InterOverholt Memorandum
~~ Renovated April 22, 2009 ~~





The Extended Overholt Family

Karen Rose Overholt Critchfield

So Much to Do . . . and So Little Time!
A New Look for the Old Web Site;
New Web Pages Added;
Regarding Old Overholt Whiskey;
Controversy Over Frick Archives;
First Contact With the Riffle Family;
Highlighting The Oberholtzer Book;
Endangered Trees in Pennsylvania.

August 13, 2001

So Much to Do . . . and So Little Time!

Hello, cousins! A full year has come and gone since I published an InterOverholt Memo, and that seems amazing to me! I fully intended to publish several memos and articles before this, but bouts of illness, new jobs, and household chores kept getting in the way! As time went by, several books did not get read [like, Thomas Mellon and His Times, by Thomas Mellon], a handful of e-mails from respondents did not get answered [So sorry!], and my genealogical avocation ended up gathering dust [genuine d-u-s-t]. There always seemed to be something blocking my progress toward building up my web site and disseminating more information about the Extended Overholt Family to the Extended Overholt Family!

For instance, last Fall I got a couple secretarial assignments from the University of Pittsburgh "temp" service, and that really exhausted most of my waking hours [i.e., when I got home, I was exhausted]. You're right, a "temp" secretary does not make much money, but the extra paychecks allowed us to pay some bills, especially around Christmas. Unfortunately, I didn't get to celebrate Christmas [or New Year's, for that matter], because I was really ill through most of December [and into January]. Imagine me dragging out the seasonal boxes and getting our Christmas tree assembled around December 23rd! Believe me, there were only a few decorations on it!

Throughout the holidays, Jim kept busy during the day at Falk School [teaching Theater Arts], and after school at Joyce's School of Dance [teaching a Musical Theater class], and at other locations [rehearsing and performing], and on snowy winter roads [driving me to doctor appointments and two different Emergency Rooms]. The one good thing about being very ill remains one's loss of extra weight [as of today, twenty pounds are no longer around to vex me] and one's deep contemplation of one's own mortality [which is always good for the soul].

This past winter, for the tenth season, Jim portrayed Ebenezer Scrooge for Pittsburgh Musical Theater (formerly Gargaro Productions). Then early this year, he launched his own theater production company, Actors Civic Theater, and we both worked very hard to put together ACT's first project [Summer Theater Workshop 2001], which generated the need for advertising, phone calls, brochures, contracts, letters, accounting, T-shirts, etc. Judging from the response of students, teachers and parents, the workshop was a success all around. Except for the part where we were supposed to make some money [but Jim says we'll make some money next year]. Plans for next summer's workshop are already in discussion, expanding our program from K-8 to include high school level students.

Matthew's school year at Falk ended with his graduating to the Middle School level, his growing up taller than I ever expected for a child of eleven [measuring taller than me around November 2000, and now about 3 inches taller], and his developing into an even better artist [drawing, playing his sax, singing, and acting]. I'm proud to report that he also gave a fine performance in ACT's production of the musical, How to Eat Like a Child. His delivery of The Birthday Song made me cry, and since Jim used his new digital video camcorder [Star Trek lives!] to record both performances of the show [for parents and posterity], I've had a good cry a half-dozen times already!

A New Look for the Old Web Site

My GeoCities web site was long overdue for a complete overhaul. While web surfing this summer [searching for all sites associated with the name Overholt], I was impressed by some very nicely done feminine designs, so I thought I'd try it myself, despite my beginner-level abilities. I hope the resulting mix of patterns, colors, and fonts is pleasing to the eye. What I haven't figured out yet is why our Dell computer displays and prints web page fonts so tiny, while our Compaq displays and prints web pages the way they should be. Can anyone out there give me a clue? Anyway, aside from the pink rose tiles on this page, I promise not to get too feminine!

New Web Pages Added

You are cordially invited to visit my newly published web pages! Found Bottles and Artifacts includes eleven featured items that I hope you will find interesting. My heartfelt thanks to all respondents who sent me photographs and scans of these Overholt-related finds! Everyone, please consider adding something to the series!

I wish I could afford to start buying up everything Overholt-related, and thereby add to our mutual feelings of familial importance [which naturally occurs with research into our genealogical history]. However, I'm unable to do this, and I'm not at liberty to suggest that the folks who run West Overton Museums are interested in doing this, either. They may be happy to accept gifts of artifacts and collectables, but I do not believe they have a budget for purchasing these things.

