Nelson Wiley Evans.

A history of Adams County, Ohio, from its earliest settlement to the present time, including character sketches of the prominent persons identified with the first century of the country's growth .. online

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Online LibraryNelson Wiley EvansA history of Adams County, Ohio, from its earliest settlement to the present time, including character sketches of the prominent persons identified with the first century of the country's growth .. → online text (page 27 of 120)
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ever, made an active canvass and being very popular secured the nomi-
nation. Before the people, E. M. DeBruin, now of Columbus, Ohio, was
his opponent, but McFerran was elected. He was renominated and re-
elected for a second term as prosecuting attorney. In the fall of 1857,
he determined to contest with Captain Moses J. Patterson for the place
of representative to the Legislature. Captain Patterson resided near
Winchester. He was highly esteemed by every one and had but one
term in the Legislature. McFerran, however, contested the nomination
v/ith him and won. McFerran had 679 votes and Patterson, 407. Be-
fore the people the Hon. George Collings was the Whig candidate. Mc-
Ferran had 1626 votes and Collings, 1282. Legislative honors did not
please McFerran. He said it was well enough to go to Legislature once,
but a man was a fool to go a second time. He declined a second term
and Moses J. Patterson succeeded him. McFerran then devoted himself
to the practice of law and was making a great success when the war
broke out. He could make pleasing and effective arguments before a
jury and he carried the old and young farmers of Adams County with
him. He was of a fiery temper and disposition. Whatever he under-
took, he did with great enthusiasm. It was just as natural that he
should be consumed by the war fever as that a duck should take to water.
When the war broke out, he gave his entire soul to the Union cause.
He aided in organizing the 70th O. V. I., and became its major, October
2, 1861. He was the idol of the men of his regiment and was willing to
do anything for them. However, he fell a victim to the southern cli-
mate and died of a fever at Camp Pickering, near Memphis, Tennessee,
October 6, 1862. His body was brought to Cairo, Illinois, and after-
wards to West Union, and reinterred among the people who admired and
loved him.

He was married to Miss Hannah A. Briggs, June 27, 1858, a most
estimable woman, and there were two children of the marriage, Minnie,
the wife of Dr. W. K. Coleman, of West Union ; John W., who died at
the age of four.

In the public offices he occupied, he faithfully and capably dis-
charged their duties. He was public spirited and always ready to aid any
worthy and good enterprise. In his private dealings, he was honest and
liberal. For his soldiers, he always had kind words and pleasant greet-
ings. There was nothing he would not do for them and they knew it
and felt it. He had the respect and esteem of his fellow officers. He
was always at his post, always cheerful and uncomplaining and ready



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GEORGK COI,I.INGS KVANS



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THE COURTS UNDER THE CONSTITUTION 217

to die at any time. He showed his bravery on the bloody field of Shiloh,
at Corinth, Chewalla, Holly Springs and Memphis.

He was worthy of the cause he fought for and his patriotic career
will be one which hws descendants can look back to with pride and it will
grow brighter as the years go by. It has been thirty-seven years since
he gave his life to his country, but to those who knew him and loved him,
and who survive, it seems but yesterday.

There were three officers of the Civil War who lost their lives in the
service whom Adanjg^ County will always remember, and they were Major
McFerran, Samuel K. Clark and Major Philip R. Rothrock.

Oeor^e O. Evaiuu

George Collings Evans was born February 20, 1858, the son of
Edward Patton Evans and Amanda Jane Evans, in the family home-
stead now owned and occupied by John P. Leonard. As a babe, he was
large, strong and healthy. He walked at the age of nine months. He
was always a sturdy boy. His father and the Hon. George Collings, of
Monroe Township, were close friends and the babe was named for the
latter. George attended the public schools in West Union until his six-
teenth year when he went to school in Portsmouth, Ohio, residing with
his elder brother, Nelson W. Evans. In September, 1874, he entered
the Academy at South Salem, Ross County, and remained there one year.
In September, 1875, he entered Marietta College in the freshman class.
He remained there until July, 1877. While in college he was a fair stu-
dent and was very fond of athletic sports and all those amusements dear
to college boys.

