her again...how is my Mary geting a long...did you go to the sociable or not. and what kind of a time did you have any way. I had luck in getting money. I got $75 dollars from Walter. We will have whiskey here by next saterday. ordered it yesterday from St Louis. come down. we will have a fine time. I like here very well. I have something to do about one third of my time. nearly all negro trade so far. there are dang sight of negros here...Bunyan will you tell my folks I am well. tell them I would of wrote to them but I haven time now....Bunyan bee not uneasy about what I owe you. I will pay you by or beefore the first day of Jan. Cotton is looking up. I do not want to sell unless I hafter bee fore that time. if you run a way I will get out of paying it...


In her September 25 letter to Dearest Lover Belle wrote:...I am not going to school yet but will soon. but wont fall in love with the teacher. you need not be afraid of that. are you that jealous hearted? I dont like jealous hearted men at all and I and the country girl are quite differnt endeed....Oh, yes. I ask you two questions in my other letter you never answered. you need not think that I forget any thing. I never do. Yes I woush I could of been at the sociable, but I wouldent of enjoyed my self any way. I couldent of played. I have quit all such foolishness as that...your lonely and sweetest girl for ever....


On October 7 Bunyan heard again from cousin C (W.C. Thomas) at Butler, La.:...I got a letter from Mary giveing me hell. twice she said she heard I had gon here to sell whiskey. I would like to know who told her that. I haven sold a drop of whiskey. Safford declined the idear of that. Some fool run to that girl trying to make her mad with me. I want to know who it was....when you come to stay a week I wll show you a letter that will make you love my girl. she sent me a song.. the words is this: There is one thing that will greave me/And torment my mind/Tis leaving my darling sweet Mary behind. it is pretty isint it...Bunyan my girl raised me higher than a kite a bout selling shiskey. Aint that hell. I wish some fool could keep they mouth shut. I believe I will come back in a few weeks on a visit. I will fix all that up a gain...


Oct. 23: Letter from Belle, apparently about marriage:...I don't care who you go with & who you dont, just so you are true to me. that is all I ask of you. I will bee true to you and no one else. Will you beleave me? I am never jelous off you and some other girl. that is pure nonesence of any and I will love you the longest day I live. Bunyan I dident say for you not to say next July and not mean it. You know I dident eather. I know you havent very near decided it would suit you before July. It wouldent suit me at all before July. Now I think you can wait untill next July cant you? I beleave next July would suit me better than any other time now. But I might make up my mind before then. But realy I couldent get reddy before than Bunyan. I expect your Mother would tell you like she did Byron when she found out that he was a gonter marrie poor Fannie. She ask him if he couldent get a younger girl would do as well as Fanney, get some other girl closter by. Well dear Fannie is dead now. that is all about it and I wrote your mother a letter after Fannie died. she never answered. Why dident she Bunyan....you said you wasent jealous off the Proffesor. who are you jealous of than? Yes I recond we could get along togather real well. I know any one could get along with me for I allways try two please any one if so I can. that is my nature exactly...Your True Lovening girl. S.B. Gardner.


On October 28, Delilah Cloud received this letter from C.R. Cook: ...I am no hand to flater any one. I think you are the Best looking girl I ever seen in my life and I loved you the first time I ever saw you. I have never saw a girl that I loved before you. I know you dont believe me but it so and I hope you want get offendid at what I have sed...


On Nov. 11, Belle wrote Bunyan: My dearest loving sweetheart...when in my company you musent be so sad. I will never go back on you. I will be your companion through life as I have told you...will you beleave me? Bunyan I guess you think you have cought me in a lye about the parties. Yes I wrote to you that I had quit going to parties which I have. the sugar mill parties are nothing but young people get two gather and go to the mills to eat all the cain they want and all the syrup. I stand around and look at the mill grinding the cain. there isent any danceing nor playing in it. you talked as if there wasent any depindence left in me. will you take it back? I have you to undestand that I am a different girl to that....men are so sily any way. cant expect any better. I truely hope you will quit thinking that I will go back on you for some one else. My dearest that will never oh never be no-no...Bunyan I dont remember any thing about me writening to you for you not to mean next July. When you come please bring that letter so I can see if I did write such stuff or not I dont believe I did... (see Oct 23 letter--short memory?)


Dec. 10: Letter from Belle: ...you said you saw my old fellow and said you didnt see why I couldent love him. I dident fancy his looks nor his ways....you know some loves one and some loves two, and I love one, and that is you-you. You ask me if I could say what you have said. Yes dear Bunyon. I can and say it from my heart and I do hope you will believe me two. You musent let E.K. fret you. he can never come between I and you... (In this letter Belle refers to Aunt Nealey so they must be related).


C.R. Cook wrote Delilah again on December 26, 1893:...It seems like our corespondence is get cold. Why should it be so. As far as I have writen be fare. You or the onley Girl that I love and why should we not hear from each other often. I would be pleased to hear from you often...


An undated letter from Sammie Thomas:...Bunyan I received a letter from your Girl the other day and she told me what that secret that she had promised to tell me some time ago. and it was that you and she was going to maried. and she gave ma good peice of advice and she said whil I were picking one myself a girl to bee cearful, that some Girles wasen worth suckes. I know it all is true. I find a good meney of them that way...you will find five dolers in close. Your true cousin as ever, Sammie Thomas


1894, Jan. 2: ...I was looking for you all during Christimas and Im looking for you yet...I am afraid you will never get here. Bunyan do you think that you can come to your promise at the time I said, or not? or later on if you cant please tell me so in your next letter I am a girl that never do fool with any one so long. I never did try to wiat on any one as long as I have you. I never did try to. Year and a half is as long as I care to wait on any one. But I guess you think I am silley. but, I am telling you just the pure truth. You know that it is not good two put of a weding. I think you can get reddie by July...you said in some off your other letters that you dident care to wait untill than, but you dident say that from your heart. it was from your lips that was where that little word was from. Now wasent it? Bunyon if I knew that you mean not what you pretend, This would be my last last letter sure. I am a girl that cant beg any and to love me to marrie. no nor eather can I get befor them and cry like a dunce. there is two many men in this wide wide world and there may be a many bright sun shiney day that will pass over me while in my happy youth. know one man dont bother me but very little indeed. You are the first that I ever try to love and I hope and trust to the heavnely Farther above that you may be the last. and an old maids life I believe is sweeter than any...come when you can...and if you cant come stay there. Please excuse this mean hate full letter. dont get mad at it but tell me what I ask you to. B.G.


Jan 16: From Belle: Dearest Bunyon, I guess you have gotten my last letter by this time. I know I ought to make some apologys to you for the way I have treated you and did it for nothing. if you will pardon me for treating you as i have and for nothing I will never do so again... Bunyon what made me so mad and angry was to think that you should say you could find an other girl. Now Bunyon if you think that you can find an other one and as much better than I and would make you a better compannion threw life and would care more for you and love you more than I do, Why just drop me, but I hope you dont think of doing that. Bynyan when I wrote to S. to write what he did I dident think it would make you so mad. you can get S to shoe you the letter that has it in it and see for your self there isent anything of the kind. I wouldnt forsake you for any one in this wide wide world. Yes dear I feel that I have done you wrong. (purple cloth bow pinned here)...if you will pardon me I will never do it again. I will care more for you after this than ever. I will tell you the truth, I never saw any one that I love as well as those sweet eyes of yours. now will you believe me. I can love you for a life time. I will quit treating you mean and will never do any thing to rumple your feelings any more if you will forgive me this time and be the same dear Bunyan...By the way, do you think that you can fulfill your promise. if you cant and dont intend to and aim to draw me entwo a snair and that is all, I woust you would tell me so at once. I would thank you far it every so much, yes indeed I would. Please write soon and a long letter to your dear girl. excuse this writening and miss takes. I am writening by thee light of my Christmas lamp. it was gave to me by a frind for my bearth day presant...


Feb. 6: From Belle: Dearest lover. To night I will reply to your hily and appreciated letter which came safe to hand some time back. Now send reply. Well I suppose you dident understand all of my letter...Yes Mother and some one else was the cause of me writening as I did...Mother want me to stay with her as long as Fannie did, but I tell her I cant stay with her always, and Dear Bunyon If you do mean what you say which I believe you do and I'l go and forsake My dear old Mother for you and you and you a lone and than you go and treat me mean like a great many men do. I dont know what I would do. But I hope you would do like you said in your letter. but there is so many promises just such and than do the other way untill I have gotten kind of apprehension...


