Written Historical and Descriptive
From Their Report on West Overton, Westmoreland County,
PA -- Continued
Notes by K. R. Overholt Critchfield
© August 8, 2004
|[HABS Page 12, continued]
The ideological change must surely also have been becoming obvious on the ground, as well. Certainly the contrast between the villagers' houses and the contents of the Overholts' "managerial class" houses could not have escaped anyone: Abraham Overholt's inventory of personal possessions stretched to 119 lots, filling at least fourteen separate spaces and amounting . . . .
[from Page 13]
to $3,887.05. Peter Cruse, the head miller who died in the house next to the store nineteen years later, had seventeen items worth $62.50. Abraham's possessions included eight items each worth more than twice Cruse's entire inventory, including a piano ($350), a dining room cupboard (thought to be the corner cupboard still remaining in the basement front room, always the dining room; $100), a sewing machine ($50), a new buggy ($250), a pair of horses including the favorite bay named "Horse" and the favorite grey, "Charlie" ($125 apiece), three very expensive cows ($61 apiece compared to Cruse's cow which cost $25), four $50 steers, and his gold watch and chain, worth $175.
Henry S. Overholt's inventory is even more lengthy than his father's, though the personal property itself (exclusive of the mill furniture, livestock, wagons and equipment) totaled just over a third of his father's amount. But it too contained unexpectedly luxuriant items, such as a bed worth $85 alone, a "lounge" ($20), a "marble stand and fixtures" ($20), a "regulator" ($30), a "Chronometer" ($50), paintings ($.80) and household machines such as a cookstove ($40, compared to Harshman's $26 stove), a "wringer" ($3) and a "washing machine" ($10) and a "bath tub" ($2). Though Christian Overholt and Jacob Tinstman both moved out of the store well before their deaths (and thus their inventories have not been inspected) we know they also had their share of luxuries. On July 3, 1862, Christian spent $77 on upholstery for chairs and window blinds, bought by Henry in Pittsburgh. He also bought some silver spoons, Wedgwood dishes (an "ironsides chapoo") and a "crotch mahoghony" table, all from the Grandfather Overholt estate sale. Jacob Tinstman also had two gold watches, and grandchildren and grand-nephews B. F. Overholt, A. S. R. Overholt, C. S. R. Overholt, and J. S. R. Overholt all had them by 1871. As had Abraham and Henry, of course, by 1875 Tinstman also had his own carriage (an enclosed vehicle which was much more of a status symbol than a mere buggy, which they also had) and was assessed an extra $100 for "furniture" in 1879. At age 22 Benjamin Franklin Overholt, already master (with his widowed mother) of his father's house and estate, was taxed for a "sulkey" of his own.
All this must be compared to the lesser holdings of the employees and tenants. The tax records for them have only been incompletely examined, but a few can be representative: Jacob Booher (engineer at mill) owned his house and so has the most extensive tax list (1860): "labor," $75; ten acres, $350; one horse, $12; and four or five cows, $100, for a total of $462. Daniel Nicewanger (or Niswonger) was taxed as a cooper, valued at $150, due to his expertise. He also had a cow valued at $15 for a total worth of $165. Though Fred Hunker was clearly a cooper by 1862, in 1860 he was assessed as a laborer; he also had a cow, valued at $10, for a total of $85.
[from Page 14]
By 1880 Peter Cruse had become head miller and was living in the house next to the Jacob Tinstman Store. The inventory taken after his death in 1889 listed a mere 17 items. the implications for room use have been discussed in the HABS report for the Overholt Co. Worker's House B, but the full list deserves to be recorded here:
This list, as minimal as it is, nevertheless contains two items of sentimental and esthetic value. The most obvious are the "pictures," worth more than a quarter of Henry S. Overholt's lot of "8 paintings ($.80);" the "sword" is more likely a memento than a defensive weapon. Though the preponderance of the items are beds, there is also a clock, another status object.
Other village inhabitants lived into their 80's and had moved to other places such as Scottdale or even Greensburg before they died, so their inventories reflect their greater accumulation, later in life. Even so, the inventories' relative paucity late in life can confirm the decedents' limited conditions earlier, while at West Overton. Jacob Hauser, who dug coal in 1862, had become a chicken farmer in Mt. Pleasant Township when he died at the age of 80. He was the most successful (in terms of living conditions), having by then a personal estate of $800 (at 1905 dollars, much devalued since 1860). It included ninety lots of items (70 chickens and 10 ducks among them); one third of these lots were for furniture in at least five rooms (including a "spare room") in the house.
Henry M. Ridenour had an estate of $451.45 when he died in Scottdale in 1915, aged 81. His inventory contained fifty-eight lots in three "bedrooms," a "living room" and a "parlor," a "dining room," a "kitchen" and an "upstairs hall." There was no indication of his occupation later in life, but it must have been sedentary: there were no tools recorded whatsoever, but he did have a postal album, eleven "pictures," two "large decorated pillows," "carpet runners," a "bed lounge," cherry and mahogany "bureaus," and, surely a sentimental holdover, a "spinning wheel." Two of his "bedrooms" had no beds anymore; he had apparently already given them to his children.
[from Page 15]
Fred Hunker was in minimal circumstances when he died in East Greensburg in 1903 at the age of 83. His inventory listed a mere fifteen lots of personal possessions, amounting to only $46. However, some of this apparent penury may have been by choice, for mortgages and notes to several people and cash in Burclay Bank brought the full estate to $7,308. All of the above "success stories" owned clocks and sewing machines at their deaths.
Inventories for two of Rebecca Kough's boarders of 1862 can be found. Both had moved away, survived until 1918 and advanced age, and had money in banks or bonds. Nevertheless, they both seem to have been in the most limited circumstances of all the villagers we have been tracking. Jacob Leasure, the sometime watchman, boiler cleaner, harvester, and general laborer, had, by 1918, moved to Hempfield Township, and owned $400 in shares of the "Provident Collateral" and "Indepent [sic] Pub. Co." His total worth (including real estate?) came to $2,585. David Kough (not Rebecca's son) had money and coke bonds amounting to $2,351.22. By choice or necessity their personal possessions were indeed meager, however:
Other indices to the social divisions in the village, particularly between the workers and the managerial Overholts, may be found in the 1862 A. & H. S. Overholt Company ledger. If the distinction between the artisans and the laborers in the matter of meat consumption was subtle, between them and the Overholts, it was not. On July 8, 1862, Daniel Nicewanger bought $.78 worth of beef; H. S. Overholt bought just over five times as much at $3.91. The exact lists are worth comparing, if only for their visual impact:
[from Page 16]
In other words, the master cooper Nicewanger bought more than half of his meat at the lowest grade, and Henry S. Overholt, company partner, bought just over a quarter of his at those qualities.
Voluntary participation in public works provided another index of social well being (and separation) in the village. While the owners did indeed contribute most to such projects, public-spiritedness was not limited to them alone. The list of subscribers "to building a fence and a privy at school," gathered on June 19, 1862, included the owners and several of the prosperous farmers in the vicinity, as well as two West Overton coopers and the coal digger:
A subscription to a bounty (subscribed on September 27, 1862, for the capture of an unspecified criminal) presented greater stakes and therefore greater generosity. Nevertheless, it too included members of the working-class community among its contributors, albeit this time limited to the better paid among them. The relative amounts give vivid evidence of the economic stratification within the village:
[from Page 17]
Subscription to newspapers and worldly interests it implies were characteristic of the managerial elite, but were not limited to them alone. Abraham Overholt subscribed to the Herald and the Republican ($3) and H. S. Overholt subscribed to the Chronicle ($5). But John W. Frick, his asssistant miller, also subscribed to the Herald ($6) and even Peter Rowan, who labored at feeding the hogs and later watching the mill, who had the cheapest rent in the village ($1 a month) and was in debt ($34.60 over the six months of summer 1862), also subscribed to an unspecified paper, for $2.50.
