top of page

The Evans Family

The Evans Family was one of the families, along with the Foulke family, to settle in the new land they called "Gwynedd" in 1698. The original Evans family of Gwynedd were the Evans brothers: Thomas, Robert, Owen, and Cadwalader.

It was Thomas Evans, the oldest of the Evans brothers, and William John who represented their communities in Wales to purchase the "Welsh Tract, " near the city of Philadelphia by the Delaware River, after William Penn made the city successful and prosperous.


The Homes of the Evans Brothers

Thomas and William made deeds for the settlers of Gwynedd to determine how much land each person should have. For the Evans brothers, they bought land that was close to each other's homes with the Gwynedd Friends Meeting House in between them. Thomas's home was located along Sumneytown Pike east of the North Wales borough and the location of the former Heist Tavern that ran for 90 years since 1784!

Fun Fact #1: It was said from Thomas's son Hugh that William Penn stayed over at Thomas's home when visiting Gwynedd.

A description of Thomas's home:

"The allusion to the material of which Thomas Evans's house was built, — barked logs, — and the statement that this was superior to the houses of the other settlers, give us sufficient light on the subject of their general character, fixing them as log cabins, with the bark unremoved. Such, no doubt, the first dwellings of the township were."

- Howard Malcolm Jenkins, 62

There were speculations to whether the homes of Thomas and Robert still exist when we know Owen and Cadwalader's homes are still standing today. There was an article that discussed the search of those homes. Read more about it HERE!

Below is an 1877 map that shows the exact locations of where the Evans brothers' homes were and who owned them at the time:

  • Thomas - R.J. Cruikshank

  • Robert - S. White

  • Owen - E. Evans

  • Cadwalader - M. Bellows

Montgomery County 1877, Gwynedd, North Wales, Ambler, Royer's Ford, Limerick Station; J. D. Scott, Publisher

The Descendants of the Evans Family

Based on my research on the Evans family, there were family members who were heavily involved from the 1700s, the Revolutionary War, to the early 20th century. Most of those family members came from the Thomas Evans family line.


Evans-Mumbower Mill

The Evans-Mumbower Mill (Wissahickon Trails)

The Evans-Mumbower Mill was part of Thomas Evans's land when he purchased it in 1702. In 1713, Thomas sold his land to his son Evan Evans (1684-1747) for 176 perches. In Evan's will, he left bequests to his children Abraham, Jonathan, Musgrave, David, Daniel, and Barbara.

Fun Fact #2: Evan's son Daniel married the sister of Philadelphia astronomer David Rittenhouse.

The location of the mill is by the Wissahickon Creek where it runs freely and unfettered in the forests. It was an opportunity to use the creek as a resource for the families of Gwynedd. In 1744, Evan deeded 29 acres to his son Abraham "for the purpose of digging a race to lead the water to a saw and fulling mill over which race the father reserved the right of three bridges to be built and maintained..."

Two years later, Abraham built the saw mill and erected a dwelling next to it. His home was demolished in 1844. His home was remembered as being an "old hipped-roof house."

At the rise of the American Revolutionary War, the mill was in procession of the Wheeler family. During their occupation, Samuel Wheeler hired a man who brought in a "black-looking stone" and threw it in the fire. When it burned easily and completely consumed, Samuel wondered if there was a coal mine beneath the ground.

In 1780, Samuel demolished the old Evans mill and built a new one. He built a blacksmith shop and a well.

During the 19th century, prominent lawyer and PA Congressman Joseph Fornance purchased the Wheeler's mill in 1839. He owned the mill for 12 years until he faced debt, and it was later sold to Henry Mumbower in 1858.

Fun Fact #3: Before Joseph Fornance purchased the mill, the mill was sold to James Keefe who built the current structure in 1835, with his name stone on the wall.

Over time, the mill was in disrepair and was on the verge of collapsing. It was until 1987 the Wissahickon Trails took ownership and transformed the mill into an educational site for students to learn about how machines and factories work during the 18th century.

The Evans-Mumbower mill was placed in the National Register of Historic Places in 2008.

Map of Montgomery County, Pennsylvania : from original surveys (1849); William E. Morris, Publisher
Montgomery County 1877, Gwynedd, North Wales, Ambler, Royer's Ford, Limerick Station; J. D. Scott, Publisher

Evan's eldest son Jonathan Evans (1714-1795), meanwhile, was married and moved to Philadelphia where their youngest son Jonathan, Jr. (1759-1839) was born. Jonathan, Jr. learned the trade of carpentry and built a home on 322 Delancey Street.

