Overturf History From Germany to America

The Oberdorffs are originally from Germany

The Overturf (originally Oberdorff or Oberdorf) genealogical line in my family begins in the mid-1600s in Germany. Oberdorf means “over the town” or “upper village” and the original users of the name no doubt lived at the higher end of a town.

Here is a brief description of the family history. For details, click on the link of each individual name mentioned or return to the table of contents to find the couple you wish to read about..

Balthasar Oberdorf I was born in 1666 in Germany and married Margaretha [surname unknown] (?-1732). The villages of Kembach, Dietenhan, and Lindelbach are located very close together, and all of the Oberdorfs came from these villages. The Oberdorf name can still be seen on tombstones in the cemeteries today. Balthasar and Margaretha had at least three children. He and his wife never left Germany but one of their sons would choose to leave. Balthasar died in 1732; Margaretha may have died the same year.

Seeking a Better Life, the Oberdorfs leave Germany

The son of Balthasar Oberdorf I, Balthasar Oberdorf II was born in 1698 in Wertheim, Wuerteenburg, Germany. He married Margdalena Oberdorf in 1718. Like his father before him, Balthasar was probably little more than a serf on a large estate. Margdalena gave birth to nine children.

Life had to be very difficult — so difficult that they decided to leave Germany and emigrate to the New World. In 1753, they and at least three of their children — Anna Dorothea, Valentin, and Anna Barbara — took the ship Neptune out of Rotterdam to Philadelphia. They left behind several adult children and probably some grandchildren.

Valentin Oberdorf, born in 1735, and his sisters and parents probably remained in the Philadelphia area at first, perhaps working as indentured servants to pay for their passages (as was common).

Within six years, however, they had settled in York County Pennsylvania, and Valentin married a woman named Agnes Elizabeth (1738-1774). Valentin and his wife had seven children, including a son, Simon, and his twin, Samuel, who did not survive infancy. They are most likely the first generation to change the name to Overturf. Margdalena died probably in 1755; Balthasar followed in 1760.

Valentin’s wife died after 1774, and Valentin lived until 1800, living most of his adult life in Pennsylvania, although in more than one county.

Pennsylvania Remains Home for a time: then, Ohio

Simon Overturf moved with his parents to German Township, Fayette County, Pennsylvania, in about 1785; he was born in 1771. Simon married Mary DeBolt (1778-1842) and they had ten children, their third child being a boy, born in 1798, whom they named George.

In 1810, the family moved to Licking County, Ohio, where Simon served as the Justice of Peace for many years. Simon died in 1820, leaving Mary a widow; he was 49 years old, and Mary still had several young children to raise on her own. She lived until the age of 71 — she died in Ohio, but in a different county, where she had gone to live with her youngest child.

The Next Two Generations Remain in Ohio, but then.....Illinois

George Overturf, the son of Simon and Mary DeBolt Overturf, married Jane McLain (1797-1883) in 1821; she was 22, he was 23. Jane was the daughter of a tailor born in Ireland, but both Simon and Mary had been born in Licking County, Ohio, and they remained there, raising eight children. George died in 1863, in the middle of the Civil War, having been a farmer his entire life. Mary lived on and eventually lived with one of her sons.

George and Mary’s son, Simon Fuller Overturf (1827-1913) married Minerva Lake (1830-1913) in 1848. Minerva had been born in Licking County, Ohio, in 1830, and Minerva and Simon had lived on adjoining farms as children.

In 1866, Simon and Minerva moved from Ohio to Knox County, Illinois. Simon’s father had died three years before, but they left behind his mother who continued to care for Simon’s younger siblings. Life was difficult for them, and they lost several of their children before their own deaths.

Simon and Minerva spent the last few years of their lives in Nebraska with their son and several grandchildren.

Between 1904 and 1913, the article and photograph above appeared in the Elk Creek, Nebraska, newspaper. The relationships are as follows: John Lake Overturf, son to Simon Fuller Overturf. Ida Dell Overturf Tibbetts, daughter to John Lake Overturf. Mrs. Marbell Bell, daughter to Ida Overturf Tibbetts. Howard Bell, the baby son to Mrs. Marbell Bell.

From Illinois to Nebraska

John Lake Overturf (1850-1911) traveled with his parents when they left Ohio for Illinois in 1863. In 1869, at 19 years of age, he met and married Alzina Sheldon (1853-1925), who was only 16. Alzina would eventually give birth to fourteen children, four of them in Knoxville County before they moved to Nebraska in 1877.

Later in life, they were joined by John’s parents, Simon Fuller Overturf and Minerva Lake.

From Rural Farm Life to City Life

George Edwin Overturf (1886-1949) the 10th child of John and Alzina, was born on the family farm. George grew up there and married Nellie McDonald (1888-1963) in 1910. George left his father’s farm in his teens, tried school in Lincoln, and then went to Business College in Hastings, Nebraska. He and Nellie lived their entire married lives in Hastings, Nebraska, where George was a businessman, bookkeeper, and accountant.

From Nebraska to the Southwest

George and Nellie’s middle son was Donald Sheldon Overturf (1916-1998) who married Josephine Marie Hansen (1917-1988) in 1937. Don and Jo eventually moved to New Mexico where they raised their four children. They moved Flagstaff, Arizona, and then retired in Sedona, Arizona in the 1980’s. Both of them died in Sedona. (You can learn more about Josephine's family, the Hansens, by returning to the table of contents).

This page written and researched by Susan Overturf Ingraham, a descendant of the Overturfs. Page last updated October 24, 2011.

Return to Table of Contents for Exploring Ancestral Roots: Overturfs, Hansens, McDonalds and Mahoneys

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