For a long time my Evans line was a dead end. My paternal grandmother, Lucille Evans Shanower (1916-2015), was not particularly interested in her father's family. Her parents, Joseph Edward Evans (1884-1943) and Adella Cecil Grandy (1888-1974), had divorced when she was four years old. Communication between father Joseph and daughter Lucille was nearly non-existent after that. This left a bad taste in my grandmother's mouth.
Grandma had only scant Evans family history to share (although she managed not to mention some Evans history for much of her life--click here for a couple doozies). As a result, I didn't have much information about my Evans line.
For a long while I knew that Joseph Evans's parents were Jonathan Evans (1860-1944) and Sarah Jane Hopton (1860-1948). They'd both immigrated to Cleveland, Ohio, from Wales in the late nineteenth century. But finding their forebears seemed an impossible task to me. The number of men from Wales named Jonathan Evans was overwhelming. How was I to tell which one was my great-great-grandfather?
I found mentions of what seemed to be two Jonathan Evans in Cleveland newspapers of the late 1800s. Could they be father and son? It seemed possible. They seemed to be quite involved in the Welsh ethnic community.
In the US Census I found listings of an Evans family in Cleveland that included both a father and son named Jonathan. This seemed promising, but I had no proof yet.
What confirmed the probability that these were my Evans was finding family trees of other researchers that included these Evans. On those trees both Jonathans, father and son, had the middle name Rapier. Also on those trees the younger Jonathan was married to Sarah Jane Hopton. Once I made sure the research on these other trees checked out, those clues were the keys.
The elder Jonathan Rapier Evans (1824-1907) was married to Sarah Bullock (abt 1831-1903). They and many of their children, including Jonathan, Jr., had come to the USA in the 1870s. From there it wasn't too difficult to consult the Wales census. I was able to push back not only my Evans line for a couple generations, but also my Hopton line, my Bullock line, my Cutter line, and my Welsh Williams line.
A few interesting items emerged.
Charles Albert Evans (1888-1946), brother of my great-grandfather Joseph Edward Evans, married Louise Emma Tedd (1882-1918) in Ohio in 1916. They were third cousins, both descended from Phillip Williams (1771-1857) and Elizabeth Roberts (1775-1872), who lived back in Monmouthshire, Wales. Did Charley and Louise know they were related? I have no idea.
Elizabeth Evans (1845-1925) married her first cousin Peter Bullock (1845-1926). They were both grandchildren of John Bullock (1796-1873) and Elizabeth Williams (1802-1843) and first cousins four times removed to me. They must have known they were first cousins to each other.
Elizabeth's parents were John Evans (1821-1892) and Mary Bullock (1821-1910), another instance of the Evans and Bullock lines combining.
Two of my first cousins four times removed in the Hopton line, sisters Alice Bennett McGee (1863-1928) and Eliza Ann Bennett Freeman (1859-1905), emigrated to Queensland, Australia, from the UK. They both had lots of children, which means I have quite a few Australian cousins.
I'm sure I also have a lot of distant cousins still in Wales.