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Simon Overturf (1771-1820) and Mary DeBolt (1778-1849)
The First Overturf whose life begins in America
Simon Overturf was born 2 Jan 1771 in York County, Pennsylvania. He was baptized at Christ Lutheran Church in the same county on 17 March 1771. He was the son of Johann Valentin Oberdorf and Agnes Elizabeth. Simon’s twin, Samuel, died shortly after birth but Simon had four older siblings and, eventually, one younger brother.
Some within the family say that the Overturfs were Pennsylvania Dutch, and it was said that some of the older members frequently spoke in that tongue without any German accent; however, more recent genealogical studies have confirmed that the Oberdorf family certainly came from Germany, not Holland. The name was changed from Oberdorf to Overturf after Simon’s father arrived in the United States, perhaps by Simon and his siblings.
York County (Map at left courtesy of Wikipedia) is located in the Susquehanna Valley, a fertile agricultural region in south-central Pennsylvania. It was created on 19 August 1749 (twenty-two years before Simon was born) from part of Lancaster County. No one knows for sure whether it was named for the Duke of York, an early patron of the Penn family, or for the city and shire of York in England. Its county seat is also named York.
In about 1785, when Simon was 14, he went west with his parents and settled on land in German Township in Fayette County, Pennsylvania (Map at right courtesy of Wikipedia). Fayette County was created just two years before Simon’s arrival on 26 September 1783, from part of Westmoreland County and it was named for the Marquis de Lafayette, who came to America to fight with the Americans against the British.
In a letter written by their grandson, Simon Fuller Overturf, in 1909, Simon said the following about his grandparents:
My grandfather, Simon Overturf, was born in Germany in 1774 and came to Hagerstown, Pennsylvania. He was a cabinet-maker and followed his trade for a series of years, when he sold his business and came to Ohio, entering, in Licking County, 320 acres of land at $1.25 per acre.
I do not remember hearing of any of his brothers or sisters but grandmother’s [Mary Debolt’s] brother, Jacob Debolt, married my mother’s [Jane McLain’s] sister, Mary McLane (we called her Aunt Polly). She [Mary Debolt] also had brothers named Abe, Ike, Dave and George all of whom, except George, were farmers.
George [Debolt] was a Hardshell Baptist preacher. Their belief was that if a man were foreordained to evil he had to do it and if he were foreordained to good, there would come an irresistible call when God would take him in hand and work him just like a machine. They also preached infant damnation.
Old George [Debolt, Mary Debolt’s brother] was to preach at father’s [George Overturf’s] house one night, and after they had had prayer and singing he said, “Well, friends, you can go home. God haint give me no message tonight.” Grandmother [Mary Debolt] was a member of the old Seceder church, much like the German Lutheran of today. On Sunday, you must sit and not even look crosseyed, but on Monday you might be as bad as anyone.
Grandfather [Simon Overturf] belonged to no church. He would rather have a drink of beer than go to church. They are both buried in the Big Hill Cemetery between Utica and Newark, Ohio. Father [George Overturf] used to have me make fine shoes for grandmother [Mary Debolt]. It usually required about three days for one pair. I made the strings of either calf-skin or dog-skin and rolled them with a flat-iron until [unreadable]
Finally, marriage and a family
In about 1793, Simon (who was then 22) married Mary Debolt (who was 15) in German Township, Fayette County, Pennsylvania. Mary was the daughter of George and Elizabeth Teagarden Debolt; she had been born on 6 February 1778, in German Township, Fayette County, Pennsylvania. For more information about the Debolts, see the page about Mary's grandfather, Hans Michael Debolt and her father, George Debolt.
Soon after their marriage, Simon and Mary bought some land in Fayette County, but they sold it fairly soon and bought another parcel of land where they lived and began their family. Seven children were born there before they sold the property in 1809:
- Solomon b. 1794 d. 1846
- Elizabeth b.1796 d. 1866
- George b. 1798 d. 1862 2
- Eli b. 1801 d. 1861
- Simon (Peter?) b. 1803 d. 1890
- Minerva b. 1806 d. 1864
- Orpha b. 1807 d. 1850
On to Ohio
Simon and Mary, their seven children, and two of Simon’s brothers and their families migrated further west to Ohio in mid-1809. Upon their arrival in Licking County, Mary and Simon settled on 262 acres of land in Newton Township, Licking County, which they bought from Ekuries Beatty and Samuel H. Smith at a cost of $984.00 or approximately $3.75 an acre.
