Evans, Nixon Family - Clark County IL
(Probably published in the Clark County (IL) Democrat before 27 October 1904 when Nixon Evans died.)
Nixon Evans was born December 27, 1814, Orange County, Ind., and is thus near in the close of his 89th year. He was the 11th child of a family of sixteen children. His parents moved to Illinois in 1816 and settled on a farm near York which is now owned and occupied by John S. Bradbury. Mr. Evans has thus lived in one community for more than 86 years and witnessed the scenes that have taken place in the transformation of a wilderness into a land of beautiful homes where peace and plenty reign. When Mr. Evans was a youth, there were many wolves and other wild animals in this country and bands of Indians often frequented the White settlements. The holw of the wolf was a common noise at night, and the farmers had to build stockades in which to keep their stock at night. Mr. Evans remembers seeing Indian squaws come to the village of York to trade. The squaws always carried their babes or pappooses strapped to boards and when they reached the store, they would stand the boards against the outside wall of the building while they went inside to trade. A row of pappooses presented an odd sight, one he has never forgotten.
Mr. Evans endured all hardships incident to pioneer life. He now says that he can hardly understand how his father managed to care for his large family. The senior Evans was twice married and was the father of twenty-five children, sixteen by his first wife and nine by the second one. How the father provided for the children and how the mother made clothing and cooked food for so many, is a problem that will puzzle parents of today. The family had nothing in the shape of a stove and all the cooking had to be done by the fire place, yet good and wholesome food was provided for all. To provide clothing, the loom and spinning wheel had to be kept going almost the year round. To provide shoes for so many feet was more than the father could do and Uncle Nixon says he never had a pair of shoes until he was old enough to hire out and earn money to buy the shoes. He wore neither hat nor shoes except in winter.
In those days all the sugar the family had was what they made at the sugar ?. The wheat was harvested with a sicle and cleaned by shaking it ? after it had been flailed or tramped out of the straw by horses.
When Mr. Evans was a youth, there was no free public schools. Short subscription schools were taught, but these he had no opportunity to attend but little. He taught one term of school of three months in a cabin on the Martin Willard farm in Melrose township. The only subjects he taught were reading, spelling, writing, and arithmetic, but he was quite successful. Along in the thirties he worked for Col. W. B. Archer. The Col. had a good library and Mr. Evans spent his spare moments reading and studying the good books of this library, and the hours thus spent were among the happiest and most profitable of his lfie.
Mr. Evans was married to Miss Minerva Bartlett in 1837. He then entered the land where he now resides in Melrose township. He first built a small cabin in the woods and then set about to clear his land. He worked hard all the week and preached on Sunday. When he had no work at home, he would hire out and many a day he worked for 25 cents. he continued his industrious and frugal habits until old age came upon hime, yet while he was yet vigorous, he had amassed sufficient of this world's goods to enable him to pass his old age in comfort and ease. In addition to farming, he ran a sawmill during the winter for 35 years, his mill being one among the first operated in the southern part of the county.
Mr. Evans' first wife died in 1853, and he married a second time to Clarissa Hungerford of Darwin who still lives to care for and comfort him in his declining years. By his first marriage he was the father of six children of whom only two, Iradel of Melrose and Warren B. of West York, are living. The fruits of his second marriage were six children of whom the following are living: Mrs. Minerva Fowler of Melrose township, Mrs. Julia Hagar of Crawford county, Mrs. Eliza Green of Linton, Ind., and Clarence who resides at home. Rev. Charles Evans, who was well known to many Democrat readers.
Mr. Evans joined the M. E. church early in life and soon after, in 1836, he became a local preacher. His home was used as a place of worship before any church had been erected in the community. It was due, in a measure, to his efforts that Plymouth church was erected. He has always been a liberal contritutor to the church and Sunday School and for half century he devoted much of his time to preaching, delivering during that time more than three thousand sermons. His services were often sought at weddings and he can recall scores of couples he made man and wife. He has also officiated at many funerals.
Today Uncle Nixon, as he has long been affectionately called by his many friends, stands as a typical representative of the pioneer preacher and citizen. He is nearing the close of a long and active life, and when his summmons comes, it can be truthfully said of him "He has fought a good fight."
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