In the summer of 1877, he took up the study of the law with his
father and was admitted to the bar by the district court in Ironton, Ohio,
April, 1879. He formed a partnership with Luther Thompson, also now
deceased, under the. name of Thompson and Evans and practiced his pro-
fession at West Union until January, 1881, when he opened an office in
Columbus, Ohio, and began the practice of law there. From 1877, his
father's health had been failing and in i88t, it had so far failed that he
was confined to his home, a helpless invalid. About the first of Decem-
ber, 1881. George returned to West Union to make it his home during
the life of his father. On December 27, 1881, he was married to Miss
Josephine Cluxton and the two took up their home with his parents.

On September 25, 1882, in the forenoon, he was in as good health,
apparently, as any one could wish to enjov. He went to his office and
attended to his business. Conversing with some friends that morning,
in regard to the death of a young ladv, it was said to him, "You have
the phvsical powers to live to old age.'' George replied he believed he
would have a very long life. Tust before noon, he began to write out an
administrator's deed. He had it half finished and left it on his desk,
when he closed his office and went to dinner. He never was at his office
aierain. He ate a hearty dinner and rested awhile. Then he complained
of severe pain. He was attacked with hepatic calculi or gall stones.
From that time until his death, he was never free from pain, unless
under the influence of opiates. He continued suffering until it P. M.
October 2. when peritonitis set in and from that time until he breathed
his last at 9 A. M. October 3, he was in a mortal agony which opiates



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218 HISTORY OP ADAMS COUNTY

could not relieve. It is believed that at this hour, the gall stones rup-
tured the hepatic duct and let the contents of the gall bladder into the
cavity of the bowels. Ho>\'ever, all this time, he was in his full strength.
On the morning of October 3, at 6 A. M., a neighbor, David Thomas,
called and saw that George was dying, though not apparent to others.
He requested the physician in attendance to notify the family which
was done and they gathered about him. His aged father was carried
to his bedside to bid him a last farewell. His mother and his wife were
beside him. George said, "Father, I had expected to be your comfort
and stay in your old age, but I am called first." The word spread
through the village quickly, "George Evans is dying,'* and his friends
hurried to bid him farewell. He made his will; he prayed for himself
and bade his relations and friends all a touching farewell. He left
messages for his brother in Portsmouth and his sister in school at Ox-
ford. He left directions as to his wife, expecting soon to be a mother,
and expressed his willingness and readiness for the inevitable. Fifteen
minutes before he died, he was on his feet and was conscious almost
to the last moment. Those who were present say they never saw such
a death scene and hoped to be spared from a like one. He died at fif-
teen minutes past 9 A. M. October 3, 1882, and the court house bell
at once tolled the fact and the number of his years. The community
was never so shocked by the death of anyone since the cholera epi-
demic of 185 1. His funeral was held October 5th at his father's resi-
dence. It was a beautiful, ideal, October day and the attendance was
so numerous that the Services were held in the open air. The Masonic
Order had charge of the ceremonies and the West Union band, at its
own request, preceded the funeral procession playing dirges. No sadder
funeral was ever held in West Union than this and none in which more
profound sympathy was felt and expressed for his family friends.

The following was said by the Defender in respect to his sudden
death :

"He was just entering into the realities of life arid beginning to
assume the responsibilities of manhood. His star of hope shone bright
in the firmament of his ambition. The future to him was the fairest
of visions, and his life full of the enthusiasm of youth His most earnest
desires and aspirations seemed to be fast approaching a happy con-
summation. Young in years, buoyant in spirits, ardent in hope, his
light was dashed out at the beginning of a splendid and promising
career. The midnight of the grave drew its sable curtains at a time
when all things seemed fair. To say that his death caused universal
grief but illy expresses the universal feeling of sorrow at his sudden
demise."

The following was the expression of the bar of Adams County,
on the occasion of his death:

"George C. Evans, a highly esteemed and respected member of
the bar, having been suddenly removed by the casualty of death, his
late associates, in commemoration of his estimable qualities of head
and heart and as expressive of their unfeigned sorrow at his sudden
death, take this action :

"George C. Evans is taken away from us while yet in the vigor
of his early manhood, being only 24 years of age, having within three



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THE CX>URTS UNDER THE CONSTITUTION 219

years been admitted to practice, he had scarcely developed to the pub-
lic the large ability which his fellows at the bar knew him to possess.
Notwithstanding his brief career as a practitioner, he gave clear evidence
of the many qualities which form the able and successful lawyer.

