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Lemuel Dale Evans (1810-1877)

Chief Justice, Texas Supreme Court, 1870-1873

Lemuel Dale Evans was born January 8, 1810 in Tennessee. He received his education there and was admitted to the bar in 1840.

In 1843 he moved to Fannin County, Texas, and represented that county at the Convention of 1845, where he supported annexation. He then settled in Marshall, in Harrison County, where he practiced law and served as district judge until 1852. The following year he ran for governor but lost. In 1855 he was elected to the U.S. Congress as a representative of the eastern district. He lost reelection in 1857 to states' rights candidate John H. Reagan.

Evans, a strong Unionist, became its leading proponent in East Texas. During the Civil War he left Texas and was appointed by U.S. Secretary of State William Seward to monitor weapon and supply movements from Mexico into Texas. However, his notoriety in Texas made it impossible for him to return safely or to operate undercover successfully, and he resigned the commission in 1862. It is not known where he spent the remainder of the war.

The Texas Constitution of 1869 provided for an appointed supreme court consisting of three members. When E. J. Davis took office as governor in early 1870 following a close and hotly contested gubernatorial election between himself and A. J. Hamilton, he appointed Lemuel D. Evans chief justice, and Moses B. Walker and Wesley Ogden associate justices. This was the beginning of the court that would become known as the Semicolon Court.

Evans retired from his supreme court position in September 1873 at the conclusion of his term and therefore did not take part in the Semicolon Court ruling. Following his supreme court service, Evans was appointed a U.S. Marshall and moved to Galveston where he was stationed. He died in Washington DC. on July 1, 1877, and was buried in the Congressional Cemetery there.


Davenport, Jewette Harbert. The History of the Supreme Court of the State of Texas 95 (Austin, Texas: Southern Law Book Publishers, 1917).

Evans, Lemuel Dale. Biographical Dictionary of the United States Congress (visited June 26, 2006).

Hart, Brian. Evans, Lemuel Dale, Handbook of Texas Online (last updated June 6, 2001).

Lynch, James Daniel. The Bench and Bar of Texas 110-113 (St. Louis, Missouri: Nixon-Jones Printing Co., 1885).

Norvell, James R. The Reconstruction Courts of Texas 1867-1873, 62 The Southwestern Historical Quarterly 141-163 (October, 1958).

Shelley, George E. The Semicolon Court of Texas, 48 The Southwestern Historical Quarterly 449-468 (April, 1945).

Extended bibliography

Davenport, Jewette Harbert. The History of the Supreme Court of the State of Texas 95 (Austin, Texas: Southern Law Book Publishers, 1917).

Lynch, James Daniel. The Bench and Bar of Texas 110, 533, 608 (St. Louis, Missouri: Nixon-Jones Printing Co., 1885).

Speer, Ocie. Texas Jurists 66 (Austin, Texas: the author, 1936).

Thrall, Homer S. A Pictorial History of Texas 532 (St. Louis, Missouri: N. D. Thompson & Co., 1879).

Documents Concerning Lemuel Dale Evans' Plan to Keep Texas in the Union in 1861, Thomas Schoonover, ed., East Texas Historical Journal (Spring, 1974).

Additional information available in Southwestern Historical Quarterly as follow:
Volume 12, page 92, 101, 130, 132, 137
Volume 20, page 387
Volume 38, page 56
Volume 48, page 449, 451
Volume 49, page 95
Volume 60, page 18
Volume 62, page 146, 148, 153, 158
Volume 65, page 105
Volume 68, page 177, 181
Volume 69, page 314
Volume 70, page 415, 416, 418, 420
Volume 71, page 358
Volume 76, page 146, 149, 154, 156, 158, 159n
Volume 78, page 89
Volume 82, page 236, 239, 240, 244, 245, 248, 258

Brown, Frank. Annals of Travis County and of the City of Austin 59. Archives Division, Texas State Library (Austin, Texas).