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Lorenzo Bowen Evans

Lorenzo Bowen Evans and Anna Morse Evans

Lorenzo Bowen Evans was born 24 March 1869 in Brigham City, Box Elder, Utah, to Jonah Evans and Frances Bowen. He was the fifth child and fourth son of his parents, the third child born in the United States. The family immigrated from Glamorganshire, Wales, to Utah in 1863 after converting to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Lorenzo’s oldest brother was Thomas, with whom he would homestead in Bannock Valley in the 1890s. 

Lorenzo’s mother died in 1876, a day after giving birth to her eighth child, when Lorenzo was only seven years old. (This baby boy, Francis, lived only a few months). In 1877, Lorenzo’s father remarried Catherine Deer, a widow with several children who was also a Welsh immigrant from Glamorganshire living in Brigham City. The couple eventually had six more children of their own (three of whom did not live past childhood), adding to the six living sons Jonah had with his first wife Frances Bowen, and the three living children (of four) Catherine had with her first husband.

The yours-mine-and-ours Evans family relocated to Samaria, Idaho (by Malad) around 1880. Samaria was thought at that time to be part of Utah Territory, as the final survey had not yet been made. Many of the Samarian families, including Lorenzo and his brother Thomas, later homesteaded in what was then known as the Bannock Valley. 

Both surnames of Evans and Bowen are common names in Wales, and subsequently also in Malad and Samaria, Idaho, which boasts of the largest concentration of Welsh blood in the world outside of Wales.

Lorenzo and Tom reserved water rights in Bannock Valley in 1894. Lorenzo had two rights in 1894 for Meadow Springs and a place called Locomotive Springs.  At this time they also took up “squatter rights” which were later formalized as homesteads.

In 1896 Lorenzo moved permanently to the Bannock Valley, along with George Arbon, Edward Davis, and James Bailey. George, Edward, and James were also from Samaria.

George Arbon and his son Joe were the first ones to winter through in the valley, but the very next year, other homesteaders stayed through, including Lorenzo, along with David Bowen, James Bailey, Edward Davis, and of course George and Joe Arbon. Lorenzo lived in a dugout in this winter, “batching” with the other men.

That same year the new settlers got together and established a post office.  The first application of “Mountain Side, Idaho” was rejected as being too long.  So they reapplied as “Arbon,” in honor of George Arbon, who at the grand advanced age of fifty-six was the oldest. At first mail came weekly from Malad. Lorenzo’s brother Tom had the post office in his home for a while, and Lorenzo served a stint as a rural carrier from 1916 to 1918.

Lorenzo married Anna Morse on 24 February 1897 in Logan, Utah, when he was twenty-seven and she was just eighteen. Lorenzo had watched Anna, nine years his junior, grow up in Samaria. She was the fifth child of nine born to parents Joseph Morse and Esther Jenkins Morse. Her parents also haled from Glamorganshire, Wales before their separate immigrations.

Together Lorenzo and Anna had nine children: Lorenzo Morse, 1898; Joseph Morse, 1899; Jonah Leslie Morse, 1901; Milton Morse, 1904; Welling Morse, 1909; Anna, 1912; Margaret, 1914; and Thomas Morse, 1916.  Daughter Anna later married into the Orison family, another Arbon Valley homestead family. All nine of these children lived to old age, a very unusual occurrence in those days.

After his marriage, Lorenzo settled his family at the base of Mine Canyon. The Evans liked the springs in the area, as they always had fresh water. Mine Canyon was also the route where the native peoples traditionally entered the valley to hunt. Lorenzo was often far from home, either in a distant field or away from the valley shearing or herding sheep. The homesteaders’ wives had a deep fear of the native people.  The children remembered that when their father was gone, their mother would often call them into the house for an early bedtime so she would not have to light a lantern and attract attention to their remote cabin. When the native peoples came begging, she always gave them part of their food stores such as flour, eggs, ham, or bacon; she was afraid not to, even though they did not have much themselves.

Lorenzo served his community in many ways. Lorenzo was a charter member of the Bannock Valley Irrigation Company, which was formed in March 1895.  The earliest meeting took place in August 1893, in Samaria. “The purpose of the Bannock Valley Irrigation Company was to appropriate, take, own, and control the water of what is commonly known as ‘Knox Creek’ and its tributaries in Bannock Valley.” (Bannock Valley, page 20). Lorenzo had four shares.  At this time, Bannock Valley was part of Oneida County until 1913 when the northern part of the valley was put into the newly-formed Power County.

In 1897 Lorenzo and several other homesteaders pooled their money to purchase a registered Clydesdale stallion to breed their mares.  Unfortunately, the horse died soon after it was brought to the valley, so there went their investment.

In 1908 he was elected Justice of the Peace for the Arbon Precinct in Oneida County.  He was also elected Probate Judge of Power County in 1914, and re-elected in 1916.

Another way Lorenzo served his community was through service to his church. He was president of the YMMIA (Young Men Mutual Improvement Association), organized October 1909. He served as the Arbon bishop from 1914 to 1916, and then served as first counselor from 1916 to 1923, among other callings.

In 1918 the Evans family was one of the first to contract the flu, which ultimately killed a few individuals (not any Evans) in the valley. As at other times, families helped each other both in sickness and in health. One woman recalled, “I can…remember…Lorenzo Evans [and others] all going and coming to each other’s homes to help cook, do the chores, and take care of the sick” (Bannock Valley, p. 211).

Lorenzo used to organize the men and boys to build the 4th and 24th of July bowery for the valley celebrations. These boweries were a lot of work; they “were made with green quaken aspen boughs. The whole top was covered to make shade for the crowd. Everyone came from miles around. They had ball games, foot races for all ages, horse shoes, and picnic tables spread with all kinds of food.” Then, as now, the Arbon women were well known for providing an amazing variety of good food for gatherings.

Daughter Anna Evans Orison recalled: “Father was interested in anything that developed the valley. In 1926 he predicted that part of Idaho would someday be irrigated with underground water. He worked very hard to get a good road over Mink Creek so people could shop in Pocatello. [However,] he did not live long enough to see those things happen” (Bannock Valley, page 203).

Wife Anna, along with the unique trials and endless work of being a homesteader’s wife, also served in the community. In her church, she was a Relief Society president and a Primary worker, among other callings. She was very musical and loved to organize dances at the “Green Top” school for the pleasure of the young people of the valley.

Lorenzo Bowen Evans died at age sixty-five on 30 May 1934 in Pocatello, of “dropsy.” Today this term is generally understood to be congestive heart failure.  He was buried in Pocatello. Anna died on 27 July 1943 at age sixty-four, after suffering several debilitating strokes, and was also buried in Pocatello. Lorenzo’s older brother, Thomas, outlived his brother until 1942.

Sources:

Ward, Laurie Jean, Bannock Valley (Providence, Utah: Keith Watkins and Sons, 1982).

https://www.familysearch.org/tree/person/details/LKVY-22P

https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/49510313

The links provided here will provide links to other family members.