Samuel Evans, 5th Pennsylvania Reserves

Samuel Evans

Capt. Samuel Evans, now one of the venerable residents of Columbia, has long been one of the best known citizens of Lancaster county, where he is looked upon as the most reliable authority in matters pertaining to local history. His efforts in gathering and preserving data of interest and consequence have been both laborious and successful–all the more so that he has ever aimed at accuracy in every particular, a fact which invests his articles with especial value. Capt. Evans was born Jan. 20, 1823, near Marietta, this county, in the stone mansion on what is now Col. James Duffy”s park farm.

Major Samuel Evans, his grandfather, was born near Landenburg, Chester Co., Pa., of Welsh and Irish extraction, and became a man of importance in his time and place. He was captain of the 8th Company, in the Chester, County Battalion, commanded by his father, Col. Evan Evans, and he participated in the battles of Trenton, Princeton and Brandywine. He was mustered out of the service holding the rank of major, having been but twenty-one years old when given that rank. He was one of the judges of the Chester court, and served several years as a member of the State Legislature. Major Evans married Frances Lowrey, youngest child of Col. Alexander and Ann Lowrey, the former of whom owned and lived upon the present Duffy farm. Mrs. Lowrey was of English extraction.

Alexander Lowrey Evans, father of Capt. Samuel, was given advantages for education such as but few voting men of his day received. He was a college graduate, and became a fine classical scholar. Possessed of rare abilities, he displayed in his writings literary attainments of a high order. Like his father, he had a taste for military life, but had no opportunity for seeing active service. He was an ardent Federalist, but he never sought political honors. His death occurred in July, 1839. In 1822 he married Hannah Slaymaker, youngest daughter of Hon. Amos and Isabella (Fleming) Slaymaker, of Salisbury, the former of whom was an ensign in the Revolutionary war, and a member of Congress in 1811 and 18l2. Mr. Slaymaker was a charter member and one of the promoters of the Philadelphia and Lancaster turnpike, which was built in 1792, and which was one the first built in the country. He was also one of the proprietors of the Philadelphia and Pittsburg stage line, which was established in 1800. Mrs. Slaymaker”s father, James Fleming, who was of Scotch-Irish extraction, inherited the military ardor of his race, and served in Capt. David Buyer”s company; he was at the battle of Long Island.

Capt. Samuel Evans remained at the place of his birth until he was fifteen years old, and during his boyhood attended regularly the best schools of the neighborhood. In April, 1838, he was apprenticed to Israel Cooper, a Quaker, one of the prominent builders of Columbia, with whom he remained six years. For one year after reaching his majority he continued in that locality, and then for eighteen months he followed his trade successively in New York, Pittsburg, St. Louis and New Orleans. Returning to Columbia, he engaged in building there and in Lancaster, and also followed the lumber business along the river.

Although his business received the attention its successful conduct required, it was hardly to be expected that a man of Capt. Evans” active and progressive disposition should be satisfied with only a commercial outlet for his intelligence and energy. He early took an active part in the political affairs of his locality, attaching himself to the Whig party, in time becoming an agressive advocate of antislavery principles. He was a liberal and welcome contributor to the editorial and local columns of the newspapers of his party, and he showed himself apt at giving and parrying the blows which were so freely exchanged at a time when party feeling ran high. He always attended the primaries, and frequently represented his District in the county conventions, where he took a prominent part in framing the platforms of his party. In 1856 he had the honor of being a delegate to the Republican State Convention held at Philadelphia.

In 1853 Capt. Evans was elected a justice of the peace for the lower ward of Columbia, and in 1857 was nominated by the Republicans for clerk of the Court of Quarter Sessions, and Oyer and Terminer, and was elected. During his term, though the business in court was quite large, there was not a single adjourned court of Quarter Sessions. In the spring of 1861 he returned to Columbia, and was again elected a justice of the peace of the lower ward.

When Sumter was fired upon, and a company of volunteers was raised in Columbia by Col. Fisher, Mr. Evans enrolled himself as a private, and marched with the organization to Camp Curtin, about May 1, 1861. He was appointed orderly sergeant of Company, K, 5th Regiment, Pennsylvania Reserves, and on June 21, 1861, was promoted to a second lieutenancy. On the following day he marched with his regiment to Cumberland, Md., via Hopewell and Bedford, part of the way by rail. From Cumberland the regiment proceeded to New Creek, and made a forced march by night from the latter place to Ridgeville, a distance of ten miles, to relieve Col. Kane. From West Virginia the regiment returned to Harrisburg, thence to Washington and Tennallytown, about Aug. 20, 1861. From there they marched to Camp Pierpont, south of the Potomac, on the Drainesville turnpike. On Oct. 1, 1861, Samuel Evans was appointed quartermaster of the regiment, with the rank of first lieutenant, and was given charge of the brigade quartermaster”s department for some months, and was also assigned as assistant commissary of subsistence of the brigade and division, which responsible position he held for a year or more.

