William E. Evans, or Blacksmith Evans, as he is familiarly called, has passed the eighty second milestone on
life's journey, but is in vigorous physical health and in mind and spirit is still young. His birth occurred on
the 23d of January, 1833, in Rhyddland, North Wales, and he remained in his native land until 1851, when, as a
youth of eighteen, he crossed the Atlantic and located at Rome, New York. He was even then an expert blacksmith,
for when but thirteen years of age, he could make a shoe, fit it and nail it to the horse's foot, and he can scarcely
remember when first he began to work at the anvil. His skill at his trade made his services in great demand and
he soon gained an enviable reputation as an expert workman in big locomotive works at Rome, New York, as in that
day locomotives were built largely by hand.
In 1857 Mr. Evans decided to take advantage of the great opportunities offered to young men of industry and energy
in the western country and in that year came to Iowa county, Iowa. He purchased land in Troy township, paying therefor
two dollars per acre, but as the county was yet very sparsely settled, he decided that it would not pay him to
remain here and returned east. In 1858 he again came to Iowa but again went back east. In 1860 he took up his permanent
residence in Iowa county and erected a blacksmith shop in Williamsburg on the lot where now stands the grade school.
By that time many new settlers were arriving and breaking the prairie sod preparatory to planting crops. It was
hard work getting the land under cultivation and the plows needed frequent sharpening. During the breaking season
Mr. Evans was busy both day and night and people came from all over the county to him when they had blacksmith's
work to be done, as he soon gained a reputation for skill at his trade. For the first few years after taking up
his residence in this county he spent the winter months in Chicago and there worked in the Chicago & Northwestern
Railway shops. In the spring, however, he invariably returned to Williamsburg and was kept busy until the following
fall. At length, he also turned his attention to farming and made his home in this county during the winter as
well as during the spring, summer and fall. He was very successful as an agriculturist and received good financial
returns from his land, his grain and stock bringing high prices on the market. He erected a fine residence on what
is known as Blacksmith Evans Hill and for many years his home was the finest in the locality. For fifty five years
he has resided in Williamsburg and during that time has been a forceful factor in the development of the county.
Mr. Evans was married on the 24th of January, 1855, to Miss Ann Williams, of Rome, New York, and they became the
parents of seven children, two of whom survive: Martha, the wife of T. T. Osborn, of the firm of Osborn & Gallagher;
and Annie M., the wife of J. F. Stephens, a farmer residing at the old home in Williamsburg. The wife and mother
passed away on the 13th of December, 1904, when seventy years of age.
Mr. Evans is a stanch republican in politics and twice voted for Abraham Lincoln. He remembers vividly the April
day fifty years ago when he saw the body of the martyred president as it was borne through the streets of Chicago
on its way to Springfield, where interment took place. Fraternally he belongs to Stellapolis Lodge, No. 391, A.
F. & A. M.; Troy Chapter, No. 117, R. A. M.; Hebron Lodge, No. 148, I. O. O. F.; and Marengo Encampment, No.
27. His religious faith is that of the Welsh Congregational church and he is the oldest member of the local Congregational
church. He remembers accurately incidents of pioneer days in Iowa county but finds even more pleasure in keeping
in touch with the events of the present day than in recalling the happenings of a half century ago. He is optimistic
and progressive in spirit and is at all times ready to do anything within his power to further the advancement
of his community. He retains the light hearted spirit of a boy and the circle of his friends is only limited by
the number of his acquaintances.
History of Iowa County, Iowa
And its People
By: James C. Dinwiddie
The S. J. Clarke Publishing Co.
Iowa County, IA
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