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Fayette County, Iowa
Past and Present of Fayette County Iowa, 1910
Author: G. Blessin
B. F. Bowen & Company, Indianapolis, Indiana
Vol. I, Biographical Sketches
HON. CARL EVANS
The subject of this biographical review is one of the leading business men of West Union. According to the usual manner of expression, he is a “self-made” man, having attained an enviable standing among the business people of the county wholly through his own efforts.
The business house of Evans & Schatz, of which the subject of this sketch is the senior member, is well known throughout the county as one possessing the entire confidence of the people, and doing a large and profitable business in the line of “head-to-foot” clothiers.
Carl Evans was born near the town of Clermont, in Fayette county, Iowa, on the 20th of March, 1872. His early life was spent on a farm, but as he approached years of maturity his parental home was established in Clermont, where the elementary education attained in the country schools was supplemented by a thorough course in the excellent high school, which has always been the pride of the handsome little city. Mr. Evans was graduated from this institution in 1890, from which time he dates the period of self-dependence, though he had been in a manner self-supporting for some years before. His first permanent business engagement was in the capacity of an employee at a local creamery. There he put in one summer’s work, after which he turned his attention to mercantile pursuits. He was employed in a general store at Clermont, owned and operated by Paul Ellings, an early and prosperous merchant there. After a few years’ experience under the teaching of Mr. Ellings, Mr. Evans came to West Union and entered the employ of W.B. Thomas, in his present line of business. His partner, George Schatz, was also an employee in the same store, and when they had fully mastered the details of the business, and saved a little money, besides establishing an enviable credit, they formed the present partnership, invested their savings and went in debt for the balance of their fine equipment. Their former employer having gone out of business soon after, and a stranger came into possession of that store, Evans & Schatz carried with them into their new business many of the desirable patrons of their former employer, and thereby readily established a profitable business, which fair dealing and “meaning” guarantees have been able to hold, together with the new trade which inevitably comes to reputable dealers. The debt made at the opening of the business was soon liquidated, and the ledger began to show a comfortable balance on the other side. As this accumulated, the savings were invested in Fayette county lands – always above par – and today the firm owns a fine farm of one hundred and sixty acres of land about three miles west of West Union. This property is well improved, while other substantial improvements are being made this year. The land being paid for, Mr. Evans began investing his surplus cash in bank stock, thereby attaining a directorship in the Fayette County National Bank.
But it must not be understood that Carl Evans possesses a mercenary disposition, for he says himself, that his business success is a matter of wonder to him – that he has always been liberal in the expenditure of money for worthy causes, and has not been over-zealous in the accumulation of property. But every investment proved a “money-maker,” and, almost unconsciously to himself, he forged to the front in the business world.
In 1896 Mr. Evans associated himself with the Presbyterian church in West Union; having been reared under the tutorship of a religious mother, the transformation was not, necessarily, a great one. But he entered upon the duties of a religious life with the same zeal and energy which has always characterized his business life. In a short time he became an elder in the church, and from that to other prominent positions, which places him at the head of religious matters, not only in West Union, but elsewhere, even outside of the state. He is at present president of the board of church trustees, Sunday school superintendent, and in 1909 he was one of the commissioners to the general assembly of the church, which met at Denver, Colorado. To Mr. Evans is due the credit for the preparation of the very excellent history of the Presbyterian church in Fayette county, as appearing in another department of this work.
In the field of literature, and in the matter of progression in fraternal societies, Mr. Evans maintains his well-established life-record for “going to the bottom of things.” He is an honored member of the Historical and Literary Society, known, locally, as the “H.A.L. Club,” a unique organization having an existence only in West Union. It was organized in 1879, and its existence has been maintained throughout all the intervening years with growing interest and popularity. The membership is confined to fifteen gentlemen who are selected because of their ability and activity in literary matters; and, with only one or two exceptions, the original member who are living are still connected with the H.A.L. Club. The discussions cover the whole field of literature, but usually avoid controverted religious or political questions. Mr. Evans started in Masonry in 1897, when he became a member of West Union Lodge No. 69, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons. He followed this soon after with a petition to Unity Chapter No. 62, Royal Arch Masons, at Elgin, Iowa. He then became a member of Langridge Commandery No. 47, Knights Templar, of West Union. He is also a member of Elkahir Shrine and Scottish Rite, thirty-second degree, at Cedar Rapids, Iowa. He has shared in the official honors of these various branches of this time honored fraternity, and is the present grand warder of the grand commandery, Knights Templar, of Iowa. To be eligible to this position presupposes service in official capacities in the local organizations.
