Christopher Evans (outlaw)

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For other people of the same name, see Christopher Evans.
Christopher "Chris" Evans
Born February 19, 1847
Bells Corners near Ottawa, Canada
Died February 9, 1917 (aged c. 70)
Portland, Oregon, USA
Resting place
Mount Calvary Cemetery in Portland, Oregon
Residence

Visalia, California
Folsom State Prison

Portland, Oregon
Occupation

Farmer and teamster

American outlaw, incarcerated at Folsom State Prison; partner of John Sontag
Spouse(s) Mary Jane "Molly" Byrd Evans (married 1874-1917, his death)
Children

Son Elmer (died in childhood)

Daughters Eva, Ynez, Winifred Evans

Christopher "Chris" Evans (1847–1917), a native of Bells Corners near Ottawa, Canada, was an American farmer and teamster turned outlaw.

Evans was accused of robbing the Southern Pacific Railroad in California between 1889 and 1892. After killing a member of a posse outside his home on the outskirts of Visalia, he fled to the Sierra Nevada mountains with his younger partner, John Sontag. While Evans and Sontag hid out, writers Ambrose Bierce and Joaquin Miller championed their cause in the San Francisco Examiner. The outlaws evaded capture for ten months. They had a shootout with a posse at the Young cabin which resulted in the death of Wilson, the posse leader, and McGinnis, a former friend of Chris Evans. Later, John Sontag was mortally wounded in what is called the Battle of Stone Corral.

Evans was himself severely wounded at Stone Corral, having lost an eye and his left arm. He was taken into custody and convicted of murder and sentenced to life in Folsom State Prison in Folsom, California. John Sontag's younger brother, George Contant, testified against Evans and hence acquired the lifelong hatred of Evans' family.

After Evans served for seventeen years at Folsom, he was paroled in 1911 by Governor Hiram Johnson, a liberal Republican, who had been elected on an anti-Southern Pacific campaign theme. Banished from California, he died in Portland, Oregon, in 1917, denying to the end that he had ever robbed a train and had killed only in self-defense. He also wrote a socialist book which calls for expanded government to check what he viewed as the abuses of the business community. Evans is interred in Portland at Mount Calvary Cemetery.

An accomplice to the Evans-Sontag Gang was Ed Morrell, who served fourteen years total in Folsom and San Quentin. Championed by author Jack London, Morrell was pardoned in 1908 and thereafter became a well-known advocate for prison reform.

Morris Ankrum and John Smith portrayed Evans and Sontag, respectively, in an episode of the 1955 syndicated television series Stories of the Century, starring and hosted by Jim Davis. Jimmie Dodd of The Mickey Mouse Club appears as a deputy in this episode.[1]

References[edit]

  • Prodigal Sons: The Adventures of Christopher Evans and John Sontag, By Wallace Smith, the Christopher Publishing House, Boston, U.S.A., c. 1951.
  • Bandits and the Southern Pacific by Carl Burgess Glasscock, Frederick A. Stokes, New York, c. 1929.
  • The 25th Man: The Strange Story of Ed. Morrell, the Hero of Jack London's Star Rover, New Era Publishing Co., 1924.