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Governor John Gary EVANS

by William Coxe, © Dec 2003

EVANS, John Gary
(1863 - 1942)

John Gary Evans, born October 15, 1863 in Cokesbury, SC, was the son of Gen. Nathan George Evans and Anne Victoria Gary, the grandson of Hon. Thomas Evans and Jane Beverly Daniel, the great-grandson of Gen. Nathan Evans II and Edith Godbold, and the great-great grandson of Nathan Evans I and Ruth James of Marion County, South Carolina.

Today he is remembered for shaping South Carolina history in a way that very few others have. He graduated from Union College in New York and became an attorney, practicing in Aiken. John Gary Evans was elected Governor of South Carolina in 1894 at the age of 31, thus becoming the youngest ever to be elected to the office.

As Governor, he presided over and directed the 1895 Constitutional Convention. Evans supported women's suffrage, worked to improve education in the state, sought legislation to improve working conditions in mills and factories, and opened what is now the University of South Carolina to women. Today he is credited with bringing South Carolina into the 20th century.

Major Evans also served in the United States Army during the Spanish-American War, best known for his accomplishments in establishing a democratic government in Cuba. John Gary Evans died in Spartanburg, South Carolina in 1942.

     This is an often repeated story attributed to John Gary Evans describing his first meeting with Emily Mansfield Plume, who was to become his wife.

     As a young man visiting New York City on a Sunday morning, he sought out an Episcopal Church. Arriving early, he did not wait to be seated but seeing a number of good pews available, he seated himself. As the church filled a gentleman accompanied by his wife and daughter were seated in the same pew and appeared to be annoyed to find John Gary Evans there. After becoming settled the gentleman penned a note saying "I pay $10,000 a year for the privilege of sitting in this pew" and passed the note to John Gary Evans. With out a moments hesitation John Gary wrote " You pay too damned much" and returned the note.

     They were married within the year.

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