One Township's Yesterdays Chapter XXIX
Believing that a descendant of the MC ELRATH pioneers, in this instance on the maternal side, can best tell the story, we are giving the
details as related to us by a spokesman for the family, ORPHA MC FARLAND OVERMYER, a granddaughter of the first comers.
"ORPHA THANKFUL GRIFFIN, born into an aristocratic family in New York State, May 5, 1820, was married to her father's coachman, JAMES
MC ELRATH, in 1839, was promptly disinherited by her irate father, and fled with her husband to the prairies of Northern Indiana. Here they
established a home in West Township of Marshall County, now known as the NORMAN BEATTY property, owning land on both sides of the
road. (The McElrath Cemetery was started on his property and named for him.) "They lived happily here for eleven years and to them were
born five children:
Amanda Mc Elrath
Niles Mc Elrath
Phoebe Mc Elrath married AUSTIN DOWNING of Bourbon
James Henry Mc Elrath
Mary Jane Mc Elrathwas married to JACOB S. MCFARLAND with his wife resided with and cared for Mrs. MC ELRATH through her declining years until
her death, January 13, 1901."
"Here she raised her family to manhood and womanhood and gave to Union Township three of its earlier teachers' Phoebe, who ; Cynthia Ann, Mary
Jane who attests her popularity as a teacher by having taught twenty-five consecutive terms."
Tales of the wonderful gold strike in California began drifting eastward and the pioneer spirit of the undauntable James began to run a temperature.
When he could restrain it no longer, in the fall of '51, by selling different properties and borrowing on others, he started west for the Golden Gate
with eight ox teams and loads of merchandise, with the purpose in view of opening a mercantile establishment near the heart of the gold mining
district. In this he was very successful, and was on his way home for his family and more merchandise, when he was stricken with fever in the Great
Desert of California and died December 4, 1852.
"Four months after his departure for California, the sixth child was born:
Cynthia Ann Mc Elrath whose husband was Marquis de Lafayette Mosher, a former resident of Culver
The widow [ORPHA THANKFUL (GRIFFIN) Mc Elrath] was married, August 15, 1853, to DANIEL BROWN, who had been a companion to her deceased
husband en route to the gold fields of California. To this union one child,
Catherine Sophronia Brown m. [-?-] Mosher.
"This marriage proved, to be very unhappy and of short duration, and she, again resumed the sole responsibility for the care of her family, now consisting of
seven children, educating and rearing them as best she could under very trying circumstances.
"Her eldest son, Niles, was twenty-one years of age when in 1863 she decided to sell her property in West Township and buy the eighty acres in Union
Township then owned by WILLIAM R. MORRIS, a part of which is now known as the GEORGE OVERMYER place, north of Culver.
"They had lived on their new farm but a few months when Niles was struck by a bullet meant for the younger son, a hot-headed, fiery-tempered youth of
seventeen, over some war squabble, and died March 6th, 1864, leaving his mother bereft and heartbroken. for the sake of her family she needs must carry on.
"Here she raised her family to manhood and womanhood and gave to Union Township three of its earlier teachers' Phoebe, who married Austin Downing of
Bourbon; Cynthia Ann, whose husband was Marquis de Lafayette Mosher, a former resident of Culver; and Mary Jane, who attests her popularity as a teacher
by having taught twenty-five consecutive terms. She was married to Jacob S. McFarland, who with his wife resided with and cared for Mrs. McElrath through
her declining years until her death, January 13, 1901."
Mary Jane (McElrath) McFarland was born February 5, 1850, in Union Township and died July 7, 1903, in the same township. She was the fifth of seven
children. Six of the seven had "passed over to the other shore" at the time of Mary Jane's death. The sole survivor was Mrs. Kate Sophronia Mosher, then
living in Colorado. As a little girl, Mary Jane lived in Union Township during the trying times of the Civil War; in young womanhood, she witnessed the many
changes that were taking place during the reconstruction days of the postwar period; in middle age, she saw the building up of township, county and
state; and in her last years, though in her early fifties, she had glimpses of the coming of that modern era, ushered in at the advent of the Twentieth