Biographical Sketch - George EVANS (DRAFT)

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click to enlarge ca. 1865-67? Tentatively identified as Margaret, Anna and George EVANS. Detail from undated, unidentified tintype. [Full tintype]
After a wealth of information on George Evans in 1860: a directory, census and naturalization listing, there was a blackout of six years. I have wondered about Civil War service, but found no record of it. George and family were simply absent from any records I've come across from that period. Absent from New York City directories and absent from the first Astoria directory (1864).

George first appeared in the records of Queens County, New York on May 5, 1866, purchasing one 50 x 100 foot lot on the East side of Second Avenue, 250 feet north of Jamaica Avenue in Astoria. The deed doesn't mention buildings, but this was the site of the house that was to be inhabited by his wife, his daughter Anna and by Anna's daughters and granddaughters for the next 80 years. Providently, it was across the street from the house belonging to Annie's future in-laws, Andrew and Sarah Flanagan.

click to see photos The house, 130 years after George Evans purchased the land.
It is a 2-story wooden row house with basement a few steps down, not very different from the neighboring row houses. George's house still exists today in the ghastly shadows of the elevated N line. The address of the house evolved over time from its original "2nd Ave, north of Jamaica" to 506 Debevoise Avenue during the 1880s-1890s, then to 506 2nd Avenue during the early 20th century. With mass renaming and renumbering of Queens streets during the late 1920s, George's house became 30-71 31st Street, and that it remains.

Although I have no proof that George constructed the house, it has been said that it was built like a ship, with shipbuilders joints.

Where George found work as a shipbuilder while living in Astoria we don't actually know. One finds the names of other ship carpenters in the 1864 Astoria directory, the bulk of them living and/or working on Hallets Cove, on or near Front Street (now 1st Street) or Fulton Street (now Astoria Blvd). This was near the terminal for the ferry that transported Astorians over to 92nd Street in Manhattan.

George might have worked right there in Hallets Cove or a couple miles south of Astoria in Hunters Point, or even across Newtown Creek in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. It was on Union Avenue and Kent Street in Greenpoint that George made a rather large purchase on July 14, 1869--a #2 Sewing machine,item #388918, for $65, from O.M. Partridge. The invoice for this was tucked into the Evans bible.

Death Notice, George Evans, (Manhattan: New York Herald, Tuesday Nov 23, 1869, page 8.)

EVANS--Suddenly, on Sunday, November 21, in Astoria, GEORGE EVANS, native of Bristol, England, aged 45 years. Funeral will take place on Wednesday afternoon, at one o'clock, from Second avenue, near Jamaica avenue, Astoria, L.I. Montreal papers please copy.
Photos of the three Flanagan gravestones at Mt. St. Mary's
George was not a resident of Queens County for long. On November 21, 1869, three and a half years after his land purchase, he died -- suddenly, says his death notice. We will probably never know the cause of death. I've wondered if the sewing machine purchase four months before his death was in response to a lingering illness -- that is preparing Margaret for an occupation she would need after his death. But the "suddenly" in his obituary suggests otherwise.

For payment of $10, Margaret Evans purchased a plot at Calvary Cemetery in Queens, and George was buried in it on November 23. One wonders why she didn't buy a plot in the local graveyard of Mt. Carmel, a church with which she was associated. Margaret, age 38 at her husband's death, survived him by 42 years, dying in the 2nd Avenue house in 1911. She was buried beside him at Calvary.

However, on Jan 19, 1916, Annie had her parents exhumed and reinterred in her husband Charles Flanagan's newly-purchased plot at Mount St. Mary's in Flushing, this in an series of adjoining plots belonging to Charles and his brothers Henry and Edward Flanagan. George's date of death was inscribed incorrectly on Charles's stone as November 2.

We see in the 1872 Astoria directory that Margaret did, indeed, earn her living as a seamstress after George's death, working, no doubt, on the sewing machine George bought four months before his death. The 1870 census finds Margaret living with Anna, 16, who was working in a Grocery store.

Though I found no will or probate records, George's house presumably became his spouse's property without legal incident, and in 1901 it was signed over to to their daughter Annie, Mrs. Charles A. Flanagan. Thus, Charles was the only one of the Flanagan sons who did not live on land apportioned by Andrew and Sarah and never lived in a house he owned.

There was a work shed in the backyard of 506 2nd Ave. in which carpentry tools were kept. Though we assumed they belonged to Charles Flanagan who was, by accounts, a fine amateur carpenter, one wonders if these were passed down from his father-in-law, George Evans.

Page 3 - Margaret (CROUGH) EVANS

Nov 22, 2003 - Patty Fagan