Lake Maxinkuckee Its Intrigue History & Genealogy Culver, Marshall, Indiana

One Township's Yesterdays Chapter XXIX  


Prominent among the settlers attracted by the fertile soil of the Burr Oak Flats were the OVERMYERs. In 1859, FRANKLIN OVERMYER came to Indiana from Ohio and located on the Flats, while later, in '78 or '79, William came over to Union Township from Pulaski County.

Franklin and William were both descendants of JOHN GEORGE OBERMAYER, a German emigrant who came to America from Baden, Germany, in 1751.

The German name of OBERMAYER has been Anglicized to OVERMYER. The family name originated from one of the great grandsires filling the office of the chief or highest mayor in a city or dominion, perhaps many generations ago, in a German province, hence "Ober-Mayor."

The first JOHN GEORGE OBERMAYER mentioned in the family history was born at Nentzlingen, in Anspach, Bavaria, in 1680. Prior to 1718, he became a citizen of Blankenloch, Baden. He was a weaver in that town, and a copy-holder later in a suburb. His youngest child, John George, was born in 1727.

"From his diary we glean," write the family historians; "that on the 14th day of May, 1751, JOHN GEORGE OBERMAYER girdled on his worldly belongings and bid farewell to mother, sisters, brothers, and the home of his childhood, and set his face toward the far-off wilderness, the new colony of Pennsylvania, beyond the vast ocean." That day he looked for the last time upon his old-world home and left for Rheinhausen, to sail four days later toward Manheim. On the 20th he was at Worms. Continuing the Rhine voyage, on June 4th great dan­ger was encountered on passing through the Bay of St. Gwoar, a treacherous whirlpool. June 16th he was at Amsterdam, and on the 20th embarked from Rotterdam, touching England on the 22nd, thence sailing out on the vast ocean, bound for a new world. The ship was named "Brothers." There were two hundred passengers, and the voyage was tedious and long, for sail and wind alone were to be depended upon to bring the ship across to American shores. We read that "on the 16th day of September they land­ed at Philadelphia, making a voyage of about eighty-six days since leaving England, and 125 days since leaving Blankenloch."

The next record we have of John George, we find him in what is now Dauphin County, Pennsylvania, in 1770. In 1753, he was married to EVA ROSENBAUM. John George worked hard, plowing and grubbing in stumpy fields where Harrisburg is now situated. His first wife died, and he married BARBARA VOGT. He served as one of the first grand jurors of Northumberland County, Pennsylvania, in 1772; was with his fam­ily clearing a farm on Sweitzer's Run and Penn's Creek in 1775; was at the head of a company of volunteers against the Indians; fought in the Revolution as a captain; served on the county committee of safety in 1778; organized and led squads of men in protecting the frontier settlements, 1779-83; became a county overseer, and finally retired to a quiet life on his farm. The family history is full of stories of Indian raids, battles and depredations, and of exciting frontier happenings.

Franklin Overmyer

FRANKLIN OVERMYER, of Union Township, was a descendant of Philip, fourth son of the emigrant, John George, by the second wife. Philip was born in Pennsylvania in 1769. Franklin's father was George, sixth son of PHILIP and ROSANNA (BISHOFF) OVERMYER. WILLIAM OVERMYER, of Union Township, descended from John George, first child born to the emigrant, by his first wife. John George was born in Pennsylvania in 1755. He had a son, Peter, first-born child, born in 1794. Peter married MARY HODGE, a native of New Jersey. Their third child was William, our Union Township settler.

Let us consider first something of the life history of FRANKLIN OVERMYER, pioneer settler in this township.

He was the second son of GEORGE and CATHARINE (HERBEST) OVERMYER, and was one of five children.

Franklin's father, George, was born in 1804 near Weiricktown, now Centerville, Pennsylvania, and married CATHARINE HERBEST in 1832. In 1834, George came with his father and brothers to Ohio. With his brother Daniel, he located near Lindsey, erecting a cabin in the unbroken forest. "He was nearly six feet tall," says the historian, "and straight and erect, muscular, well proportioned, very active and inured to hard labor. Hungry wolves would often attack young pigs and calves so they had to be secured for the night in stables where they could not enter. His farming operations were for many years carried on with an ox team, but later he procured horses and he and his sons and grandsons were later owners of some of the finest horses of the community." His wife died in 1856, and he passed away in '57.