It was here that they had three more children:
- Jeremiah b. 1811 d. 1901
- Mariah b. 1813 d. 1852
- William Martin b. 1815 d. 1876
Simon Fuller Overturf, grandson of Simon and Mary, wrote about their children in his letter written in 1909:
- Solomon whose children were Norm Overturf of Delaware, Ohio, formerly state senator; Bill Overturf a preacher; Ira a preacher also; Truman and Big John who was [unreadable] four inches tall. Uncle Sol was a farmer but he also made wooden half bushels and pick measures. He was a one-horse Baptist preacher, and a teamster in the war of 1812. In the same war Jake Overturf, father’s cousin, served in the infantry and was at Tippacanoe. Uncle Sol’s first wife was mother’s sister but she died before I can remember her.
- Betty married John Payne, they both died in Licking Co.
- Eli moved to Ottumwa, Iowa, in 1856. His children were Simon, Mitchell, George, Solomon, Steve, Detha and Mary Katharine (Kate) House. The daughter of my brother James of Sigourney, Iowa, says they see news in the Ottumwa Career (1909) of Overturfs there. One name was Donald. [Letter addressed to him there returned.] G.E. Overturf saw Steve at Independence Kansas in 1908. He is a bachelor.
- George was my father.
- Simon, a farmer moved to Tama Co, Iowa, 1856. Had nine children.
- Jerry, a farmer went into backruptcy to avoid debts and later left in the night for the same purpose going to Missouri.
- Orpah married Jon DeLaplane. They went to Missouri where Jerry was. They had three children. One boy, Louis, was about my age. Mary lived in Morrow Co, Ohio after married Jacob Eckels. Minerva married Barnet Welch. They went to Missouri with DeLaplane. William stayed in Ohio. Jerry and Ira went to Oregon and both died there. Ira with his wife and two children drove [unreadable]
Ohio is mostly flat with some pleasant rolling hills. It was once covered with virgin forest, but even by the time Simon and Mary got there, much of the forest had been taken. In prehistoric times, Ohio had been inhabited by a group of people known as the Mound Builders (some mounds can still be seen today). Before Europeans arrived, there were several native tribes, including the Iroquois, the Erie, the Miami, the Shawnee, and the Ottawa.
One hundred forty years before Simon and Mary migrated to Ohio, La Salle had explored it in 1669 and claimed the area for France. Various land companies were formed, and settlers poured in from the East, either down the Ohio on flatboats and barges, or across the mountains by wagon. It was probably inevitable that the French and English would argue over who the land belonged to, and this led to the French and Indian Wars of 1754. Twenty years later, in 1774, the Quebec Act gave the area between the Ohio River and the Great Lakes to Canada. The Native Americans, supported by the British, also resisted American settlements, but were inevitably defeated in the Battle of the Fallen Timbers in 1794. The rest of the area was ceded to the United States by the Treaty of Paris in 1783. Ohio became a territory in 1799 — after it was considered “pacified” — and then a state in 1803. So when Simon and Mary got there, Ohio was already a state.
Simon, the wood mechanic
The 1809 Fayette County (Pennsylvania) Deed with Simon and Mary as grantors gives Simon's occupation as a house carpenter. For most of his life, Simon was a wood mechanic, a cabinet maker, and, according to the Overturf family history, "it must have been well steeped in his blood and spirit, as the ability oozed out graciously and almost universally in his descendants as natural woodworkers." From 1816 until his death (at the age of only 49) on 24 Mar 1820, he also served as a Justice of the Peace, and performed several marriages.
The End for Simon, but Mary Carries on nearly 30 years more
When Simon died on 24 March 1820 in Newark, Licking County, Ohio, at the age of 49, Mary's youngest five children were Minerva, 14; Orpha, 13; Jeremiah, 9; Mariah, 7; and William, 5. These children would have depended on her for support, though her older children undoubtedly assisted her. Since Simon and Mary had moved to Ohio with two of Simon's brothers, they probably did what they could to help out their brother's widow and his children. After Simon's death, Mary would have continued to see changes in Ohio, including the arrival of railroads to take the place of the canals.
Later (perhaps around 1835), Mary moved west to Brown Township, Delaware County, Ohio, with her youngest child, William (20 at the time), and his wife. (Delaware County borders Licking County.) She made her home with them until her death on 29 July 1849, at the age of 71 years, 5 months, 23 days. She was married for 27 years, and a widow for 29. She is buried in Old Eden Cemetery, Delaware County, Ohio, just north of present day Kilbourne. Her monument, although quite worn, was apparently still standing in 1977. Descendants of Simon Overturf have erected a new monument:
Much of this information comes from Dorothy Cunningham. After researching the German ancestry of the Overturf family. She wrote about it in The Overturf Family, published in 1988 and revised in 1995.
This page written and researched by Susan Overturf Ingraham, a descendant of Balthazar and Margaretha. Page last updated January 12, 2016.