The Bucks County, Pennsylvania, Oberholtzers who Moved to Alverton, Pennsylvania

Posted by Daniel Mast on

by Rodney G. Cavanaugh

    The Oberholtzer family originated before the 15th century in the Swiss village of Ober, about 30 miles south of Zurich. On March 2, 1661, Marx/Marcus Oberholtzer, son of Martin Oberholtzer, was hosting an evening Anabaptist church service at his home when they were “visited” by raiders, and the authorities fined the persons who were present. They were also told that they could no longer hold meetings, and if they were caught again, they would lose their homes.
    Marcus (1683-1726) and Elizabeth Oberholtzer and their children left their European homeland bound for the “new world.” They knew that there were 10,000 acres of newly-opened land in what is today Lancaster County. Marcus and his family left Holland in April 1709 for England and arrived on May 3.
    They joined a group of 852 refugees from the Palatinate who had moved from Holland to England. The Oberholtzer family included Marcus and his wife, Elizabeth, and their children: Jacob, Samuel, Nanny, Marcus, and Elizabeth. They lived in England for about one year before crossing the ocean.
    The Oberholtzers sailed on the Mary Hope, and landed at the port of Philadelphia on September 23, 1710. The family settled on a 500-acre tract of land on the west bank of the Schuylkill River in present-day East Coventry Township, Chester County, Pennsylvania. Both the 1718 and the 1724 tax rolls list Marcus Overhult.
    Marcus and Elizabeth had two more sons after arriving in America. Their children included:

        1. Jacob, 1699-1760, m. Barbara Fretz
        2. Samuel, 1700-1759, m. Elizabeth ?
        3. Nanny, 1703-1787, m. Jacob Wismer
        4. Marcus, 1706-1780
        5. Elizabeth, 1707 ?
        6. Martin, 1709-1744, m. Agnes Kolb
        7. Henry 1712-1753, m. Elizabeth Killian

    The family name was spelled different ways:  Oberholtzer, Overholtzer, Overhotoser, or Overholt.1

Immigrant Martin Oberholtzer

    Martin Oberholtzer was born in Germany. Martin and his wife, Agnes, were parents of Barbara, Henry, Maria (b. Dec. 19, 1740), John (Aug. 8, 1742-Dec. 7, 1742), and Martin—those who married are listed below. Martin and family immigrated in the early 18th century, and settled in Bedminster Township, Bucks County, Pennsylvania.

Second Generation Barbara (Oberholtzer) Fretz

    Barbara Oberholtzer (Nov. 10, 1735-May 8, 1823) was married to Christian Fretz (1734-May 1, 1803), son of John Fretz. When Barbara died, she was survived by 12 children, 109 grandchildren, and 103 great-grandchildren.2 Children were: John, Agnes, Joseph, Henry, Martin, Jacob, Abraham, Isaac, Barbara, Christian, Mary, and Elizabeth.3