Delilah Cloud heard from C.R. Cook in Simsboro, La. on Feburary 18: ....Well Miss Delilah I ...hope you will have a good success in teaching. how long are you going to Teach...there is one that I dont get to see that I think of more than any and it would make me happy if I onely new she thought of me once in a while. I enjoy reading the letters from her more than any one on earth. I would like to see you and talk with you...you are the onely girl that I love...


Mar. 3: From Belle Gardner: ...Well Bunyon, Why did you tell those people up there that I kissed you good by when you left here. this news has come to me so strait untill I cant help but to believe that you did tell it, and you know that I dident want to kiss you at al,l and you know that you promised me youd never tell it. But you have so I persumd. Now I want you to let this be your last if you did tell it. I never did think that of you..I wont say wheather next Dec will suit me or not but maby it will. I will leave that for you to say for I will not say any more. do suit your self about is..Bunyon tell me where you did have any such talk or not in your next letter... 


On March 4, Delilah got a letter of response to her's of Feb 23 from J.T. Boone in Mt. Lebanon: ....I think your certificate is good for this Bienville parish. I am not in position to say about the Line School (he tells her who to write). A March 5 letter from E.E. Stewart of Sebastapol, Miss. notes: ...I'm glad you have a nice school and I hope it may go on smoothly and prove prosperous to you.


Mar. 13: Letter from cousin S.F. Thomas in Gilmer, Texas to Bunyan: ...I have found my self a new girl. she is as pretie as she can bee. how is my old girl a geting along. tell her I would like very much to see her...I saw my new girl today and she is as pretie as ever...


Mar. 19: Letter from Belle: Dear Sweetheart...but Ah! Bunyon I cant give your pardon this time for telling what you did and promised me so faithfuly to that you wouldent....I would thank you very much to stop it. But one thing. I never had any business kissing you and next time I want...But of course I know you dident mean any harm by telling it but some one will make harm off it. I will know who to trust next time Bunyon. But if you wouldent of told any boddie else but Clarence that we kissed it might of done you or some one was bound to of told it...


April 4: Letter from Belle: I am very sorry I hurt feelings so much...No Bunyon I havent forsaken you or rather have my love faild. My dear My love will never no never fail. I will love the for ever...I will never breake your hart my dear no never will I...My Dear you mustent think I am going to fleart with you. I will never do that...I will never breake your hart my dear no never will I...


On April 11, Delilah heard from R.B. Matthews in Belmont, La: ...You certainly have no excuse for being an old maid...because you know if you never marry it is because you would not accept the hand of one who truly loved you....


April 24: Letter from Belle: ...I am like a lonly bird that flies from tree to tree and sadly sings, with folded wings. But Ah, how happy I would be if only could see you and you alone. For no angel or fairy this darling of mine, but one quite as human as he is divine, this dear little one so precious to me...


May 15: Letter from Belle: ...Bunyon...if you do love me enough for me to be your compannion through life you had better never ask Mother for me for you would get insulted sure for she is biterly against our corresponding and are biterly against us ever thinking about marring....Bunyon realy it is a grate wonder that I have bin true to you this long and are still true to you and you alone and you are the only one I will ever love. you know I have so many pulling againse me and are trying to persuaid me not to love you, but love you I will, and I will love you more than ever now just to aggravate several persons....


May 16: Letter from S.F. Thomas at Gilmer, Texas: ...you just aughter bee here. It isent like Brazoz this is much faster place than eney place I have even bin in Texas. thare are lotes of girles here and pretie ones...Yes Bunyon I think the sam about some of the girles. some of them just will do to sleep with and hardley that. Bunyon I have found one here that I bleive would let a feler do what he would do if he was going to sleep with her. and she clames me for her felow. she has sent me tou bocayes and told these girles here that I am her felow and the queston was ask in the debate, which was the sugar or candie, and she sayed that I was the seetes. I think I will go home with her some night and get her to let me sleep with her a little while. I think she would go mitie well...you musen show this to my girl for she might get sortie angrie with me...how is little Annie doing now..by by by little darling.SFT. Bunyon I have traied my old pistel off for a fine gold ring and now have no weapon only a pear of brace nokes...


Undated Ballod of Somebodys tall and Handsome to Mr. M.B. Evans. Writen by your cousin Eunice Thomas:...Somebody will come to see me/somebody will come some night/ some body will ask me to be his bride/ Of corse Ile say allrite...Compliments of a friend.


June 11: Letter from Belle: ...you ask me to tell you the reasion mother is opposed. I will tell you but I ought not to tell you. before Byron came down to marrie Fannie he went to Billys and ask him did he think he could live with Fannie. this is what Mother dislikes and some few other little things which I will not tell....and you ask me if I thought we could draw the time any closer. I do not care to marrie before Dec if it can be possible...I rather later than Dec than before Bunyan. you set the time your self and I will try to be pleased with it for I will not set the time. you have got it to do and if you dont it will surly go undone. you aske me to tell you in this letter if I loved you well enough to forsake my mother for you. Why sertinly I do. if I hadent of loved you I never would of told you yes....By the way when you set the time I want you to set it right and less try and not have any more foolishness, for I think we have had enough.... Bunyan I will tell the reasion why Mother do not want me to marrie you. she thinks you are sickly...


June 12: Letter from J.A. Autrey: ...Wall bunyan I am glad that you have decided to come to Tex a gain. any boy that can strike sulivan such blowes as you did can go thrue Tex all rite...


June 29: Letter from Belle: ...Yes Dear Bunyon I would forsake Mother for you and you alone and you said this is all you could ask off me. Well I will tell you one more time never to ask Mother nothing. Bunyon what ever you do never ask mother for me...I will tell you the reasion why. She wants me to marrie a young Jew that has a store here. but I would see him dead and where he had to go to before I would marrie him...I am like a Negro. I dont like his walk and I dont like his talk, and I dont like him know how, and I wouldent marrie him to please Mother or anyone...Your truest, S.B. Gardner.


July 23: Letter from Belle: ...and I hope to win thy heart by and by. I do admire your looks so much. I dont know why but some how other you take my attraction. Bunyon you have stolen my heart and now I cant never love any other but you and you only...Bunyon if you dont come I will get mad this time sure enough you have bin coming ever sence Dec. and havent got here yet.... (plant leaf enclosed).


Aug. 21: Letter from Belle: ...I cant see why you dream so many dreams about me. I never do dream one thing about you. Oh yes, I did dream one time of you but I wont tell you what it was... Sept. 11: : ...you must be sure and come. I have something real nice to tell you. I know it would please you ever so much. so good by I hope to see you soon.


Belle obviously knows about Bunyan's relationship with Delilah Cloud, as reveales in this Oct letter: ...Bunyan if this your ?ito you can send my letters home and I will send yours by the return mail and every thing you ever did give me. I know you think more of D.C. (Delilah Cloud) than you do of me any way after she wouldent have you at first. and now you are reddy to take her if you can get her. that shows what you are exactly old fellow. Now Bunyan you can take your choise between she and I. if you care more for her than I, you can tell me so...but if you can believe what I say and think more of me you needent send my letters...Bunyan I would be a shame to talk so big about Deliah after you loved her once to beet 75 cents and she wouldent have you look at it...Dont you want the ring you put on my finger to put on D.C. finger. if you do you can get it at any time if she is your choise and is your lover and your golden God uppon earth these latly days...Oh, yes I know you got foundered when you sole four bales of cotton at 5 3/4 cents a pound...No I dont woust I could of bin at D.concert...I hope I will hear of your and D. weding soon. I will not send my picture when it dont look like me you can love...


In a November 1 letter from Mt. Calm, Texas, S.F. Thomas wrote to M.B.: Dear cousin...you saied that you were going to get your self a cook in side of twelve months. it might bee a very good idier...O Bunyon you saied you and your Bunkie girl have had a birst up. that is bad isent it...O Bunyon my girl and my self have plaied hell. we had up a case and then rite on top of that we had a birst up. you think Calarence and his girl will come threw this time. I hope he will for I think he have slept longer enough with a stif ?wit. tell him as I am in very good practice riding wild hosses that I will ride her for him the first time for only one half doler. and that is cheep...well Bunyon you mus write as soon as you get this and tell me how you and your girl came out...meat me in ?rePshury Co. and I will show you my Jus malarkey. and then we will travel on some where, wherear ever you want to go. she is a hun. I know when you see her you will bee willing to trace on her cheekes....This 11 page letter ends in a puzzling way: ....anser this as soon as you get it and plese dont let my girl see it this letter (then in large letters:) O Bunyon did I send you my picture in my other letter and if diden I intend to if diden I will next letter and I want your picture your true cousin S.F. Thomas...good by by by by my seet darling honey.


