From the time of the first settlement, the citizens of Overton have generally taken an active interest in the great political questions and matters of local government. The pioneers appreciated the right of suffrage and exercised it though it meant a sacrifice of time, and long and tiresome journeys. In 1823 we find among those who attended the fall election in Asylum (election place now Terrytown), John Heverly and Daniel Heverly, Jr., who had traveled a distance of 18 miles through the wilderness to cast their votes. After the formation of Albany the distance to the election place was reduced to about five miles.
The First Election in Overton was held March 18, 1853, at the house of William Waltman, for the purpose of electing township officers. The Court appointed Jacob Heverly judge of this "special election," of which he says: "The day following election I delivered the returns at the county-seat, making the trip on foot and returned the same day." The first officers of the township chosen at said election, were:
Judge of Election—John Molyneux.
Inspectors of Election—Reuben Rinebold, Isaac Frear.
Justice of the Peace—Jacob Hottenstein.
Commissioners—James Molyneux, Thomas McGovern, William Luce.
School Directors – Thomas McGovern, John Molyneux, Abner Mitchell, Jacob Streevy, James Heverly.
Assessor-Gideon S. Boyles.
Constable-George W. Hottenstein.
Town Clerk-William Waltman.
Auditors-Daniel O’Neill, John Flynn, Abner Mitchell.
The first regular election was held October 11, 1853. The first election place was the house of William Waltman (now farm of Russell Heverly). By vote at a special election, held March 14, 1857, the election place was changed to school house No.2. Twenty-nine years later the citizens again voted to change the place of holding elections from school house No. 2 to the town house in Overton village, where the voting has been done since November, 1887.
On local political matters Overton has always been one of the most liberal towns in the county. However, on state and national issues, with but one exception, the majority of her vote has been cast for Democratic candidates. The following vote for President will show the strength, of the different political parties in the town since 1856:
|1856||John C. Fremont, Republican||32|
|James Buchanan, Democrat||28|
|1860||Stephen A. Douglas, Democrat||38|
|Abraham Lincoln, Republican||28|
|1864||George B. McClellan, Democrat||45|
|Abraham Lincoln, Republican||24|
|1868||Horatio Seymour, Democrat||51|
|Ulysses S. Grant, Republican||32|
|1872||Horace Greeley, Liberal Republican & Democrat||55|
|Ulysses S. Grant, Republican||33|
|1876||Samuel J. Tilden, Democrat||79|
|Rutherford B. Hayes, Republican||19|
|1880||Winfield S. Hancock, Democrat||76|
|James A. Garfield, Republican||28|
|James B. Weaver, Greenback||3|
|1884||Grover Cleveland, Democrat||67|
|James A. Garfield, Republican||41|
|1888||Grover Cleveland, Democrat||82|
|Benjamin Harrison, Republican||49|
|1892||Grover Cleveland, Democrat||71|
|Benjamin Harrison, Republican||36|
|1896||William J. Bryan, Democrat||95|
|William McKinley, Republican||57|
|John M. Palmer, National Democrat||1|
|1900||William J. Bryan, Democrat||79|
|William McKinley, Republican||37|
|1904||Alton B. Parker, Democrat||41|
|Theodore Roosevelt, Republican||33|
|Silas C. Swallow, Prohibition||4|
|1908||William J. Bryan, Democrat||51|
|William H. Taft, Republican||31|
|1854||William Bigler, Democrat||24|
|James Pollock, Whig and Know-Nothing||13|
|1857||William F. Packer, Democrat||29|
|David Wilmot, Republican||25|
|1860||Henry D. Foster, Democrat||42|
|Andrew G. Curtin, Republican||27|
|1863||George W. Woodward, Democrat||54|
|Andrew G. Curtin, Republican||21|
|1866||Henry Clymer, Democrat||46|
|John W. Geary, Republican||28|
|1869||Asa Packer, Democrat||59|
|John W. Geary, Republican||31|
|1872||Charles R. Buckalew, Democrat||64|
|John F. Hartranft, Republican||34|
|1875||Cyrus L. Pershing, Democrat||69|
|John F. Hartranft, Republican||20|
|1878||Andrew H. Dill, Democrat||49|
|Henry M. Hoyt, Republican||22|
|Samuel R. Mason, Greenback||6|
|1882||Robert E. Pattison, Democrat||69|
|James A. Beaver, Republican||29|
|John Stewart, Independent||2|
|1886||Chauncey F. Black, Democrat||59|
|James A. Beaver, Republican||27|
|1890||Robert E. Pattison, Democrat||98|
|George W. Delamater, Republican||33|
|1894||William H. Singerly, Democrat||32|
|Daniel H. Hastings, Republican||18|
|1898||George A. Jenks, Democrat||55|
|William A. Stone, Republican||21|
|Silas C. Swallow, Prohibition||11|
|1902||Robert E. Pattison, Democrat||56|
|Samuel W. Pennepacker, Republican||18|
|Silas C. Swallow, Prohibition||4|
|1906||Lewis Emery, Independent & Democrat||58|
|Edwin S. Stuart, Republican||20|
Since the organization of Overton but one person has been elected to county office from the town, being Clement F. Heverly, who was chosen county auditor in 1884, and probably the youngest official ever elected in the county.
