2. John Owen Evans
(1) was born on 23 Dec 1905 in Natchitoches
Parish, LA. He died on 16 Feb 1986 in Saline, LA. He has reference number B001.
1905: Born four miles south of Saline in Natchitoches Parish (in Sec. 15, T13N,
R6 W) on Saturday, 11 O'clock, Dec. 23; the sixth child of Delilah Cloud and
Martin Bunyan Evans. He weighed 10 lbs. Reportedly, his mother looked up and
said, "Bunyan, this is it." J.O. later noted that "the home had
no conveniences, not even a water well. My mother carried water from a near by
spring for home use; she did the washing of clothing down at the spring, where
they dried from the sun light on a wire tied from one tree to another."
He also recalled: "I, being the baby of the family, naturally received the
most attention. I remember when we would go to the table to eat I would get first
choice, in fact I especially remember that Mama would give me the cream off the
milk before pouring the others their part. My father believed only in work and
plenty of it; I remember hearing him say he never heard of any one killing themselves
by working too much."
1909: Martin Bunyan and Sam Thomas built a new house at Harper's Spur, 2 miles
south of Saline. Owen later remembered his father taking them there while they
were building the house. When it was finished the family rode there in a wagon.
"I remember I got to sit in the spring seat between Mama and Papa. When
we got there Papa said, 'There it is.' We were all thrilled, jumped from the
wagon and began running to the new house. Papa had built a store building about
1/8th mile from the house on the railroad tract and had gone into a business
with a partner named Glen Harper. The L & NW railroad on which the store
was build made a spur off the main line out in front of the store and they called
the place Harper's Spur. A few years later Papa bought out Mr. Glen Harper and
owned and operated the store until about 1929 when it caught fire and burned.
He had $4500 insurance, built another store building near the home, about 150
yards, which he operated until his death at age 80. He operated the store the
day he died."
1915: Sept. 13: See Owen Evans Fourth Class, Grammar School Grades: "J.C.
Burson, Principal, Alma L. Baker, Teacher: "D+ in Reading; B in Writing...D-
in Geography, 15 days absent, 18 days tardy; C in Behavior; Signed by M.B. Evans:
Promoted to Fifth Grade on May 26."
About his school years, J.O. remembered when he was 76: "We walked from
Harper's Spur to Saline, two miles to school until about 1919 when Papa bought
us a one horse wagon which
we made into a covered wagon and which we rode to school in. Tied the horse in
front of the old Saline school building. All five of us finished high school
in Saline. Otto was one of the first graduates. He was the oldest and I was the
youngest. Mama packed our lunches in buckets until the last year of my school,
when Nena Montgomery, my first cousin, asked me to eat lunch with her, which
1917: March 29: See State of La. Certificates for participation in the State
Spelling Test in 1917, 1918, 1919, 1920, 1922.
1918: John Owen joined Magnolia Baptist Church when he was 12 and was baptised
on September 1, l918.
1920: May 21: See 8th grade report card; Wedgeworth, Principal.
1921: May 27: See 9th grade report card.
1923: Owen graduated from Saline High School on May 25. That summer he went
to a Military Training Camp near Kansas City. "Jerome Thomas and I found
about that thing and we thought we were getting into a big deal. We talked Mama
and them into putting up the $20. But when we got up there, you talk about rough;
we weren't used to that. I never had been away from home even. We both got homesick,
but they only let you leave if your family requested it. So we got the money
and called home and told them to write and say we were needed at home. Then
we'd meet the mail man every morning, but they didn't even answer."
(See Military Training Certificate for "Citizens' Military Training Camp
Held Under the Auspicies of the War Department at Fort Leavenworth, Kan."
dated Aug. 1-30, 1924. "Remarks: Discharged Aug. 30...Certificate of qualification
has not been granted."
(See High School Diploma, signed by G.H. Middleton, Principal."
March 28: Letter of Recommendation from W.S. Montgomery, Postmaster: "This
is to certify that I have known Owen Evans for some ten or twelve years and
believe him to be a gentle- man in every respect....has no bad habits, and I
can heartily recommend him as a boy of unusual natural ability.."
March 29: Letter of Recommendation by F.L. Mayfield, President of Bank of Saline:
"J. Owen Evans is now about 18 years old and we desire to inform those who
may be interested, that we have known him all of his life...I take pleasure in
stating that the bearer hereof has been all of his life, what we term a strict
boy, attending church regularly, well thought of by all his play mates, besides
he comes from high-toned, honorable worthy parents, and our opinion, will make
a useful man and citizen, and in every way believe him worth of trust and belief."
