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John F. (Spade) Evans Papers

Identifier: MS 221

Scope and Contents

Correspondence, manuscripts, photographs, legal documents, and family geneaology document the life and career of John F. "Spade" Evans, founder of the Spade Ranch in West Texas. Manuscript writings include personal recollections of Spade on the early days of ranching in West Texas.


  • Creation: 1874-1938; 2018


Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research. Copyright has been transferred to TCU.

Biographical / Historical

John F. (Spade) Evans, pioneer cattleman, was born on May 1, 1849, near Chattanooga, Tennessee. About 1860 he moved with his family to Jefferson, in Marion County, Texas, and later to Parker County. He soon became one of the free-range cowmen of the Northwest Texas frontier. He became associated with such cattlemen as Charles Goodnight and William S. Ikard. In 1872 Evans marketed his first herd at Wichita, Kansas. In the 1870s he formed a corporation known as J. F. Evans and Company with Judson P. Warner, Joseph Glidden's co-agent for the sale of barbed wire in Texas. In the summer of 1880 they purchased twenty-three sections of land in Donley County from J. A. Reynolds. They then gathered a herd of cattle in Lamar County and moved them west to the Panhandle, along with necessary supplies. At the suggestion of a friend, Dave Cummings, Evans adopted a Spade brand in 1883 and was known thereafter by the nickname Spade. He erected a dugout on Glenwood Creek, but later built a log house on nearby Barton Creek, which he designated as permanent headquarters for his Spade Ranch. Evans helped organize and write the bylaws for the Panhandle Stock Association in 1881 and served as its first president for two years. Apparently J. F. Evans and Company was affected by the droughts and blizzards of the late 1880s, for in December 1888 Evans sold his ranch and cattle to Isaac L. Ellwood, who subsequently developed the Renderbrook and Spade operations in the South Plains area. Afterward Evans ran a hardware store in Gainesville and bought cattle and real estate. He was a partner in the Smith, Reed, and Evans firm in Clay County. He also joined the Northwest Texas Cattle Breeders' Association and served, along with C. C. Slaughter, Samuel Burk Burnett, and John N. Simpson, on its twelve-man executive committee. His influence helped bring about cooperation between the Panhandle and Northwest Texas associations. During the 1920s Evans lived for a time in Lubbock before retiring to a farm four miles east of Altus, Oklahoma, in 1929. On January 11, 1935, he was struck by a car on the highway near his home and apparently killed instantly. He was buried in Altus. At the Texas Centennial celebration in Dallas in 1836, Evans was among the cattlemen portrayed in the Hall of Fame exhibition. (From the Handbook of Texas Online)


1 Linear feet (several folders of correspondence, photographs, Texas historical documents, ranching history, family genealogy.)

Language of Materials



The papers are arranged by Series.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Delivered to Special Collections by Bill Evans, June 14, 2019

John F. Spade Evans Papers
Lisa Pena
June 2019
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script

Repository Details

Part of the Archives and Special Collections, Mary Couts Burnett Library Repository

TCU Box 298400
2800 S. University Drive
Fort Worth, Texas 76129-0001
Fort Worth Texas 76129
(817) 257-4566
(817) 257-7282 (Fax)