The following are the officers of Overton, 1910
Judge of Election – John Dorsey.
Inspector of Election – William Bird, John Shahan.
School Directors-John Dorsey, Michael J. Frawley, Frank Leahy, John O’Connell,
Adison L. Rinebold, Clinton Streby.
Justice of the Peace – William Bird, A. J. Bird
Assessor – Gilbert L. Rinebold
Supervisors – Daniel J. Frawley, William L. Streby, Clinton Streby
Auditors – George E. Hottenstein, Anthony J. Mullen, Fred Sherman
Treasurer – Herbert E. Hausknecht.
Collector of Taxes – Isaac Bailey.
Constable – Benjamin J. Hausknecht.
The first post office was established as "Heverlyville"
in 1851, and was kept at the house of James Heverly. Edward McGovern was
postmaster, but gave the emoluments of the office to Mr. Heverly for keeping
it for him. Before the establishment of this office the people were required
to go to Wilcox’s for their mail. Mail was first carried on horse back,
and came from the South—Muncy. In 1837, while yet in his teens, Edward
Rinebold was hired to carry the mail from Muncy to Tunkhannock by the way
of Towanda. The trips were made on horse-back, requiring three days from
Towanda to Muncy and return, and two days from Towanda to Tunkhannock.
Great patience and courage was required, as on one accompanied him, and
the greater part of his journey was over mountains through a great forest.
He continued these arduous duties, beset with many dangers, for a year.
In 1856 the name of the office was changed to Overton and George W. Hottenstein
made postmaster. For half a century the people in a wide territory were
served from this office. Most of the Overton district, since the establishment
of the rural free delivery service, 1901, have had a daily mail from New
Albany. By stage line from Hillsgrove to New Albany, however, there has
been a daily service many years. The postmasters for Overton have been
|George W. Hottenstein||1856-1858|
|John C. Hottenstein||1866-1877|
|Alex. C. Heverly||1882-1883|
|Ira R. Park||1887-1889|
|Fred F. Chase||1889-1893|
|Edward C. Musselman||1896-1901|
|Joseph J. Francke||1901-1910|
Notable Events and Shocking Occurrences.
The largest crowd ever assembled in Overton was the occasion of the Catholic picnic, August 14, 1886. Many hundred people were present from a large section of country. A big dinner was served, and dancing and other amusements engaged in. There were contests over various articles, the gold watch being won by Miss Mayme Hannon.
The most memorable funeral in Overton was that of Mrs. Edward McGovern on April 7, 1888. Obsequies in charge of Rev. Father Kaier were held from the Church of St. Patrick. Rev. Father Kelley of Towanda delivered the sermon, paying a high tribute to the beautiful Christian character of the deceased. Others assisting in the services were Father Costello of Athens and Father Welsh of Dushore. Bishop Thomas McGovern, son of the deceased, was present, arrayed in robes of purple and bowed with the priests in prayer.
One June 30, 1910, Mr. and Mrs. Daniel Heverly, surrounded by children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren relatives and friends, celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary. They are the first Overton couple ever to reach three score years of married life. Within the town, Mr. Heverly enjoys the distinction of being Overton’s oldest living son, and Mrs. Heverly, Overton’s oldest living daughter.