Although the Overholts distinguished themselves as managers through their material goods and expenditures, and although their enlarged and efficient five-story mill and distillery building implied an efficient, integrated company, the seasonal nature of the distillery business prevented a highly regulated work organization.
Abraham Overholt took strong personal control of the business, and ensured that family control continued after his death by entrusting all managerial positions to close family. But because of the nature of the work and perhaps the Overholts' own preferences, many of the great changes to workers' lives instituted by nineteenth-century industry were absent at West Overton.
The Overholts apparently did not adhere to the intense regulation of the work day, represented by factory clock-time. Though Abraham Overholt and several other people (including workers) in the village had clocks, they were evidently used as status items rather than to regulate the working day. There is no evidence that there ever was a cupola or bell on the mill building -- the clearest symbol of a clock-regulated industry.
All present evidence for work patterns in 1862 indicates life still followed the irregular cycles of the organic tasks. Daniel Troxell (among others) hauled between eight and fifty barrels of whiskey or flour to either Greensburg or Broadford [sic], every three to eleven days. Although this may reflect orders, not actual production, it suggests that this, too, was irregular. The 1870 census of manufacturers asserted that the distillery even then was in operation only eleven months of the year; a seasonal break in routine was enforced.
The artisan coopers certainly worked at their own rhythms. Even those who produced only whiskey barrels did so at variable speeds: Fred Hunker made between eight and thirteen barrels ever six to eight days, during March and early April. In July and August he spent three and a half to five days harvesting and produced between one and twelve whiskey barrels.
[from Page 18]
Similarly Jacob Hauser, the coal digger, produced between 975 and 1200 bushels of coal from the bank during March and April, but slacked to 600 or 800 bushels in July and August, when he put in half a day of harvesting. During harvest almost anybody could be hired on for a day or a few, and people sometimes took in extra boarders at this time: Theodore Harshman a Joab and a P. Harshman for twenty-eight days, and a George Harshman for eighteen and a half days in July and August.
Laborer Peter Rowan had the most irregular work habits of all. He worked steadily for February and March "feeding the hogs," then was paid for between three-and-a-half and thirteen days "labor" in April and May, took in a boarder for one day, then started "watching" at the mill in June. He did this for about a month, being paid for twenty-two- and fifteen-day stints, as if it could terminate at any time. Apparently it did, for he was paid for only two or three days' work (including on to clean the boiler) until August 16, when he disappeared for over a month. He returned on September 27, to buy a load of coal, and was paid for a day and a half of "cutting off corn fodder @ .75 . . . $1.12 ½" on October 1.
Initially both the flouring and the distilling were part of the agricultural cycle, and thus the rhythms of production followed greater seasonal cycles as well. When grain was ready the company bought lots of it. Similarly, the wages of all the villagers show the seasonal fluctuation characteristic of the agricultural order. This can be shown in an examination of the monthly incomes. Most of the villagers started low in March and April, rose to a peak in May and June (the spring busy period), slid a bit in mid-summer (July), peaked again in September and dropped off (some sharply) in October. Daniel Troxel, the local farmer who both sold grain to and hauled whiskey for the company, confirmed this pattern but in an exaggerated way, for his farmer's income in April and May soared well above the artisan and professional average. The most conspicuous departures from this pattern were with Peter Rowan, whose irregularities seem not to be related to the seasons, and the Kough family. Jacob Kough, the cooper, appears to have been dying in early 1862, for he made very few barrels and then disappeared from the ledger books by June. Even before his death, however, his wife was making his purchases for him, and afterwards she took in more boarders than ever (see list above). This is reflected in the sudden spurt of income in July, leveling off to an average as the individuals signed up for long-term hitches. Though this gross income did not reflect her profits (she must, of course feed all these people, as well as housekeep), she did appear to do better economically after her husband was gone.
Another index of the change in the social quality of life is in the nature and exactitude of the accounting system. In many aspects pre-industrial life was based on trust, on people in face to face circumstances all cooperating in mutual support. Rosy as this notion may be (and faltering, perhaps, in performance), it was an ideal concept of some power, and more particularly so for the . . . .
[from Page 19]
Pietist and Sectarian groups of Pennsylvania, such as Mennonites. Mutual loans were numerous, and promissory notes exceedingly vague as to the terms and timetables of repayment.
In this regard, the [West] Overton community did adhere to a somewhat informal accounting system, despite the size and modernity of the operations. The Overholts were the overwhelming economic force in the neighborhood and made loans and "assumptions" frequently. It appears that the employees were credited with their salaries to the books and could make withdrawals in goods, without actually seeing the cash for long periods. The frequent annotations "to cash" represent withdrawals from this surrogate bank (the company) to make [sic] elsewhere what purchases might be necessary. Though the ledgers themselves were kept with exactitude, accounting amounts for flour, meat and horse feed to the quarter penny upon occassion, the time frame was vague. Wages were paid on a two- or three-month basis, but sometimes not until five and a half or six months had elapsed; workers also paid rent on a quarterly basis, or maybe in six months, if need be. The bill to the C. S. Overholt store (dry goods and cloth) was also tallied on rent day, but the debt itself could slide indefinitely. There appears to be no final accounting, with people slipping in and out of the picture (witness Peter Rowan) with no grand tabulation. In some cases records are made rather after the fact ("Thomas Hodges, by 5½ days labor the previous week") or before ("Joseph Hepler . . . to 1 barrel of flour to be paid after harvest . . . $4.75"). And in one case a record is finally made for something that had happened a while before: "Henry O. Stauffer, by Eight Dollars, it being for the Liberty of hauling logs through his field a few years ago." There is even an occasional suggestion of barter, the ultimate in pre-capitalist economic transactions: "Henry S. Overholt, to flour to (Joseph E. or Peter) Pore for cherries -- 10½ gallons . . .$2.10," or "H. S. Overholt, to flour and whiskey for cherries . . .$2.07."
Cumulatively the ledgers indicate that the community present in the village and doing business with the A. & H. S. Overholt (Flour Mill and Distillery) Company in 1862 was the kind of tightly knit, face-to-face group that we can only imagine today. In a tally of the total number of transactions at the mill during the month of August, very few names (just under 7 percent) cannot be located on the local scene, with 89 of them Overholts, 169 from the village of West Overton, 208 from the township of East Huntington [sic], and only 35 unknown. In ten of the non-local cases, the parties were out-of-town businesses with whom the Overholts dealt, such as Farmers Deposit Banking Co.; the Branch House, Pittsburgh; the Iron City Bank; Hailman Rabrn & Co., Pittsburgh; their wholesale whiskey dealers, Shippen & Detwiler; McSwigin; or Cyrus Walton and Jeremiah Gilchrist, the wholesale hog dealers. That leaves a possible twenty-five people coming into the mill, out of 501 visits during the month of August, who may not have been either a neighbor or a regular business contact.
[from Page 20]
Furthermore, the people of West Overton were alike, to the extent that nearly all were born in Pennsylvania. In 1860, there were just seven people (out of a total of 106) born elsewhere, and all of them were from the same town in Germany. Ten years later the village was still predominantly Pennsylvania-born, except for one child born in Indiana. There were no foreigners.
