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1882-1883 H. Clay Evans


H Clay Evans 1881-1882(Lived June 18, 1843 – December 12, 1921)

Henry Clay Evans left his native Pennsylvania in 1864. Shortly after joining the Union Army, he received an assignment as clerk for the United States Army, Quartermaster Corps stationed at Chattanooga.  In this position, he served under Major Thomas J. Carlile, chief of the Quartermaster Corps, who would serve as mayor for the city in 1878.  After the Civil War, Evans served two years in Texas before returning to Chattanooga in 1870.  

Upon his return to Chattanooga, H.Clay Evans quickly became involved in the civic affairs of the city.  Evans also became a leading businessman, being involved in some of the city’s early industries including the Chattanooga Car Company, the Roane Iron Works, and the Wasson Car Works. 

Evans became an Alderman in 1881, and the following year, became mayor.   
Evans was elected mayor for 1882 and was re-elected the following fall. During his second term, Mayor Evans worked with a committee from the Iron, Coal, and Manufacturing Association to raise money for a public library. Unfortunately, it took four years before the city opened the library.  A change in the city charter changed the time of service for a mayor and aldermen to two years. After being mayor, Evans served three additional terms on the Board of Aldermen. 

Evans ran unsuccessfully for the Third District of Tennessee’s Senate seat in 1884 but won the seat four years later.  At the end of his service in 1891, Evans returned to Chattanooga.  In 1894, Evans ran for Governor of Tennessee. Initially, it seemed that he had been elected, however, his opponent contested the vote and eventually won the governorship.  Evans again returned to Chattanooga.  Between 1894 and 1905, Evans received appointments from three Presidents.  President Harding appointed him First Assistant Postmaster General of the Unites States, President William McKinley appointed him Commissioner of Pensions, and President Roosevelt appointed him Consul General in England.

Evans returned to Chattanooga in 1905.  In 1911, when the city’s form of government changed from a Board of Aldermen to a commission, Evans won a commission seat.  Evans served as Commissioner of Education and led the city to make great strides in improving the quality of public education.  In 1928, a new elementary school on Popular Street was christened the H. Clay Evans School, in the former mayor’s honor.

Photo by Phillip Stevens and Matt Lea