Originally created 08/18/99

Boom towns started small

The Evans area has experienced growth rates unmatched in other parts of Columbia County except by her sister community of Martinez.

Today, most of the county's population is in these two localities. For so long, this was a vast, almost barren landscape. Now, with continuing construction, Evans has begun to take shape as a small metropolis.

The scattered hamlet known as Evans began to take shape in the early 1800s.

Tradition has it being named for George Washington Evans, an Augusta-area business leader and mayor in 1855. The home he later occupied on present-day Columbia Road, known as Cedar Grove, still stands.

The Evans community was well-represented by other families in the vicinity. The early central location was the junction of what then was Petersburg Road at Augusta-Knoxville Railroad, with houses scattered sporadically throughout the area.

Here, the country general stores of Evans and Squires, with their aura of nostalgia, proved the foundation of what we know as the Evans community. With the laying of railroad tracks, stations periodically began to appear, although the rail line never made its way to its proposed destination of Knoxville, Tenn.

In the 1890s, the rail facilities came under ownership of Charleston & Western Carolina Railroad, with its terminus in Spartanburg, S.C. A depot at Evans stood for many decades. During the years, the railroad was a valuable link to the outside world. The old Magnolia Line now is under the large umbrella of the CSX rail system.

U.S. mail service was inaugurated in Evans on Jan. 10, 1882, with Thomas B. Jenkins as the first postmaster. Until Dec. 1, 1926, postal records listed the name of the community with the odd spelling of Evens.

Evans and Martinez grew up around perimeter settlements, namely Darby's and Quaker Springs, that flourished during the stagecoach days of the 1830s and 1840s.

Martinez, named for Cuban immigrant Antonio Martinez y Saldivar, came into existence after the turn of the century. A postal outlet was initiated Oct. 15, 1915.

For a span of later years, saw-milling and the timber business thrived throughout the Evans area. Rountree's Store became the news center and pulse of the village.

In 1987, with increased growth in this area, Columbia County leaders opened a government complex on land once owned by the Marshall family. A nearby aircraft beacon stood in a field at this locality for quite a while.

Today, Evans proudly proclaims a new, modern post office with all the up-to-date amenities and a variety of commercial businesses. Elementary and high schools dot the terrain, providing a contemporary curriculum for students along with a public library. Churches of all faiths abound.

As Evans continues to make the transition from its former rural character to an urban community, longtime residents have vivid memories of the past.

Though the old, wooden mail institution with the dog napping on the front porch is gone forever, it survives in the thoughts of many of Evans' senior residents.

Charles Lord, a Columbia County historian, lives in Grovetown. This article originally was published in The Augusta Chronicle on April 26, 1998.


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