Second Generation Henry Oberholtzer
henry oberholtzer farm homestead east huntington township westmoreland county
Henry Oberholtzer’s homestead (ca1903) in Bedminster Township, Bucks County, Pennsylvania.
    Henry Oberholtzer (Feb. 5, 1739-Mar. 5, 1813) was married to Anna Beitler/Beidler (Mar. 24, 1745-Apr. 5, 1835), and died in Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania. When his mother sold him the homestead, she used the  name “Overhold”. On April 25, 1800, Henry sold the homestead for £1,500 of gold and silver to Andrew Loux.4
    Henry and Anna along with five sons, seven daughters, five sons-in-laws, two daughters-in-laws, and 13 grandchildren, all moved to Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania. They left with a “great quantity of goods and chattels on a string of covered wagons and traveled 300 miles over the other side of the mountains.”5
    On June 7, 1803, Henry bought 260½ acres of land, for which he paid £1,300.  This was the site of West Overton in East Huntington Township, Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania.
    Their first child—all their children were born in Bucks County, Pennsylvania—was Agnes Overholt (Oct. 15, 1765-June 15, 1830) married to Christian Fretz (ca1765-Apr. 5, 1848), son of Daniel and Mary Fretz.
    The second child was Maria Overholt (b. Dec. 22, 1766) married to John Myers.
    Jacob Overholt was the third child (Oct. 15, 1768-May 10, 1847) married to Elizabeth Detweiler (Mar. 8, 1775-Sept. 20, 1849). Jacob was a highly respected veterinarian and farmer. Their first son was John D. Overholt (d. May 10, 1847) married to Elizabeth Stauffer (Aug. 30, 1804-Nov. 4, 1842).6  John D. was ordained as a Mennonite minister in 1830 and was ordained to the office of bishop in 1833.7
    When John D. was ordained a bishop in 1833 there would have been at least 200 members in the Jacobs’ Mennonite settlement.  They met in two church houses.  Martin Loucks (Dec. 9, 1798-Nov. 7, 1869) was ordained as a minister in this church.  He was ordained May 1833.  They were weak ministerial leaderships to lead that large of a group of people.  Over the years it seemed that they had forgotten the church teachings of pacifist heritage.
    During the Civil War the Mennonite community, especially its leaders, embraced the cause of the Union.  John D.’s twins, John S.R. and Aaron S.R. Overholt, went off to war.  A cousin was killed in the war, and his uncle, John D., conducted his funeral.  There were other reasons the church died under the care of John D. and Martin.  John D. would only preach in German after the youth had gone to public school and learned the English language.  The first in East Huntington opened in 1802; the free school system began in 1834.  They did not want to have Sunday school. The neighboring churches had evangelistic revivals. There were unimaginative forms and weak church leadership and conservative worship forms.  One of the failures in the local church was due to materialistic motives which led to an  overemphasis on economic prosperity rather than church faithfulness.8
    The United Brethren Church and the Church of God were two of the churches the youth joined.  With the youth joining other churches and many of the people moving west, there were fewer than 20 members when the Mennonite Church of Scottdale was chartered.
    The next child was Anna Overholt (Nov. 25, 1770-Mar. 15, 1845) married 1) to Peter Loux/Loucks (Dec. 19, 176-July 10, 1825). His parents were Johan Peter Loux and Catarina Hoensin. Minister Martin Loucks was a son of Anna and Peter Loux/Loucks.9
    Over the years many descendants from the Loucks who immigrated west from Bucks County included hardware merchants, teachers, and a bank president.  If the Mennonite Publishing House had not settled in Scottdale, there would probably not have been a Mennonite remnant of the Jacobs’ Creek settlement.
    When the publishing business was chartered, in Indiana, it stated the Publishing House was to be in Scottdale, Pennsylvania. Aaron Loucks (Nov. 20, 1854-Aug. 20, 1945) was hired to be the manager of “The House” from the beginning in 1908 until 1935.  He was ordained a minister on September 18, 1892, and bishop on January 10, 1897.
    On July 22, 1893, 20 chartered members of the new Mennonite Church in Scottdale joined that day.  Aaron was one of this group.  The meeting was in the home of his parents.  His parents were Jacob S. Loucks (Oct. 10, 1829-Dec. 21, 1916) and Mary Saylor (Dec. 20, 1833-May 12, 1905). Aaron was a grandson of minister Martin Loucks.
    Martin Overholt (Nov. 1772-June 18, 1835) was married in 1802 to Catherine Overholt (Nov. 1, 1781-Dec. 21, 1866).  He was a farmer and weaver and died in Logan County, Illinois.10
    Barbara Overholt (Apr. 1775-Aug. 5, 1848) married to Jacob Durstine (b. Apr. 3, 1773).  They were the parents of nine children.11  
    Elizabeth Overholt (June 12, 1777-Aug. 8, 1833) came next. She married Martin Stauffer (Aug. 31, 1780-Mar. 8, 1869).  His parents were Bishop Abraham Stauffer (ca1752/3-Sept. 3, 1826) and Anna Nissley (Sept. 20, 1752-1817).12
    The eighth child in this family was Henry Overholt (July 10, 1779-Apr. 10, 1809) who had returned to Bucks County to be married to a Miss Myers.  He was kicked by a horse and died before they were married.13
    Sarah Overholt (b. Feb. 18, 1781) died unmarried.14      
Abraham Overholt (Apr. 19, 1784-Jan. 15, 1870) was married on Apr. 20, 1809, to Maria Stauffer (July 13, 1791-Nov. 1874).  Her parents were Bishop Abraham Stauffer and Anna Nissley.  His parents were Christian and Barbara Stauffer.
    Abraham had learned to be a weaver while he lived in Bucks County. During the time his brothers cleared new ground, he worked at the looms. In 1810, he and his brother Christian bought the homestead. Several years later, Abraham bought his brother’s half and owned the farm that had a log distillery. It had the capacity of producing one to four bushels per day.15
    In 1834, he built a brick distillery with added steam power. He also established a flouring mill. The next addition was a new distillery that was constructed  of bricks, 100’ x 68’ and six stories high. This mill had the capacity of 250 bushels a day. Both rye and corn whiskey were made. The flour and whiskey were highly treasured.16
abraham overholt bucks county oberholtzer alverton history
Abraham Overholt (1784-1870)
    They were the parents of eight children, but none remained Mennonite. Abraham Overholt was viewed as a “faithful member” whose “seat was seldom vacant at public worship” and “was always willing and ready to give of his abundance.” He was interested in politics, attended concerts, supported the Union forces, and was never disciplined by his congregation.17
    The family and descendants of Abraham were successful businessmen. They were farmers, distillers, and in the coal and coke business. Two of his grandsons—Abraham O. Tintsman and Henry C. Frick— were very successful in coal and coke. Frick became known as “the King Coke.” Later in life, he owned more stock in railroads than any other investor.
    Scottdale, at one time, had a business that made cast iron pipe. It was to have been the largest plant like it in the country. They cast pipe up to 72” in diameter.  Two of Abraham’s grandsons were involved in the pipe mill—one was the president of the company, and the other was a director.
    When the current First Regular Baptist Church in Scottdale was dedicated on June 23, 1907, Benjamin F. Overholt, a grandson of Abraham, donated a carallon in the belfry.
    Christian Overholt (July 18, 1786-Jan. 11, 1868) was married Nov. 1811 to Elizabeth Stauffer (Jan. 19, 1794-Nov. 21, 1887), the daughter of Bishop Abraham and Anna (Nissley) Stauffer. Christian was a farmer and distiller, and died in Hancock, Ohio.18
    The last of Henry’s children was Susanna   Overholt (b. Jan. 13, 1789) who died unmarried.
Second Generation Martin Overholt