The subject has never been an aggressive politician until forced to the front by the Democratic leaders in the county. He has always been an interested voter and worker for party supremacy, and has wielded a strong influence, particularly among the younger members of the party. In 1908 he was chosen as the standard bearer for the office of representative in the Legislature; but his party being largely in the minority, he went down to defeat along with the balance of the Democratic ticket. His opponent was a popular man, who had both time and means to devote to an active canvass, while Mr. Evans, recognizing “a forlorn hope,” attended to his business affairs. But the same candidates are now confronting each other, and Mr. Evans, recognizing that he exceeded his party vote at the last election, now stands a fair chance for election, and is encouraged to give the matter more attention than on the former occasion.
Carl Evans and Elizabeth Blanche Shaw were married on the 6th of November, 1901. His wife is the only living child of the late Ephraim B. and Sarah Elizabeth (Dickey) Shaw, both of whose families were early settler in West Union and vicinity. Mrs. Shaw is the daughter of Rev. Mr. Dickey, who was the first regularly installed pastor of the Presbyterian church in West Union. E.B. Shaw, father of Mrs. Evans, was a soldier during the Civil war, going into the army from Ohio, his native state. He came to West Union soon after the close of the war and was there prominently identified with the growth and progress of the town. He was associated with the Fayette County National Bank from its organization, and was its cashier for many years. Latterly, however, he had accepted the position of United States bank examiner for the state of Iowa, and died suddenly while away from home in this work. Mr. Shaw was a man of sterling integrity and uprightness of character. Everybody loved “Eph” Shaw, and while he was not phenomenally successful, as the world goes, it is doubtful if the man lives who will say he ever did anyone an intentional wrong. But on the other hand, he was liberal to a fault, and prone to listen to and sympathize with everybody’s tale of woe.
Mrs. Carl Evans is a lady of more than ordinary musical attainments, having a fine voice, cultivated under some of the best teachers, and as a pianist she has few equals and no superiors in the musical town which has always been her home. Mr. and Mrs. Evans have one son, little Edgar Shaw, named in honor of his deceased uncle and grandfather. He was born in West Union, October 16, 1902.
Carl Evans is a representative of a family of eleven children, born to Robert and Isabella (Denison) Evans. His father was born in Liverpool, England, September 6, 1827. He learned the tailor’s trade in his native country and came to America when a young man. He located in Fayette county, Iowa, in pioneer days, and was one of the first tailors in the town of West Union. Later he followed farming for a few years, then worked at his trade in Clermont, and for a few years at Colmar, retaining his home in Clermont, but for several years past he has lived in West Union, retired from active business.
Robert Evans has always been an active working Mason, and takes great interest in the fraternity. He is a man of good literary attainments, and possesses an excellent memory, being able to memorize and recite selections which would discourage many “readers” of greater pretentions.
Mrs. Evans, mother of the subject of this sketch, was born in New York City, February 21, 1835. Both parents are living in West Union. Of the large family mentioned above, four children died in infancy or early childhood, and four sons died in mature life. They were all married and each left one or more children. The names of the deceased sons are: Edgar A., Robert, Louis and Frank. There are but three of the family living, viz: George, a stock raiser and ranchman in Idaho; Henry, engaged in insurance and real estate business in Oklahoma, and Carl, of this sketch.
There is no military history in the Evans family in this country though all were loyal and patriotic subjects during the Civil war. Robert Evans was among the local musicians who stirred up the community with their inspiring melodies during the enlistment periods in the county. As a family they have always been noted as law-abiding, moral and intellectual citizens, honorable and upright, quiet and unassuming.
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