He had a "liberal education" at the Friends school where he was given to "dissipating with 'gay and volatile companions, giving himself up to mirth and conviviality.'" It lead him to a religious life and convictions by reading William Penn's No Cross, No Crown. As a result, he shut himself out from the world. Unfortunately his life turned when he was imprisoned for refusing to fight for the American cause during the Revolutionary War.

Jonathan, Jr. was known to play a part in the separation of the Society of Friends from 1823 to 1827. He even denounced Elias Hicks for spreading his ideas in the society.

Fun Fact #4: The Evans Family of Philadelphia were members of the Pine Street Friends Meeting where Dolley Madison married her first husband James Todd before marrying Founding Father and 4th President James Madison.


Charles Evans and the Friends Asylum

Dr. Charles Evans (1802-1879)

Jonathan Jr.'s youngest son Dr. Charles Evans (1802-1879) was influenced by his family's Quaker values, and was involved in the Society of Friends, especially during the separation of the society.

He studied medicine at the University of Pennsylvania and later became the consulting physician of the Friends Asylum for the Relief of Persons Deprived of the Use of Their Reason.

The Friends Asylum was founded by Philadelphia Quakers in 1813, the first private psychiatric hospital in the United States. Four years later, the hospital was opened for patients. At the hospital, physicians practiced moral treatment, "a methodology which combined the Quaker religious views of the individual with medical sciences' developing therapies," that lead to the foundation for modern psychiatric medicine in America. They made reforms to improve the living conditions for the insane: instead of being in chains, patients have private rooms with windows; they were allowed to walk around the asylum and work in the hospital's garden.

The Friends Asylum Drawn by William Strickland (Free Library of Philadelphia)

Charles wrote his account of the Friends Asylum in 1838, describing the history of insane hospitals and the patients of the hospital.

Fun Fact #5: The hospital's first patient was a 48 year old woman who had been insane for 11 years.

In 1834, Charles worked with fellow Quaker physician Samuel George Morton on a 15 year old boy who was attacked with pleuropneumonia.

NOTE: To read more about mental health in Philadelphia, go to the Benjamin Rush Portal I created at the University of Pennsylvania to learn about how Rush became a leader and innovator of mental heath reform.

The Evans Family Tree (Thomas/Evan Line)

The Evans-Wister-Foulke Connection

Thomas's other son Hugh Evans (1682-1772), the one who wrote an account of William Penn visiting his father, moved to Lower Merion Township in 1716 and began his family there.

His granddaughter Lowry Jones (1742-1804) married Daniel Wister in Philadelphia where their first daughter Sarah "Sally" Wister was born, and would later become a famous figure during the American Revolutionary War.


The Wister family resided on 325 Market Street and owned a summer home in Germantown, built in 1744 by Sally's grandfather John Wister, known today as Grumblethorpe. It was origalnly known as the "John Wister's Big House." After her grandfather died, her family made Germantown their permanent home.

The former Foulke Mansion

When the British marched into the city of Philadelphia, it was said that British Brigadier-General James Agnew pushed the Wister family out of their home so he can occupy the home. On the morning of October 4, 1777, Agnew was marching with his army on their way to the battle at the Chew House in Germantown until he was fatally shot. He was taken back to the Wister home where he died. There were other sources stating that it was the Wister family who already left the city before their home was occupied by Agnew.

The Foulke Family Tree (Thomas/William Line)

The Wister family stayed at the Foulke Mansion in Penllyn where Sally began writing in her diary about her experiences during the Revolutionary War while living with her family and relatives. During that time, the Foulke Mansion was owned by Hannah Foulke and her three children: Jesse, Priscilla and Lydia. It was possible that the Wister family chose the Foulke Mansion due to Sally's mother's family members marrying members of the Foulke family.

Read more about the Foulke Family by clicking HERE!

The period Sally wrote in her diary was from September 24, 1777 when she first settled into the Foulke Mansion to August 1778 when she and her family returned to Philadelphia.

"This day, till twelve o'clock, the road was mighty quiet, when Hobson Jones came riding along. About that time he made a top at our door, and said the British were at Skippack road; that we should soon see their light horse, and [that] a party of Hessians had actually turn'd into our lane. My Dadda and Mamma gave it the credit it desrve'd, for he does not keep strictly to the truth in all respects; but the delicate, chicken-hearted Liddy and I were wretchedly scar'd. We cou'd say nothing but 'Oh! what shall we do? What will become of us?' These questions only augmented the terror we were in.
Well, the fright went off. We saw no light horse or Hessians. O. Foulke came here in the evening, and told us that Gen'l Washington had come down as far as the Trappe, and that Gen'l McDougle's brigade was stationed at Montgomery, consisting of about 16 hundred men. This he had from Dr. Edwards, Lord Stirling's aid-de-camp; so we expected to be in the midst of right army or t'other."

