Person:John Evans

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John Evans

 Early Settler


•  In 1819, Caleb Brown bought land from his father. But he also bought some land from a North Carolina land speculator named John Evans. Caleb died about the same time cotton prices dropped dramatically. He had no heirs and so his father tried to free himself from the land deal with John Evans. Things got ugly. "John Brown struggled to get out of the land deal he had made with John Evans who evidently pressured him into signing a contract that would have Brown pay far more than the agreed upon price. John Evans lured Brown into buying property by pretending to be a Methodist minister and convincing him that they were of the same mind. Under Evans' sale, Brown would pay a total of $38,400 or $60 an acre, at a time when land and cotton prices were at rock bottom due to the recession. Incredibly, it was Evans' dream that a town named Evansburg would be erected in the area that would become an everlasting tribute to him. John Evans had John Brown arrested, and Brown brought a suit against Evans for fraud. Evans promised clear title on property that would never be his to sell. He then had an imposter pose as another investor in order to convince Brown to enter into the deal with him. The details of the transaction were complicated and convoluted, but in the end, Brown was successful in his bid to have his initial payment returned to him, although it would take many years to finally settle Evans' debt to him." - Early Settlement

•  Sherrod covers the conflict between John Brown and John Evans with further details and from a different angle. - Sherrod

•  Lanman starts his story about John Evans this way: "The vicinity of Huntsville, although rich in many more important things, is especially rich in odd characters, and one of my particular favorites of this genus is old John Evans, who must now make his bow to the public. He was born a vagabond, bred an overseer, and leads the life of a wayward and wandering hunter and fisherman. He is a middle-aged man, lank and brawny, amiable to the last degree, and a natural naturalist. It is said that he has made and been worth his fifty thousand dollars, but he sold himself to the Mephistopheles of Monongahela, and now lives in a log-cabin on the banks of the Tennessee, the poorest and most independent man in his county." And then he tells specifics on Evans' oddness. - Lanman

Related Links:
•  Early Settlement - A History of Early Settlement: Madison County Before Statehood,1808-1819, published by The Huntsville-Madison County Historical Society, © 2008, pp. 100-2.

•  Lanman - "Lanman's View of Huntsville in 1850's, With an Introduction by Nancy Rohr" The Huntsville Historical Review, Volume 20, #1, Jan-93, by Huntsville-Madison County Historical Society, pp. 15-17
•  Sherrod - Article titled "Planters in the Making: The Brown Family's Alabama Years" by Ricky L. Sherrod, The Huntsville Historical Review, Volume 34, #1, Winter-Spring 2009, by Huntsville-Madison County Historical Society, pp. 46-50.

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