Dr. John Evans, 2nd Territorial Governor of Colorado

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Dr John Evans

Birthplace: Waynesville, Warren County, Ohio, USA
Death: July 02, 1897 (83)
Denver, Denver County, Colorado, USA
Place of Burial: Riverside Cemetery, Denver, Denver County, Colorado, USA
Immediate Family:

Son of David Evans and Rachel Burnett
Husband of Hannah Evans and Margaret Patten Evans
Father of Josephine Elbert; William Gray Evans; Evan E. Evans and Anne N. Evans
Brother of Joel Evans; Seth Evans; Evan Evans; Owen Evans; Rebecca Evans and 5 others

Occupation: Doctor of Medicine, Professor at Rush Medical College, Chicago, Illinois., Colorado Territorial Governor, Politician, Physician
Managed by: Private User
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Immediate Family

About Dr. John Evans, 2nd Territorial Governor of Colorado

Evans was born in Waynesville, Ohio on March 9, 1814 to Welsh immigrants Rachel and David Evans, a farmer, hardware store owner, and real estate investor.
He began his study of medicine at Clermont Academy in Philadelphia and he graduated from Cincinnati College with a degree in medicine in March 1838.
He advocated the founding of Northwestern University & chose a suburb of Chicago as it's location. The suburb was thus named Evanston in his honor.

He was appointed Governor of Colorado in 1862 by President Lincoln. Then moved to Denver & became one of the most prominent men in that state.

Second territorial governor of Colorado

Mr. Evans was born in Waynesville, Ohio, on the 9th of March, 1814, his parents being David and Rachel Evans.

He was descended from an old Quaker family of Philadelphia, where his great-grandfather engaged in the manufacture of tools.

His sons, Benjamin and Owen, afterward carried on the same business on Chestnut street and the latter became the inventor of the screw auger.

David Evans, father of John Evans, was the representative of the family who left Pennsylvania and penetrated into the Ohio wilderness, where through the wise conduct of his business affairs he accumulated a large measure of wealth.

John was reared upon the homestead farm and had the opportunity at intervals of attending the district school, but his educational privileges were quite limited. However, upon attaining his majority he went to Philadelphia and pursued a course of study in the Clermont Academy which awakened in him the ambition to become a member of a profession. Accordingly he decided upon the study of medicine and won his M. D. degree upon graduation with the class of 1838.

He began practice upon the frontier of Illinois and in 1839 returned to Ohio, where he was united in marriage to Miss Hannah Canby, a daughter of Joseph Canby, who was an eminent physician of that state and an uncle of General R. S. Canby of the United States army. They established their home in Attica, Indiana, where Dr. Evans soon won wide and well merited reputation as a leading physician and surgeon and as a farsighted and successful business man.

In 1845 he was elected to a chair in Rush Medical College of Chicago and occupied that professorship for eleven years (1845-1856) . While a resident of that city he became prominently identified with the Illinois State and the American Medical Associations .

During the cholera epidemic of 1848 and 1849, Dr. Evans published a monograph maintaining that the disease was contagious and demonstrated it by the lines of march of the disease as along the lines of travel, therefore advocating rigid quarantine. He also urged congress to establish a national quarantine.

For a number of years he was the editor of the Medical and Surgical Journal and was the founder of the Illinois General Hospital of the Lakes, which was subsequently transferred to the Sisters of Mercy and was named Mercy Hospital.

He was likewise largely instrumental in establishing the Methodist Book Concern and the Northwestern Christian Advocate, a publication of the Methodist church issued in Chicago.

He was also among the promoters of the Chicago & Fort Wayne Railroad and for many years acted as managing director of the line. By adroit financiering he secured the right of way into the city and valuable lands for its terminals where the Union depot now stands.

In 1862 and 1853 he served as a member of the city council of Chicago and introduced the ordinance providing for the appointment of a superintendent of the first high school there.

It was while a resident of Chicago that Dr. Evans was called upon to mourn the loss of his first wife, who bore the maiden name of Hannah Canby. He afterward wedded Margaret P. Gray, a daughter of the Hon. Samuel Gray, of Bowdoinham, Maine, who was a leading and prosperous attorney of that city.

He became the first president of the board of trustees of Northwestern University and occupied that position for forty-two years.

In 1861, in a public controversy with Judge Scates of the supreme court of Illinois, he persistently advocated the emancipation of the slaves and their enlistment in the Union army as one of the most effective measures that could be adopted for crushing out the rebellion.

While a resident of Chicago he became a candidate for congress and was one of the most prominent speakers at the first republican convention, which was held in Aurora, Illinois. He was defeated, however, by the know-nothing or American party candidate. He was a warm personal friend of Abraham Lincoln and was a delegate to the state convention which nominated him as the state's candidate for the presidency.

