William Bacon Evans (July 27, 1875 – February 25, 1964) was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of William and Rebecca (Carter) Evans, brother of Alice, Ruth, Grace, Charles.
While still young, Evans moved with the family to Moorestown, New Jersey, and transferred membership to Chester Monthly Meeting. Evans was educated at Moorestown Friends School, Westtown School, Columbia University, Harvard University and Rollins College. In 1893, he graduated from Westtown and worked for a short while in his father’s glass and paint store. He took an active interest in Christiansburg Industrial Institute under the auspices of the Friends’ Freedmen’s Association for training of colored youth. In the summer of 1903, he went to Europe to practice French and to study European birds. Evans served on the Westtown Committee from 1903 to 1909 and from 1908 to 1910 taught French and General Science at Westtown School. He enrolled in evening classes in Philadelphia and in 1917 received a B.S. and certificate from Columbia University.
Between 1919 and 1930, William Bacon Evans taught orphan boys at English Quaker Mission in the castle Ras-el-Metn in Lebanon Hills with Daniel and Emily Oliver. He taught English, French and General Science. In 1931, Evans visited Ramallah, Bethlehem, Jerusalem, Jericho, Tiberius in Galilee and Damascus. He began writing poetry in Syria of songs of home and birds he missed. A life-long lover of poetry, reading, writing and quoting, Evans was also an avid enthusiast of ornithology and botany. He was a member of the Delaware Valley Ornithological Society at the Academy of Natural Science in Philadelphia. By 1941, Evans was a Staff Associate at Pendle Hill and jocularly known as the “resident saint.”
In 1918, Evans was clerk of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting. He gradually adopted plain dress as he grew spiritually. He used the plain language whether he spoke in French or English. During World War II, he worked in a laundry to remain uninvolved in the war effort, meanwhile refusing to pay income tax.
Evans spent his last 15-20 years compiling the Dictionary of Quaker Biography, working mostly with sources from the Haverford Collection. He also spent his elderly years making, giving away, and selling toys and puzzles, painting bird pictures. At the close of his life, William Bacon Evans was a member of Philadelphia Monthly Meeting at 4th and Arch Sts.
Source: Bryn Mawr College Library