A. Overholt & Company, August 16, 1943
Employees Earn Ten-Year Service Pins

Compiled & Edited by K. R. Overholt Critchfield
~~ Published November 2, 2020 ~~

A. Overholt & Company Employees Awarded Ten-Year Service Pins, August 16, 1943
Photograph Created & Edited by K. R. Overholt Critchfield © 2020
Original Photographer, Unknown; Submitted by David R., October 2012

Sometimes My Email Brings Treasures

Sometimes my email brings treasures, like back in October 2012. That is when I received a jpg of a 1943 photograph showing the names of 45 employees of Broad Ford's A. Overholt and Company distillery complex. Truth be told, there is no telling, from one treasure to the next, how long it will take me to bring an idea into the light of day in a new web page. Sometimes the treasures are held back for a long time, figuratively gathering dust, waiting to be fit into an article for publication. And time passes. This web page found its time, and sprang into being, because of an unintended nudge from my Internet friend, Curt, whose photographs of Broad Ford are featured at Karen's Branches. In early June 2020, Curt sent me an email to ask a question about antique OLD OVERHOLT bottles he had acquired. He also let me know about his recent activity at the Find A Grave website to create a virtual cemetery for former Overholt distillery employees.

Former Overholt Distillery Employees

I found his ongoing work and copied all the details for the 29 individuals listed. The names on the list reminded me of the 1943 photograph that was filed away. When writing back, I mentioned it as a source of additional A. Overholt and Company employees, sending along a small jpg and the list of names. At first glance, it seemed to me there were no matches between Curt's list and the 1943 list, and even wrote, "none of them match the folks from the 1943 photograph." But I was wrong. Not only do the surnames of seven 1943 individuals match surnames on Curt's list, but three of those names appear to be accurate identifications. Matching surnames are important in genealogy, even if you cannot ID the individual you are looking for.

The Find A Grave website contains a vast amount of information uploaded by volunteers, and more often than not, valuable family details are included that help you track familial connections. Along with a picture of a person's headstone, the names of parents, siblings, and maiden names of spouses may be listed. When available, news articles may be included, along with photographs that further identify the deceased.

  Karen's Note: If you visit Find A Grave, and look up any Overholts or other "O" family relatives I have highlighted, you may find pictures that were created for Karen's Branches. I do not mind if my jpgs show up on Find A Grave, because they are historically helpful, but I do mind the failure to identify my copyright information or mention where the pictures came from, namely The Overholt Family Tree ~~ Karen's Branches.  

On the subject of the 1943 photo, matching surnames suggested to me that several members of families, even husbands and wives, could find employment at the Broad Ford site at the same time. Also, from Curt's list, the name Herrington is represented as a maiden name, which removed my fear that the Herrington on the 1943 photo might be a Harrington -- the second letter of the name is obliterated in the original photo. And the surname Lane reminded me that it shows up in our family tree in the West Overton-Scottdale area, so W. Lane might be another long-lost cousin. In fact, any number of these employees may be long-lost cousins. Trust that I will be extending my cursory two-day search at Find A Grave to uncover more information. But for the moment, this web page has my full attention.

Because of Curt's virtual cemetery nudge (Thank you, Curt!), my project for the 1943 photograph was revived. And looking back, it became plain that my behavior this time around mirrored my past behavior. Years ago, when I first discovered Curt's images of the abandoned Broad Ford distillery complex, they spurred me to contact him and get his permission to feature his amazing photographs in new web pages for Karen's Branches -- see Broad Ford Dismantled, Broad Ford Distressed, Broad Ford Distressed 2, and Broad Ford Distressed Summer, part of the Broad Ford Past & Present series. Also, his photography made the Broad Ford Forsaken series happen, with Inside Looking Out and Outside Looking In.

Forty-two People Appear in the 1943 Photograph

Forty-two people are shown in the 1943 photo, and three others were absent on the day it was made. It came to me via a resident of Scottdale, PA, David R. (Thank you, David!). He wrote in part, "My mother worked in that distillery sometime around 1937 to 1940. She told me that her job was to put the tax stamp labels on the whiskey bottles as they came down the line to be packaged for shipping. The labels had to be straight!!!" However, David's mother was not the source of the photograph. His cousin gave it to him. "She bought it at a yard sale," he wrote. "She thought that she may have bought it because she wanted the frame. She gave the photo to me, because she knew that I enjoyed collecting old photos from our area."

And then, in October 2012, David wrote to Karen's Branches, sent a jpg of the photo, and then offered to send the actual photograph. It was a real treasure. Here was an Overholt artifact that showed both men and women -- some young and some older -- who were managers, office workers and laborers. Some wore suits, others wore uniforms, and one old-timer appeared to be a cooper, who might have been building and charring oak barrels for a full day, before meeting up for the photograph. It was a true democratic blend of Americans -- a wonder to behold.

From the day I first visited the ruined buildings at Broad Ford (see my article Broad Ford Safari), it was my wish to find a cache of documents and pictures that would show me something about the people who worked there. Some items offered for sale on eBay have been helpful, with pictures of antique Overholt whiskey bottles and other artifacts. Clipping and collecting photos, however, reaped very little actual data. Past-century accounts of the business activities of Abraham Overholt and other members of the "O" family have been very helpful, and my articles have used as much of that information as possible, but a picture with names and faces added a whole new layer to genealogical and historical research.

