Descendants of James Evans of Wales

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Generation #1

James Evans of Wales

Research Notes: 

From the History of Luzerne County PA, we learn that two brothers, James and John, immigrated to Briar Creek in the late 1700s. From the History of Columbia and Montour Counties PA, we learn that "James Evans, a millwright" settled in Berwick by 1786. Do the math. James Evans b. 1769 would have been 17. James would have been just a little young to ramrod an extended family through the wilderness and be a trained millwright. Therefore, the aforementioned James and John immigrated in the company of their progenitor, also a James Evans.

From the Historical and Biographical Annals of Columbia and Montour Counties, Pennsylvania we learn that James Evans came from Bethlehem PA [Northampton Co PA] to Evansville, Columbia county. . . .

James Evans was born in about 1730, reportedly in Wales. And, the Evans family were originally Welsh Quakers. In about 1760, the family immigrated to Philadelphia. From there, they migrated north up the Bethlehem Pike and settled in Bucks (now Northampton) Co PA. And from biographical notes for his grandchildren, we learn that the Evans family settled in Bethlehem PA.

The old western frontier had been the Susquehanna River; as the Lebanon Colony was the earliest settlement, established in 1711. But with the onset of Dunmore's War (1774) and the Revolution (1776), the western barrier of the Susquehanna was breached. But, there was no infrastructure: no roads. Special consideration needs to be paid to the arduous journey; as the extended family migrated to the western frontier. In fact, the road from the Delaware at Easton to the Susquehanna would not be opened until the next year (1787).

The first indications of settlement and improvement in Briarcreek township became apparent about this time. A number of families removed from mount Bethel, Northampton county, near the Delaware river. Among the number appear the familiar names of Freas, Bowman, Hutton, Rittenhouse, Cauley and Mack. They emigrated in a body and entered the region in 1793, journeying by way of Bethlehem, Nazareth and Beaver Meadows. Mutual assistance was rendered in the work of clearing the land and providing temporary shelter. The tract upon which John Freas located comprised farms now owned by Levi Garret and Henry Bower. On the land of the former a rude log cabin was built, the main room of which was used as a dwelling and an addition as a stable. (p. 193)

    "Historical and Biographical Annals of Columbia and Montour Counties, Pennsylvania" <http://books.google.com/books> 23 November 2014.

By 1786, the extended Evans family migrated north and west from the Delaware River Valley to the Susquehanna River Valley.

In 1786 Evan Owen built the next [log cabin] on the site of the St. Charles hotel. Samuel Jackson, his relative by marriage, located on the opposite corner. Josiah Jackson was a hatter by trade, and conducted his business on Front street below Market. James Evans, a millwright by occupation, became the next resident. John Smith and Henry Traugh complete the number of those who arrived at Berwick about 1786. (p. 192)

    "Historical and Biographical Annals of Columbia and Montour Counties, Pennsylvania," 1887 <http://books.google.com/books> 23 November 2014.

Today, we can not fathom the many difficulties the family would have encountered during their journey from the Delaware to the Susquehanna. The family's route would have taken them west and north up the Lehigh River and through the gap above what is now Lehighton. From the river, they would have moved northwest through virgin territory to the Susquehanna. And, portions of their route would be improved in 1878 and named Owen's Road.

At the Nescopeck Rapids, they "reached Catawissa with no adventures other than those usually incident to the overland journey, but were compelled to transport themselves and their goods from that point to their destination in canoes, and this occasioned no little inconvenience and delay." So, difficult terrain--swamps, mountains, rivers--bad weather, and Indian attacks were considered matter-of-fact when our ancestors pushed west.

Having arrived hale and hearty and having built their first home, instead of going straight to farming--everyone did some level of subsistence farming--James Evans, the millwright, constructed a mill on Briar Creek, north of Berwick, in Northumberland (now Columbia) Co PA. And, the area surrounding the mill would be known as Evansville for about 100 years.

The Town of Berwick was laid out prior to James' arrival. And, that's where James built his first home. Although there are no specific land records, in the many biographical sketches of his descendants, James Sr. is cited as possessing a considerable amount of land on Briar Creek. In fact, Evansville was built on his land. Reasonable conjecture leads to the belief that the older boys moved off in turn to build their own homes for their households, leaving James, Sr. and young James at the family homestead.

Other than the biographical sketches for his many descendants which mention the progenitor as James Evans, millwright, there are no records specific to this James. Analyzing the 1790 census for Northumberland Co PA, there is one James Evans over the age of 18 in his own household. Additionally, the households of both Joseph and Nathaniel Evans have three male adults in the household. Reasonable conjecture leads to the belief that the singular adult James Evans is this James b. c. 1730. And, James, the son, was living in the household of one of his brothers prior to his marriage in 1793.

James died sometime after 1790 in Briar Creek TWP, Northumberland Co PA. But, his place of burial is not known.

Males Born
After
# Evans Females # Evans
18+   1 James

All

3 Spouse
Unknown
Unknown
17- 1778 1 Unknown

    Children

Research Note: The names provided below are found in the 1790 Northumberland Co PA Census and other sources. As this James' family was the only Evans family in Northumberland Co before 1790, it is reasonable to attribute these persons to James' family. And, order of birth is based on ages and numbers of dependents found in the 1790 census.

    1. Husband of Barbara Evans

    2. Frederick Evans

    3. Joseph Evans

    4. Nathaniel Evans. 

    5. John Evans

Benjamin Evans, miller and justice of the peace, Nescopeck, was born in Briar Creek township, Columbia Co., Pa., July 14, 1820, a son of David and Nancy (Bonham) Evans. His paternal grandfather, John Evans, a Welsh Quaker, together with his brother James, they being both millwrights by trade, came from near Philadelphia to this county, becoming pioneers of the vicinity of Berwick, and erected several mills for a wealthy man named Rittenhouse.

John Evans married Martha Thomas, a sister of Mrs. Nathan Beach (whose maiden name was Susan Thomas), one of the first settlers of Salem township, and for whose husband John Evans erected mills at Beach Haven and Huntington [Creek]. He finally settled in Canada, where he also built mills, and died there. His children were David, Thomas [died in Canada], Josiah and Barbara (Mrs. Mark Mendenhall).

The eldest son, David, was supposed to have been born in Salem township, this county, in 1790. In 1838 he purchased the mill property now operated by our subject, and died there in 1875. His wife was a daughter of Benjamin and Elizabeth (Lowry) Bonham, of Union township, this county, and by her he had four children: Benjamin, Josiah, Martha A. (Mrs. James Focht), and Mary. (pp. 877-78)

    "Benjamin Evans," History of Luzerne County Pennsylvania, 1893" <https://archive.org/details/historyofluzerne00brad> 26 November 2014.

    6. James Evans b. 4/9/1769 Northampton Co PA

Generation #2

Caveat

This site is provided for reference only. Except where specifically cited, information contained is conjecture and should not be considered as fact.
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