Nov. 5: Letter from Belle: My dear lover...My thoughts have bin many since I received both of your last letters. Though my thoughts is so I cant explain them two you....you say you are true to me and will be the longest day you live. If this is true I never will want my letters back...for I do adore you so much. I will avouch positively from my heart that I do idolize you so much...I admire your looks. yes I will be the same true girl as ever to you...


The file contains a letter written on November 20, 1894, in the handwriting of M.B. Evans, apparently to Belle, but never mailed. It was in an envelope with no address on it: My Dearest Lover...This night I will answer you Dear letter which came safe to hand some days back. I were more than glad to hear from you. but sory you could not explain your thoughts to me. I do hope you can explain thim by the time you read this...Oh I do hope we can bee the truest of lovers from this on, with out so many thoughts and roughf letters...I am sory you taken my letter as an insult for I did not intind such a thing. you must have missunderstood...I never get too tiard to write to my dearest girl. oh I am so anxious to see you and talk with you tho we are a long ways a part...ohe yes you said you came very near joining the church but some one would not let you join... Wonder why this letter was never mailed?


Dec. 10: Letter from Belle: My Dear one, To night I will answer your letter of Nov 29 which were red with great love...You must be sure to come Xmas and bring your Mother and Neaner (Nina)...Yes and I am affraid you will be like most of the men after get mr. you will wish you never had of married. but! I truly! hope you aint that kind of fellow. Yes, I am true to you and you only and always will be with out deceit!...and here I sit and sigh aloud through all the weary day...Yours as ever. S.B. Gardner.


During this period of 1894 Delilah Cloud was receiving letters from a number of men including: E.E. Stewart, Sebastopol, Miss.; R.B. Matthews, Belmont, La.; Clarence Thomas at Saline; D.E. Averett, Gibsland, La. Part of a note from Saline, dated December 4, 1894: ... pleas dont let any one see this for you knoe this is a secret yes. I will do same. and in addressing your letters try and change your han as much as posable and I will do the same. B. I will not put my name for fear it wll be broke and you do the same. As Ever your True Friend. There were letters from other men in her trunk, but Constance Evans said she burned those from persons she did not recognize.


Belle wrote on January 9th, 1895: My dear Sweetheart. I shall answer you dear letter of Dec. the 22 which were long looked for, every word were appreciated. Though I were quite sorry you all couldent get here (for Xmas)....you must tell me who Byron is going to marrie. I guess he is married by this time. Write soon soon.


During this month something significant must have happened. On February 8th this "Dear John" letter came from Belle: Mr. Bunyan Evans, This beautifull evening I have found the opportunity to write you a farewell letter for the last last time in this poor unluckey world for you. Yes! My love has failed at last. Once I did love you and you wasent in the same notion I was. and you know I told you Bunyan you would be sorry by and by. Oh! know you must wait a little while longer untill things has gone to where it is so now Bunyan you will hafter say farewell to me and me alone. Well Bunway I hope you will marry some nice girl by and by. for you needent to never once think about living in hopes for me any more. for hopes will never never never oh! never! get this little chicken any more. I once loved you but now I dont and so therefore I dont see any use in runing this thing any farther but all I wish is for you to marry some pretty girl. for you are a nice boy and I hope you will do well by and by. Now, Bunyan! you musent fault anyone on this earth far all of this but my self. I am the hold cause off all this. I am the one that has broken the golden pledge and now it is broken and caint be mended in this troublesome world for you. Bunyan I dont want my letters but if you want yours you can get them any time. I dont want my letters nor nothing else. you can keep all picture and every thing. I dont want nothing back from you and you musent send nothing eather. and I wish you a happy year. wish you much pleasure. and hope to hear of your marring soon. but never have a long engagement. if you do you will get floped a gin. long engagements isent any thing good and you must remember when ony one is in gagend a long time one or the other gets out the notion before they can marry....I am indipendent to any body but God himself. I will live in Bunkie the longest day I live...I hope you will marry a rich girl two. I dont wish you no bad luck what ever. You can spark D.C. (Delilah Cloud) now and can get her if you want. but she aint rich, nor eather is she pretty by a long jump. (Long complaint about folks wearing her dead sister, Fannie's clothes.)...Yes God is a just God and he will see things rightyfied in the world above. dont you forget my hunneys... so I will close. wish you all much happyness but dont weare Fannies clothes. please if have any heart. Belle Gardner...Farewell Farewell. no more use for you. if we were married and I would die, I'd be done the same dirty trick.


On March 9, 1895, Delilah Cloud received this letter from D.E. Averett, Gibbs, La.:...I received your letter a few days ago which was quite a treat....as you had to keep house, I don't suppose you had a great deal of time to write. I imagine you make an excelent house keeper, for I know you are a good cook and that is the principle part. I would like to have you to keep house for me tho you may say I have no house, well that is true, but I am going to get one some day in the future, then want you keep it for me? I imagine that would be a little heaven for me...I am glad you are getting along so well with your crayan work. I believe I will get you to do some work for me. I know my picture would be nice....


Apparently Bunyon, now aged 22, started writing again to Delilah Cloud, his former teacher. With the reference in Belle's last letter ...now you can spark D.C., she must have known of his continuing interest in Delilah. This letter to Bunyon from Delilah was dated May X 95, from Campte:...Dear Friend, I recieved your letter and was very much surprised tho it was quite a pleasant one. I am not having much enjoyment presently, I stay at home nearly all the time...Dr. Saunders was here last week and engaged my company for to day to cary me to foot washing at Oak Grove, but for some cause he did not come...Malissie Rushing and I will start to Coushatta this afternoon. Wish us a jolly time.Your letter has made me very happy. I too am going to tell the truth. You remember several years since you proposed to me. Well at that time...(rest of letter missing)


On June 7 Delilah hears from best cousin Ruben R. Cloud, Mulberry, La...pardon the liberty that I have taken in addressing you this note and if what I am a bout to say displeases you that youll at least give me the credit of sincerity and on that acount forgive my personanal presumptio.n Dear Delilah, I have long wished to express personally my feelings towards you and I have at last resolved to write to releave my mind to say that from friendship I have grown to feel the most ardent love for you ...


Bunyan must have moved fast with Delilah. After just one month she wrote to Bunyon from Brown, La.: Dear Bunyan.I had just decided to write you sunday and saw you comming so will write today....Mr. Earley came to see me on Monday after you all left. we has a real nice time going to the plumb orchard cherry trees ect, I think he is very nice don't you? You may think I am "carried away" with him but I only ask you to believe what I tell you and you'll not be decieved by me...If I understand your letter you aske me to state a time for us to make the iron clad vow. Of course I cannot under circumstances, but will say by way of encouragement probably this fall. It depends intirely upon you and your circumstances. If we are to live with old folks I can get ready by then, but if we are to keep house I will half to have more time for preparations as I intend to make home just what it should be to bring happiness. Indeed as you said "I'll be the wife if you'll be the husband, that means a great eal, and it takes a noble hearted man to be real true. I believe you are one among the best. I have known you too long to be decieved and I know am not. I also have great confidence in your industry. I know I'll not suffer want. At least while you have power to work, I dont want you to kill your self at work for me and you shant either. I'll work by your side...You know I dont like my present home. All the pleasure I have is right here among home folks. Of course I enjoy visiting but dont like the idea of depending on others to always carry me when I go. I like to be independent dont you? Now if you dont think this fall an appropriate time to "get off" dont be afraid to say so. I'll not think hard of you at all but only think the better of you for being modest. I'd be willing to wait even ten years if you should. Could say much more but this has already confused you and is much more than you write me. Now I am jealous, but that's divine for God hath said "I thy God am a jealous God." With best wishes I close, Your true lover...


On June 24, D.E. Everett wrote to Delilah as Campte, La, from Gibsland, La.:...It doesn't seem to me that I was down there any time, but my stay was very pleasant indeed, especially the day I was with you. You know I always have enjoyed your company...but I feel like I left you thinking hard of me. You looked like you did at least and I can't blame you much, but you know I can't help losing your ring. Now please don't be mad with me. It would be so hard, to think of the pleasant hours I've spent with you, and then to think that you have changed...