June 28: Letter from Mary Stephens, Coushatta, La.: "Dearest Owen, This
is just a note of apology for not telling you goodby in the right way....I suppose
no girl should write a boy first but please excuse that. I know you will....Owen
I spilled perfume on this letter..." (See 2 cent stamp, plus 10 cent special
That Fall he decided to go to the Uiversity of Arkansas. "They all wanted
me to go to college but I had business on my mind. I didn't want to be a teacher.
I didn't like history and memembering all that stuff. I wanted to make some
money. I thought I'd take some business courses. But when I got in there they
told me you can't have any kind of business course as a freshman. So I said,
'Well, I'm not going here,' and I got up and walked out. I walked back to the
house I was rooming at and met my roommate who had found out the same thing.
We decided to take one more walk down town before we went home. Then we say
the Fayetteville Business College and went in to see about that. One of the salesmen
got us and in about 30 minutes both of us had signed up.
"I took Banking, Bookkeeping, and Typewriting. I finished with about 65
or 70 words in typing. They had guaranteed us a job, and after we graduated they
took me to this insurance company. I remember it was on the 2nd floor of a wooden
building in downtown Fayetteville. We worked a day and they hadn't told us
what we would make. So the next day I said I want to know how much money we
will make. He said $70 a month. I didn't say anything, but that nite I got to
figuring. We were paying about $22.50 for meals and laundry and board. I added
up how much our clothes and everything would cost and I figured I wouldn't have
enough left to go to the picture show. We wanted to go to the silent picture
shows every nite. They would play the piano and we'd get down close, and boy,
did we enjoy that. And that one thing was the reason I decided to quit."
See Certificates of Proficiency from Fayetteville Business College: "Typwriting
- 36 words per minute; and on May 26, 35 words per minute."
"I came home to Harper's Spur, worked in the store with Papa some but got
talked into going to school at Normal (Normal State College at Natchitoches).
My family all wanted one of the family to get a college education and I was
the last chance."
Sept. 15: See "The Student Handbook; State Normal College, Natchitoches,
Owen Evans; Grades: Education C; Lib. Sc. D; Biology D+; Chem. B..."
Fall, 1924: See Grades: Chem. B; Ed. C; Eng. C; Math C."
1925: Mar. 9: See list of other classes. "Not present at Mid-term exams
2 weeks absence." His recall of this "9 months schooling was as follows:
"I made C's, but under old man Alexander in English I made B tripple plus.
He said that was the best grade he ever gave a student, that 'I never gave a
boy an A in my life.' I always did have ideas in my head about writing. It was
for that story about Grady and I slipping out and going to town at night and
meeting those KKK men who had killed a man and robbed a bank that I got the
good grade." (See this story "One Exciting Night" in file.)
About this schooling he recalled: "I could think of nothing except business
and making some money; the only thing I could see I was learning there was to
be a school teacher, the least of my desires in life. Papa and I made a deal
that I work with him in the store on half & half deal...."
"Sidney (his brother) and Homer Morgan were going with a couple of school
teachers, Zula Pullin and Joe Houck; another girl, Constance Coker from Bryceland,
was rooming with them. Sidney talked me into having a date with her. We fell
into it the first night, did not miss a night of
dating for a week or so. This grew; I would stop at her room at the school house,
outside window, when I came to get the mail each day. I was very peculiar about
my feelings about
girls - I didn't want all of them, just one, but I wanted that one to be mine
and not a part for any body else to have. We conquered this with much discussion...."
April 8: Letter from J.O.: "My Dearest Coker....I still have that CAT feeling
and know from reason that it will be in a much more advanced stage during the
next two days and three nights....The above mentioned cat feeling will cause
many strange things to take plase sometimes though...Again referring to the
cat feeling would like to say that I do trust that such does appear on you just
a little occassionally as I am in such hopes that it does, although I do not
wish you any harm, if that would cause any but since I have same so often I
would be so please to know that you are a little bit inclined that way anyway.
Coker please don't take any of the above in such way as would bring dissatisfaction
to you as I am only saying it because I love you so much, Think of everything
that will cause you to be the same, and remember that it is true, Owen."