"He possessed in the prosecution of his business almost untiring
energy. He was always prompt and persistent in attending to the
interests committed to his keeping. He manifested much more than
usual ability as an advocate and had a happy vien of humor, and a
pleasant faculty of expressing himself, which rendered him a pleasing
and forcible speaker. His unquestioned integrity rendered him at all
time a safe representative of the interests of clients and he was an
agreeable associate and respected and trusted opponent in the practice
His social qualities render particularly sad his untimely death. He had
an almost uninterrupted flow of good spirits — always a kindly disposi-
tion and a general warm heart with a hopeful view of the future. These
qualities made him a rare addition to any social occasion. Those of
this bar who have known him as a man and boy during his life, cordially
bear testimony by this tribute that no loss that could have been visited
upon us would have been more sadly deplored than the sudden death
of the brave, warm-hearted genial gentleman, and upright lawyer,
George C. Evans. Great as our sense of bereavement is, we can only
appreciate in a small way, the sorrow that has fallen upon his aged
parents and young wife. We tender them our heartfelt sympathies
in their great loss. In token of our respect of the deceased,

''Resolved, That the court be requested to enter upon its journal
the foregoing action, that the same be published in each of the several
papers of the county, and a copy furnished the wife, the parents, brother
and sister of the deceased.'*

The Masonic Fraternity also passed resolutions in respect to the
awful calamity. His Sunday School class, consisting of ten young
boys, all of whom are now men, and two of whom have since passed
beyond, expressed, by written resolutions, their feeling on the occasion
of the sudden demise. These resolutions were presented at a memorial
service held by the Presbyterian Sunday School. They spoke of him
as their able and beloved teacher, of his genial manners, his earnest
instruction, of his liberality and of the brave manner in which he sub-
mitted to the last enemy.

His office was opened the day after his funeral and his papers
were found just as he had left them at noon on Monday September
25. The administrator's deed lay on his desk half finished, just as he
had left it to go to his dinner.

His child, born after his death, is now (1900) almost a woman,
Georgia C. Evans, residing at Winchester, Ohio, with her widowed
mother.

When we reflect that in the disease of which George Evans died,
there is only one fatal case in every hundred, and that almost immed-
iately after his death, the medical profession began the practice of suc-
cessfully relieving such cases, by surgery, it seems a thousand pities
that this young man, so full of manly vigor, of courage and hope with
such happy prospects for a long life, and so full of the activities of this



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220 HISTORY OP ADAMS CX)UNTy

life, should be so suddenly called away, but until every one living in
West Union, who realized this startling event, has passed away, the
shock caused by his untimely demise will not be forgotten.

Lnther Thompsoi&t

who in his time was one of the prominent lawyers of the county, was
bom December lo, 1848, In Oliver Township, the only son and child
of Archibald and Sarah Ann (McKenzie) Thompson. He was reared
in the county. His education was in the public schools of the county
and at the Lebanon Normal School. As a boy, he was serious, con-
scientious and exemplary. He was strictly truthful and was ruever
known to use a profane or vulgar word. His moral character as boy
and man was perfect. He was ambitious and studious and always
honest and conscientious. He began the study of law with the Hon.
F. D. Bayless, in 1869, and continued it while engaged in teaching
until April 24, 1873, when he was admitted to the bar and began prac-
tice at West Union. It has been a custom in West Union to have a
lawyer, young or old, as justice of the peace, and in 1874, Mr. Thomp-
son was elected as such and served two terms.

On January 5, 1876, he was married to Miss Jennie Smith,
daughter of the Hon. John M. Smith. They had six children, but only
two survive — Charles L., born October 22, 1877, and Matilda, born
April I, 1883.

He was, at one time, a school examiner for the county. He had
no ambitions for political honors, but an intense ambition to succeed
as a lawyer. In his profession, he was thorough in all he did. He
never tired in his legal work. He had a love for his profession and
delighted in the performance of its duties. He had in his work that
most essential element of success, enthusiasm. The elements of his
character held for him the confidence of all who knew him. His at-
tainments and his conscientious discharge of his professional duties
gave him the respect of the court and his fellow lawyers, and secured'
him the devotion of his clients.

From 1879 ^^ i88t, he was in partnership with the late George
C. Evans, under the firm name of Thompson and Evans. From 1882,
until his death, he was in partnership with his father-in-law, Hon.
John M. Smith under the firm name of Thompson & Smith.

