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Woodford P. Evans. Among the able and valued newspaper men of Kansas, one who gave the best years of an active and achieving life to journalism was the late Woodford P. Evans, whose closing twenty-one years were spent at Lebo as editor and owner of the Lebo Enterprise. He was well known in other parts of the state and in other sections of the country, and was an honored veteran of the Civil war. Throughout his entire career he was an earnest and fearless advocate of right, irrespective of class or station, and he inspired such universal confidence that many offices of trust and responsibility were bestowed upon him, and true and loyal friends by the score testified to his engaging personality. During the years he lived at Lebo he was one of the vitalizing forces of the town.
Woodford P. Evans was born on a farm near Greencastle, Indiana, May 3, 1842. His parents were William M. and Lavina Evans, who removed from Indiana to Illinois in his early childhood. His father was a furniture dealer and undertaker at Greenville in Bond County, Illinois, and there the youth attended school and then entered the Advocate printing office and learned the trade.
When the Civil war came on Mr. Evans saw that the plans he had made for the future were disarranged, for he felt that it was his patriotic duty to offer his services in such a time of stress. He enlisted in the Twenty-second Illinois Regiment at the age of nineteen and was the first to enlist in a company made up at Greenville by Captain Hubbard. He served ninety days and was discharged for disability. After recovering his health and while at Indianola, Iowa, he received a commission from the Government and recruited Company D, Thirty-fourth Iowa, and served in that company, first under Captain Knox and then under Capt. J. M. Lee, to the end of the conflict, coming out of the service with the rank of second lieutenant. At the siege of Vicksburg, when victory had crowned the Union arms, he was the moving spirit in securing the publishing of a newspaper to give an account of the surrender. No print paper being available, the story was told on wall paper, and the little sheet became historic. Probably a few copies might yet be found among some state documents or the treasures of a curiosity collector. During his long period of service, although active and aften exposed to hazards, Mr. Evans escaped being wounded and returned to his home practically uninjured.
Soon after the close of the war he took up the study of law under Judge Kingsbury at St. Louis, and was admitted to the bar, but before getting thoroughly started in his practice he was induced to take the foremanship of the St. Louis Globe Democrat, and was later engaged as foreman of the State printing office at Des Moines, Iowa. Thus he drifted back to his first love, and subsequently established the Ida County Pioneer at Ida Grove, Iowa, which he conducted for some years, in the meanwhile taking an active part in republican party politics and in public affairs generally. While residing in Ida County he was elected to different county offices and was appointed and served as postmaster of Ida Grove.
In 1885 Mr. Evans decided to remove to Kansas, possibly with the idea of engaging in agricultural operations at a later date, and after reaching Lane County took up a Government claim and resided there for three years, in the meantime operating a job printing office, his types, forms and presses being set up in a sod house, which was also his dwelling for a time. However, the old lure of the newspaper still persisted and his friends were not surprised when he moved to Lebo, Kansas, and established the Lebo Enterprise, editing it brilliantly during the rest of his life. Mr. Evans died at Lebo, Kansas, June 8, 1911. The only public office he accepted here was that of police justice but his interest in all civic matters was untiring and his helpful influence was given to all worthy enterprises and substantial public movements. He was a member of the Masonic fraternity and belonged to the Methodist Episcopal Church.
Mr. Evans was twice married, first to Maggie Ward, and after her death, to Mary E. Harrison. Mrs. Evans was born in North Carolina, December 7, 1852. No children were born to either marriage but Mr. Evans and his first wife adopted William Chester Evans, of Carroll, Iowa. He is at present in the United States mail service. In 1900 he was married to Lula M. Speer, and they have had eleven children, all surviving except the youngest, who died in infancy, namely: Ethel, Alice, Lucille, Woodford M., Ida Ruth, Florene, Mary Belle, Lenore, Louise and Daniel C.
Since the death of Mr. Evans the Enterprise had been ably edited by Mrs. Evans. She is a self-made woman, having worked her own way through school and prepared herself for teaching. She began teaching in the select schools of North Carolina at the age of fourteen and later was a successful teacher in the public schools of that state and in the State of Iowa, up to the time of her marriage.