At Culpeper he was appointed on Gen. Warren”s staff, and was assigned to the duty of issuing commissary supplies to detached troops at Warren”s and Grant”s headquarters, to the destitute, to loyal citizens, and to contrabands who followed in the wake of the army. He also had charge of the cattle of the 5th Corps, numbering a thousand head, and during battle issued fresh beef to the soldiers, and supplied the wounded in the hospitals on the battlefield. On May 11, 1864, at the battle of Todd”s Tavern, he issued twenty thousand rations to the wounded. When this battle was pending he was ordered to issue fresh beef to some of the troops at the front. A detail of men was sent from the intrenchments, a hundred yards away, to take the beef and divide it. They were compelled to crawl along the ground, and could neither go back nor forward. Those in the intrenchments were compelled to lie down, and the beef of several cattle had to be abandoned. During his three years as a soldier Capt. Evans was not absent from a single battle in which the troops to which he was attached were engaged; this included Drainesville, the seven days fighting on the Peninsula, Fredericksburg, South Mountain, Antietam and the Wilderness. While not seeking danger, he always obeyed the orders of his superiors, and never required a subordinate to do an onerous or responsible duty while a battle was pending, but went himself and saw that his orders were executed. For meritorious conduct in the Wilderness campaign President Johnson commissioned him a brevet captain. With his regiment he returned to Harrisburg, and was mustered out of the service in July, 1864. In addition to his own service to his country, Capt. Evans and his wife each sent a substitute to the army, both of whom remained until the close of the war.

In 1866 the Captain was again elected justice of the peace in Columbia, and he was re-elected to the office in 1872, 1877, 1884, 1889 and 1894, continuing to serve until 1900, since when he has been a notary public. In political affairs his interest is as keen as ever, but with advancing years he has been less active and more inclined to conservatism, though he has remained a stanch Republican. Capt. Evans is a member of Col. Welsh Post, No. 118, G. A. R., Department of Pennsylvania, and also affiliates with the following societies: Colonial Society, Sons of the Revolution, Scotch-Irish Society, Maryland Historical Society (corresponding member, with headquarters at Baltimore), Harford County (Md.) Historical Society, Virginia Historical S6ciety, and, Lancaster Historical Society, of which latter he is vice-president.

Industry and good management in his earlier years brought Capt. Evans a well deserved competency, in the expenditure of which he and his family have shown both judgment and common sense, as well as a keen appreciation of what is best in life. In 1852 the Captain married Miss Elizabeth Anderson, who died in the summer of 1855. In 1857 he was married to Miss Mary Shoch, a lady of German and Scotch-Irish stock. Mrs. Evans taught school for a number of years, and has always taken a deep interest in literary subjects and matters of education generally. She is highly cultured, and is the author of many poetical writings of high merit. Like her husband, she has a decidedly progressive disposition, and both occupy a high place among the citizens of Columbia. Mr. and Mrs. Evans have but one surviving child, Miss Lilian Slaymaker Evans, who was born in Columbia, and now resides with her parents. She belongs to and takes a deep interest in the Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution. She was the first member of the Society from Pennsylvania, and stands No. 41 in the roll, which now contains forty thousand names. She organized the chapter of Donegal, and was its first regent, as she was of Witness Tree Chapter, which she also organized. At the first meeting of the Continental Congress of the Society, which was held in Washington, D. C., Feb. 22, 1892, she was the youngest regent present. As ex-officio regent Miss Evans has attended nearly all the meetings of the Continental Congress of the Society. She is also a member of the Society of Colonial Dames, and takes a deep interest in its meetings and projects. She is proud, as well she may be, of her Scotch-Irish lineage, and is a member of the National Scotch-Irish Society.1

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Currently a resident of Burke, Virginia - I'm originally from the City of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. I have been a student of the Pennsylvania Reserves since 1997 and thoroughly enjoy telling their story. By trade I'm a former IT Professional but presently working as a Letter Carrier for the United States Postal Service.

  1. Biographical Annals of Lancaster County, 1903, Beers, pp. 8-10.