John Gary Evans

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John Gary Evans
John Gary Evans.jpg
Member of the South Carolina House of Representatives from Spartanburg County
In office
January 9, 1923 – January 13, 1925
85th Governor of South Carolina
In office
December 4, 1894 – January 18, 1897
Lieutenant W. H. Timmerman
Preceded by Benjamin Tillman
Succeeded by William Haselden Ellerbe
Member of the South Carolina Senate from Aiken County
In office
November 22, 1892 – November 27, 1894
Preceded by John Murphy Bell
Succeeded by Oliver Cromwell Jordan
Member of the South Carolina House of Representatives from Aiken County
In office
November 27, 1888 – November 22, 1892
Personal details
Born (1863-10-15)October 15, 1863
Cokesbury, South Carolina, C.S.A.
Died June 26, 1942(1942-06-26) (aged 78)
Spartanburg, South Carolina
Political party Democratic
Alma mater Union College
Military service
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branch United States Army
Rank major
Battles/wars Spanish–American War

John Gary Evans (October 15, 1863 – June 26, 1942) was the 85th Governor of South Carolina from 1894 to 1897.

Early life[edit]

Evans was born in Cokesbury, South Carolina to an aristocratic and well-connected family. His father was Nathan George Evans, a Confederate general, and after his father died in 1868, he went to live in Edgefield with his uncle Martin Witherspoon Gary. After completing his secondary education in Cokesbury, he enrolled at Union College in Schenectady, New York. His uncle's death in 1881 forced him to withdraw from college due to financial constraints, but he would later graduate in 1883.

Political career[edit]

Admitted to the bar in 1887, Evans began the practice of law in Aiken and became known for his representation of poor farmers which led to the development of ties with John Lawrence Manning and Benjamin Tillman. He was elected in 1888 to the South Carolina House of Representatives at the age of 25 and elevated four years later in 1892 to the South Carolina Senate. His rapid political rise continued by being elected in 1894 as the 85th governor of South Carolina at the age of 31, youngest ever for a South Carolina governor. During his time as governor, Evans continued the policies of Tillman and presided over the constitution convention of 1895.

Pledging not to run for reelection as governor in 1896, Evans set his sights instead for the U.S. Senate race. He lost the election and his attempt for an open Senate seat in 1897 again proved equally unsuccessful. Frustrated, Evans volunteered as a major in the U.S. Army for the Spanish–American War in 1898 and helped create the civilian government of Havana. After the war, he resumed the practice of law in Spartanburg.

Later life and career[edit]

Further attempts at an open Senate seat in 1902 and 1908 proved futile and henceforward he focused his energies on internal Democratic politics. Three times he served as a delegate to the Democratic National Conventions in 1900, 1912 and 1916. In 1914, he became the chairman of the South Carolina Democratic State Executive Committee and from 1918 to 1928 was the National Democratic Committeeman from South Carolina. Evans won a term to the South Carolina House of Representatives in 1922 from Spartanburg and served on the judiciary and rules committees.

On June 26, 1942, Evans died,[1][2] and was buried at Willowbrook Cemetery in Edgefield. His Spartanburg home was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2007.[3]


  1. ^ The South Carolina Encyclopedia Guide to the Governors of South Carolina
  2. ^ The South Carolina Encyclopedia
  3. ^ "Evans-Russell House, Spartanburg County (716 Otis Blvd, Spartanburg)". National Register Properties in South Carolina. South Carolina Department of Archives and History. Retrieved October 15, 2012. 

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Benjamin Tillman
Governor of South Carolina
Succeeded by
William Haselden Ellerbe