Born in Cokesbury, Governor John Gary Evans (1863-1942) attended Cokesbury Conference School. In 1879, he enrolled at Union College in Schenectady, New York, but withdrew before he graduated to study law with his uncle in Augusta, Georgia. He was admitted to the South Carolina Bar in 1886, and began a law practice in Aiken. Evans began his political career by being elected to the state House of Representatives in 1889, and the state Senate in 1893. A supporter of Benjamin Tillman (see Governor Benjamin R. Tillman), as a member of the legislature, he favored the repeal of the postwar civil rights act and the enactment of a law setting up a state liquor dispensary system. In 1894, Evans was elected governor. During his administration, the county governmental system was revised and anti-trust and railroad regulatory legislation was passed. As governor, he resisted efforts to repeal the dispensary law. In 1895, he presided over the state Constitutional Convention. Following the outbreak of the Spanish-American War, Evans received a commission as a Major in the U.S. Army and acted as the Inspector General on the staff of General Keifer. Later, he assisted in the organization of the civil government in Havana, Cuba. After the war, Evans resumed his law practice in Spartanburg. He also served in the state House of Representatives after his tenure as governor. Evans died in Spartanburg in 1942.
Courtesy of the South Caroliniana Library.