He was only thirteen years at the bar, but in that time he demon-
strated that had he been permitted to live, he would have made a noble
success in his profession, but consumption had marked him as its own,
and at thirty-eight years, when the world is brighest and fairest, he
was called away. For nine years he had been a member of the Pres-
byterian Church and lived up to his religious profession. Politically,
he was reared a Democrat and adhered to that party, but never was
a partisan and had as many friends in the other party as in his own.
In the testimonial the lawyers gave him, they said he was a good citizen,
an able lawyer and an honest man.

What greater tribute could he have earned or could have been
given him than this? All that is grand or good, all that is valuable is
character, and Luther Thompson left the memory of one, which his



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THE COURTS UNDER THE CONSTITUTION 221

widow, his children and his friends will be proud, and which will be a
beacon light to those who come after.

One of the editors of this work, Mr. Evans, knew Luther Thomp-
son well. He respected him for his high personal standard of life, for
his attainments and his work as a lawyer. He knew from his own lips
how bitter it was to him to turn his back on the world and face death
at the early age of thirty-eight, and he knows how bravely and well,
how like a philosopher and a Christian, he met the inevitable and sub-
mitted to it. No truer man, no more honorable and noble in his life
etver lived, and the passing of one so endowed, but illustrates that irony
of fate which takes those best qualified to live.

David W. Thomas,

lawyer and soldier, was born in Loudon County, Virginia, Augiist ii,
1833, the fourth child in a family of six. His father was Joseph Thomas
and his mother, SalHe Worthington. They were natives of Loudon
County, Virginia, whose male ancestors were soldiers in the Revolu-
tion. His father was a wagon and carriage maker. He removed to
Ohio in 1836, locating at Mt. Vernon, Knox County, and remained
there three years. He then removed to Adams County, near Mt.
Leigh, where he resided until his death in 1870. He was noted for
his ability as a master mechanic, and esteemed for his sterling integrity
of character.

Our subject's earlier years were passed in various employments,
in the carriage shop and on the farm. His early training was limited
to the common schools. In his twentieth year, he was so far advanced
by self-culture, that he became a teacher of the district schools and
engaged in that profession at Locust Grove, Adams County, where
he taught two winters, and labored on a farm in the summers. In this
period he began the study of law. In the winter of i860, he removed
to West Union and resumed his law studies under Col. Joseph R. Cock-
erill. In May. 1861, he enlisted in the immortal Co. D. of the 24th
Regiment of Ohio Volunteer Infantry, and served with that regiment
the full period of three years. On the second day of the battle Shiloh,
he was wounded in the thigh and was incapacitated from service for
about two months. After the battle of Stone River, he was promoted
to first lieutenant and subsequently made captain of the company.

At the expiration of his term of service, he returned to West Union
and again resumed the study of law under the late E. P. Evans. He
was admitted to the bar on the first of October, 1864. Most of the
time during the remainder of his life, he resided at West Union, and ac-
quired a very extensive practice. In 1867, he was elected prosecuting
attorney of Adams County, and served until May, 1869, when desiring
to remove to Georgetown, Ohio, to practice his profession, he re-
signed that office and was succeeded by Franklin D. Bayless. Our
subject, however, resided at Georgetown but two years, and then re-
turned to West Union. He was elected mayor of West Union in 1873,
and re-elected in 1874, holding the office three years consecutively.
In his political faith, he was always a Democrat.

He was married on November 9, 1854, to Miss Elizabeth Fritls,
a native of Loudon County, Virginia. Their children were: Nellie,



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222 HISTORY OP ADAMS CXDUNTY

married to Charles Q. LafFerty, and died in 1889; William T., David
Ammen, Joseph J., Alfred Tennyson, Hattie M., and Charles V.

Our subject died April 13, 1893, at Cincinnati, Ohio. He is buried
in the Odd Fellows Cemetery at West Union, Ohio. His widow,
daughter Hattie, and sons who are at home, reside at West Union.

David Thomas was a man of the most generous impulses. He
was always ready to do a kind act for an enemy or a friend. His patriot-
ism was of the unselfish, exalted kind, and it was his pride that he
had been able to serve his country as a soldier in the Civil War. As
a lawyer, when in the possession of good health, he was active, indus-
trious and devoted to the interests of his clients. He possessed more
than common ability in his profession and was successful, but his last
years were burdened by infirmities, resulting from his service in the
army, and he was compelled to relinquish the practice of his profession
for several years prior to his death. He was of that noble band of
patriots who offered their services to their country at the very outset
of the war, to whom the people of Adams County and of all the country
will be lastingly grateful. In politics he was always identified with
the Democratic party. He was identified with the Presbyterian Church
of West Union.