He was born September 21, 1835, near Lindsey, Ohio; grew to, manhood on his father's farm and married SUSANNAH BURKETT in June, 1858, daughter of HENRY and CATHERINE (HOUTZ) BURKETT.

Then, in '59, the orphaned son, Franklin, came on to Indiana, where he bought and sold several farms and at length accumulated a large amount of real estate. Franklin engaged in farming and stock raising, as well as threshing, owned a grain elevator on the Nickel Plate Railroad, and bought and shipped live stock, grain and seeds. When he came from Ohio in '59, he located on a farm Kewanna, and afterward moved to a portion of the farm later owned by Samuel Osborn, near the county line. Two years after that he purchased and moved to the farm which in after years became the property and home of his son Lewis. There Franklin and his wife Susannah lived till the time of her death, August 22, 1903.

In February, 1865, FRANKLIN OVERMYER enlisted in Company H, 55th Regiment, Indiana Infantry, at Michigan City, going first to Indianapolis, thence to Alexandria, Virginia, and from there to Dover, Delaware, where he remained until August, 1865, when he was mustered out.

In former years he followed the carpenter's trade, often walking a distance as far as Kewanna on Monday morning and back again at the close of the week's work, at a time when railroads were not as numerous as now and automobiles were unknown. In the building of the Nickel Plate Railroad he helped as one of the foremen with the construction of the roadbed. After the completion of the road he again entered the grain business, in which he continued until about 1920, as long as his health would permit.

FRANKLIN OVERMYER and his wife Susannah were living at Burr Oak when, in 1903, they decided to take a trip to California. When about to return, she was taken suddenly ill and died at Los Angeles in August, 1903. The body was brought to Burr Oak for burial.


In December, 1917, when the Culver Exchange Bank was reorganized under the name of the State Exchange, Mr. OVERMYER became one of the directors, which position he held until his death. He belonged to the Evangelical Church. In 1906, when Culver City needed a school building and there were no funds nor means of raising any for the necessary expense, Mr. OVERMYER financed the erection of a building on long term payment plans. He also subscribed generously to the fund for the erection of the high school building in 1920.
FRANKLIN OVERMYER died at his home in Burr Oak, March 18, 1922, aged eighty-six, and was buried in the Burr Oak Cemetery. He was s survived by his widow, seven sons and one daughter.

To this union were born eleven children. In the order of birth, they were:
    Harvey is living in Rochester married CATHARINE WISE
    Jeremiah is dead married MINERVA SHOCK
    Samantha died in '68 at the age of four
    Sherman is living at Richland Center married IDA SICKMAN
      'Frank' is dead, preceded their father in death and the family lives in Chicago married FLORA VOREIS
    Albert is dead, preceded their father in death and rests at North Union
    Edward is living in Argos and is a widower married ALICE MILLER
    Lewis is living at Burr Oak GRACE HUMBERT
    Alice married NORMAN BEATTY, now deceased, and lived near Burr Oak
    George W. resides on the Burr Oak Flats. ORPHA L. MCFARLAND
    J. A. Garfield


Regarding WILLIAM OVERMYER, the later settler in Union Township

We find that he was the second son and third child of Peter and Mary Overmyer.

William's father was born in Union County, Pennsylvania, in 1794. Peter's father died when the boy was about sixteen. Being the oldest of the children, much of the responsibility in the family then devolved upon Peter. In 1811, when he was seventeen, Peter and his widowed mother and younger brothers and sisters emigrated from Pennsylvania to Perry County, Ohio. There he grew up and married MARY HODGE, followed farming till 1833, when they moved with their family of six children, including William, to Sandusky County, Ohio, and located on the banks of Big Mud Creek. This property was a famly possession until 1901. "Upon this tract, then an unbroken forest," says the family history, "he settled with his family, and erected a log cabin, one and one-half stories high, of round logs, with clapboard roof, held on by weight poles on either side, using probably not an iron nail in the entire structure. The floor was what was known as a puncheon floor which was later replaced by a floor of wide boards, pinned to cross-logs or joice with wooden pins instead of nails. In the corner was a rude ladder fastened to the wall, which led to the children's bed-chamber above which was simply a garret with no windows and no ceiling, save the clapboard roof, through which the drifting snows frequently blew, covering children's beds, floor and all with a blanket of purest white.

