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Marion County
Biographies

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Purvis, Will

Will Purvis was a member of the "White Caps," a secret society closely associated with the Ku Klux Klan. He was arrested, tried and convicted of the murder of Will Buckley on circumstantial evidence. He was senteced to hand for the Buckley murder and the date of the execution was set for September 6, 1893, at 11 a.m. Upon reaching the gallows behind the courthouse, the noose slipped from around his neck. His sentence was ultimately commuted to life. In 1917, another man, on his deathbed, confessed to the murder, exonerating Will Purvis. The story of Will Purvis is the most famous criminal case ever in Marion County. Today Will Purvis rests in Coaltown Cemetery, near Purvis.
[From a information card in Marion County Museum in Columbia MS - Transcribed by Gene Phillips]



Evans, Thomas Marshall

Evans, Thomas Marshall, who is engaged in the practice of his profession in Gulfport, Harrison county, may consistently be designated as one of the founders and builders of the progressive city which has been evolved from the little village of about 500 population which represented the town at the time when he took up his residence here, less than a decade ago. Mr. Evans was born in Americus, Jackson county, Miss., July 13, 1862, and is a son of Wesley G. and Susan (Carter) Evans, both of whom were likewise born in this State, the former in Greene county. Wesley G. Evans was numbered among those loyal men who donned the gray uniform and went forth in defense of the Confederacy when the Civil war cast its dark pall over the national horizon. He became a member of Company B, Stead's battalion of Mississippi volunteers, and during his term of service was principally engaged in skirmishing with his command in Mississippi and Alabama. While thus battling for the cause of the South he was elected to the legislature of his State, from Jackson county, and resigned his place in the ranks to assume the no less important duties of the office to which he had been chosen. He followed the vocation of farming, timber getting, and saw milling during the greater part of his active career and was also a minister of the gospel in the Methodist Episcopal church, South, preaching in southeast Mississippi for more than sixty-five years. Both he and his wife are now deceased and are buried in Coalville cemetery, near Gulfport, Miss. Thomas M. Evans was born during the climacteric epoch of the Civil war and his boyhood days were passed under the conditions of the period of "reconstruction," when uncertain governmental and civic policies were in evidence here as elsewhere throughout the South. He, however, was able to secure such educational advantages as were offered by the public schools of the time, showing a marked predilection for study and making the best use of his opportunities. In his youth he was identified with farming and with the lumber industry, but in the meanwhile he determined to prepare himself for a wider sphere of endeavor. He accordingly took up the study of law at home, applying himself with diligence and marked power of assimilation and availing himself of such preceptorage as could be secured in directing his technical reading. He continued to be concerned with other lines of work until April 11, 1890, when he passed the examination which gained to him admission to the bar of his native State, said examination having been conducted before Judge Sylvanus Evans, of Enterprise, Miss. He began the practice of his profession at Purvis, Marion county, where he remained a short time and then located in Poplarville, Aug. 1, 1890, remaining there engaged in practice until 1893, when he removed to Scranton, where he continued his professional endeavors until 1896, passing the ensuing two years in Mississippi City. In the fall of 1898 Mr. Evans took up his abode in the embryonic city of Gulfport, which, as before intimated, had at that time about 500 inhabitants. Here he became one of the pioneer representatives of his profession, and in his office was held the first meeting of the mayor and board of aldermen of the newly chartered city. At this meeting he was elected city attorney, serving three years and being then re-elected, in 1901, for a second term of equal duration. He was one of the incorporators of the First National bank of Gulfport, which absorbed the business of the Bank of Gulfport, of which he had likewise been one of the organizers. In all that has touched the prosperity and best interests of the city, Mr. Evans has manifested an insistent and helpful interest, and he is regarded as one of its most loyal and public-spirited citizens, while he also holds precedence as one of the leading lawyers of Harrison county, retaining a representative clientage and commanding the esteem of all who know him. For five years he was a member of the board of education, in which capacity he did much to forward the interests of education in Gulfport. On the first Monday of January, 1907, he was elected to and assumed the duties of the office of police justice of the city of Gulfport, Miss., for the two ensuing years. He is an active worker in the ranks of the Democratic party and is an able advocate of its cause, while fraternally he is identified with the Masonic order and the Knights of Pythias. He was one of the organizers of the Twenty-fifth Avenue Methodist Episcopal church, South, of whose first board of trustees he was a member, as was he also of the building committee which had charge of the erection of the present attractive church edifice. On Dec. 17, 1891, was solemnized the marriage of Mr. Evans to Miss Cora A. Abney, daughter of Dr. Henry C. and Sarah (Slade) Abney, of Poplarville, this State. Mrs. Evans was summoned into eternal rest, at Mosspoint, Jackson county, in 1894, and is survived by one child-Leah Abney. In March, 1895, Mr. Evans wedded Miss Mary C. Abney, daughter of Jessie M. and Sarah (Crosby) Abney, of Covington, La., and the three children of this union are: Stephen Glenn, Murcer Griffin and Mary Susan. [Mississippi: Contemporary Biography Edited By Dunbar Rowland, 1907 Transcribed by Therman Kellar]

This page last updated on -- 10 May 2013


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