- Sally Wister, September 25, 1777

"Sally Wister was a bright, intellectual girl, just budding into womanhood, and her journal, somewhat in the nature of a series of letters to her girl friend, recorded her everyday impressions of the scenes and happenings of that eventful period, and its reference to her friends and acquaintances gives us delightful glimpses of the social life of that period."

- John Woolf Jordan, 266

The Evans Family Tree (Thomas/Hugh Line)

Cadwalader Evan's Descendants

The Glendower Farm

Thomas Evans's brother, Cadwalader Evans (1664-1745), had descendants who also continued success in their lives. It began with Cadwalader who purchased his land from William Penn in 1702. From there, he began erecting buildings including his home (known today as the Glendower Farm) that stands today. In 1743, his son John Evans (1689-1745) took over the property. When he died, the land was past down to his children, but none of them were able to hold onto the property. One of his children was Cadwalader Evans.

Dr. Cadwalader Evans (1716-1773) was a prominent physician in Philadelphia who was good friends with Benjamin Franklin. He worked with a 14 year old female patient who was experiencing violent convulsive fits. It was stated that she had near 40 convulsive fits within 24 hours. She even struggled to control her fits that three people could hardly keep her in bed. In 1752, Cadwalader wanted to try using electricity to cure the patient. That was when he sought help from Franklin since Franklin himself was experimenting electricity with his kite.

"I receiv’d four shocks morning and evening; they were what they call 200 strokes of the wheel, which fills an eight gallon bottle, and indeed they were very severe. On receiving the first shock, I felt the fit very strong, but the second effectually carry’d it off; and thus it was every time I went through the operation; yet the symptoms gradually decreased, ’till at length they intirely left me. I staid in town but two weeks, and when I went home, B. Franklin was so good as to supply me with a globe and bottle, to electrify myself every day for three months. The fits were soon carried off, but the cramp continued somewhat longer, tho’ it was scarcely troublesome, and very seldom return’d. I now enjoy such a state of health."

- 14 year old female patient, September 1752

Cadwalader was also involved with the Pennsylvania Hospital and the enlargement of a new library.

You can also read letters and correspondences written by Cadwalader and Benjamin Franklin transcribed HERE!

Cadwalader Evans (1762-1841)

The Glendower home was past on to his grandson Cadwalader Evans (1762-1841) who would later become a house speaker of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. He was the last Evans to live in the former Cadwalader Evans home.

Cadwalader went on to live in Philadelphia where he and his family lived. His son Dr. Edmund Cadwalder Evans (1812-1881) was the last child to be born in the old farmstead. He was educated in Philadelphia, and studied medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. After graduation, he moved near Paoli in Tredyffrin Township, PA to start his practice.

Edmund had two sons: Rowland and Allen Evans. Rowland Evans (1847-1915) was educated in West Chester and advanced at the Wyer's Academy, one of the most admirable academies in Pennsylvania. He then went on to study law under the masterly preceptorship of George W. Biddle. In 1869, Rowland was admitted to the Philadelphia bar.

Rowland played a huge part in framing the Pennsylvania Statute of April 28, 1899, "classifying the townships of the state and providing a special form of government for 'Township of the First Class,' whereby the needs of the more populous townships were provided for, a measure which has proved to be beneficial and satisfactory." (Roberts, 63)

Allen Evans (1849-1925)

Allen Evans (1849-1925), meanwhile, studied architecture for two years at the Philadelphia Polytechnic College. He worked for architects like Samuel Sloan and Frank Furness whom Allen eventually attained full partnership with after working with him for 10 years. Projects Allen had done with Furness include the Merion Cricket Club, where he was president, and the Girard Trust Building owned today by the Ritz-Carlton.

Allen and Furness also designed four row homes on South 21st Street, known as Hockley Row, or Evans Row, west of Rittenhouse Square.

The Evans Family Tree (Cadwalader Line)


Avery, Ron. "Grumblethorpe Blood Stains." Philadelphia Oddities. Accessed December 5, 2021.

Brannen, Anne. "Evan Lloyd Evans (ab Evan)." Geni. Last modified November 23, 2020.

"Cadwalader Evans." Pennsylvania House of Representatives. Accessed March 23, 2021.