June 25: Letter to Constance: "...I know you haven't been feeling any worse
over this misunderstanding than I have, for that would be impossible...give
cause for disagreeable feelings so such great extent as the writer has never
experienced before and which it would be his pleasure never to experience again..."
July 1: Letter to Constance: "Hello Sweetheart...I wish I could see you.
Dog-gone it wont be but a week from tonight until I will if my plans dont fail
to work. Coker, why didn't I hear from you? It seem like the more I write the
less I hear from you...Lots of love to you only, Owen."
July 12: Letter to Constance: "My Coker, This is just a 'before church'
note and not a letter so understand it accordingly. To the present time indications
show not much possibility for tonight- Don't look for me but remember that it
is not because I don't want to be with you and don't forget to understand the
'before church' note caused by existing conditions which I also hope you understand.
I must go to church Love Owen."
Aug. 13: Letter from Constance Coker: "Sweetheart,...Darling have you tho't
of me this afternoon. I have of you very much. Wish I was with you. I've been
so lonesome. Darling you can't imagine how much I love you....Precious you don't
know how much I appreciate your letters....Sweetheart I understand about the
trip to the burning well. I want you to have a good time just so you don't forget
me. That is the important part to me. I would care if I did not have the utmost
of confidence in you, but I couldn't love you if I didn't. Darling don't ever
disappoint me. I don't think you will. I'd trust you anywhere or any time and
sincerely hope you will me....Darling, I'll always play fair with you..but let
me explain the date to you...Darling, you know that I didn't especially care
for the date but the man was so nice...Well five weeks from tonight I may be
with you. Couldn't anything please me better if it would be tonight... Are you
going to get to come over? Hope so cause I'm crazy to see you and talk to you
for a long time. Dreamed last night that we got married almost. Had the preacher
and all but we decided to wait awhile...Well remember I'll be loving you always,
(Several letters, from Bellevue, St. Joseph, La. to J.O. at Saline.)
Sept. 3: Letter from J.O. to Constance at Saint Joseph, La. "My Dearest
Coker, I am feeling lots better now after reading your letter...Had to stop
and wait on a Coleman kid, said he was gong to start to school and his teacher
was Miss Coker. Guess you'll know him soon enough. I know one thing he's going
to have a sweet old school teacher and one that I love a dog gone lot. Wish
I could start to school again and be in the first grade. Dog gone wouldn't I
be happy. Another good thing about it too would be that first lesson. I would
be ahead of everybody else and would have a good start. Then too about that
time I would consider my education complete for that would be all I would care
to learn and I'd already know that. So it would seem useless. Maybe we can manage
to study and practice that old lesson over anyway, even we do know it. Now
that sounds like a like of bull, don't it- well it's not, I love you and I just
as well admit it. Do you love me? If you do that sounds like a bargain to me.
I couldn't love any body else like I do you....I love you and you know it. Owen...Saturday,
I still love you this morning, only a little more (and be dog gone sure and
don't glance over it to fast to see the more. Owen."
Oct. 5: J. Owen was granted admission to the University of Colorado at Boulder
"with provisional advanced standing as indicated." (See transcript
from State Normal and High School in file). He never followed up on this.
1927: On June 12 John Owen Evans and Constance Waye Coker were married in Ruston,
La., by Rev. Borum. When interviewed in 1972, Owen noted that he was "flat
broke" when he married and had to borrow money from his brother to buy
a marriage license and to pay for a honeymoon to Niagra Falls, N.Y.
In 1982 he wrote: "We talked to our parents about it but did not give them
much choice about the decision. We borrowed Otto's car, some money from Sidney,
drove to Ruston, hunted up a preacher whose name was Winston Borum. He lived
next to the mayor of Ruston and invited them over for the ceremony to serve
as witnesses. We spent the first night in a hotel joining the railroad, the best
one in Ruston at that time. We continued our honeymoon to Little Rock, where
we bought a winding record player, a few records, one was 'Lucky Lindy,' a new
one. We stopped in the wheat fields of Kansas and on to Niagra Falls. We came
back to Cotulla, Texas where Coker's family operated a hotel and cafe.We came
home through Alexandria and there bought our first furniture with some money
Coker had saved from teaching school at $85 per month, a bed room suite and
kitchen table. We lived with Mama and Papa at Harper's Spur for some months
and then rented a couple of rooms from Mr. Lee Payton whose house was joining
the Saline school building. We used a kerosene portable stove to cook on. After
some time Mr. Eugene Rogers built us a house, rented to us for $15 per month."