In 1861, President Lincoln offered Dr. Evans the governorship of Washington territory but this he declined. In 1862, however, he accepted the appointment of territorial governor of Colorado to succeed William Gilpin.,

"History of Colorado", edited by Wilbur Fisk Stone, published by The S. J. Clarke Publishing Co. (1918) Vol. II, p. 52, 54-55




John Evans (March 9, 1814 – July 2, 1897) was a U.S. politician, physician, railroad promoter, Governor of the Territory of Colorado, and namesake of Evanston, Illinois; Evans, Colorado; and Mount Evans, Colorado. He is most noted for being one of the founders of both Northwestern University and the University of Denver.


Evans was born in Waynesville, Ohio to David Evans and Rachel Burnett. After starting his studies in medicine in Philadelphia at Clermont Academy, he graduated with a degree in medicine from Cincinnati College in 1838. He then moved to Attica, Indiana, where he practiced medicine and helped found the Indiana Central State Hospital in Indianapolis. He was appointed its first superintendent.

He married, first (1838), Hannah Canby (1813–1850) and, second (1853), Margaret P. Gray (1830–1906). Hannah Canby Evans and three of their sons are buried in the old cemetery in Attica. He later moved to Chicago, where he helped found Lakeside Hospital, later named Mercy Hospital, and was responsible for bringing the Sisters of Mercy to staff the new Mercy Hospital, founded the Illinois Medical Society, and taught at Rush Medical College.

His wealth garnered him a fair amount of political power; he founded the Illinois Republican Party and became a personal friend of Abraham Lincoln. He sold much of his Chicago holdings prior to a trip to England. While away, the property he sold was lost in the Great Chicago Fire. In 1851 he was one of the group of Methodists who founded Northwestern University, and was elected the first president of its Board of Trustees.

U.S. President Abraham Lincoln appointed John Evans the second Governor of the Territory of Colorado on March 31, 1862. Governor Evans and his good friend the Reverend John Chivington founded the Territory's first college, the Colorado Seminary, which later became the University of Denver. In 1864 Governor Evans appointed the Reverend Chivington as Colonel of the Colorado Volunteers and sent him with 800 cavalry troopers to "quiet" the Indians. Chivington and his men knew of the unarmed band of Cheyenne and Arapaho led by Black Kettle, seeking peace talks, camped along Sand Creek in the east central part of the Territory. On November 28, 1864, Colonel Chivington ordered his men to attack the encampment killing about 53 unarmed men and 110 women and children and wounding many more. Most of the dead were mutilated. Governor Evans decorated Chivington and his men for their "valor in subduing the savages" and fought off rumors of an unprovoked massacre. On July 18, 1865, new President Andrew Johnson asked Governor Evans to resign because of his attempt to cover up the Sand Creek Massacre. Evans resigned as Governor, but he remained popular in the Colorado Territory for his perceived toughness in dealing with the "enemies" of the Territory. Dr. Evans continued to serve as the Chairman of the Denver Seminary Board of Trustees until his death on July 2, 1897.


John Evans was the father-in-law of Samuel Hitt Elbert, the sixth Governor of Colorado Territory from 1873 to 1874. Mount Evans is named in Evans honor, and Mount Elbert is named in honor of his son-in-law.

In World War II, the United States liberty ship SS John Evans was named in his honor.

Colorado Territorial Governor, Politician, Physician. The father-in-law of Samuel Hitt Elbert, Colorado Territory Governor from 1873 to 1874, he founded the Illinois Medical Society, researched the cholera epidemic of 1848 and 1849 and was instrumental in developing congressional quarantine laws to prevent the spread of this disease. Railroad investments made him wealthy and allowed him to become politically influential. By 1852, he was on the Chicago City Council and founded the Illinois Republican Party where he not only ran for Congress but also became a friend of Abraham Lincoln. He was also one of the founders of the University of Denver and Northwestern University, where he chaired the Board of Trustees until his death (the college town of Evanston, Illinois, named in his honor). Appointed Colorado Territorial Governor by President Lincoln in 1862, succeeding William Gilpin, he created the Denver Seminary, which is now Denver University; he was trustee until his death. After the Congressional investigation of the infamous Sand Creek Indian Massacre in late 1864 caused him to lose his federal appointment as territorial governor, he then applied his vision and capital to developing and financing rail service into and throughout Colorado. Denver's claim as the commercial capitol of the Rocky Mountain Empire was then substantiated due to his energetic efforts, making Denver grow from a settlement to a city. The City of Evans, Colorado and Mount Evans, a 14,000-foot mountain in Colorado with the highest paved road in North America, was named for him.* Reference: Find A Grave Memorial - SmartCopy: Jan 28 2023, 17:54:20 UTC

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Dr. John Evans, 2nd Territorial Governor of Colorado's Timeline

March 9, 1814
Waynesville, Warren County, Ohio, USA
Attica, IN, United States
Evanston, IL, United States
June 26, 1863
Denver, CO, United States
England, UK
July 2, 1897
Age 83
Denver, Denver County, Colorado, USA
Riverside Cemetery, Denver, Denver County, Colorado, USA