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DAKOTA IMAGE | David R. Evans

David Robert (“D. R.”) Evans emigrated from Wales to become a pioneering rancher, banker, and civic leader in Belle Fourche. He was a driving force behind the Black Hills Roundup, which continues to attract thousands

as it enters its centennial year. Evans was born 16 March 1862 in Aberystwyth, Wales, to Margaret Roberts Evans and Griffith Evans, a farmer and clergyman. Much of the frontier was “closed” by 1885 when he emigrated to Spearfish, Dakota Territory, but the open range was in its prime. Although he had never ridden a horse, he signed on as a cattle herder for the Jones Brothers.

Evans quickly put down roots in the area where he would be a leader for the next fifty years. He served as last judge of the territorial probate court of Butte County and was elected to two terms as mayor of Belle Fourche. Between 1894 and 1902, he served two terms each as county treasurer and county auditor. In 1903, he helped to organize the First National Bank of Belle Fourche, where he worked his way up from cashier to president before retiring in 1928. From 1917 to 1919, Evans served in the South Dakota Senate, chairing the committee on highways and bridges during the development of the state’s road network. Although he declined to run for reelection, he remained a major figure in the state Republican Party.

Evans devoted himself full time to the Black Hills, most notably the Black Hills Roundup, organized in 1918 to raise funds for the World War I effort and to preserve the traditions of the open range. As chair of the event for its first decade, he welcomed President Calvin Coolidge, who sported a ten-gallon hat, and First Lady Grace Coolidge when they attended in 1927.

Evans was a first master of the local Masons and a baritone in the Congregational Church. With his first wife, Nettie Pratt, who died in childbirth in 1891, he had one daughter. In 1898, he married Myrtle White, and they two daughters and a son. To the end of his life he was an active stockman, with ranches on the Red Water River and in Wyoming. Dave Evans died on 14 February 1939 and is buried in Pine Slope Cemetery.

—Ambassador Robert E. Hunter