John Epps AKA John Evans was born perhaps, as a guesstimate, around 1735, according to secondary sources. He is said to have been “apparently the illegitimate son of a member of the Epps and Evans families.”
This individual has been traced to Lunenburg County, Virginia where, in 1751 and 1752, he was referred to as John Evans. According to the web page just cited, which seems to come from Heinegg’s book, John Evans was called John Epps when he testified in a trial in 1752, but John Evans when he was paid in January of the following year for his participation in that trial.
John Fips or Phips, who appears to have been related in some way to Samuel Phips of Montgomery County, Virginia, Wilkes County, North Carolina, and eventually Ashe County, North Carolina, was in Lunenburg County, Virginia before showing up in Charlotte County, Virginia records, apparently because of a county boundary change. Descendants of this John Phips then show up in Surry and Ashe Counties in North Carolina (Samuel lived in Ashe County) and later in Lawrence County, Indiana (descendants of Samuel lived there as well).
Numerous past posts have noted the close relationship between Samuel Phips and George Reeves. Both men show up in Montgomery County, Virginia and Wilkes County, North Carolina before 1800. From that point Samuel appears in Ashe County, North Carolina records and George Reeves in adjacent Grayson County, Virginia, except when Samuel Phips is discussed for a time as an heir of George Reeves in Grayson County, Virginia records.
Numerous posts have also noted various indirect connections from this Phips or Phipps family to the Epps (Epes, Eppes, etc.) family. Samuel Phips married Elizabeth (“Betty”) Reeves, daughter of George Reeves. George Reeves, in turn, was noted as living in Wilkes County, North Carolina in 1793, but while living there was an heir of John Epps in Halifax County, Virginia. Halifax County was, according to Wikipedia, “established in 1752 by English colonists from Lunenburg County.”
Again, John Epps (was it the same John Epps?) was also known as John Evans. A web page about the Evans family mentions several important Wilkes County, North Carolina records. The page focuses in particular on Theophilus Evans. He shows up in records in Montgomery County, Virginia, Wilkes County, North Carolina, and eventually Ashe County, North Carolina as does Samuel Phips.
Records show Theophilus Evans as involved with some of the same people as was the Samuel Phips family, such as Enoch Osborn, Wells Ward, the Landreths, the Baldwins, and the Maxwells. In 1795, Theophilus Evans sold land to Jesse “Reves” (Reeves), whose land was adjacent to that of one of the Maxwells. The deed was witnessed by Samuel Phips. (Theophilus Evans sold more land to Jesse “Reves” in 1796).
Then in 1799, some sort of case arose in which Jesse “Reaves” (Reeves) sued Theophilus Evans. This Jesse Reeves was likely the individual of that name who was a son of George Reeves, Samuel Phips’s father in law.
Theophilus Evans is believed to have been the father of Barnabas Evans. As noted in a past post, a sale of property from the estate of Barnabas Evans was held in Ashe County in 1855. Among the buyers were Enoch and George “Reaves” (Reeves), this being a later George, along with Wilborn Phipps, grandson of Samuel Phips.
A.B. Cox, in his 1900 regional history Foot Prints on the Sands of Time, refers to David Edwards as having married “Mrs. Jane Reeves, widow of George Reeves.” This was apparently George Reeves, Jr., son of the George Reeves who was Samuel Phips’s father in law. That Jane was supposedly a daughter of Enoch Osborn and Jane Hash, both of whom were closely affiliated with the Samuel Phips family. Apparently Theophilus Evans acted as security when David Edwards was appointed constable in 1795 in Wilkes County (see here).
A point which will only bear significance if examined in the context of a number of past posts is the fact that an Evans, a certain Thomas Evans, was suspected of horse stealing. According to an ad placed on 28 January 1778 by William Michell in the Virginia Gazette, Michell had a horse stolen from his plantation in Goochland County. (We’ve noted numerous Goochland County connections in past posts.)
Michell noted, “I suspect one Thomas Evans, a [small?] Man, and much pockpitted, who I understand lived as Miller for one Bird Pruit, either in Bedford, Pittsylvania, or Halifax, last summer.” Bedford and Pittsylvania are both counties we’ve encountered a number of times, and Halifax was the county where the Epps/Evans family was located at the time that George Reeves was an heir.
One has to wonder whether this William “Michell” of Goochland County in 1778 could have been the William “Mitchell” who was in York County, on the coast, earlier. On 28 October 1773 in the Virginia Gazette, a notice appeared from John Dixon in York County which refers to William Mitchell, “under sheriff” for York County.
The notice itself is dated 16 October 1773. The notice is a bit confusingly worded, but seems to say that while Mitchell was sheriff there, a certain William Evans escaped from jail in April 1770 and again on 16 October 1773. Why he was in jail is not stated, but other mentions in the Virginia Gazette make it clear he was from Brunswick County. (We’ve noted a number of Phips connections involving Brunswick County and several counties to the west, with movement back and forth.)