Eberlein, Harold Donaldson and Horace Mather Lippincott. The Colonial Homes of Philadelphia and Its Neighborhood. (Philadelphia and London: J.B. Lippincott Company, 1912): 48-51.

"Evan or Lloyd ap Evans." FamilySearch. Accessed December 4, 2021.

"Evans-Mumbower Mill: Nearly 300 Years of History." Wissahickon Trails. Last modified September 18, 2020.

"File:Charles Evans 1802-1879.jpg." Wikimedia Commons. Accessed December 4, 2021.

"Friends Asylum." National Parks Service. Accessed December 4, 2021.

Herman, Andrew Mark. Eastern Montgomery County. (Charleston: Arcadia Publishing, 1999): 76.

Jenkins, Howard Malcolm. Historical collections relating to Gwynedd, a township of Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, settled, 1696, by immigrants from Wales, with some data referring to the adjoining township, of Montgomery, also settled by Welsh. (Philadelphia: Howard Malcolm Jenkins, 1897): 21-32, 55-62, 151, 153, 157-158, 160-161, 167-168, 171-172, 176-179, 182, 187, 191.

Jennings, James. "Know Your Roots: Glendower Farms Boasts History That Run Real Deep." Philadelphia Magazine. Last modified February 19, 2015.

Jordan, John Woolf. Colonial And Revolutionary Families Of Pennsylvania, Volume 1. (New York and Chicago: Clearfield Company, 1911): 265-266.

Klein, Randolph Shipley. "Dr. Cadwalader Evans (1716-1773): Physician and Friend of Benjamin Franklin." Transactions & Studies of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia 35, no. 1 (1967).

Lee, Robin, Bob Carson, and Eric Evans. "Evan Lloyd ap Evan (1630 - 1690)." WikiTree. Last modified June 1, 2021.

"Local History. 'E.M.' Writes the History of the Famous Mumbower's Mill, Near Gwynedd--A Pre-Revolutionary Building." Ambler Gazette. August 11, 1898. Page 2.

"Local History Sketch. Interesting Local Matter Collected by 'E.M.': One of the Great Evans Plantations in Lower Gwynedd--Cadwalader Evans--John Evans--Rowland Evans--Evan Jones--Martin L. Bellows--Nathan Follwell--Samuel S. Hollingsworth--Pemberton Hollingsworth." Ambler Gazette. July 15, 1909: Page 3.

Medical observations and inquiries. Volume 1. (London: 1757): 83-86.

Morris, William E, and Smith & Wistar. Map of Montgomery County, Pennsylvania: from original surveys. [Philadelphia: Smith & Wistar, 1849] Map.

Morton, Samuel George. Illustrations of Pulmonary Consumption: Its Anatomical Characters, Causes, Symptoms and Treatment, Second Edition. (Philadelphia: Edward C. Biddle, 1837): 64-72, 322-324.

"Owen Evans Homestead." Historic Properties. Accessed December 6, 2021.

"Patients at the Friends’ Asylum, 1817-1833." Darin Hayton (blog). November 24, 2016.

Price, Debbie M. "For 175 Years: Treating Mentally Ill With Dignity." The New York Times. April 17, 1988.

Quinn, James A. "Robert Evans Home, Gwynedd, Pennsylvania, partly built in 1716." The Analog Dial. Accessed December 6, 2021.

Quinn, James A. and Elfed Owen. "Descendants of Ievan known as Evan Robert Lewis, The Evans family of Gwynedd, Pennsylvania." Gwynedd Friends Meeting History Page. Last modified August 2010.

Roberts, Ellwood. Biographical Annals of Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, Containing Genealogical Records of Representative Families, Including Many of the Early Settlers and Biographical Sketches of Prominent Citizens, Volume 2. (New York, Chicago: T.S. Benham & Co. and The Lewis Publishing Co., 1904): 462-463.

"Sally Wister's Journal." Museum of the American Revolution. Last modified September 12, 2018.

Scott, J. D. Montgomery County 1877, Gwynedd, North Wales, Ambler, Royer's Ford, Limerick Station, 1877.

Strickland, William. "Friends' Asylum near Philadelphia." Free Library of Philadelphia. Accessed December 5, 2021.

Tatman, Sandra L. "Evans, Allen (1849 - 1925)." Philadelphia Architects and Buildings. Accessed December 6, 2021.

Wainwright, Nicholas B. "Gwynedd Hall." The Bulletin of the Historical Society of Montgomery County 11, no. 1 (1957): 3-24.

Yeager, Alyssa. "Party Like It's....1784?" PartySpace. Last modified February 20, 2015.

140 views0 comments

Related Posts

See All
bottom of page