    Martin Overholt (Dec. 20, 1743-Mar. 1811) was the youngest child of Martin and Agnes Fretz (Kolb) Oberholtzer Nash. He was married to Esther Fretz (ca1748-Feb. 1813), dau. of Christian Fretz.
    Martin and Esther moved west before his elder brother Henry, sometime before the turn of the century.  A deed states that they bought 395+ acres for £1,185 on May 28, 1795. In 1810, Martin bought land in Coshocton and Tuscarawas Counties, Ohio.
    The family was planning to move to Ohio, but about six weeks before, Martin developed “King’s evil” cancer on his neck. He bled for three days and nights causing his death. His wife, Esther, moved to Ohio where she and one of the daughters died of “spotted fever.”19 Spotted fever is: “General and imprecise name for various eruptive fevers including typhus, tick fever, and rickettsial fevers.”20 Of the 14 children, 13 moved to Ohio:
1.     Elizabeth Overton (1771-1842) was married to Abraham Welty/Weldy (d. ca1831), a Mennonite minister.
2.     Agnes Overholt (1773-June 14, 1845) was married to Christian Stauffer (1778-July 6, 1852). Agnes was the only child who stayed in Westmoreland.  
3.     Christian Overholt (Aug. 1774-ca1840) married Rebecca Grundy/Von Grundy (June 2, 1775-Feb. 7, 1857).
4.     Barbara Overholt (ca1775/6-Jan. 15, 1813) was married to Rev. Mathias Barchfield (d. Mar. 16, 1822). His father came from Scotland. Mathias preached in German, and became a United Brethren preacher.  
5.     Henry Overholt died single.  
6.     Mary Overholt (1779-1845) married Christian Noffzinger/Nofsinger.  
7.     Magdalena Overholt (1783-1862) married John Mumma (1778-Sept. 16, 1865), son of George Washington and Catherine (Gerber) Mumma.
8.     Martin Overton (ca1784-Feb. 14, 1814) married Barbara Conrad (d. 1885).
9.     Abraham Overholt (1785-1847) married Susan Crites.
10-11. Isaac Overholt and his sister Esther Overholt died single.
12. Sarah Overholt (Apr. 17, 1791-Dec. 3, 1857) married   Philip Welty (May 2, 1789-Sept. 11, 1848).      
13. Joseph Overholt (June 19, 1793-Feb. 11, 1873) married Barbara Kline (May 16, 1797-Aug. 6, 1870).  
14. The youngest of this family was Anna Overholt (Apr. 8, 1802-Jan. 15, 1839). Her mother was 55 years old when she was born. Anna married Gabriel Weimer (May 13, 1801-Feb. 12, 1876) of Somerset County, Pa.21

Pioneer Jacob Oberholtzer

    Jacob Oberholtzer of Bedminster and Plumstead Township, Bucks County, was also a pioneer settler. He was married to Barbara ______, and on May 17, 1740, he bought 185 acres that had land in the earlier townships.  He was a Mennonite and was buried in Deep Run Mennonite Church Cemetery. He was the father of nine children:22
1.     Jacob Overholt married Ester Leatherman.
2.     Abraham Overholt married to Magdalena Detweiler.
3.     Mary Overholt married Daniel Bewighouse.
4.     Elizabeth Overholt married Tilman Kulp.
5.     Anna Overholt married David Kulp.
6.     Barbara Overholt married Mennonite Minister Henry R. Rosenberger who was the preacher at the Franconica Mennonite Meetinghouse during the time of
    the American Revolution.
7.     Hester Overholt married George Pachman/Buchman.
8.     Magdalena Overholt married Abraham Landis.
9.     Sarah Overholt married Rudolph Landis.23
Another Martin Overholt

    Martin Overholt (ca1745/46-after 1815) married Elizabeth Nash (b. Aug. 3, 1751). Martin’s father came from Europe, perhaps as early as 1700.24   
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