But however cozy a picture this might be, it does not mean that people were servilely content to stay put. Although the community might have been familiar, the skills of the factories were not considered permanent vocations, as agriculture still was, nor did they define people's identities. The job one was doing was a means to an end, and the means could be changed at will. For some, the artisans and professionals, the ends desired were still the satisfaction of individual ownership of a farm. For others, such as the managers, the ends might be an even greater enterprise, another manufacturing challenge to conquer. But between 1860 and 1880 virtually everyone in the village, the entire artisanal community and much of the managing family, had moved on. The capitalism and enterprise of some provided not only jobs for others, but instilled them with the idea and means of mobility, which translated as the ability for some, even, to get back to the farm.
Though there was a change of generations with the Overholts, with both Grandfather Abraham and Henry S. dying in 1870, this was not the case with the artisans. As we have seen in the inventories yet found, several lived into the twentieth century. But between the 1850 and 1860 census enumerations, apart from Overholts, there are only two people still present: Jacob Kough and Daniel Nicewanger, coopers. And between the 1860 census and the 1867 Atlas "Business Directory," there were only three of the villagers still present: Jacob Booher, head miller, and Fred Hunker and Henry Ridenour, coopers. By the 1870 census, they were all gone (though J. Ben Kough, possibly a son of the deceased Jacob Kough, cooper, had returned). Of the people living in the village in 1862, J. W. Frick did not stay as miller, even with the family connection. His family had lived in two more locations nearby (Henry Durstine's and Peter Sherrick's farms) before buying his own farm near the Independence school in 1866; he eventually moved to Ohio and bought a farm there in 1880. Jacob Booher, "engineer" at the mill at age 40 in 1862, had invested in a house and was making home improvements on it (buying ceiling boards, lath for plastering, and locust posts for a fence); one might think he would consider himself established in a career. He was still present and had advanced to head miller (replacing Eli Hoover) in 1867 but was gone by 1870. Peter Cruse took over as head miller sometime in the 1870s. Daniel Nicewanger, the master cooper, had managed to acquire some property elsewhere, which he willed to his daughter, Anna Camp, in 1893. As their probate inventories indicate, Fred Hunker, the cooper, eventually moved to a sedentary job in East Greensburg, Henry Ridenour to Scottdale, and Jacob Hauser, the coal digger, acquired a farm in Mt. Pleasant.
[from Page 21]
Thomas McLean, a cooper probably renting in 1860, was not renting or coopering any more in 1862, but was close enough to front the just-arrived cooper, Theodore Harshman, some of the money he needed for furniture. Several other coopers seem to come and go during the months tracked in the ledger: Jacob Washabaugh boarded for a while at H. S. Overholt's but was gone by the end of June, as was James Clark. Fred Hunker, the miller, disappeared about then, too. John Keefer and George Eckert both made a few barrels in the middle of August and were not heard from again.
The reason for some of this transience was that changes were also taking place in the economic base of the village. By 1874 A. S. R. Overholt began to diversify the company's operations, as well as to integrate them. Coal had been discovered on the land (Jacob Hauser had been digging it, probably from an outcropping rather than a mine), and in that year a line of sixty-four coke ovens was built along Felgars Run, the small stream that bisects the village. The population of West Overton grew from a little more than 100 in 1870 to more than 200 in 1880, although only one residential building was added -- a boarding house. Although this paper will not examine the coal and coke business in depth, its effect on the village was notable.
The new industry brought new and different kinds of workers. By 1876 a large tenement block of dwellings was added to the village, figuring prominently in the 1876 Atlas view, and showing several doors along its length. When it appeared in the tax records (which was not until 1883) it was called the "large brick block." By 1880 it contained seven single Swedish laborers and ten married men with their families;all of the men worked in the cokeworks [sic]. Of the fifty-five men and eight boys who worked at the coke works, most were native-born Pennsylvanians, but there was one more family of Swedes, one German and one Irish family (see Appendix B). The coke-workers were newcomers. Aside from the Overholts, only Peter Sherrick, who oned his own farm, was in West Overton in both 1870 and 1880. The new population crowded together in multi-family dwellings. In 1880 Peter Cruse -- the only miller listed -- was living in a house with his and two other families: John R. Lewis, 36, a "car inspector (at the coke works?)," and Jonathan Stauft, 40, a "farmer." Each of these men had wives and one to four children; the house they lived in was the one next to the store, the one company rental with a large rear ell. According to the census, Cruse's 20-year-old son, Fuller, had already opted for the new job market of mining, instead of following his father's path in milling. In other words, by 1880, coal and coke began to dominate, even in West Overton.
[from Page 22]
In 1882 the coke ovens were increased to 110 and several more dwellings were added in ensuing years: there were two new houses in 1882, four frame houses of differing qualities in 1883, another frame house of very poor quality (worth only $300) in 1884, one frame block in 1886, and three double frame houses and one double brick house in 1889. Nine head of stock were also listed in 1882, probably to haul coal from the mine to the works. Quite probably when the C. S. Overholt-Jacob O. Tinstman-Albert Galley Store failed for the second time and was repurchased by the company in 1890, the space of the store was broken up into small rooms for additional apartments. Though the cokeworks were depicted as peripheral to the village and the distillery in 1876, it would appear that economically by the 1880s they were not: the village had become a coal town, like so many in western Pennsylvania.
In 1883 a frame store was noted in the tax books, the year after Albert Galley took over the main store from J. O. Tinstman, or rather, from the bank. It is quite probable that this frame store was associated with the mill/distillery, and was the one-story frame building with a projecting pediment (a traditional store type) showing on the Sanborn map for West Overton well to the south of the original complex (and even to the south of the later bond warehouses). If this is so, it would pressage the increasing separation of the distilling and the cokeworking segments of the A. C. Overholt Company.
In 1880 most of the coal and coke workers were born in Pennsylvania, with only 20 percent born in Europe (Sweden, Germany and Ireland), and only another three born out of state, for that matter. This American purity was maintained rather longer at West Overton than [at] some coal towns. When a lot was sold off for a church to be built in 1889, it was to the Mt. Pleasant Baptists (long established in western Pennsylvania, not to a congregation of Eastern European immigrants. West Overton's foreign boarders were all Lutherans, and in their 20's. It is conceivable that this ethnic peculiarity of West Overton late in the century is a lingering presence of the original Mennonite -- and fiercely Protestant -- heritage.
By 1906 the distilling operation experienced a resurgence in importance, with a six-and-a-half story brick "Bonded" warehouse, a boiler house, office building and dry house added late in the year. In late 1907 the company bifurcated its operations, with whiskey production becoming the "West Overton Distillery," and the village rentals remaining under the name of A. C. Overholt Co. A second large bond warehouse was added in 1909. The brick boarding house was sold to the Continental Silver Company, manufacturers of casket hardware, in 1906, who operated there only until 1912. Although the coke ovens fell off the tax lists (or were hidden from them) since 1904, it is clear that coal remained a part of the A. C. Overholt operation, as a "tipple and coal" was added in 1918. The distilling business at West Overton died with prohibition in 1919.
[from Page 23]
In 1849, ten years before the first large mill/distillery was built, Henry Clay Frick was born, son of the assistant miller, J. W. Frick and Elizabeth Overholt, daughter of the founding Abraham. H. C. Frick grew up to apply several of the ideas of integration, first observed on the farm of his grandfather, to his own coal and coke company, and later, at an even larger scale, to the steelworks of Andrew Carnegie (eventually U. S. Steel). He was central to the bloody labor dispute at the Homestead Works in 1892, and by 1904 built a neo-baroque mansion on Fifth Avenue in New York, filled it with northern baroque and Spanish Old Masters, and established a major private museum.