Still in June, this letter from Bunyon to Delilah, signed B.E.: Dearest one, this Sunday eaving Ill write you a few lines as I am all alone this eaving, tho I do enjoy beeing alone some time so I can write to my Best girl...Oh yes I think well of Mr. Earley. I seen him the next day after he pade you the visit, tho he did not tell me he had seen you. no he doesnt bother me the least bit. I am not as jealous as some you have heard of. I am some what like a fellow I heard talking...he said he would not have a girl that no other boy would not go to see. Just since you are true to what you say and have said and Ill bee the same to you. Some how I believe you have a little doubt to my being true to you, tho I hope you dont think such. for to flirt with you or any other girl has never crossed my minde. no nor never will as long as the Sun doth Shine. will you believe what I say. Ill assure you youle never be a forsakon lover by me not a forsakon Bride no never...I had to go to Bienville friday and...I bout me a fine Sadle poney for my girl to ride I will pay you a visit on the first Sunday. can hardly stay off today tho I might disgust you if I come two ofton. could there bee such a thing...yours as ever...As ever yours faithful and true, yours for ever if thou will let the..


In July D.E. Averett again wrote Delilah: ...I am glad you are not mad about the ring. I was afraid you would be... He wrote again on August 8: Miss Delilah Cloud...I rec'd your letter just before I left Gibsland...I wanted you to be at home when I come, so I could see you some...I want you to come home so I can come to see you. Can I come...


An August 12 letter from Delilah: My own Bunyan, Your letter of 27 just came creeping in on saturday eve. I assure you it was much prised and all the more so because you had written it while so tird...I did have a very pleasant time on the Lake...De Witt came with me and stayed a week. Can't say for cirtain if can go back with you sunday or not. I may be teaching. you know I told you I thought of taking the assistance at Ramah....(end of letter missing)


An undated page from letter to Bunyan from Delilah: ...I have not even shown the letters to my folks and I'm sure they would come first. neither have I told them anything whatever. I guess I know you and your ways as much as any one need to, and am quite satisfied they will please me. Yet if you have the slightest doubt of my veracity or that you will in any way be as you say "cheated" you have only one thing to go, that is not to write or come any more. Remember I have not forbiden your writing or comming. I only want to be understood. It would be a struggle for me to abandon you even now however a forsaken lover is better than a deserted bride. Trusting you will not think me too frank, I'll close, Faithfully yours, Delilah.


On August 22, Bunyon wrote to Delilah: My Dearest trulove I'll answer your kind missive with out delay as I do appriciate a letter from you more than any one I ever writen to. no I'll assure you that you will never confuse me by writing such chearing letters. no they are never long enough. I could read your letters all day and thin think and dream of you all night..I reached home Sunday night and was not tackled by the Panther. but ohe how sleepy I did get. I got in at half after 1 oclock. Dear Miss Delilah, you knoe you said as for you setting the time it depended intirly upon me and my circumstances. Well I will say this. probably it will suit me better this fall than any other time for I dont see any use in puting it off. for I knoe I am true to you and would bee much happier with you to shear you a home and a good home. for I do put great confidence in what you say, for you have said a greateal more than the most of girls can say. and I do believe you will do just what you say. what you have said are great encouragement to me, you said if we were to live with old folks you could get redy by this fall, well that is with you. if you can put up with thim that will suit me very well, tho for my rathers I would rather we could keep house. tho the old folks say I must stay with thim that they cant do with out me. So we can try it one year...Ohe my Dearest you musent think I will kill my self at work. no I'll never do that for I am too lazy. Ohe yes I know how it is to have to depind on some one els. and If you are true to me you can depind on beeing indipindent in that respect. I knoe you are joking bout thoes ten years. for I know If I had to wait ten years it would kill me just to think ten long years. Why that would bee just throwing ten years of our happiest days away wouldn't it. It seams you have great confidence in me and I hope you will not bee decieved for I always try to do just what I say and I do believe the same of you...I showed Mah your last letter. I dident think you would care. She couldent say any thing a gainst you She says there is no use to put it of any longer than this fall. She thinks a greateal of you, but I think still more of the. It would bee quite a task for me to tell the Love I have...I have never seen the face that I thought half so much of as I do you and always have. will you believe me. do you remimber whin first we met I loved you thin and I love you yet, and will the longest day I live. tho whin first we met I were but quite a lad, but not too yong to love, tho my love were all in vain at that time. tho I guess I were to blaim or we sould of bin a happy two, sooner. So now let us love in our fairest youth, while love can find its fond return...Your Fond Lover.


Five days later Delilah wrote back:...I had much rather keep house, but did not know whether you had a house or not, tho I think can live with ? well satisfied, just know I can ? along with Mrs. Evans. she is one of the best women in the world and I love her very dearly, not only because she is your mother but because she always treated me with great respect... I have often been advised by friends, never to live in the house with no one, but I think it all depends on the disposition...I know by this time Mama has told Pa. you know a wife tells a husband all. I am indeed a happy girl now...Hoping to see you Sunday, I am Yours forever...


In an August 29th letter to Delilah, D.E. Averett seems to sense something: ...Why not come up here and stay a while? Are you just going off because I've come home? I believe it now. I didn't think you would do that. I had been thinking of coming down for you but I am afraid to come now. It seems to me that you might have planned a trip up to the "Sand Hills"...


On August 30 Eugene Thomas wrote Delilah...I no there is no use, but I do love you and dont think it any harm to tell you so and hope you will have the same thought...


On September 10 Delilah wrote to Bunyon: ...Last sunday our company left early and I had a long time for strolling. Hunted all the grapes, muscadines, wild plumes, ect. I could find. You have no idea whose name I engraved on a little Black gum just before I entered the Pasture? I wished for its owner to be there, but cant be with him every sunday. maybe so after the 13th of Nov.I can. I think that a very appropriate time...The next morning after you were here Emma came to me and said, "You all decided on the middle of Nov. last night didn't you?" I didn't know what, to say but finally accused her of eavedropping and knew tho that that was impossible for I would have heard her. She said no she actually dreamed it. Quite interested in our affairs to dream of them, don't you think?She is not altogether willing for me to leave them. I told her I could not stay always. she says but I can. I wont though, if nothing breakes the ties that exist between you and I. I assure you that nothing on my part will sever them. Pa has learned the circumstances...


Oct. 5: Letter from Delilah: ...O if I could only see you and arrange matters. I want my Papas consent before going too far. Of course its like I told you, he cant interfere any way. but I would like to know all circumstances before going to any expense.You know we only have a little over four weeks from now?..Every where I go I can hear I am going to get married. "Not so" is all I can say. Dr. Pitts tells me Mr. Dave Williams told him you annd I were going to get married in Nov. How he became so wise I cant determine...besides we will prove to the world shortly our intent wont we?...I dont remember the first time I met you, but guess it was in the school room. I know there is where I first recollect you and there too is where you won my esteem (also to boss). Had you known it then, we probably would have spent a number of happy days together otherwise spent in solitude. shortly after I learned you one of my fellows prevailed on me to accept his favors, tho I assured him he was not my first choice, yet I wanted a home and would share his if he could take me on these conditions which he frankly agreed to believing he could cultivate my regards for him. You wrote me after this happened and I could but be faithful to my vows.You know what happened? Mr. Bunyan came back to see me and I thought cared no more for me and I again agreed to accept the hand of an other one of my old fellows on the same conditions as before with the same result and I concluded not to marry if could not get the one I wanted. I rejected offer after offer until last spring when one night I was seated to reply to some ones letter (I told you who before now) and accept his propositions. As I sat there thinking how I would write Pa and Mr. Sam Cloud came in wet and Pa handed me a packedge of mail. it it was your first letter. That was a sleepless night, however I was a happy child. The other letter I never answered for over two weeks. since then my happiness increases with every letter or trip from you. and I believe my life will ever be thus if in your power to make it so. I am not going to marry you just merely to have a home or a husband but for pure happiness...Your true lover


In another undated third page of a letter from Delilah: ...I was engaged and, have always tried to be a girl of my word. and though I thought the more of you, I strove to be faithful to him who I had promised my hand. You know what happened? After that I thought you would come back and as you never, I decided you were only trying to flirt. For when one truely loves, it certainly is a struggle to conceal it. Then I knew the relations between you and a certain girl, and knew (in my own mind) that you would be faithful to each other. Tell me all. trust me as you once did. I will be true. Your letter came in time to save each of us (if you would call it saved) for I was in the act of giving myself to an other who is superior to you in the sight of many. still I have not that warm affection for him that I have for you and have had every since you were merely a pupil of mine at the Williams school house. Do you believe what I have said? Could say much more but probably you are already worn out of patience. Don't let any one see this. keep it a profound secret. Your friend, Delilah


Delilah wrote on October 7: ...the second Sunday if you come then, come in the morning and carry me home. Then you may tell my Papa that he will soon have an other son-in-law, so we may make all arrangements necessary...I send a measure of my finger. If you are going to get a ring, you will not object to my saying I'd much rather have one with a set than plain. I have no preference to the quality...Your true lover.


