The self-made man, when he has made a place for himself in the world and installed himself in it, has done as much for the world as he has done for himself. The builder of his own fortunes is an active factor in advancing the best interests of the community in which he lives and flourishes, and every dollar he makes for himself becomes, in a sense, public capital. Such a progressive and helpful citizen is Sanford Evans, of Genesee, a prominent farmer and mill owner, who has done as much for the development of Genesee and its tributary territory as any other man. A glance at the successful incidents in his career affords an index to his character and a suggestion of the prime reason of his success. He would appear to be a man who plans far ahead, and, adhering tenaciously to his plans, works untiringly to insure their success.
Sanford Evans is of Welsh ancestry. His forefathers settled in the part of old Virginia now known as West Virginia, where Benjamin Evans, his grandfather, was a successful farmer. Silas Evans, son of Benjamin and father of Sanford Evans, was born in Virginia, succeeded to the old Evans homestead, married Miss Peggie Walker, a native of his own state, and lived well-to-do and respected until after his sixty-ninth birthday. His wife died in her sixty-sixth year. They had eight children, seven of whom are living. Sanford Evans, their third child, was born in what is now known as West Virginia, January 8, 1848. He was educated in schools near his home, and at the age of twenty-one years went to Missouri and began life for himself. He worked at first as a farm hand and remained there with varying fortune for about six years. In 1874 he crossed the plains with a team and went to the Willamette valley, thence to Walla Walla and from there came on to Nez Perces county, Idaho, and located on one hundred and sixty acres of government land.
At that time Mr. Evans had little besides his horse and wagon and his few personal belongings. But he was rich in ambition and had splendid capital in power for a goodly aggregate number of days’ work, upon which he drew liberally, and which he invested profitably. For eight years he lived a lonely bachelor life on his place. He paid for it and enlarged his holdings from time to time until he was the owner of eleven hundred and forty acres of nice land. Meantime his attention was directed to another means to the improvement of his fortune and he availed himself of it and improved it with the tenacity of purpose that has characterized his career. While he was building a fine large residence and other good buildings on his property he engaged in conducting a warehouse business in Genesee. This enterprise grew to such proportion that when his warehouse burned, January 9, 1899, he lost forty-eight thousand bushels of wheat. Notwithstanding he carried heavy insurance, he sustained an actual cash loss of about three thousand dollars. But he has already erected a new flouring mill and warehouse and has entered upon a new era of prosperity. His mill is supplied with modern roller-process machinery and has a capacity of seventy-five barrels of flour a day. He sows four hundred acres of wheat every year, and one year he garnered twenty-one thousand bushels from eleven hundred acres, and on four hundred acres of summer fallow he once raised twelve thousand bushels.
Mr. Evans returned to West Virginia in 1886, and, at his old home, married Miss Erma Burgess, daughter of Columbus Burgess, who came of an old Virginia family. They have three interesting children, named Edgar, Roy and Minnie. Mr. Evans is a Republican, but is not enough of a practical politician to have any desire for office. He believes he will best serve his personal interests by giving his attention entirely to his large and growing business. He is a Knight of Pythias and is popular in social and business circles, and has proved himself a public-spirited and progressive citizen, devoted to all worthy interests of Genesee.