In 1922 his daughter, Helen Clay Frick, bought the mansion house of Abraham Overholt along with 11 acres and the outbuildings, including the springhouse in which family tradition maintains her father was actually born. She began the "restoration" of the buildings to her own taste, that is, adding a non-functional reproduction of the great baroque fireplace of the Lutheran Mueller house of Millbach, Pennsylvania (then recently installed in the Philadephia Museum of Art), and dedicating it to the memory of her father's plain Mennonite ancestors. To do this she removed a door connecting the two north rooms of the main floor, as well as the chairrails, hiring the Wilson Cabinet Co. to find and mill the chestnut pieces (it is not hewn oak as is the original) and importing slate for the firebox from Poultney, Vermont.. She also commissioned murals of the eighteenth-century military history of the county to be painted by a Mrs. Platt in New York City and installed in the parlor. On the latter's suggestion, a horizontal pine board dado was installed; all previous wallpapers and apprently some woodwork were "scraped." She renamed Overholt Street Frick Avenue. [Karen's emphasis.]
Although Helen Clay Frick was repeatedly offered the defunct mill and distillery complex, including the original mill of 1859, she declined. It was sold in 1925 to Israel Rosenblum, who began to remove the bond warehouses, using the brick to build apartment buildings in Braddock, Pennsylvania. He also offered the property to her, at a higher price, and she continued to decline, adding to a letter from Karl F. Overholt, urging her to do so: "I really see no advantage in my acquiring this property -- Even in case of a West. Co. Hist. Society (then suggested but still not formed) -- so for the present will do nothing further." Frick finally did buy the complex from Rosenblum in 1927, and, in an effort to lower her taxes, continued to remove the unusable buildings, until all but the original mill were gone.
[from Page 24]
On October 27, 1927, she gave the remaining buildings, the nucleus of the farm established by the original Henry Overholt and built by Abraham Overholt in the 1830s-1860s, to a newly established Fayette-Westmoreland County Branch of the Western Pennsylvania Historical Society. The museums were then administered by another Frick relative, Luella Frick Taylor, apparently until her death in 1967 at the age of 91. Since that time the West Overton Museums have added other properties, containing the Henry S. Overholt House, the Christian S. Overholt House and Store, and the two southernmost worker's houses (across the street). All these buildings are awaiting restoration and interpretation; several other adjacent properties remain in private hands.
[from Page 26]
Documentation of the West Overton site was undertaken by the Historic American Buildings Survey/Historic American Engineering Record, a division of the National Park Service, in conjunction with America's Industrial Heritage Project and the West Overton Museums. The project was under the direction of Gray Fitzsimons, HAER Historian, and Joseph Balachowski, HABS Architect. Documentation was begun in 1990 by Victoria Fleming (University of Florida), Supervisor; architects Janet Chen (Illinois Institute of Technology), Robert G. Colosimo (Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, through ICOMOS), and Richard J. P. Renaud (Lawrence Technological University); and historian Charles Bergengren (University of the Arts, Philadelphia). This historical report was edited in the HABS office by Alison K. Hoagland, HABS senior historian, in 1991-92.
End of exerpts from the HABS report on West Overton.
Throughout the body of the HABS report, I have underlined the names of individuals.
Regarding Peter Cruse
"JOSIAH H. MILLER -- Josiah H. Miller is one of the most successful men of Mount Pleasant, Westmoreland county, Pennsylvania, the proprietor of one of the largest and most promising wholesale produce establishments in that region. . . . Mr. Miller was united in marriage with Ruby Cruse, a daughter of Peter Cruse, the well known and highly respected citizen of Washington county, Pennsylvania. Mr. Cruse has since removed to Westmoreland county, and is now a successful miller at the town of West Overton. . . . "
[This long biographical sketch ends by highlighting the Millers' four children -- all young adults at that time. The oldest, Carl C., born in 1892, married in 1915, was a science teacher/orchestra director/basketball coach at a high school in Ohio. Two unmarried daughters (one was a teacher) and a son were still in Mount Pleasant.]
-from Old and New Westmoreland, Vol. 4, by John N. Boucher,1918; pp. 788 & 789. Historic Pittsburgh Digital Research Library, University of Pittsburgh
Measuring a Man's Worth
For many reasons, measuring a man's worth by the monetary value of goods gathered in lots after his death is pure speculation. If Abraham Overholt is the subject of debate, any items he had inherited from his forebears would hold extra value for the next generation. Aside from sentimental or familial value, then, it would be understood that any items put aside for a sale would add to the cash inheritance of the widow, which puts a positive spin on having a sale.
But many personal belongings -- anything worth keeping in the family -- were probably given away as gifts throughout the years, or immediately claimed before a list of possessions could be made. This would be an important factor, whether the deceased was considered wealthy or not. In other words, only those items that no one in the family needed or wanted -- or conversely, only those items that a number of people wished to inherit -- would have been part of a sale.
Likewise, debating the worth of an average working man of any given era, making sweeping statements regarding the wealth or poverty of the deceased (based upon the number and monetary value of items ending up on a list), has to be shaky science, especially when relatives in the area are numerous.
Additionally, making declarations about what was experienced economically earlier in life, based upon what a person owned at the end of life, has to be shaky. Possessions come and go, especially when a person moves to new locations, and lifestyles change with the times and with age. Another thought: given a person blessed with a long life, many ordinary personal possessions (after the normal wear and tear of a lifetime) might be deemed not worth keeping.
Farmer: A Telling Story
"As for Henry Phipps, his climb from nothing to fifty millions is well illustrated in a story told by Frick. There was an old New England Yankee who lived in the village of West Overton, and who owned the biggest chicken farm in the county. One day Frick asked him how he came to lauch [sic] out in the chicken business.
'Well,' said the old man, 'it happened this way. When I was a young fellow, I was out of work for a while. So I went over to a neighbour's and borrowed a hen and a dozen fresh eggs. I set the hen on the eggs, and every one of them hatched. Then I waited till the hen had laid a dozen eggs. By this plan I was able to pay back what I had borrowed and have a dozen little chickens left for myself. I didn't invest a cent. All that my neighbour lost was the temporary use of a hatful of eggs that he never missed; and this big chicken farm is the result.'"
-from The Romance of Steel: The Story of a Thousand Millionaires by Herbert N. Casson; "Workmen-Partners of Carnegie," p. 173; originally published New York: Barnes, 1907. Historic Pittsburgh Digital Research Library, University of Pittsburgh
But was this old man Jacob Hauser?
On a simple search for data regarding Jacob Hauser, the Historic Pittsburgh web site produced the following.
Brush Creek Tales, by C. M. Bomberger; originally published Jeannette, Pa., Jeannette Publishing, c 1950; p. 89
"The first recorded holders of warrants for the ground on which Jeannett now stands on the banks of Brush Creek were the children of Philip Klingensmith. His cabin stood near a spring on Bull Run . . . Philip's holdings were not registered in the land office of the state department of the interior at Harrisburg. His sons acquired the extensive farms after the old man was killed by the Indians.
"Several Klingensmiths signed the petition to Governor John Penn headed at 'Fort Allen, Hempfield Township, between Wendel Oury's and Christopher Trubee's' (later Greensburg). The name there is spelled Klingelschmidt, and neighbors were Peter Wannemacher (descendants later owned the site of Bushy Run battlefield), Adam Bricker (owned the southeast corner of the present site of Jeannette), the Altmans, Baltzer [sic] Meyer, Jacob Hauser and others."