Bunyon wrote back on October 12: ..I guess you looked for me. I got your long looked for letter this morning. I had just decided you had found you a better fellow, as you know that would not bee hard to do. You cant emagine what all I did think...I had a letter to day from a cousin in Tenn. he is very anxious for me to come out there ona visit. says he will thin go with me to S.C. but I dont see hardly how I can go now. as you knoe the thirteenth isint long off, you must tell me whether to go or not, I'll bee there Sunday...wich I could see you to night is bin five long weaks sincw we were to geather. Seams to me like 25. I have a trip planed out and dont knoe whether to make it or not. you must tell me whether to go or not. tis to the fear at Atlanter Ga and from there to Jonesburo Tenn and thin to the old country S.C. dont you think thats two much trip. for I dont expect Ide ever get back to olde La, tho I expect twould bee best for you if I were to go and never come back. for you knoe Im a regular Spanter Cat and the hardest fellow you most ever seen to get along with. you might get a long with me very well but you will have to honey me up much for thats just what it takes to pleas me. I knoe you had a fine time on your visit and especialy with that old widerwer. looks like they are taking the day. Some times wish I were one. Good night...I count the time up till the 13th every 24 secons thats prety fast aint it. Your true lover. Good night.


Oct. 14: Letter from Delilah: My dearest Bunyan, Here I am again writing to my little fellow without seeing him as I expected sunday... I expected to have an exceptionally nice time it being the 13th only one month "you know." I was very very sad all day...I feel just like you think I have abandoned you but not so my dear friend. What I have said was said with firmness and I only look forward to the day when I shall prove it...Sometimes yesterday I'd think "Well I reckon Bunyan dosant think as much of me as he aught else he'd hunt for me." Again would say its been four weeks since he was to see me...Must close as have to cook supper and only five hands besides the family. You know I hate to wash the dishes as some of them are darkeys. Believe me as be 4, your true lover...have just finished washing dishes for these darkeys...If you was just here for about two hours to night how delighted I would be. you are not and I must content myself with the hope of seeing you soon, as ever (Last letter in file before marriage).


On October 29th, 1895, Bunyon purchased 160 acres of land from G.C. Lucky for $146.80. The property was located in Section 10, T13N, R6W, in Natchitoches Parish (N1/2 of SW 1/4, SW 1/4 of SW 1/4 and NW 1/4 of SE 1/4). This deed was later filed on November 16. That same day, November 16, 1895, Martin Bunyon Evans and Delilah Cloud applied for a marriage license in Natchitoches Parish. The Marriage License on file in Clerk's Office, Natchitoches Parish, is also signed by R.B. Cook, Dep. Clerk. They were married 4 days later.


From pages taken from old family Bible by J.O. Evans in 1962: Martin Bunyan Evans and Delethia Delilah Cloud married Nov 20th 1895 at the old Rushing place near Ashland La in Natchitoches Par La. Rev Fields officiated. (About 1 mile off present road where George Morgan--Homer's father--was reared.)


Mrs. Henereta Pogue (died 7/79) told Constance Evans that Bunyan and Delilah Cloud were married at the old Rushing Place between Creston and Ashland. They had a big dinner on the grounds as was customary then, but when wedding time came they discovered that Bunyan had forgotten the wedding license. Everybody waited while he rode on horse back to his home about 10-12 miles distant and returned. Earlier, before he was going with Delilah, his older brother Byron who was going with Fannie Gardner (whom he later married and who was the mother of Nena Montgomery and who died at Nena's birth), had introduced and gotten him to court Fannie's sister Belle Gardner. They planned to be married but then at the wedding Bunyan forgot the wedding license and they called the whole thing off.


(This story was retold to Bruce Evans in 7/79 by Constance Evans, but the part about Belle does not seem to be supported by the letters in the file.)


After their marriage Bunyan and Delilah lived with his parents, Mr. and Mrs. John Calhoun Evans at their place (later purchased by Dewey Williams). Their first daughter, Effie Esther, was born 10 months later on September 13, 1896, Sunday morning at 4 o'clock (as recorded in Family Bible). Sometimes later they built a house of their own near by "up the lane" from his parents' house.


Receipts from the LUCKY BROTHERS...Cotton Buyers in Bienville Parish, show that in December, 1897, two years after they were married, M.B. Evans was selling cotton. Four bales are recorded @ 4 and 3/4 cents/pound, averaging $23 per bale. 


In March of 1898, on Friday the 25th at 11 o'clock, their first son, Noah Otto, named after Delilah's father, was born on the 25th. Four months later Delilah received a certificate from the State of Louisiana, Parish of Natchitoches, authorizing her to teach the 3rd grade: The moral and intellectual qualifications of Mrs. Delila Evens as a Teacher of Yourh, having been established by testimonials and satisfactory examination She is hereby granted a certificate of 3re Grade valid for one year and Licensed to teach in the Public Schools of this Parish. In November of that year M.B. Evans paid property taxes in Natchitoches Parish, Ward 2, of $5.80--$1.80, State Tax; $3.00, Parish Tax; and $1.00, Poll Tax.


In August, 1899, M.B. Evans purchased 120 more acres of land in Section 13, T13N, R6W, (N1/2 of NW 1/4 and SW 1/4 of NW 1/4) from his brother John Byron for $180.00. The following month, on September 29, their daughter, Effie, died at 6 o'clock, age 3 years, 16 days, after only a few hours illness. The newspaper notice ended with this poem: Just as this sweet bloom began to unfold/It's petals, one by one/God took it home/To more beautifully blossom/in heavens sun. There kissed by the Zephyrs/Of God's own sphere/And nurtured by His tender care/What a perfect flower will it be up there. Oh! that the hearts so bleeding now/May feel that God's love is greater still/And in faithful submissions bow/To His unerring will. A Friend.


Just over a month lataer, on Wednesday, November 6, 1900, at 11o'clock, their second son, Hansford Herman Evans, was born. Otto was a year and a half old. Receipts show that the family was ordering from the Sears Roebuck and Company catalogue at this time.


The following year, 1901, M.B. received this letter dated January 16 from from A.G. Samee in Natchitoches: I take pleasure in informing you that the Register & Receiver this morning received notice from the Commissioner of the General Land Office at Washington that their decision in the case of Martin B. Evans vs. Cora E Flynt, involving the latters homestead entry No 7667 for the N 1/2 of SW1/4, Sec 22, T13N, R6W had been reversed and deciding the case in your favor...Apparently this case was clarifying a title on additional land he had purchased in Section 22.


In November of 1901 Delilah heard from her sister at Ruston, La.:...Well, Sis has Bunyan ever got you a buggy yet...How do you like your new home? Guess you made lots of nice syrup. Can Hansford walk or talk any yet....Tell Otto to come over and help me pick up hickory nuts... Ward 2 property taxes for 1901 and 1902 were $5.80.


Ruth Evans, their 2nd daughter and 4th child, was born Tuesday, March 17th, 1903, at 3 P.M. On the 25th of April, M.B. purchased the following land from Fannie Brown and Carrie T. Dorman: E1/2 of SW1/4; SW1/4 of SW1/4 of Sec 3, lying E of RR; N1/2 of NW1/4 in Sec 10; NE/NE E of RR in Sec 9 (Original deed in file, recorded February 8, 1904), for $1,059.00. That same year Tom Friday did a survey of the Evans property showing a total of 176.31 acres in Sections 3 and 10. 


In July, 1903, the year before he died, Bunyon's father writing to his sister in S.C. described his bad health and then added: ...I have been out to Bunyan's and stad sevrel days. We got your letter first and July the 20. Bunyan went to Nacatosh and got me some whisky. I am taking your home remedy. I think it is helping me some...Bunyon went (fishing) the other day and got good mess....Bunyan has not slde his timber yet. Johnson has offord him $2000...


In January of 1905 M.B. received a Tax notice for Ward 2 Natchitoches Parish for $19.27 due. 


Sidney Bucklew Evans, their fifth child, was born on May 26, Thursday at 1 P.M. On June 10 Mrs. M.B. Evans again heard from her sister in Shreveport: ...must congratulate you on your fine boy...if he is anything like Hansford, he'll do to talk about....How is Mr. Evans now? Poor old fellow, he has suffered so much until, I know, he is almost tired of life. A month after Sidney was born, Bunyon's father, John Calhoun Evans, died on June 29, and was buried in the Old Saline Cemetary.


