The area surrounding Evans, Georgia, in what is now Columbia County, was first inhabited by Native American societies. The Creek, Yuchi, and Cherokee people lived along the banks of the Savannah River.
The earliest European settlers arrived to Columbia County and settled in nearby Augusta, Georgia. Georgia became a crown colony in 1755 and was divided into three parishes. The Brownsborough Parish was formed in what is now the current location of Evans.
Like many of the early European settlements, differences in faith caused this area to grow. Even though Georgia was a British Colony, and it was against the law to preach anything but the tenents of The Church of England, Daniel Marshall came to the area with different ideas. Marshall established the Kiokee Baptist Church, which was the first Baptist church in Georgia. Marshall was arrested in Georgia for his troubles.
Regardless, Baptist churches continued to grow throughout the region. James Madison, who was integral for making decisions regarding the Constitution of the young nation, made sure to include Freedom of Religion as one of the central principles. It was said that Madison was inspired by Marshall and the other Baptist preachers of Georgia. Baptists churches continued to grow in Georgia as the founders allowed slaves to participate in Baptist church tradition.
During the Revolutionary War, several battles were fought in Columbia County. Since many of the inhabitants were loyalists and did not want to cut ties with England, the county inhabitants found themselves disagreeing with their neighbors. Fights occurred between the Loyalists and British soldiers against the Patriots. Even though there were English loyalists in the area, there were also many men who went on to play essential roles in the signing of the Declaration of Independence and establishing the Constitution of the United States.
After the Revolution, inhabitants of the area fought over the location of the county’s government. The remnants of this difficult decision can be found today as Evans acts as the county seat even though nearby Appling holds the official distinction. The government center and the courthouse annex are both currently located in Evans.
Before the Civil War, plantation agriculture was an essential part of the economy of Columbia County. When Eli Whitney invented the cotton gin, the number of slaves brought into the area increased. At times, more slaves were living in Columbia County than white inhabitants.
As the Civil War approached, Georgia, including Columbia County, succeeded from the Union. Many of the men from the county boarded nearby trains to fight for the South. There were no Civil War battles in Columbia County. The county also escaped from the destruction that followed Sherman’s march through the south at the close of the war.
Following the Civil War, there were many reports of violence against free slaves. Union forces were sent to the area to try to squelch the violence enacted by the KKK and other mobs.
Evans wasn’t officially named a city until the 20th Century. Its name came from a Civil War general, and today it is considered a suburb of Augusta.