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First Posted: June 5, 2010
Oct 11, 2010

Christopher Evans/Outlaw and partner John Sontag

Chris Evans was a born in Bells Corners, near Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, on February 19, 1847 and died in 1917. He was known to be brutal, hair triggered, and quick to act violently. He had a regular partner in crime named John Sontag and articles were run frequently about their bad deeds in the California newspapers. They followed their crime with regularity. Curiously, Evans was a family man. He had a wife, Mary Jane ("Molly") Byrd, and daughter, Eva Evans. There were seven children in his family, but Eva, his first born, and his favorite. Apparently he was a loving father.

Evans was accused of robbing the Southern Pacific in California between 1889 and 1892. After killing a member of a posse outside his home on the outskirts of Visalia, he fled to the Sierra Nevada mountains with his partner, John Sontag. While Evans and Sontag hid out, writers Ambrose Bierce and Joaquin Miller/Pen name, (Cincinnatus Heine (or Hiner) Miller )championed their cause in the San Francisco Examiner. The outlaws evaded capture for ten months. They had a shoot-out with a posse at the Young cabin which resulted in the death of Wilson, the posse leader, and McGinnis, a former friend of Chris Evans. John Sontag was killed in a later shoot-out at Stone Corral and Evans was severely wounded and later taken into custody. He was convicted of murder and sentenced to life in Folsom Prison. After serving 17 years he was paroled in 1911 by Gov. Hiram Johnson. He died in Portland, Oregon, in 1917, denying to the end that he ever robbed a train.

For More Information:

Chris Evans: outlaw, family man and myth: through the eyes of his daughter Eva.
CHRISTOPHER EVANS (1847-1917) & JOHN SONTAG (1862-1893) Train Robbers
The Trade of Train Robbery Munsey's—February, 1902