Evans, William F. (1799–1865)

By: Jennifer Eckel

Type: Biography

Published: June 6, 2008

Updated: February 2, 2020

Dr. William F. Evans, physician and Texas state representative, was born on April 15, 1799, in Davidson County, Tennessee, son of Joseph and Margaret Evans. William married Nancy W. Davidson on October 8, 1822. The couple had fourteen children. Their daughter Martha Melissa Evans married Edward Clark, who later served as governor in 1861.

Evans and his family moved to Texas from Tennessee in 1842; he was the first doctor to settle in Marshall in Harrison County. In addition to practicing medicine, Evans established a drugstore and grocery business with Edward B. Griggs and Hobart Key. In 1850 Evans had $7,000 in real property and owned twenty-six slaves. He appears to have turned over the business to Gregg and Key in 1852. Evans served in the Texas House of Representatives in 1851. In 1853 he led a group of Harrison County citizens who obtained a charter for the Marshall Railroad Company, though the railroad was never constructed. Dr. Evans was a charter member of the Marshall Baptist Church and the Marshall Masonic Lodge where he was a master. In 1860 Evans owned $15,000 in real estate and $45,000 in personal property, which included thirty-nine enslaved people. One of those held in slavery was Ellen Payne who was interviewed by the Texas Writers’ Project for the Work Projects Administration’s Slave Narrative Project.

William Evans died suddenly in his home on November 7, 1865. Soon after, his family received his appointment as tax commissioner for the state of Texas signed by President Andrew Johnson and scheduled to begin on November 30, 1865.

Randolph B. Campbell, A Southern Community in Crisis; Harrison County, Texas, 1850–1880 (Austin: Texas State Historical Association, 1983). William F. Evans Papers, 1815-1856, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin. Ellen Payne, Federal Writers' Project: Slave Narrative Project, Vol. 16, Texas, Part 3, Lewis-Ryles, 1936, Library of Congress, (https://www.loc.gov/resource/mesn.163/), accessed November 18, 2019. George Plunkett [Mrs. S. C.] Red, The Medicine Man in Texas (Houston: 1930). 

  • Fourth Legislature (1851-1853)
  • House

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Jennifer Eckel, “Evans, William F.,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed June 28, 2022, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/evans-william-f.

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

June 6, 2008
February 2, 2020