In December of 1905 M.B. received this letter from La. & Ark. Railway in Hope, Arkansas:...Your letter of Nov. 22, just received. The price of the SE1/4 of NE1/4, Sec 21, T13, R6, is $2.85 per acre, equals to $114.00.The cash payment would amount to $28.50, the balance in three equal annual payments with interest at 6%. The N1/2 of the NE1/4 of the SE1/4 is also for sale at $2.85 per acre...It may be to your interest to secure the whole 60 acres at the present low price... On the 14th of December M.B. received the following handwritten letter from the Sheriff's Office, Parish of natchitoches...your tax for $28.09 for 1905 you are assessed with 416 acres of land. J.C. Evans taxes owe $11.08 for 1905. this is a mans assessment then is a poll to the assessment has 350 acres of land. J.W. Freeman, Sheriff


Sometime prior to this the M.B. Evans family had moved from the log house "up the lane" from his father to another log house about 2 miles Southwest in Section 15 (NW 1/4 of SW 1/4). On December 23, John Owen Evans, their fourth son and sixth child was born Saturday at 11 O'clock in this log cabin. He would later recall at age 76: The home had no conveniences, not even a water well. My mother carried water from a near by spring for home use. She did the washing down at the spring. She gave birth to six children with no help except neighbors and sometimes a country doctor. At the time of my birth my mother said to my father, "This is It." The meaning could have been many things, but with that touch of Indian Blood in her I am sure she meant what she said and I was the last child she gave birth to.


On June 28 of the following year, 1906, Bunyan wrote to Dear Ma & Neaner (his mother and niece, Byron's daughter): ...Every thing's getin on all right. wee are all well as could bee expectes Delilah and my self are both ailding to day. you knoe She has Rheumatism in her arm. She was up last night with the children and fell over the heater sprained her sholder...got my back rinched. cant get about hardly today..Ma you knoe the men you and Mr. Readhimer sold your timber to, they say they are going to put a mill in on your old place...you knoe you have till the last of Oct on your ticket dont rush you have plinty of time... (Apparently they were visiting in S.C.)


In February, 1907, Bunyan's mother, Mrs. F.L. Evans, sold 110 acres of land in Section 11 to W.R. Riggins for $700. The deed was witnessed by M.B. and J.B. Evans, her sons.


Clarence Thomas wrote to M.B. from Pritchete, Texas on June 8, 1907: Dear Cousin...sory to hear of Aunt Florence (M.B.'s mother) being in such bad health... On July 3, M.B. Evans purchased 120 acres of land for $300 from his brother J.B. Evans: E1/2 of NE1/4 and NW/SE, Sec. 14; T13N, R6W (Original deed in file). Also this summer, Byron agreed to a timber sale in Sections 15, 21, and 22, to W.P. Riggins and M.B. Evans for $15 per thousand. W.P. Riggins is to saw lumber for 4 houses free of charge and B. Evans is to build same and turn over to W.P. Riggins free of rent as long as said Riggins operates his Mill on above land, it being understood that when Riggins removes the Mill form said land the houses are to belong to B. Evans...Mill to be in operation by the 20th of October 1907.


Around 1908 Bunyon entered a partnership with Sam Thomas, his cousin and boyhood friend, for the purpose of sawing lumber. Records include a bill for lumber from the Bienville Lumber Company Manufacturers of All Kinds of Yellow Pine Lumber on August 3, 1908 to W.C. Thomas, Saline, totaling $188.93. Apparently this was purchased for a new home M.B. was having built about 2 miles north in Section 10. Youngest son, John Owen later recalled: The first thing I can remember real well was that in about the year of 1909 my father built a house, with the help of Mr. Sam Thomas, with whom he had gone in partnership with in a saw mill.


On April 9, 1909, Bunyon's mother, Florence Ficklin Evans, died. At this time she was living at Saline with her son, Byron, and his daughter, Nena. About this time M.B. also went into partnership with Glen Harper and built a store 1/8 mile north of the new house, on a spur of the L & NW Railroad, called Harper's Spur. Receipts are available from August 6, 1909, for purchases from the Saline Warehouse Co., Ltd.; also for a bank deposit in the Bank of Saline for $685.92. On September 7 they sold 12 bales of cotton to W.P. Lucky & Sons for $703.68 (12 cents per pound). Sometime later Bunyan bought our Mr. Harper's interest.


A 1909 record book is labeled on the first page: M. B. Evans and W.C. Thomas.

Beginning in April, charges are for labor, rent, washing, a coffin ($31.25), and groceries. For Hughes work on house, first weak 2 days, secon weak 4 1/2 days, etc. (total of 11 1/2 days, $11.50 or $1.00 per day.) Other workers included E.B. Harper, Wess Woods, M.B. Evans, all paid at $1/day. On another page is a loan to M.B.'s brother Byron of $88. Another is to Mrs. F.L. Evans, Bunyon's mother, dated May 1908, for $24.


Bunyon's mother's sister, Cornelia Thomas, wrote on December 31, 1909 from Pritchett, Tex. to Bunyan & Delilah: My dear ones...this is a butiful country come & see us...goods are cheeper here than there. Calico 3 to 5 cts. Jenie bought a nice suit of clothes for $4.98 worth 15 dollar...Cotton 151/2 cts....Well chilarin tell me what Santie Claws brought you. he brought me $2.00 some fruit & candy...your loving aunt, Neely.


M.B. Evans purchased, on December 7, 1910, 20 acres of land from W.M. Hughes for $150, in Sec 10, T13N, R6W (Original deed in file). The next information available is three years later when, in March of 1913, M.B. purchased oil and mineral rights in Caddo Parish two lots No.1516,156 for $60. We expect to start drilling in a very few days...and from present indications and the brilliant success made by all those drilling in our immediate vacinity we expect our first well to pay large dividens to its lot owners...The Mutual Oil & Gas Co.


In the following year, 1914, Bunyon borrowed $230 on an Insurance policy on Delilah Evans. Sometime during this period (no records are available) M.B. had tax difficulties and in order to protect his business, transferred title to family lands to the name of Delilah Evans. 1916 post cards from California were received from son, Hansford, who was visiting his Aunt Izora (Delilah's sister). A 1916 license was issued to Bunyan to pursue and follow the occupation of Gen-Mdse, from the Auditor's Office, State of Louisiana, Parish of Natchitoches. 


In February, 1919, M.B. Evans paid 1918 property taxes of $120.98 on 555 1/2 acres in Sections 13, 15, 21, and 22, including taxes for state, confederate veteran tax, good roads tax, poll tax, special road tax, and special school tax. The next available data is a 1924 letter from Bank of Saline: We are enclosing you the bank-ruptcy note of Otto's which you took up yesterday with check...During this year Hansford wrote from Chillicothe, MO, where he was attending Chillicothe Business College.


Sometime between 1925-30, M.B. and Delilah went to Hot Springs, Ark. for baths and treatments. Delilah wrote Byron's Aunt Nancy on August 9:...doctor founa a cataract on one of Bunyans eyes...I have nothing bad wrong but will take baths just the same. will stay 21 days. Sidney is paying all xpences. We are very proud of our children. they help us lots. one does not mind taking when you know they are able to afford it. Hot Springs is only 6 hr drive from our place and since we have the Button Contest on in our Sunday School we stoped on the way up here and attended S.S. so as not to miss. It looks like working for the prise more than just to learn more about the Bible...I was never at Hot Springs before but My Grandmother Cloud's parents (the Fulsomes) builded the first house in this place over 100 years ago. They came up here from La guided by an Indian. drove their stock thro and they rode in Ox wagons. when they had made pens to put their cows in the first nght wild buffalow came in the pen. and a little one was borned that night. they kept the little one and tamed it. The place has a history it is mostly made up with people who came here for health and just stayed to keep well...

In another letter to Nancy Peterson in South Carolina, perhaps 1926-7, Delilah wrote: Sure a fine day. some snow yet on ground and a white frost makes the sunshine brighter. Today is our election day. a busy one for us. everyone in the country will be out. several of the canidates have cars already running to bring those who have no cars. But dont we have some of the worst wrecks with cars? So many killed or crippled for life. I say whiskey and carelessness are the principal causes. What do you think? Not either of our Boys drink. neither do they use tobacco in any form not even a smoke. but they drive too fast.. But luckily have never had a bad reck. I call them down to 45 or 50 when I ride. that is fast enough for me. I must go now and keep store while Bunyan goes to the polls. he likes to stand around and talk for a few hours. I do too, so we go seperately...