On November 7, 1866, while Alice, the seven-year-old daughter of Mr. and Mrs. John C. Hottenstein, was assisting her mother making apple-butter, her clothing caught fire, and before the flames could be smothered had received burns from which she died in great agony.
One night in January, 1874, the barn of Henry Sherman was destroyed by fire, together with its contents of hay and grain, a number of horses, cows, sheep and poultry perishing in the flames. The fire was believed to have been the work of an incendiary, and nearly ruined Mr. Sherman as he had no insurance on any of his property. Kind neighbors came to his relief, assisting him financially and otherwise.
On August 1st, 1887, while Artemus W. Fawcett was sitting in a wagon in his horse-barn watching a thunder shower, a bolt of lightning descended through the building, striking Mr. Fawcett and killing him instantly. His little son and two Frawley boys on the floor near him escaped uninjured. The building was set on fire and burned.
On July 9, 1889, while Thomas Waltman, an esteemed resident of the town, was gumming a saw at his mill, the emery wheel bursted and one of the fragments striking him in the forehead fractured his skull. He died some hours afterwards from his injuries. On the 5th of the same month, Michael Mullany who had moved from the town to Ulster, fell from a cherry tree, meeting instant death.
On the morning of January 8, 1892, Albert Molyneux went to a pool of water near his house and deliberately drowned himself. The cause of his rash act remains a mystery.
On November 3, 1903, Patrick McHale, aged 86 years, while fighting forest fires near his home, being overcome by smoke and heat and his clothing taking fire, was burned to death. His charred remains were found several hours afterwards.
The first colored man and only one, who ever made Overton his permanent home, was Harry Carpenter, who came to the township from Susquehanna county in 1854. Harry, however, was a native of Schoharie, N.Y., where his early life was spent. He was a genius in some respects and different from most men of his race. Without education, he acquired a knowledge of Nature’s plants, disease symptoms of animals, and became quite successful as a horse and cattle doctor. He was an all around "handy man," liked to be put in charge of a job and prided himself in its careful execution. His interesting narrations were a little long drawn, but his apt and witty saying contained more truth than fiction. Harry believed in the salvation of man, but loved his cups. His religious ardor was greatest after he had imbibed a half print of working spirits, when he gave himself up in prayer, song and exultation. In his younger days he was remarkable active and a dangerous man to impose upon. He was seldom out-done in the line of duty. His color always made him an interesting character for the study of the younger generations, and his good qualities outnumbered his short-comings. We shall never forget Harry, "the first black man." Peace to his ashes. Finally be became decrepit, and did a town charge in April, 1881, aged about 80 years.
Arron Shotts came to the township in 1857, and bought a little farm at the top of the hill next the Albany line. He was a hard worker and an expert shingle maker. But poor Aaron was always in trouble, real and imaginary. Though a man in years, he had the weakness of a child and was wont to give way in tears. He was so easily irritated that he was made the butt of amusement by the mischievous boys of the neighborhood. He, however, was a man of no evil propensities. In 1878 he sold out and returned to Huntington, Pa., where he had formerly lived.
"Big Nose Jim" was the name by which James Fleming, one of the later settlers of the Ridge, was known. The prominence of Mr. Fleming’s nose, together with the fact that he was fluent in the use of the mother tongue, made him as much of a curiosity for the boys as was "Black Harry." So abnormal was his organ of smelling that it was really proboscis, or three times the size of an ordinary nose. This mark of nature was his misfortune and embarrassment, for he was an industrious and upright citizens.
Occurrences of Nature.
Among the occurrences of nature, remembered and talked about, from the oldest to the present inhabitants, are the following:
1816—"The year without a summer." For in every month there was a killing frost. The destruction of crops was so general that a famine almost resulted. Early settlers referred to this unfruitful year as "eighteen hundred and starve to death."
1817— "Winter remarkable for a great fall of snow.
1821—"On April 18 there was two feet of snow after a three days’ snow storm.
1827-’28—One of the mildest winters ever known.