Coker wrote later: "Honeymoon in Colorado."
(See Ledger pages from store accounts, 1925-1928, which were apparently removed
later as uncollectable.)
1928: Jan. 23: Letter from J.O. on M.B. Evans statanary "Dealer in General
Merchandise, Country Produce a Speciality, Cotton buyer; shipping point, Harper's
Spur; requesting information on Texas Steel Co.
Mar. 7: Letter to J.O. from William Barnett: "Relative to the Rogers Refining
Co...there is absolutely no chance of tetting a dime out of this old wreck..."
June 25: Letter to Mrs. M.B. Evans from J.O. from Toronto, Canada. (On a Menu)
"Had to lay over a day here on account of rain....Have noticed the rise
in cotton price. All fine. Nov. 8: Letters from J.O. about stock: "I am
in possession of 50 shares of stock in Shamrock Oil & Refining Co...."
and "5 4/10 shares of stock on the Louisiana Motor Car Co. purchased in
1929: March 5th: Letter from Coker: "My dearest Sugar,...I take this means
of informing you that Mr. and Mrs. Louis King are going to play bridge at the
home of Mr. nd Mrs. J.O. Evans tonight at about 7:15. Please be present and
on time. I love you most. Coker. Bring some crackers."
July 7: Letter to Constance: "....Don't forget to be good and that I love
you the most cause it is true..." (Letter addressed "C/O Mr. W.T.
Coker, Cotulla, Texas."
1930: J.O. and his brother Sidney went into partnership and "bought the
old wooden store building and a small stock of groceries from Bill Stinson.
We borrowed $600 from Mama to pay part of this. This whole side of the block
of Saline burned soon thereafter and we got Mr. McClahan from Houma to contract
the building of the brick store building plus the Enloe store joining us for
March 22: See judgments of J.O. and S.B. Evans against the following defendants
for unpaid accounts (apparently in their store: Richard Tobin; John O Friday;
Eugan Tobin; Emery Smith; O.J. Smith; Levi Patterson; Coy Mathews; Robert Tobin;
J.M. Walsh; J.H. Johnson; Allen Patterson, for a total of $2,307.72.
July 19: Their first child, Joe Bruce Evans, was born at their home; delivered
by Dr. Hailey, with J.O. present at the delivery. He later noted: "Boy,
that'll really make you appreciate a woman." Constance had wanted to quit
teaching school at mid year, being embarrassed about pregnancy, but when she
went to the school superintendent to tell him so he said: "No, you can't
quit. I'm your superintendent and I'm your doctor, and I'm telling you you can't
quit." "So I had to keep teaching," Coker later recalled at age
81. "But I was determined to look better, so I went to Arcadia to get me
some new maternity clothes. I got a piece of black velvet which I had made into
a suit for Bruce after he was born (this same suit was later passed to Janet
1931: See Invoices for store purchases from Lee Dry Goods in Shreveport, La.:
"Mens hose 5 cents; coveralls and shirts 25 cents; Paris Garters 1.95....."
Also from S.G. Dreyfus Company, Shreveport: "...8 doz mens shirts @ $5,
J.O. later recalled about the business: "We later added the warehouse and
sold everything, bought feed, flour, and fertilizer in carload lots and stored
in this warehouse. This was all farming country then. Cotton was the Money crop
for many years until melon farming came in. One year we bought 1500 bales of
cotton through our store, at one time for 5 cents per pound. Most of our customers
came to town bout once per week, then in wagons. We opened about daylight,
closed about 9 P.M. We had no electricity until 1935 and had the only telephone
in town in the store.
1932: J.O. was elected and sworn in as Mayor of Saline.
1934: Their second child, Barbara Annette, was born on April 28.
1940: Janis Marie and Janet Constance, twins, were born on July 19.
1956: J.O. Evans was "nominated, constituted and appointed" Mayor of
Saline" by Governor Earl K. Long. (See certificate in file.)
1960: See another certificate as Mayor signed by Governor Jimmie H. Davis.
1972: July 1: J.O. retired after 32 years as Mayor of Saline. See newspaper articles:
"Lines mark his forehaed and the mayor shows some signs of weariness from
the rigors of a busy life, but he scoffs at the suggestion that he should retire.