So, there I was, deep into my 1943 project, memorizing faces as I worked on them, often wondering how many similar photographs might be floating around Pennsylvania, when in July 2020, I saw the "postcard repo" below posted on eBay. Serendipity. After contacting the seller and getting permission to use a copy in one of my articles (Thank you, oldtownview!), my work to straighten out the picture created the second photo. Wish I knew the story behind the photograph, but my guess is it was made to commemorate the acquisition of new fire safety equipment. Note the fire hoses and three cylinders that look like fire extinguishers. I wondered if the original photograph named all the individuals, like the 1943 group photo did.

c1920's Overholt & Co. Whiskey Broad Ford PA. Factory Rare Image Postcard Repo
Offered on eBay by the seller, oldtownview

A. Overholt & Company at Broad Ford, PA, circa 1920
Photograph Created & Edited by K. R. Overholt Critchfield © 2020

Working Pixel-By-Pixel

Back in 2012, the first thing I wanted to do with the 1943 photo was post it to my newly minted Broad Ford Blog. There it could highlight how generations of people had earned paychecks working for A. Overholt and Company, an organization that would commemorate dependability and loyalty with tokens of appreciation -- in this case, ten-year pins and a group photograph. But all my hopes for the folks I called the Broad Ford Group never materialized beyond the earliest modest expectations. Dreams of seeing a reclaimed and renovated distillery site pretty much died on the vine, because the landowner was not interested. My blog never drew many visitors, but it remains for memory's sake of a road not taken.

Work on the 1943 photograph might have been a road not taken. But after eight long years of bumping into the vagaries of life, and reaching my 71st birthday, this photograph is going to reach the light of day. A whole lot of photographic editing needed to be done, because it was important to me that the employees looked fresh as the day they were photographed. Luckily, back when I was 69 years old, I managed to buy a new desktop computer, and later purchased Adobe Photoshop Elements 2019, so I had better tools for editing photographs.

After months of editing on a pixel-by-pixel level -- the kind of work I normally do when preparing jpgs for Karen's Branches -- the jpg at the top of this page was created. It is a reduced version (only 1000 pixels wide) of the full-sized picture (2788 pixels wide), The project took longer than usual, because of the size of the photo and the intricate details of each person shown. Even the brick background and the Overholt sign needed refreshing. A good bit of time was lost in experimentation, looking for the best way to remove spots and other blemishes caused by the photo's age. Finally, I learned some methods that created my best representation of what a brand new photograph might have looked like.

Below is a collection of tight shots of the men and women of August 16, 1943, clipped from the full-sized jpg. The people in the first row (those sitting on the ground) were closer to the camera's eye than people in the fourth row (those closest to the building), which is a shame, but I wanted to maintain the original perspective. Without going into a detailed explanation, every person's face and clothing was edited to look fresh.

At the bottom of this page, you can go to the full-sized edited photograph, as well as the full-sized original, and see where the editing occurred. I am not sure if the Internet will display the 300 pxi pictures as 300 pxi, because my web page builder is from a bygone era. Hopefully, the descendants of this group of employees will recognize their ancestors and save the photos for future reference -- just please remember to display the copyright details and mention Karen's Branches as the source.

Forty-five Names ~~ Forty-two Faces

(Left to Right) 1st Row: G. Ondich, R. Mistlebauer, J. Bender
Photograph Created & Edited by K. R. Overholt Critchfield © 2020

(Left to Right) 1st Row: A. Cupcheck, H. Gerke, F. Slabosky
Photograph Created & Edited by K. R. Overholt Critchfield © 2020

(Left to Right) 2nd Row: N. Dragoo, J. Stillwagon
Photograph Created & Edited by K. R. Overholt Critchfield © 2020

(Left to Right) 2nd Row: E. Burke, K. Chapman, C. Crossan
Photograph Created & Edited by K. R. Overholt Critchfield © 2020

(Left to Right) 2nd Row: J. Mistlebauer, M. Quinn, F. E. Gerber
Photograph Created & Edited by K. R. Overholt Critchfield © 2020

(Left to Right) 2nd Row: M. Fiano, F. Cossel, R. Burke
Photograph Created & Edited by K. R. Overholt Critchfield © 2020

(Left to Right) 2nd Row: E. King, M. Wiggins, R. Soisson
Photograph Created & Edited by K. R. Overholt Critchfield © 2020

(Left to Right) 3rd Row: J. Stoll, J. Burket, F. Gabelt
Photograph Created & Edited by K. R. Overholt Critchfield © 2020

(Left to Right) 3rd Row: C. Baldwin, W. Stoll, J. Herrington
Photograph Created & Edited by K. R. Overholt Critchfield © 2020

(Left to Right) 3rd Row: A. Evans, N. Stillwagon, J. Cossel
Photograph Created & Edited by K. R. Overholt Critchfield © 2020

(Left to Right) 3rd Row: M. McDonald
Photograph Created & Edited by K. R. Overholt Critchfield © 2020

(Left to Right) 4th Row: J. Fiano, I. Fullem, D. Russel
Photograph Created & Edited by K. R. Overholt Critchfield © 2020

(Left to Right) 4th Row: F. Bartley, M. J. Burke, J. Slater
Photograph Created & Edited by K. R. Overholt Critchfield © 2020

(Left to Right) 4th Row: W. Lane, M. F. Burke, H. Quinn
Photograph Created & Edited by K. R. Overholt Critchfield © 2020

(Left to Right) 4th Row: H. Crossan, J. Crossan, P. Gabelt
Photograph Created & Edited by K. R. Overholt Critchfield © 2020

Absent That Day: P. Dragoo, A. Haberer, F. McGivern

~~ To see the full-sized edited photograph (2788pxWide), click here.~~

~~ To see the full-sized original submitted photograph (2877pxWide), click here. ~~

~~ End of Page ~~ Go to the first page of Karen's Branches.

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