Same source as above, p. 98
". . . a petition 'asking protection from savage barbarity, bears no date, although it probably was before 1774, when Indian depredations were rife during Dunmore's war. The full list . . . " [included Jacob Hauser].
The History of the Pittsburgh Synod of the General Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, 1748-1845-1904, by Ellis Beaver Burgess; originally published Philadelphia, Lutheran Publication Society, 1904; Chapter I. "The German Pioneers," 1748-1845; p. 20
"Some of the best and most trusted scouts on the frontier were Pennsylvania Germans . . . A full regiment was organized at one time for home defense, in which were enlisted a number of Germans from Fayette and Westmoreland counties. When these soldiers were mobilized at Kittaning, Pa., in 1774, the citizens of Westmoreland county held several indignation meetings, and sent earnest petitions to Governor Penn. One of these meetings was held at Fort Allen in the old Harold's settlement, and the petition there gotten up was signed by the following persons: " [includes Jacob Hauser]
This information and one other reference (found at Historic Pittsburgh) mentioning Jacob Hauser, identify him as a German who immigrated from Germany, not "an old New England Yankee." However, in a list of citizen families of Canton Zürich (prior to 1800), the name "Hauser" appears 14 times, and as "Hausser" appears twice more. I bet Jacob Hauser was Swiss. The Swiss speak German, but as a language, apparently Swiss-German is not the same as German-German. Obviously, a lot of "Pennsylvania Dutch" are really Swiss in origin.
Either way, Frick was in error about the old chicken farmer's roots, or the person he referred to was someone other than Jacob Hauser. I'm inclined to think Frick was in error, perhaps on purpose, for he was normally inclined to obfuscate. It is interesting to note that the author deliberately chose this story to gloss over the suggestion of impropriety by Henry Phipps' amassing a fortune "without the investment of a dollar of his own money," having instead borrowed everything it took to get him there. Frick would understand that concept.
West Overton in the 1860s, continued
Ledgers of the A. & H. S. Overholt Company . . . identified ten people who boarded within the village, principally at Henry S. Overholt's and Rebecca Kough's.
At H. S. Overholt's:
Itinerant/$.60 a barrel; if he kept at it: $26.65
At Rebecca Kough's:
Jacob Leasure/Labor, sometimes
watchman ($.50 per day)/harvesting, cleaning boiler
($22.50 per mo.)
Other company workers (of unknown households)
Robert Smith/drove team ($13.00
Questioning the Social Divide
On the surface, this record of beef purchases suggests a great social divide between Nicewanger, a cooper, and Henry Stauffer Overholt, a manager. But exactly how much can we read into this information, and how accurate a picture will result? For instance, a cooper at West Overton made a good living, but would he be eating beef on a regular basis? Considering the Overholts raised hogs, why is there no data about bacon, ham or pork?
Surely there were other sources of meat that would not be mentioned in the company ledgers -- venison, wild turkey, even rabbits (especially if rabbit hutches were kept), not to mention chickens! And given the close proximity of Jacobs Creek and the Youghiogheny River, surely folk went fishing on a regular basis. Also, exactly what constitutes 8½ lbs. of "offal quality" beef? Could that be stew beef, perhaps, made up of the day's scraps, or soup bones with some meat still on the bones? Whatever it was, it was still worth 2 cents a pound.
And there is the question about how many people Henry Stauffer Overholt was actually feeding at his table. On page 7 of the HABS report, there is a salient point made. "There were also several men who boarded, both at Henry S. Overholt's ample house and with employee renters, such as at cooper Jacob Kough's. These boarders included both artisans and laborers." Therefore, I question the value of this chart's "visual impact."
Where does the extended family end?
With the possible exception of McMaster, Felgar, Nicewanger, and Hauser, everyone on this list is related to each other, and therefore, their children are all cousins -- part of the extended Overholt family. The fence and privy at the school would directly benefit the family.
According to the 1860 Census (HABS report Appendix B: Censuses), and Winifred Paul's Along the Banks of Jacobs Creek, these 11 individuals alone had maybe 41-47 children at home:
C. S. Overholt (3), H. S. Overholt (4), Jacob Sherrick (*), Lloyd Shallenberger (?), Wm. McMaster (**), Daniel Felgar (+), John R. [Ruth] Mumaw (6), John D. Overholt (7), Daniel Nicewanger (7), Henry M. Ridenour (7), Jacob Hauser (3).
Jacob B. Sherrick (1813-1890) had 4 children; Jacob Sherrick (1819-1895) had 9 children; another Jacob Sherrick (1801-1821) died at age 20, no children noted; Jacob Overholt Sherrick (1827-1865) had 9 children.
**The Future Family of William McMaster
William McMaster is mentioned in an item featuring William Baxter, who in 1894 married Mary McMaster, William's daughter.
"Mrs. Baxter is a daughter of William McMaster, who was born in county Down, Ireland, and followed the calling of a farmer. He married Dorothea Morrow, and their family consisted of the following children: Isabella, born in 1871, died in 1872; Mary, wife of William Baxter; Isabella (II); Elizabeth; Andrew; William; Gawn [sic]." Therefore, I believe it is safe to assume that in 1860, William McMaster did not yet have children, but intended to settle down and have a family.
-taken from A Century and a Half of Pittsburg and Her People, by John Newton Boucher; illustrated. Vol. 4; originally published New York, The Lewis Publishing Company, 1908; p. 274. Historic Pittsburgh Digital Research Library, University of Pittsburgh
+Daniel Felgar Killed
I found this mention of Daniel Felgar via Historic Pittsburgh.
". . . Daniel Felgar, killed at Second Bull Run. Aug. 30, 1862. . ."
-taken from Old and New Westmoreland, by John N. Boucher, Vol. 2; originally published New York: The American Historical Society, 1918; p. 369. Historic Pittsburgh Digital Research Library, University of Pittsburgh
Just a List of Concerned Citizens?
With the possible exception of E. S. Hoover, all of the people on this list of people contributing to a bounty were relatives in one way or another back through many generations. In this situation, it was their town and their families that were in possible jeopardy.
Are Clocks "Status Items" For the Swiss?
Exactly what does the designation of "status item" mean when referring to clocks? If a person owns a clock, and keeps the clockwork properly maintained, it is safe to assume that the time will be noted on a daily basis for dozens of reasons. A clock, then, would be a tool, not a luxury. Besides, how can a clock -- or a pocket watch -- be considered a "status item" among the Swiss?
"Beginning in the 18th century, Switzerland became the center of a watchmaking industry, particularly in the villages of the Jura Mountains (a mountain range straddling the border between France and Switzerland . . . [which] terminates on the southern bank of the Rhine River west of its confluence with the Aare River) [which is in the neighborhood of Zurich and right around the area where the Oberholtzers lived on a mountain "above the woods" for thousands of years]. At first a cottage industry, with families manufacturing watch parts at home to be assembled and sold by a master watchmaker, Swiss watchmaking by the 1850s had led to the development of a number of small factories and the foundation of a major industry."
-taken from Microsoft Encarta Encyclopedia Standard 2001
The Birth of the Company Store?
Regarding Henry Clay Frick's breakthrough concept of the "company store," perhaps his contribution was the determination to make more money from the endeavor than Abraham Overholt would allow.