In March, 1926, M.B. secured a Certificate of Mortgage on 176 acres of land. A Financial Statement dated January 15, 1927, on M.B. Evans, Dealer in General Merchandise, Country Produce A Speciality, Cotton Buyer, Saline, La. (Shipping Point, Harper's Spur) lists Assets of $42,400 and Liabilities of $18,023.56. Assets include: Bank of Saline Balance, $600; Merchandise at cost, $6,950; Accounts Receivable, $6,500; 550 acres of land, $10,000; Improvements on Farm, $4,000; Live Stock, $350; Framing Implements, $1,000; Automobiles, $450;108 bales cotton, Shreveport, La., $5,400; 123 bales cotton, N.O. La., $5,150; 20 bales cotton, Harper's Spur, La. $1,000. Liabilities: Money drawn on cotton, $4,667.56; Accounts payable, $1,850; Notes payable, $11,506. In October of this year his store burned. With the insurance money he built another store building nearer to their home--about 150 yards, which he operated until he died.


In 1929 M.B. bought stock in the Allied Drug Products Company ($28). In August, 1929, Delilah wrote to Nancy Peterson: ...I shall never forget the visit you and Uncle Baz made us...I enjoy the old remembrances, do you?...we lost heavy again this year on cotton, twice in succession have we lost at least 30 thousand. I look at it this way. we came with nothing and carry nothing as we leave so why worry and I dont....Owen had his tonsils removed last week not able to be out yet. I work in his stead. Yes we are grand parents. have 2 grand children...


In December, 1930, M.B wrote to his Aunt Nancy (Note: I copied these letters in South Carolina in possession of Nan Frick, in 1992):....Nothing good to tell you. only hard times and depression and hard luck. we have had the dryest year since 1896. My store burned on the night of Oct 2nd at 1 oclock. we were awakened by a blast. I first thought I had drimp. I lay there studying about my dream. finly I thought of my safe might have bin blown. I jumped up and looked out and the fire you can emagen how I felt. The store was 200 yards from the house....we got there and broke in a side room and got out $50 worth of groceries. we carid $6000 insurence. I consider the loss not over $1000. we collected every dollar. I am building back closets to house....I dont knoe what I would do without my boys. Especialy Sidney and Owen. Sidney quit the Payton Motor Co last spring. He worked there 8 years, Owen and his wife is off to Tex on a visit to Ruth and Jerry at Ft. Worth and then on to her mothers at Catulia....I wish you could see my two gransons (Bobby Gene and myself, then 6 months old!)....


A January, 1931, list of Accounts Receivable by the M.B. Evans Store includes the names of some 150 people owing from $1- $1,200. The M.B. Evans Tax Assesment for 1931-32: 550 acrs Land--90 acrs at $10 = $900; 460 acres at $3 =$1380; 1 horse 30; 2 cows 20; 2 yearlins 10; Merchendise 400; Store Building 300; Total: $2,940.00. In June, '31, Delilah wrote to Nancy, again of how hard the times are:....Bynyan complains with his back lots...merchants are so crippled in here that a cash business is the only way out...we run 2 stores now. the boys in Saline and ours out here. they are as one tho, and all are pulling togather to make a clean get-out-of-debt...


In 1932 Bunyan wrote Nancy: ...times is the hardest here that I have evern experienced...now I'll tell you all a bot my famely and how we are doing. I am on the farm. just rent my land out excep one old negro works my horse on haves and his wife washes and irons. she washes for several familys. Otto and his wife livs in house with us. Otto traficks and trades and helps the other boys some in the store at Saline. Sidney and Owen they work in the store all the time. After they got burnt out they put back a brick store. they cary about $3000 stock. Their sales run from 25-150 a day. my sales down here run from 5-30 per day...we had to quit the credit business, sell for a less profit and get what you make....I've got thousands of dolllars on the book will never get. Hansford runs a servis station in Saline...Ruth and her two boys are with us...I guess you read of or heard our govenor Huey P Long...the uprore they have had trying to impeach him...Huey P Long is the smartest man in La and one of the Smartest in the UNA. he never got a high school edgercation. he got his learning after a set man. you see hees being talked of for President...he is a poor mans friend...our oil industrey will come back. we have lots of good oil holdings. do you ever hear from Byron. I hardly ever hear from him. we havint bin to see them in over a year...your loving nephew, Bunyan


In March, Nena Montgomery also wrote to Nancy: ...Uncle Bunyans family are all doing very well. Dont tell them I told you but their daughter and her husband are seperated. She came home Xmas and brought her 2 babies. her husband was a regular flapper...he would not stay home. It is nothing new to get a divorce now days... Also in March, 1932, Delilah cashed in her insurance policy, paying off a loan of $1723 on the policy, and receiving $48.98.


Nena wrote to Nancy in July, 1933, about the Saline Watermelon Festival:...Last week was our annual Watermelon festival. we have one every year. This place is noted for its large watermelons. some weigh 100 lbs. 13,000 people came to festival. They cut 2 car loads of ice cold melons. We have a parade, watermelon queen and all kinds of floats. Our orchestra broodcasts over radio every year and people come from all surrounding states...It is hard times here too. The town is putting down an oil well 1/2 mile from town. hope they find oil. The Evans boys, my husband and 2 more men own a flowing oil well about 80 miles below here. it has never made expenses yet. oil is worth nothing. about 30 cents a barrel. We hope to get our money back out of it some day.... Delilah also wrote to her in December: ...our boys are puting down what we call a "Poor boy's well" on holdings in the Sabine field. they own lease on 100 acres and wells are producing all around them. they had good offers to sell out but decided to gamble on a well. true if it comes in we will be OK, but if a dry hole we will be that much more in debt...Bunyan is squirel hunting today so Im keeping store. He seldome gets off so today carried lunch and will spend the day in the woods. I sure hope he gets a mess for we seldom have any to eat. Bunyan is getting fat. weighs more than in years....


In January, 1934, Bunyan wrote to Nancy, now aged 86 (he is now 61):...I can realize that I am failing fast. I try to over cum that faeeling as much as I can. This depresion has hirt me phisically as much as financily...I am heavyly in debt but the houses I owe are paying their debts off at 10 to 25 cts in the dollar ...I owd the bank $4000. I have paid that down to $1100...I cant help but like old times and old time people...I have never bin with out a job. I knoe I would worey. you asked me somthing about Byron. I dont think any thing rong with him. he taken diner with us 3 or 4 yeaks ago. he seamed to be very chearful. he belives in this hunting old treasurs but I dont believe in it so he never says much to me on this line. I dont knoe whether he has any thing located or not but dont think anything to it. his family dont believe in it. so you see why he says they say he is crasy. he livs 60 mils from us so I see him once or twice a year. I always think his judgment bad on lots of things..


January, 1936, Delilah wrote to Nancy: ...the church gave a surprise program in my honor as having taught SS the longest number of years. They counted back, and back records said it had been 25 years. also gave me a beautiful boquet of flowers. I had never even thought how long I had taught....We visited Byron in Nov....Byron looks very well but Fannie is thin and has to keep a maid to help work. In February, 1936, M.B.leased mineral rights for $79 on 79 acres. That summer they sent a telegram to J.O. Evans from Mother and Dad...Have just climbed Pikes Peak, somewhat weary but gorgeous view fully worth it.


The following January, 1937, Delilah wrote Nancy after apparently receiving her picture: ...I dont believe you look a bit older than you did 32 years ago when you was in La. My but everything els has changed. this country was then covered with plenty origin timber. Now its practically all cut and another groth nearly ready for the market...I'm now 67 and Bunyan 65. Neither of us expect to see 90 birthdays. however, who can tell? We live moderately, eat pleanty wholesome food, sleep 9-10 hrs each day, and get plenty exercise from work....Xmas was very quiet with us. All of our children came during the day but only two ate dinner. A new Year has begun with new resolutions. A resolution made and broken is a farce so I'm not making any. I might break them. I will just do the best I can with the ability God gives me. His will shall be my will...there are lots of nice girls willing to work cheap. Owens wife keeps one. so does Ottos. They both have babies and need help, altho they each have all modern conveniences and send their laundry out. the more one has in a home the more work there is to do. We have run down financially but make a good living and can keep a car. The children put ligh and watter in for us with the Delco system several years ago...


