It all started in January 1861, in Putnam County, Indiana in the small town of Groveland. Tilghman Hanna, 20, and his wife Lydia, 18, were murdered in their beds. None could understand who would want to kill the young couple.
The perpetrator raised the window of a room in the house to gain entry. He crushed Hanna's head with an ax, and then sunk the blade into the forehead of his wife. Their child which was in the room was uninjured. The murder weapon was found in the room full of gore.
Nothing in the house was vandalized, and no valuables were missing, leading authorities to believe that robbery was not the motive. The perpetrator after killing the couple walked out the front door. A memorandum book lying on a table in the bedroom had several indecent sentences which the murderer had written across one of the pages. One of them was "I have done the deed -- now god damn you ketch me if you ken."
Suspicions were raised against Goodlow H. Evans known as Harper Evans, age 20, who lived in the community. He was arrested, and the writing in the memo book was proved to be his. Eventually he was found guilty and sentenced to imprisonment for life. He tried to commit suicide within hours of being sentenced. He used a knife that was smuggled into him, and suceeded in entirely severing the jugular vein in his neck. He passed out from loss of blood, but was saved, and transported to the prison at Jeffersonville to serve his sentence. Close to the end of the Civil War he escaped and was never recaptured.
Thirty years passed, and the next Evans to make the papers was Harper's brother, Noah. On a summer day in 1891, he rode to Erastus Richard Adams' home. Erastus better known as Dick to the people of Greencastle, Indiana was sitting on his porch, recovering from a gunshot wound, inflicted by the same Noah Evans.
The origin of the bad blood between the men started with Evan's wife. She was an "opium eater" as they referred to it in the newspapers, and Adams who had the same problem, said he'd been cured by a doctor at a sanitarium in Waveland, Montgomery county.
In one version Mrs. Evans stayed at the Adams' home while she received treatment, in another version when she went to the sanitarium, Adams was also being tended there and he seduced her with a promise of morphine where upon he raped her.
Once she returned home, Mrs. Evans wrote letters to Adams demanding "pecuniary reparation", making it understood that he would pay with his life if he refused her.
Dick Adams then when onto boast about the event when he was drunk and it was not long before Noah Evans heard about it. When he questioned his wife, she told him that while under the effect of the morphine, Adams raped her.
Then in April 1891, Adams was shot through a window while lying in bed, his wife and child next to him. Two bullets hit his arm and shoulder, but he recovered, and strangely did not bring police to Evan's doorstep even though he declared that he knew who shot him. It didn't help that Evans terrorized the community to make sure none spoke against him to the authorities.
Five weeks went by until Noah Evans made good on his threat. He rode with his wife in a light road cart up to the front of Adams' house. He handed the reins to his wife, stepped from the cart, walked up to where Adams sat on the porch, pulled his revolved and poured seven bullets in him. "Then he calmly climbed into his cart again, and shaking his smoking weapon, with curses and threats warned the assembling crowd from following him", since he planned to get an attorney and turn himself in.
Dick Adams was formerly a saloon-keeper at Roachdale and "like his slayer, was generally recognized as a dangerous man."
Evans was a farmer, but the newspapers recalled that his brother Harper had slain the Hanna family 30 years before.
Despite his warning Sheriff Vestal gathered a posse and set out to pursue Noah Evans, trailing him to the station at Wheaton. It was supposed that he turned north into Montgomery county, where one of his cousins who lived in Lebanon was an attorney.
True to his word Evans turned himself into authorities in Greencastle on June 5.
At the end of July, Mrs. Adams disappeared, and the Evans' family reputation being what it was, fear was rampant they had done away with her, but then word reached the town she went to see friends in Illinois of her own accord. Perhaps she thought it wiser she just go another state since Evans had been indicted for murder, and she could be called as a witness to the incident.
On October 18, 1891, the jury brought in a verdict of guilty with a life sentence to be served at the same prison in Jeffersonville where his brother had escaped from.
Noah Evans faded from the headlines until December 1892, when Fred Evans his grandson, who was an orphan was sentenced to the juvenile reformatory. He was charged with burglary after he broke into a store in Groveland.
The last mention of Noah was in 1897, where he was still serving his life term.
What became of Harper who escaped and was never seen again, Noah, his grandson Fred and all the others fade from history.
Stranger Than Fiction Stories by M.P. Pellicer