Archive for Wednesday, March 22, 2000

Local family serves area for 105 years

March 22, 2000

The Evans family traces its ownership of a Tonganoxie real estate firm back through five generations, to 1895.

That continuous ownership by one family stretches back to Lem Evans, founder of the firm, who was a veteran of the Civil War. He arrived in Tonganoxie around 1850. During the Civil War, he was shot in the eye at the Battle of Wilson Creek. Then, in 1895 he started a real estate company, which was somewhat of an extension of a business he was running prior. He was a cattle and horse trader. Evans would buy horses and sell them to Fort Leavenworth.

At that time, Tonganoxie was a very small town. Most of the activity was along Main Street, and the railroad was the main mode of transportation to Tonganoxie, according to J.W. Evans, 65, Lem Evans' great-great-grandson.

Lem Evans ran the real estate business with the aid of horses and buggies. People would get off the train. Evans would meet them there. They would stay with him at his house. Then, on the next day, he would take them to see the house or property of their liking.

Lem Evans, born in 1841, died in 1920. His son, John Evans, took over the business, but John Evans died 15 years later.

John Evans' son, Lemuel C. (Hap) Evans was the next successor. His sons J.W. and Lem "L.C." joined him during the 1950s.

"I came to work here in 1954," J.W. Evans said.

His brother Lem started in 1957. At the request of her mother-in-law, J.W.'s wife, Ferry, came to work at the company to help out with the books. Hap Evans died in 1988.

"I feel really strong about the business," Ferry said. "I know how important it has been for the family."

Evans Real Estate is now located at 502 E. Fourth Street. This location is the fourth in the 105 years of the family business.

Now there is a fifth generation in the office, ready to keep things going for at least another 20 or 30 years. He is John Evans II, 37.

"The family has worked together for many years in the real estate business and it is still working," J.W. said. "Business has been good over the years. We have a lot of repeat business.

"You don't stay in business 105 years and make so few enemies unless you know what you are doing. We have made a lot of headway and are committed to treating people fairly."

Evans Real Estate supports the old-fashioned style of customer service, but times are changing and the Evans' are preparing for the future of their business.

"Our real estate and insurance will be here for the next 20 to 30 years," John II said. "But, it is going to change a lot. The community is growing rapidly and the capacity of the business is changing."

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