John Newton Evans Papers

Identifier: 91-42

Scope and Contents

Although the collection is small it contains a variety of interesting and informative materials related to John N. Evans, his family, and his business interests. Letters from Evans to his wife reveal details of his cattle operations, as he usually wrote when he was out of town managing his ranching interests or buying or selling livestock. Mary's letters tell of events at home or of her trips to San Francisco to visit friends. There are some miscellaneous letters, such as two from the Reverend Samuel Unsworth, pastor of Trinity Episcopal Church in Reno. One of Unsworth's letters offers sympathy on the death of the Evans' next-to-youngest daughter, [Nancy B. Evans].

Upon the death of John Newton Evans in 1904, his widow and surviving children formed the J.N. Evans Estate Company, Inc. to manage the estate. This collection includes articles of incorporation, bylaws, minutes of board of directors' meetings, and other legal records. Several of those documents list assets of the estate, both real and personal.

A few papers of Rowena Evans Moraghan accompanied this accession and include correspondence, legal and financial documents, and bank records. Other miscellaneous materials include a description of Alaska and narrative of Mrs. Evans' sightseeing trip there in 1915; two biographical sketches of John's parents, Mr. & Mrs. Pierce Evans and J.N.'s life (mostly prior to his 1850 arrival in California); organizational histories of the Twentieth Century Club of Reno, Trinity Guild, and The Missionary Society; voluminous correspondence with the Washington Memorial Church/Nevada National Bell Fund; assorted poems; and newspaper clippings about Reno people and events and about the Evans' house.

The Herz gift also included a number of photographs of the Evans family; those photographs remain in the Herz Photograph Collection. See the photograph curator for more details on those images.


  • 1892-1944


Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research. Materials must be used on-site; advance notice suggested. Access to parts of this collection may be restricted under provisions of state or federal law.

Biographical Note

John Newton Evans was born in Defiance, Ohio, in 1835 to Mr. Pierce Evans and Mrs. Mary A. Evans. He arrived in northeastern Nevada in 1850 after driving a herd of cattle from Ohio. Three of his brothers were already in California and Nevada. John, or Newt as he was sometimes called by his family, bought land in Long Valley, Lassen County, California, in partnership with his brothers Allen and Alvaro. Together they raised alfalfa and cattle, with Newt making several trips to the east to purchase additional livestock.

During Newt's 1876 trip to Ohio he met Elizabeth Metcalf, whom he married the following year. Soon after their return to Nevada, they purchased land north of the town of Reno, at the foot of what was to become the University of Nevada, on Evans Avenue. There they built a large house and raised their six children: Mary Elizabeth Evans Robinson; John, Jr.; Pierce Rice; Rowena Evans Morghan; Nancy B. (who died in about 1901); and Ben Allen Evans.

Newt and his brothers eventually sold their Long Valley property and concentrated on building their holdings near Reno and on the Humboldt River, and on acquiring the Highland Ditch and its water rights. John N. Evans was instrumental in having the fledgling University of Nevada moved from Elko to Reno in 1885 and sold the state land upon which the campus was built. He was a director of the Bank of Nevada and Farmers' and Merchants Bank and president of the University of Nevada Board of Regents.

Mrs. Elizabeth Evans was very active in the Reno community. She was a leader of Trinity Episcopal Church, the Twentieth Century Club, and other organizations. She traveled to other states and made a trip to Alaska in 1915.

John Newton Evans died in an accident in 1904. After his death, his widow and surviving children formed the J.N. Evans Estate Company, Inc. to administer Evans' estate. Mrs. Evans died in 1924. The next year, the Evans' mansion was sold to the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity who used it until 1953, when it was torn down and replaced by a ranch-style fraternity house. The adjacent Evans property was purchased by the City of Reno and converted into a city park (Evans Park).


0.41 Linear Feet (21 items)

Language of Materials



John Newton Evans was a director of the Bank of Nevada and Farmers' and Merchants Bank and president of the University of Nevada Board of Regents. Collection includes papers included correspondence from him and various family members, legal documents, financial papers and clippings about the Evans family, their home and Reno. Material between 1892-1944.


Arranged without hierarchy.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The John Newton Evans Papers were donated to the Special Collections Department in several increments by Fred Holabird and by Dr. James Herz (as part of Dr. Herz' large gift of photographs). The bulk of the collection came from Dr. Herz; documentation with that gift indicates that he received it from Mrs. Mary Elizabeth Evans Robinson, daughter of J.N. Evans.

In 2008, additional material related to the John Newton Evans and John Newton Evans, Jr. was donated by Cindy Southerland.

Related Materials

Related archival materials held by the UNR Special Collections Department:

Guide to the Papers of John Newton Evans
Susan Searcy
October 1996
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the University of Nevada, Reno. Special Collections Department Repository

Mathewson-IGT Knowledge Center
1664 N. Virginia St.
Reno Nevada 89557-0322 USA
775-682-5724 (Fax)