No Child Labor in the Overholt Mill or Distillery
One aspect of nineteenth-century industry was child labor. There is little evidence that the Overholts employed children as labor beyond what was normal on a farm: only one child was recorded as working steadily in 1862 (David Hepler's son, Emanuel "by 6 months . . . @ $6.50 a month . . . $39.00"), and both he and the other children mentioned in the ledgers were engaged in intermittent farm work (Dan Nicewanger's son, Dan, "by 13 days feeding hogs @ rate of $1.50 per month," and "by 1 day planting corn . . . $.50). (Ledger, October 18, May 1 and 3, 1862) There is no evidence that children could or did work in either the mill or distillery. By contrast, eight boys (under age 18) worked at the coal and coke works in 1880. U.S. Census, Population Schedules, 1880.
-from HABS Report, Footnote #46, p. 17
More Notes on Individuals
One of my searches at Historic Pittsburgh brought up a reference to Jacob Washabaugh being listed on a Civil War roster. As I scanned the data, a few more names caught my attention, as follows.
The Roster of Company G, 135th Pennsylvania Volunteers shows J. T. Nicewonger [sic] was a Private. The Roster of Company B, 142nd Pennsylvania Volunteers shows Daniel S. Tinsman [sic] was promoted from Sergeant to First Lieutenant on Oct. 24, 1864 (maybe the son of Christian Tinstman and Catherine Shupe). J. M. Kough was a Sergeant in Company B. Privates were: H. S. Durstine, discharged Dec. 22, 1863; M. S. Loucks; Peter Rowan; L. Sullenberger (maybe Lloyd Shellenberger), discharged Sept. 25, 1863; and Jacob Washabaugh, discharged Mar. 25, 1863. H. O. Tintsman [sic] (son of John Tinstman and Anna Overholt, as per A. J. Fretz reference) was listed as a First Lieutenant of Company F, 160th Regiment, "Fifteenth Calvary," noting 3 years' service.
-taken from Old and New Westmoreland, Vol. 2, by John N. Boucher; originally published by The American Historical Society, New York, 1918; Historic Pittsburgh.
Also . . .
While searching for anything regarding laborer/watchman Jacob Leasure, I found that Anna O. Tinstman (b. 1838, daughter of John Tinstman and Anna Overholt) married Rev. Loren B. Leasure in 1855; they had 8 children.
While scanning the names on that list of Canton Zürich families, I noticed "Frick" was listed no less than 11 times, but did not appear among the families from the three communities where Oberholzers were specifically located. Also, a Frick family evidentally lost an estate during the Anabaptist persecutions, as per a list of confiscated estates of Swiss (Zürich) Anabaptist Persons (1640-1678).
Genealogy on the Internet
U. S. Census Data
U. S. Census, Population Schedules, 1870, 1880. Because the village is not defined as such in the census, its population must be estimated. The names recorded in Appendix A (our best guess as to the extent of West Overton) total 138 people in 22 households in 1870, and 241 people in 28 households in 1880.
-from HABS Report, Footnote #61; p.21
The Lot That Was Sold Off
The lot was next to the Overholt Co. Worker's House B, the one Frick lived in, across the street and uphill from the store. By contrast, the township's one other structure with a large number of unrelated people in it was a boarding house full of foreigners and by Ellen Cash. She was not taxed for real estate, so apparently she ran the establishment for a non-resident owner, perhaps for another company. In any event, she was 35 years old, and had three children (12, 9 and 7 years old), no husband at the moment, and one unrelated American fellow (Nelson Bartholomew, 40) and his wife (Mary, 23) who helped out. Together, they tended forty-four single men, between the ages of 19 and 60, twenty-four of them from Ireland, five from England, two Scotsmen, seven native Pennsylvanians, and one each from Germany, Austria, Hungary, Canada, Maryland and New York.
-from HABS Report, Footnote #63, p. 22
The Historical Society of Western Pennsylvania
"In a period of a little over twenty years the society built up a membership with an annual average of between six and seven hundred; launched the magazine: 'Western Pennsylvania Historical Magazine,' now in its twenty-second year; and extended its organization through the substantial aid of Helen Clay Frick, by the establishment of the Westmoreland-Fayette branch at the Historical House at West Overton, in Westmoreland County. . . .
"The Westmoreland-Fayette Branch has its headquarters at the Historical House at West Overton, Scottdale Post Office, with these present officers: President, Rev. William B. Hindman, D. D.; vice presidents, Buell B. Whitehill, Lloyd E. Davis, Jesse Coldron, Eileen Burd, J. B. Sheetz; secretary, Helen Woodhull; treasurer, S. L. Denniston. It is now ten years old and maintains a sizable museum. The executive committee of the branch are: Mrs. J. Harry Gourley, Edward B. Lee, Clay F. Lynch, John W. Oliver, Judge Edmond H. Reppert, and these have charge of the historical matter at the Historical House."
-taken from Annals of Southwestern Pennsylvania, Vol. 3, by Lewis Clark Walkenshaw; Chapter XIX: Community Service, pp. 469-470; Lewis Historical Publishing Co., New York, c. 1939; Historic Pittsburgh Digital Research Library, University of Pittsburgh
The "Historical House"
I have found several references to "The Historical House" at West Overton, which evidentally was how people of the early 20th century referred to the "Abraham Overholt Homestead House" (a designation used by me in my articles).
A New Assessment of Miss Frick's Largess
This account of Helen Clay Frick is not flattering. It appears to reflect the researchers' objective opinion, which, divorced from the usual "spin" about the generosity of the Fricks, may be the most clear-eyed assessment of the woman's attempts to "preserve history."
Her lack of interest regarding so much of what the Overholt Family built -- in properties no longer held and buildings torn apart -- makes me wonder. Did she wish to preserve anything more than her own version of history? By withholding financial support, she effectively erased much of what the Overholts accomplished, reducing their history with every brick that was removed from the site and every lot that was sold. With a dull knife, Helen whittled away Overholt history, making the myth of Henry Clay Frick -- the poor baby born in a springhouse, the sickly child who spent most of his life being nursed through various illnesses, the brilliant student who never really got a proper education, the clever young man who worked harder and achieved greater things than anybody else in his extended family -- more believable or remarkable. Or more heroic, perhaps?
To my mind, the Frick myth includes two diametrically opposed concepts. He was both the "favorite grandson" of Abraham Overholt, who spent a lot of time in the company of the "Squire of Westmoreland County," and he was the poor and neglected grandson of wealthy Abraham Overholt, who did not even get an inheritance when the old man died. There are other concepts put forth by the Frick family that do not make sense, either, but I want to focus on the HABS report.
It is very revealing that Helen renamed Overholt Street, making it Frick Avenue. It is very revealing that she did much to redesign the interior of Abraham's house without regard to the demands of true historical preservation, despite its contemporary name of "Historical House." And when she was finally persuaded to create the Westmoreland-Fayette branch of the Historical Society of Western Pennsylvania, she failed to properly fund it. I used to have a copy of Helen's will, and it was very impressive that she in essence bequeathed Mellon Bank to Mellon Bank, but West Overton was not (then or now) properly enriched by her fortune.
It is my belief that over the decades, West Overton has been allowed to fade into obscurity, becoming a cipher on state maps, becoming known only as "the birthplace of Henry Clay Frick" in vacation guide books. Sometimes there has been a quick reference to Abraham Overholt, who once made "a famous whiskey." But the situation does not have to continue this way. It may be that very good things are about to happen for the land my forebears called home, and I want to be around to snap photos!
It is my sincerest hope that there will be Renaissance activity at West Overton, and a surge of interest in the legacy of Abraham Overholt and the Extended Overholt Family. To that end, I have worked to produce these web pages, and hope this HABS report will add something worthwhile towards the effort.