Franklin D. Bayless

was born February 2, 1839, on Brush Creek, at a time when the ther-
mometer stood fifteen degrees below zero. He was thus early thrown
upon the cold world, but this fact has never seemed to have had a
bad influence on his subsequent life. His parents were Elza Bayless
and Jane W. DeCamp, and from his mother, he received his second
name. He received his education principally in the West Union
schools. In 1858 and 1859, he taught school and in i860 and 1861, he
was a student. In the latter year he was in school, and just prior to
Major McFerran's departure with the 70th O. V. I., he enrolled him-
self as a law student under him.

On July 29, 1862, he enlisted in Company E, 91st O. V. I. He
was appointed sergeant on the 22d of August, 1862. On July 20,
1864, he was severely wounded at an engagement at Stephenson*s
Depot; being shot in both thighs. He was appointed first sergeant,
December i, 1864, and was mustered out June 24, 1865. When he
returned from the war, he resumed the study of law, and was admitted
to the bar at Portsmouth, Ohio, April 23, 1866. The same fall, he was
a candidate on the Democratic ticket to represent Adams County in
the Legislature, but was defeated by Captain W. D. Burbage, now of
Washington, D. C, by a majority of twenty votes.

In 1869, he was elected prosecuting attorney of Adams County on
the Democratic ticket, and was re-elected in 1871. In 1873, ^^ was
again a candidate for the legislature on the Democratic ticket and was
defeated by Richard Ramsey, Republican.

In 1881, he was a candidate for common pleas judge in the counties
of Adams, Brown and Clermont, on the Democratic ticket, but was
defeated by Col. D. W. C. Loudon, of Brown County, by 41 votes. He
received the remarkable majority of over 600 votes in his own county,
but was defeated by his own party votes in the other two counties.



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THE COURTS UNDER THE CONSTITUTION 228

owing to the personal popularity of Col. Loudon, and the activity of
the latter's friends.

He has been twice married, first to Helen M. Young, on Novem-
ber 22, 1869. She died September 9, 1884. He entered into a second
marriage with Nora White Young, on October 8, 1885. Mr. Bay-
less has three daughters, two of his first marriage and one of his sec-
ond marriage. Politically, he is a Democrat, and in his religious views,
he is a Presbyterian. He is one of the ablest lawyers who ever prac-
ticed at the West Union bar.

George Wasl&inston Pettit*

It is a great responsibility for a father to name a son for the father
of his country, but in this case, Mr. Pettit's father assumed it. If a
boy or man having this prenomen, does not live up to the model set
by his immortal name, then it is always cast up to him, but in this
case, our subject has always done the best he could under all circum-
stances, and has never been reminded that he did not follow the model
of his patronymic.

Our subject was bom near Dukinsville, Adams County, April 5,
1856. His father was Isaac Pettit and his mother's maiden name was
Sarah Chambers. His father was a native of Greenup County, Ken-
tucky, and his mother of Washington County, Pennsylvania. His
father was a farmer and a blacksmith, and young George partially
learned the latter trade while a boy at home with his father. All the
education he received from others was in a log school house in Oliver
Township, known as the **Gulf District," and he had but three months
school in any one year, but George was ambitious and determined to
seek learning and did so. He acquired a sufficient knowledge of the
comon branches and began his career as a county school teacher, April
30, 1866, at Mt. Tabor, in Jefferson Township. The same year he
taught at Bentonville, and continued there until 1870. In 1871, he
began teaching at Rome, and taught there until 1874.

On May 20, 1874, he was married to Laura A. Adamson, daughter
of John Adamson, of Bentonville. In 1874 and 1875, he taught in Con-
cord, Kentucky. In 1875 and 1876, he taught again at Rome. In 1876
and 1877, he and his wife both taught at Buena Vista, in Scioto



Online LibraryNelson Wiley EvansA history of Adams County, Ohio, from its earliest settlement to the present time, including character sketches of the prominent persons identified with the first century of the country's growth .. → online text (page 27 of 120)