'I've had seven operations in my lifetime, the small-framed mayor quipped,
but I don't know how to quit. When I meet an obstacle I can't quit, I just go
back to get reinforcements....As for his wife, well, Evans beams with pride when
he says, 'I'll have to give her credit for about 99 percent of what I have.
She was a school teacher and had made more money than I had at the time we married.
We've had problems during our 45 years of marriage but have always been able
to solve them...."
He was presented with a Diamond Award by the Louisiana Municipal Association
for one of the longest tenures in the history of the state.
At this time he was also vice president of the Bank of Saline, a deacon in the
church for 39 years, a member of the Mill Creek Game and Fish Preserve, treasurer
of the church and a Mason.
1979: Constance wrote: "I moved my church membership to Mt. Lebanon (after
Bryceland) and then to Magnolia at Saline. I taught a Sunday School Class nearly
always and was active in club work and church work until I broke first one hip
and then the other - was Clerk or Treasurer and Historian for many years. I
planned and made lot of trips."
1982: See 10 page diary notes: "I, John Owen Evans, on this day, being 76
years, 15 days and a few hours of age, do hereby write these few lines without
any pre-meditated thinking..."
1986: "Evans, John Owen 'J.O.' died Sunday, Feb. 16. He was 80, a lifelong
resident of Saline...." He was buried at the Magnolia Baptist Church Cemetary
He was married to Constance Waye Coker on 12 Jun 1929 in Ruston, LA.
3. Constance Waye Coker
(1) was born on 22 Nov 1906 in Bryceland, LA. She was buried in Jun
2000 in Magnolia Cemetery, Saline, LA. She died on 11 Jun 2000 in Saline, LA.
1906: Constance Waye Coker, second daughter of William Thomas Coker and Nina
Ann Gray, was born November 22.
1914: May 29: Constance Coker was promoted to 3rd Grade. See report in file:
"Arithmetic 95; Grammar 97; Drawing 92; Reading 96; Spelling 98; Deportment
98." Marnie White, teacher writes: "Constance will make you a good
earnest pupil. She does her work well."
1920: July: Constance Coker joined the Good Hope Baptist Church (later changed
name to Bryceland Baptist Church). See letter affirming this in file.
1922: May 26: Constance Coker graduated from Bryceland High School and enrolled
in State Normal College in Natchitoches.
1924: Feb. 27: Letter to Constance Coker from John R. in Bryceland to Natchitoches:
March 5: Another letter to Constance from J.R.: "My Dearest Girl...I know
somebody that is as jualous as the devil. Newton told me that you said that I
told you a lie Friday night. He wouldn't tell me what it was, will you? He told
me that you said out of your own mouth that you didn't 'give a darn for me'.
I wonder whether that is true or not. If it is I guess I am bounced but if it
isn't I guess I am all out of luck anyway. Poor fool that I am but I can take
a hint before a church falls on me...Well I guess I am your second choice-if
any-But Little Girl if I can't be first choice, I wont be any at all. If you
like the other fellow better than you do me, want you tell me so and quit fooling
with me, as you have been doing. Tell me and you have my best regards from me
to you & him. J.R."
May 31: Constance Coker graduated from State Normal College with a life time
certificate in "Grammar Education" (see invitation in file). That Fall
she started teaching school at Mt. Lebanon, La., where La. College had been.
She rang the bell that was later given to Dodd College in Shreveport and then
to La. College in Pineville. She taught the 1, 2, and 3rd grades for one year.
1925: Sept.: Constance started teaching the first grade in Saline and continued
teaching here until May, l930. "I always taught one 7th grade subject. Then
I became a mother, homemaker and store flunky."
1979: Constance wrote: "I moved my church membership to Mt.Leganon (after
Bryceland) and then to Magnolia at Saline. I taught a Sunday School Class nearly
always and was active in club work and church work until I broke first one hip
and then the other--was Clerk or Treasurer and Historian for many year. I planned
and made lot of trips."
(For remainder of information on B2, see B1.)
Joe Bruce Evans.
Annette Evans(1) was born on 28 Apr
1934 in Saline, LA. She has reference number A002.
Janis Marie Evans(1) was born on 19
Jul 1940 in Saline, LA. She has reference number A003.
Janet Constance Evans(1) was born on
19 Jul 1940. She has reference number A004.