Not Quite "The End"
Be sure to read the full HABS report, with all of its footnotes, diagrams and photos. You will find enough there to keep you busy for a long while. Reproductions are available.
Memory Library of Congress
Below you will find a TIMELINE of Overholt Family Events spanning 1800 to 1880 (the time period featured in this HABS report) and beyond. Basically, the material therein is a rework of the History Timeline that is part of my feature OLD OVERHOLT: The History of a Whiskey, with a focus on events that are critical to family history. For a more complete picture of how Overholt history fits into American history, you may wish to check out the Timeline in the other feature [see URL below].
T I M E L I N E
Overholt Family Events: 1800 to 1880 and Beyond
|1800||Henry Oberholtzer (1739-1813) sells his Bucks County homestead and moves his extended family to East Huntingdon Township, Westmoreland County.|
|1810||Abraham Overholt (1784-1870) begins distilling whiskey as a commercial product at West Overton.|
|1834||The Overholt boys cease hauling grain to be milled when a brick flour mill is built at West Overton; the mill operates for the next 25 years.|
|c 1850||Abraham Overholt brings sons Henry Stauffer Overholt and Jacob Stauffer Overholt into his whiskey business at West Overton.|
|1856||Jacob Stauffer Overholt (1814-1859), son of Abraham Overholt, and his cousin Henry O. Overholt build a distillery at Broad Ford; they produce Monongahela Whiskey until Jacob's death in 1859.|
|1859||Abraham Overholt buys Jacob's 2/3 interest in the Broad Ford Distillery, and with partner Henry O. Overholt builds the 6-story brick mill/distillery building at West Overton, operating as A. Overholt & Co. with a daily capacity of 200 bushels of grain and 860 gallons of whiskey.|
|1859||Abraham Overholt Tinstman (1834-1915), a grandson of Abraham Overholt, buys 600 acres of coal land near Broad Ford with his partner Joseph Rist.|
|1860||President Lincoln's favorite whiskey is known to be Overholt Whiskey.|
|A. Overholt & Co. Whiskey is the product produced by the West Overton and Broad Ford distilleries.|
|1863||Abraham Overholt composes his Last Will and Testament in West Overton.|
|At age 14, Henry Clay Frick clerks at his uncle Christian S. Overholt's store in West Overton.|
|1864||Abraham Overholt makes his grandson A. O. Tinstman a partner in his firm A. Overholt & Co.|
|1865||At age 16, Henry Clay Frick moves to Mt. Pleasant to clerk for his uncle Martin Overholt; for the next 3 years lives and works there, attends college sporadically, and attends the Baptist Church.|
|1866-67||Jacob Stauffer Overholt's distillery at Broad Ford is torn down and replaced with a new facility owned by Abraham Overholt and his partner, nephew Henry O. Overholt.|
|1868||A. O. Tinstman (in partnership with Col. A. S. M. Morgan) opens the Morgan mines and engages exclusively in making coke.|
|Abraham Overholt loans his grandson A. O. Tinstman $20,000 to invest in the lucrative Morgan Mines in Broad Ford Run Valley.|
|Henry O. Overholt leaves A. Overholt & Co. and A. O. Tinstman buys his interest in the firm.|
|In Mt. Pleasant, Henry Clay Frick is suddenly fired; returns to West Overton where grandfather Abraham Overholt takes him to the Broad Ford Distillery; cousin A. O. Tinstman hires him as an office boy at $25 per month.|
|Christian Overholt secures a position for nephew H. C. Frick in Pittsburgh for $6 per week; Frick borrows $50 from a relative, buys a new suit of clothes and attends the First Presbyterian Church.|
|H. C. Frick starts a new job at another Pittsburgh establishment, contracts typhoid fever and returns to West Overton to receive care; afterwards works at West Overton Distillery 3 months without pay.|
|A. O. Tinstman hires H. C. Frick at the Broad Ford Distillery "to take care of the office" at a salary of $1,000 per year (i.e., roughly $83 per month).|
|1870||Abraham Overholt (1784-1870) dies the morning of January 15, on his West Overton farm, leaving an estate of about $350,000 to his heirs.|
|Henry Stauffer Overholt (1810-1870), eldest of Abraham Overholt's children (and joint owner with him of the West Overton Distillery, mill and farm), retires and dissolves the brief partnership between himself and his father's executors -- his brothers Christian Stauffer Overholt and Martin Stauffer Overholt, and cousin Jacob Overholt Tinstman.|
|Henry Stauffer Overholt dies June 18, 1870.|
|A. O. Tinstman organizes and builds the Mt. Pleasant & Broad Ford Railroad connecting with the Pittsburgh & Connellsville Railroad at Broad Ford; he continues as president until the 1876 sale to the B & O Railroad.|
|1871||A. O. Tinstman forms another coke company, associated with Joseph Rist and H. C. Frick, under the firm name of Frick & Company; they build 200 coke ovens; later known as the "Novelty" and the "Henry Clay Works."|
|H. C. Frick goes to Pittsburgh to see Thomas Mellon, and (using the Overholt family name and reputation) comes away with $10,000 (at 10% interest for six months) to build 50 coke ovens; he obtains another $10,000 before the first loan is paid off.|
|1873||A. O. Tinstman suffers a total loss in the financial panic of 1873.|
|1874||By spring, the aftermath of the financial panic reaches Broad Ford, where H. C. Frick is selling coke well below the cost of producing it; rival coke operators and even Frick's partners sell out at depressed prices; farmers trade land for cash in almost any amount; Frick covers his operating deficit by peddling his notes and using his mother's inheritance (bequeathed by Abraham Overholt) to option land.|
|Acting alone and on his own initiative, H. C. Frick tracks down the stockholders of his cousin A. O. Tinstman's Broad Ford railroad, obtains their signatures on options, then offers the B & O Railroad a deal they cannot refuse -- the Broad Ford Railroad at cost ($200,000), earning himself a $50,000 commission in the bargain.|
|A. O. Tinstman and his partner Morgan seek to consolidate their lucrative Morgan mines with Frick & Company; Frick offers $550,000 against the $650,000 asking price and the deal does not go through.|
|In December, Maria Stauffer Overholt (widow of Abraham Overholt) dies at West Overton at the age of 83; she is the mother of 8, grandmother of 48, & great-grandmother of 25.|
|1875||A. O. Tinstman purchases the 2/3 interest of the deceased Abraham Overholt in the firm of A. Overholt & Co., including the right to use the name as a brand and trade mark.|
|By February, H. C. Frick is critically ill; his relatives move him from his Broad Ford shack to a room in Abraham Overholt's Homestead House for daily care; a full year passes before he returns to health.|
|By October, H. C. Frick has the deed to the Morgan Mines executed and delivered to the partners A. O. Tinstman and Morgan -- leaving open for them the possibility of recovery by stipulating that (within 2 years) if Tinstman repays the notes (amounting to $60,000) together with any interest on the $10,000 note, the "deed of conveyance should become null and void."|
|Secured by the B & O Railroad deal, H. C. Frick further strengthens his financial base by paying his employees in "Frick dollar bills" and building his first "company store."|
|1876||A. O. Tinstman sells his interest in A. Overholt & Co. to his brother Christian Stauffer Overholt Tinstman (another son of Abraham Overholt's daughter Anna), together with the right to use the firm name as a brand and trade mark.|
|c 1876||C. S. O. Tinstman and Christopher Fritchman become partners in the firm A. Overholt & Co.|
|H. C. Frick's borrowing from T. Mellon & Sons reaches $100,000, but he has acquired 60% of the coal acreage and is producing 80% of the coke from the region, setting his own prices and earning 100% over costs.|
