Brigadier General Lewis Evans

The first settlers arrived in the Juniata Valley as early as 1748, but settlement did not become permanent until sixteen years later. As it proved impossible to keep frontiersman out of the fertile Valley, the Proprietors purchased the land from the Five Nation Confederation of Iroquois on July 6, 1754. The Delaware Indians, who had previously used the section as a hunting ground, resented the sale and joined with the French in making war.

Delawares of the Indian town of Shamokin, made a foray into the valley on January 27, 1756, first attacking the house of Hugh Micheltree on what is now the Ralph Thompson farm in Delaware Township. Micheltree having gone to Carlisle left his house in the care of his wife and young Edward Nicholas. Both were killed by the Indians who then went up river to the house of Edward Nicholas Sr. There they killed him and his wife, and captured Catherine Nicholas, John Wilcox and his wife, and two children of James Armstrong from across the river. Hugh Micheltree returned and was captured on March 29, 1756. William Stewart held three hundred acres one mile above Thompsontown. When the settlers in that section were driven off, he fled to Carlisle. The fall of 1766 he returned and on his settlement the last Indian was killed in concluding hostilities. Some time about the year 1767, peace was made.

According to tax lists, there were 70 families in the valley in 1767 including Thomas Jordan who on February 10, 1802 sold 541 acres, 200 of which was an original William Penn land grant, to 24 year old Lewis Evans. The Evans family came to Pennsylvania when six brothers of that name left Wales for America. They located in Trappe, Montgomery County. Lewis was born there on December 12, 1778. Evans married Amelia Groathouse of Thompsontown and lived in Jordan’s cabin until completion of their house in 1812. The marriage produced six children. As a Colonel in the local militia Lewis Evans distinguished himself in the defense of Baltimore in the War of 1812 and in 1814 received the rank of Brigadier General, commanding the First Brigade, Eleventh Division, Pennsylvania Volunteers. He also built a sawmill, a gristmill and St. Steven’s Church. He died August 18, 1852 and is buried next to Amelia in St. Stephen’s Cemetery, Thompsontown. The house passed to the Seber family in 1917, the Blaggs in 1985, then the O’Days in 1997.

1886 article by A.L. Guss
Among the heroic defenders of Fort McHenry at Baltimore on the night of September 14,1814 in which the "Star Spangled Banner" was born was Captain Frederick Evans of the Second Regiment of Artillery under Armisted. One of the unwelcome visitors cast into the fort from the British fleet was a large bomb which did not burst in the air but came rolling around loose in the fort. Captain Evans took charge of it and having removed its sputtering fuse and explosive contents kept it for a relic.

After the war had ended the Evans brothers brought this shell up the Susquehanna and Juniata Rivers by boat. Having arrived at Thompsontown Landing, Lewis obtained his team; the shell placed in a temporary box was put upon the wagon and they started for Evans’ Mill. Just as they passed through the village the shell broke through the box and fell to the ground. Lewis wanted to reload the keepsake, but Frederick said, "Let it lay till tomorrow, nobody will run off with it". It was one foot in diameter; it’s walls were one and a half inches thick and it weighed one hundred eighty six pounds. When they returned in the morning they found all the inhabitants of the town gathered around wondering where this curious object had come from. This shell, a veritable relic of the bombardment of Fort McHenry, was last in the possession of General Evans’ grandson Bradford. It was sold at public auction of family estate. It was purchased by the Bower family for forty dollars and is now on display at Fort McHenry. Captain Frederick Evans was Surveyor of Northumberland County, resided in Lewisburg and was a member of the State Legislature in 1810 and 1811. He died December 4, 1844; aged 79 years.

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