Bunyan also wrote to her in July:...I have a hundard acrs in cultivation. I have 3 wrinters and one shear croper. I keep one good horse. our corn is in silk and tawsel. Some rosen ears, cotton boles 1/2 grown. My health is some better I think. I tole you I had my teeth removed last fall. havint had any made yet. dont think my gums is right yet...Delilah is holding up good. She is 68 and havint got a gray hear. My head is graying a little. She dont look to be over 50.


Bunyan's older brother Byron died in August, 1937. He wrote Nancy on September 2: ...I feel so lonesom. we had to put my only Brother a way last Sunday. Just two of us and one had to go. but that was gods will and should not grieve. but it seems like I cant help it. one great consolarion was he was a Christian. Byron past out on Friday night Aug. 20...I dident even knoe he was sick, had Brights Dezeas and Leakings of the hart...he leavs a wife and one boy at home, 2 married dauters. one of them stays with thim...I hope you are doing better. we are all well...I am about the soriest one in the bunch but I am still doing my work. I just arnt any good. I have cinus troubel in my head... my place will make 25 or 30 bales this year...Good by your loving nephiew, Bunyan. (Note: Byron was buried in Old Saline. Mrs. J.O. Evans recalled that at the funeral Bunyan wouldn't go in the church but stayed at the cemetary. She thought he was crying and didn't want to be seen in church.)


Delilah wrote Nancy again in December, 1937:...I would not take anything for Bunyan's improvement. he sleeps nights like a baby. I mean he can sleep from 7 to 7. I want say he does that, only he could if Id allow it. Ha ha...I hold up fine I think at my age (68 Nov 15) when I work about 3 hrs, If I can take a little rest, then go again, and so on all day...I crochet and read lots. made one bead spread since summer...


October, 1938: Bunyan wrote to Nancy (she was then 91):...my health had run down so this summer Sidney tole us if we would go up to Hot Springs for three weaks and take the baths he would pay the bill. So you see hes a good boy. but I paid some of it. the trip cost about 200. I was under the docters care all the time. My Dr. bill was $91. and believe me he did me lots of good. you knoe Ive had a kidney trouble for 40 years...they made 5 x rays and found I had only one kidney...said If I let him take it out I would bee a well man...I have gained 15 # since I was up there. I weigh 141# now...


In 1938, November, J.O. took his father, Bunyan to Hot Springs, Ark, for the kidney operation. A letter from Delilah:...I have nothing new to tell. a terible scandle out on Dr. J. and Lelia J. they say she dips snuff and has taken one too many dips...I know Papa it seems like a long time with you, but only hold your trust and be as patient as posible. When you are really well it will all seem like a dream and you will never regret having taken chances. first thing every one does when they enter the store is to ask about you... Lots of love, mother.


That December he wrote Nancy: ...I staid in St Johephine Hospitel Hot Springs 16 days. Stood my opperation fine. the Dr said the old kidney was as large as a foot ball...said it had bin dead at least 10 years. I have sufered with it for 40 years. isint that a big tale to tell...wonderful dont have to get up now at night. Ohe you cant emagine how proud I am that its all over. you knoe it takes nerve to get on the operating tabel while you are on foot...Owen staid up there all the time. he would come up to see me 2 or 3 thims every day. My Boys are all so good to me. They all helped me pay the bill. it all cost $500...Delilas health is good this winter. I wish you could see her. I tell her she looks like a girl yet, holding her own so well...


Two years later, in August, 1940, Bunyan wrote Nancy from Hot Springs:...we have an apartment and do our own houskeeping. Pay $8 per weak. nicly furnished. We are about 5 blocks from the bath houses. Just a nice walk. My wife tells the ladies shes 70 years old but they dont believe her, they want to knoe how she treats her self to bee so supel and look so young. I'm holding up fearly good. I think if every body could come here and take the baths each year they would live much longer....Ohe yes, I havn't tole you about the twins. Coker, Owens wife, has twin girls. fine healthy babys, 7# each, 3 weaks old. Just doing fine.


Martin Bunyan and Delilah Cloud Evans celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in November, 1945. They received the following letter from Overton Brooks, Congressman from the 4th District, in Washington: The years slip by and now I congratulate you upon your Golden Wedding Anniversary. Many years have elapsed since you were bride and groom - but they have been happy years. You have set an outstanding example of good citizenship and exemplary living which should be a pride to your entire community. I congratulate you...


Three years later, on a cold night in January with snow on the ground, Delilah died of a cerebral hemorrhage after returning from church. The article in the paper read: Jan. 26: Mrs. Delilah Cloud Evans died of a cerebral hemorrhage at her home near Saline, Monday morning, Jan. 26 having been stricken Sunday night, after returning from church. Funeral services were held Wednesday afternoon, January 28, at Magnolia Baptist Church, Saline, of which she was an active member. The pastor, Rev. L.R. Joyner, conducted the services and Rev. J.W. Buckner, Jonesboro, preached the sermon...Internment was in Old Saline Cemetery...Mrs. Evans, daughter of Noah Cloud, of Cloud's Crossing, near Creston, was born Nov. 15, 1869. She was married to M.B. Evans November 20, 1895, and has resided in Readhimer Community, near Saline, ever since. Mr. Evans has conducted a mercantile business about forty years, and is a leader in the community...Mrs. Evans was a devout Christian, a good neighbor, a kind friend, a devoted mother, and the whole community mourns her passing. (Her death certificate, signed by L.M. Joyner, lists cause of death as stroak apoplexy.


After Delilah's death Bunyan continued to live in the family home where they had lived for 39 years and to operate the store. He paid $10 for his Occupational License as a Retail Dealer in Natchitoches Parish, State of Louisiana, In January, 1951. In July, 1951, he again returned to Hot Springs for the baths. He wrote to Sidney: ...I think I have gotten all I am going to get here. The doctor said I could take the vitamin shots at home if I could get someone to give them to me. I think I have got all out of the baths I will get and my plans are to come home Sunday. I would rather go home a while anyway. This kind of life is getting old. I have a partner here with me, and he is just as sick of it as I am...


Even so, he returned to Hot Springs in the Fall. After returning home, he died. Mrs. J.O. Evans described his death:...Mr. Evans returned from Hot Springs Sunday. Spent an unusually pleasant day Tues, Oct.16. Had a good supper, hot bath and retired. He called Ruth in about 30 minutes. She called Owen. He knew him and talked some to him. Dr. said he had heart block - died about 8:45 P.M. Mr. and Mrs. Tom Babers were there. He had something like convulsions but suffered only when the attacks came. Told Owen goodbye. Mr. Babers and I were holding his hands. Otto and Dr. Brown got there after he had already passed on. (His death certificate, signed by J.W. Brown, lists cause of death as coronary thrombosis. This patient was dead when I reached him.)


The newspaper article noted: Oct. 16: Martin Bunyan Evans, age 80 years, died after a short illness at his home near Saline. Funeral services were held Wednesday afternoon from the Magnolia Baptist Church at Saline with the Pastor, Rev. Homer Burr officiating ...Burial was in the Old Saline Cemetery...Mr. Evans's parents pioneered here from South Carolina. He was born Feb. 24th, 1872 and lived near Saline all of his life, having been a merchant here for the past 45 years. He was an active member of Magnolia Baptist Church of Saline. He and Delilah Cloud were married November 20th, 1895. They celebrated their Golden Wedding Anniversary six years ago. She preceded him in death Jan. 26, 1848. Surviving are one daughter, Mrs. Ruth Palmer, Saline, four sons, N.O. Evans, Campti, H.H. Evans, Shreveport, S.B. Evans, Converse, and J.O. Evans, Saline, 12 grand children and three nieces.


Mrs. J.O. Evans recalled the following incidents about Bunyan and Delilah in 1988: At Byron's funeral (his brother) at Old Saline, M.B. stayed at the grave digging and would not come into the church. She speculated that he was too emotional and couldn't stand it. She also remembered Delilah describing Bunyan: He was stingy; he wouldn't have much to do with the kids. I've seen him sit there on the porch, watch them fall off and not do a thing. He would make me so mad. Delilah described further that when she wanted something, he would want the opposite. If I wanted the garden in one place, he would want it in another. When he'd come in when it was time to start the garden I'd think 'He's gonna ask me where do I want it? Wherever I say, he'll put it in the other place, so I just tell him the place I don't want it ("reverse psychology," it would later be called).


She also recalled Delilah telling her about chiding Bunyan for not going to church regularly and helping with the church work. Bunyan reportedly said he was already taking care of the widows by letting them charge in his store, to which Delilah replied: No, you are not helping them; they are just stealing from you.


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