In this humble and peaceful home (William's childhood home), the family lived, the children grew strong and robust, aiding their parents in clearing a farm and rearing a home. Another son had been born into the family, when the wife and mother of the home was separated from them by the hand of death."

The children of PETER and MARY OVERMYER were:
    Isaac born in Perry County, Ohio
      Isaac, William OVERMYER's older brother and the first-born of the family, was an accomplished ax­man. He helped subdue the forests of the Black Swamp in Ohio, and learned to swing his ax so well that nearly forty years after his death, an old acquaintance of his in Indiana said: "Isaac was the best chopper in this section of the country." He married ELIZABETH OVERMYER and in '53 emigrated to Pulaski County, Indiana. "In company with JOHN OVERMYER and JOHN ANDERSON and their families," says the historian, "they moved to new homes with several yoke of oxen and a team of horses, driving their cattle and sheep with them, making the journey in less than two weeks. Isaac settled on a tract of land about five miles east of Winamac, and engaged in farming until his death, January 7, 1864."
    Sarah born in Perry County, Ohio
      William's older sister, Sarah, married HENRY BAUMAN, a Swiss, and remained in Ohio.
    William was born in Perry County, Ohio, May 19, 1826
    Emanuel died in childhood.
    Joel died in childhood.
      "It was a custom," the family historian says, "for early settlers of Perry County, Ohio, to get water at the salt springs in that locality and boil it in a large kettle or pan to the water and thus obtain salt for family use, and it was into one of these kettles that Joel, when a child, fell and was scalded to death."
    Ezekiel born in Perry County, Ohio
      Ezekiel, came to Indiana in '52, journeying with a party of settlers in big wagons 'cross country. He married an Ohio girl and settled on a farm near Richland Center, where he died in 1899. Ezekiel's children were thirteen in number.
    Elizabeth born in Perry County, Ohio
      married and died in Ohio, leaving no direct descendants living
      came to Indiana in '55, when he was twenty-one years of age, in company with his brother, Isaac, and his cousin, John, and their families. He married, and went to farming in Pulaski and Fulton Counties. He died in 1894 and was buried at Richland Center. Like Ezekiel, he had thirteen children.

At the age of seven, William moved with his parents from Perry County to Sandusky County, Ohio, where he grew to manhood and married, March 21, 1850, MARY CATHERINE ERNSBERGER, born December 18, 1834.

The first three years of their married life they resided just east of Fremont, and in September, 1853, moved to Pulaski County, Indiana, going by rail as far as Mishawaka, thence by wagon to the tract of land of 160 acres, which he obtained from the government. Here they settled and built a home and improved their farm, afterwards purchasing eighty acres more.

About this time the health of the wife and mother began to fail, and after a lingering illness of eight years' duration, she died August 5, 1876 and was buried in Pleasant Hill Cemetery, east of Winamac.

    Mary A., born in 1853
    William L., born in 1856
    Lucy A., who died in childhood
    Fannie B., born in 1862
    Grant, born in 1864 and died in 1870
    Frank P., born in 1869
    Granville, died in youth
    Ida M., born in 1871
    Georgiana, born in 1873.

WILLIAM OVERMYER married for his second wife, ELIZABETH (SMITH) BOWERSOX of Woodville, Ohio, widow of LEVI BOWERSOX. To this union were born:
    Estella, who died in infancy
    an infant who died

"In 1879, William sold his farm in Pulaski County," says the historian, "and bought 210 acres in Marshall County, near Marmont. Here, in 1881, the hand of death again entered his home and took from him his second wife.

Having found both of his former wives in Sandusky County, he again turned his attention thither, and in November, 1882, married Mrs. LIBBIE (SNYDER) GAUMEL, of Lindsey. He continued to reside on his farm, which he had well improved by this time, until the time of his death, December 21, 1892. He is buried in the Voreis Cemetery, one-half mile from where he lived. He was a member of the United Brethren church for thirty-eight years; was Justice of the Peace for Pulaski County a number of years, and was called "Squire" the rest of his life."

His widow, who survived him a considerable number of years, went to Plymouth to reside.

According to the historian, THOMPSON, the WILLIAM OVERMYER family did not arrive in Union Township until the spring of 1878. This historian adds that William's parents were born in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, respectively, and the father was a farmer by occupation, and served in the War of 1812. William attended the common schools at intervals, in Ohio, tool up farming as his life work, and in 1853 moved to Pulaski County, removing to Union Township in '78.