|1877||H. C. Frick trades acre for acre the surface rights of 4 farms for all the coal on the Morewood farm; he then opens a "company store" at Morewood, which eventually rakes in profits of 80 to 100 thousand dollars.|
|H. C. Frick warns strikers to vacate the shacks on A. O. Tinstman's old railroad; later with a deputy, he personally evicts James King, throwing him into a creek.|
|A. O. Tinstman is unable to buy back his interest in the Morgan Mines, so the mines officially become the property of H. C. Frick.|
|1878||C. S. O. Tinstman and partner Christopher Fritchman (owners of an undivided 2/3 interest in the firm A. Overholt & Co. and lessees of the other 1/3 interest from the First National Bank of Uniontown) take into co-partnership with them James G. Pontefract for the term of one year (from August 1, 1878 to August 1, 1879) and by renewal to April 1, 1881.|
|H. C. Frick sells shares in Frick & Company to Edmund M. Ferguson, then to Walton Ferguson the following year, renaming the business H. C. Frick & Company; Frick suffers another bout of illness and stays at Edmund M. Ferguson's house in Pittsburgh for a year while recovering.|
|1879||Coal mining and coke production makes the agrarian culture fade away, as trees die from the smoke of coke furnaces and large sink holes appear in local pastures as mines collapse; miners and beehive oven workers suffer death in accidents or lose their health because of polluted air below and above the ground; the once-fresh streams and rivers are now polluted; typhoid becomes a leading cause of death.|
|On December 19, H. C. Frick quietly celebrates his 30th birthday by buying (on credit) a Havana cigar; he had accomplished his life's ambition of being worth a million dollars.|
|1880||A. O. Tinstman sells 3,500 acres of coal land at a good profit, then buys a half interest in the Rising Sun Coke Works, and then establishes the firm of A. O. Tinstman & Co. in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.|
|Building project #3 commences at Broad Ford Distillery; by utilizing coal for steam power, the daily capacity increases to 800 bushels of grain and 3,450 gallons of whiskey.|
|1881||A. O. Tinstman acquires the Mt. Braddock and Pennsville Coke Works.|
|First federal trademark law, which enables producers to register and protect brand names.|
|With a document dated March 1, H. C. Frick obtains from the executors of Abraham Overholt (i.e., Martin Stauffer Overholt and Christian Stauffer Overholt) the right to use the A. Overholt & Co. name "at the distillery property in Connellsville township, Fayette County, PA," for the consideration of one dollar "and other good and valuable considerations" [unspecified].|
|On March 12, partners C. S. O. Tinstman and Christopher Fritchman enter into another agreement with James G. Pontefract, granting him (for 2 years, until April 1, 1883) the right to use the name of the firm A. Overholt & Co. and the various brands at the distillery.|
|According to H. C. Frick, before the lease expires on April 1, he has purchased the undivided 1/3 interest in the firm A. Overholt & Co. from the First National Bank of Uniontown "and others."|
|By March 23, H. C. Frick owns the undivided 2/3 of "a certain tract of land in Connellsville Township, Fayette County, PA" on which are erected a distillery, warehouse, and other improvements, and known as the A. Overholt & Co. Distillery and James G. Pontefract owns the undivided 1/3 interest; Frick leases the site to Pontefract for 5 years for the "manufacture, storage and sale of whiskey on said premises."|
|According to H. C. Frick, by the latter part of March 1881, he has purchased the undivided 2/3 interest in the Broad Ford distillery property, including all brands and marks from C. S. O. Tinstman and C. Fritchman.|
|According to his testimony, on April 1, H. C. Frick leased the firm A. Overholt & Co. to James G. Pontefract to make and mark "whiskey manufactured thereat."|
|On or about April 1, according to their own testimony, C. S. O. Tinstman and C. Fritchman acknowledge that they ceased to own the business and distillery property [at Broad Ford?], but they still maintain the validity of their lease granted to James G. Pontefract for the use of the firm name A. Overholt & Co., until April 1, 1883.|
|1883||On April 1, C. S. O. Tinstman and C. Fritchman expect James G. Pontefract to surrender the rights leased to him for the use of the name A. Overholt & Co., but Pontefract does not comply; Tinstman and Fritchman sue Pontefract.|
|1884||A. O. Tinstman sells all his coke interests and engages in the purchase of coal lands in Western Pennsylvania and West Virginia.|
|1886||The suit filed by C. S. O. Tinstman and C. Fritchman against James G. Pontefract reaches the Supreme Court on June 17 [U.S. Supreme Court or PA Supreme Court?].|
|1887||H. C. Frick sells a 1/3 interest in the Broad Ford Distillery to Andrew Mellon for the sum of $25,000; sometime before his 1921 appointment as Secretary of the Treasury, Mellon sells his stock for $675,000.|
|1889||On May 30, the earthen dam of the South Fork Fishing and Hunting Club breaks; the Johnstown Flood kills an estimated 10 thousand people, the property damage is listed as $17 million; subsequent investigations implicates H. C. Frick and other members of the club.|
|1892||Provoked by H. C. Frick's effort to break their union, the Homestead Steel strike embroils steel workers and townspeople in a confrontation against hired Pinkerton agents.|
|1899||At Broad Ford, another building project commences at the Overholt Distillery; the entire plant is dismantled and reconstructed, adding new rack warehouses; the construction is finished by 1905.|
|1905||The plant at the Broad Ford Distillery has a daily capacity of 1,500 bushels of grain and 6,450 gallons of whiskey.|
|1918||H. C. Frick and R. B. Mellon are partners in the firm A. Overholt & Co. at Broad Ford; on March 28, Mellon writes to Frick about the "110,000,000 gallons of beverage spirits of all kinds," and speculates about profits after being ordered to shut down due to Prohibition.|
|1919||The Eighteenth Amendment is ratified, creating the era of Prohibition.|
|The Overholt Distillery at West Overton is shut down due to Prohibition, but the Broad Ford Distillery remains in operation "for medicinal purposes."|
|On December 2, H. C. Frick dies in his New York City mansion; he is buried in a copper-lined vault in Pittsburgh; Andrew Mellon retains a controlling interest in the Broad Ford Overholt Distillery, but shortly thereafter [date?], National Distillers Products Corporation acquires the company as one of its affiliates.|
|1921||Andrew Mellon retains a large private stock of Overholt Whiskey in his possession, despite being the chief enforcer of Prohibition as Secretary of the Treasury. Serving in this capacity until 1931, Mellon becomes "the most powerful figure in the cabinets of Harding, Coolidge, and Hoover in succession," developing policies (shaped by nearly 40 years of close association with H. C. Frick) designed to reduce taxes on the rich, cut corporate income taxes, and supply tax refunds to corporations -- policies which make the rich significantly richer, fuels speculation and culminates in the stock market crash of 1921, and begins the Great Depression.|
|1933||The 21st Amendment is ratified, repealing Prohibition, which spurs a new era of expansion at the Broad Ford Overholt Distillery; capacity is increased to 1,800 bushels of grain and 7,700 gallons of whiskey per day; later the capacity rises to 2,270 bushels of grain and 9,760 gallons of whiskey per day.|
For further information regarding the Overholt Family, see URLs below.
OLD OVERHOLT: The History of
Timeline: National and
Economic Events/Overholt Family Events
The 17th, 18th and 19th Century; The 20th Century [to 1935]
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