1833—"A grand celestial phenomenon or meteoric shower was exhibited in the heavens on the morning of November 13, 1833. This beautiful and wonderful exhibition of "falling stars" was seen and is remembered by some of the oldest inhabitants.
1835—In May (about 20th) snow fell to the depth of 15 inches.
1835-’36—Winter remarkable for a great fall of snow and intense cold weather. In January many cattle and other animals perished. There was still good sleighing on the 23rd of March.
1836—On the 5th of October snow fell to the depth of nearly two feet. Fruit had not been gathered and buckwheat was still in the field, some not yet cut. Fruit trees were broken down, and the roads through the forests blockaded with fallen limbs. On the 6th the sun shone brightly and the snow soon disappeared.
1839—On the 25th of May snow began falling, continuing during the night until it was over a foot deep. The spring had been early and much farming done. Corn was up. The snow soon melted and passed away.
1842—On October 7th, and 9th snow fell to the depth of 15 inches.
1842-’43—The winter was severe and bitter cold, with snow three feet deep all winter. They supply of hay and straw became exhausted and many cattle perished. In the fall myriads of black squirrels migrated through the wilderness.
1844—On the 29th of September a heavy snow fell. On the Barclay mountains it lay 28 inches deep.
1853—A beautiful fall until the 24th of October, when snow fell to the depth of more than a foot.
1854—The big April snow storm, commencing on Good Friday, April 14, continued four days. After melting as it came, at the conclusion of the storm the snow was still three feet deep in the woods.
1857—On April 19 and 20, snow fell to a depth, varying from two to three feet. There were other notable April snow storms in 1859, 1873, 1894.
1959—Notable as the cold summer. There is said to have been a frost every month in the year. On the 4th of July persons wore overcoats at the celebrations.
1865-’66—An open winter with little snow, and not enough at any time to make sleighing.
1867-’68—On the 5th of December there was a heavy fall of snow which continued on the ground, making continuous good sleighing until the middle of April.
1875-’76—Warm winter with very little snow. Plowing was done in January and February, and many pieces of oats were sown by the middle of March. The summer of 1876 was warn and the year an exceedingly fruitful one.
1884-’85—A cold winter. From the 13th to 24th of March, thermometers registered anywhere from 6 to 22 degrees below zero.
1885—One of the greatest December snow storms ever know. Snow commenced falling on the 23rd and continued three days. In the Deep Hollow and other places the snow was from four to five feet deep.
1888—On the 13th of March occurred the Great Blizzard, which had its base on the Pacific coast, and gathered intensity as it proceeded eastward across the Rockies to the great lakes and on to the Atlantic coast. The winter of 1887-’88 went upon record as one of the most terrible in the country’s history. Storm after storm swept over mountains and plains. Snow driven with relentless fury blinded and overwhelmed the fauna kingdom, and the severity of the temperature, which a number of times reached from 30 to 40 degrees below zero, wrought havoc with man and beast throughout the entire county. There was untold want and suffering.
1901—The greatest December flood and the most destructive in the history of the county occurred December 14th. On Saturday afternoon the rain began falling in torrents, continuing almost incessantly for six hours. The waters quickly gathered, filling and overflowing every small channel, and in a rapid rush bounded on to the larger streams. Creeks became raging torrents, banks full and overflowing, the waters sweeping everything before them. Five persons were drowned and property, public and private, destroyed and damaged in the county to the extent of a million dollars. Overton was one of the townships suffering the greatest loss.
1904—The coldest weather ever known in this section was in January, 1904. There were two waves. One on the 3rd, 4th and 5th of January, and the other on the 18th and 19th. Both extended over the greater part of the United States. On the 5th local thermometers in the county registered from 25 to 40 degrees below zero.
1904-’05—An exceedingly cold winter with much snow.
1908-’09—One of the mildest winters ever known. The severe days did not exceed half a dozen, and the ground in the valleys was so slightly frozen that ploughing could have been done every day during the winter.
Not only have there been a number of remarkable snow storms in April and May, but they have sometimes occurred in June. On June 5, 1832, four inches of snow fell all over Eastern Pennsylvania. There was a severed frost on June 5, 1859, and on June 6, 1878, there was a frost with ice, and the same condition, May 26, 1879 and June 3, 1880.