Regarding Old Overholt Whiskey

Nearly everyone who has sent me photos is curious about the value of their discovery, asking me if I would be able to help assess a value. I may not have the expertise to evaluate such things as vintage bottles of Overholt Whiskey, or place a monetary value on them, but by featuring them here, perhaps we'll find people who can do so. Personally, I am extremely interested in the Balach Found Bottle. I wonder if someone could analyze the contents and produce more just like it. There's always that idea I have floating around in the back of my mind -- about us descendants of Abraham starting up our own company of Next Generation distillers . . . .

I do not believe the folks at Jim Beam Brands are interested in Overholt Whiskey-related items, either, judging by the letter I received [dated December 9, 1999] explaining their corporate position [i.e., tactful disinterest following a courteous acknowledgment of the history involved]. And given the lack of product advertising, it is easy to believe Western Pennsylvania rye whiskey might just fade away, relegated to a few ghostly paragraphs in the history of the region. Understandably, it appears Jim Beam Brands considers Old Overholt Rye Whiskey a competitor that must be neatly folded into their corporate system and silenced. It appears they'll distill the rye whiskey and sell it to the (perhaps few) distributors who request it, but they won't feature it anywhere. You cannot even find a mention of Old Overholt, or the product's considerable history, on the Jim Beam web site. The only way I discovered the name and address of Old Overholt's current distiller was by making a telephone call to the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board.

With the silent dirge from Jim Beam Brands extant, a person might believe nobody in the modern world is interested in the Old Overholt Whiskey. However, a World Wide Web search can bring up some very interesting articles regarding the product. Adding my disclaimer that I do not drink alcoholic beverages, so I have no personal opinion regarding the taste or preparations of them, I offer the following web pages. You may wish to check them out.

Dennis' Whiskey Corner: Rye - Rye Whiskey (American/Canadian)

Rye Whiskey Special Edition, The Rye Harvest: A Series of Whiskey Tasting Events - Reviews of Old Overholt 4 Year Old Sttraight Rye Whiskey - From Poland, with Love - The basis for a fine Sazerac - Old Overholt is a big, delicious surprise!

Controversy Over Frick Archives

For more than a year, the readers of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette have been following the progress of the controversy over the Henry Clay Frick family archives. There has been a big case being heard downtown at Allegheny County Orphan's Court in what amounts to a big tug-of-war between the voting majority of the New York City-based Helen Clay Frick Foundation board membership and Helen's two grandnieces, sisters Arabella Symington Dane and Martha Frick Symington Sanger. Sanger, you may recall, is the author of Henry Clay Frick: An Intimate Portrait [see my Research Entry #2].

The focal point of the battle involves "a unique, complete record of Helen Clay Frick's voluminous correspondence, diaries, journals from European trips, plus the business papers of five Henry Clay Frick companies, receipts for his many fine art purchases and family letters, photographs, architectural drawings and numerous home movies." The Foundation board, comprised of "a maximum of 11 of Henry and Adelaide Frick's descendants," was adamant about relocating these archives to the Frick Art Reference Library in New York. Board member Arabella Dane opposed the move, believing she was championing her great aunt's wishes to keep these records here in Pittsburgh, as part of Clayton, the restored home of Henry Clay Frick.

In April, the University of Pittsburgh became a contestant in the fray when the chairman of the Foundation, Adelaide Trafton, "signed an agreement that divides the archives between the Frick Art Reference Library and the University of Pittsburgh archives of industrial society, housed a few blocks from Clayton in Point Breeze." Dane opposed this agreement, saying, "It was done in secret . . . It wasn't any sort of compromise because it was done behind our back." Testimony in the case ended in early July, and the attorneys were given 15 days to submit briefs, but to date, there has been no article that tells what the judge has decided.

In an article appearing one Sunday in May, A Frick Family Feud, Arabella Dane made a comment about West Overton, which was the only reference I ever caught that hinted that there was an Overholt Family connection to this court battle. As the article explained, "The museum that wins the right to exploit the archives will earn potential revenues from producing copies of papers and photographs for books, posters, educational videos or feature-length films." Since court records showed the Helen Clay Frick Foundation's assets totaled $26.7 million, and The Frick Art & Historical Center had a $75.6 million endowment, Sanger believed there was enough money to provide more space at Clayton for the archives and a staff to preserve and index them. It was strongly implied that the Foundation assets were being squandered, that too much money had been spent on this court battle, "that she and her sister disapprove of their family members' financial priorities."

"We haven't endowed the archives. We haven't taken care of West Overton," Dane said, referring to the Westmoreland County museum that was the birthplace of Henry Clay Frick.

In an e-mail I sent [5/29/01] to Post-Gazette reporter Marylynne Pitz, I pointed out, "There is an untapped avenue of research regarding this story -- the Overholt Family connection." I declared, "Arabella Dane and Martha Frick Symington Sanger are not the only ones who should be fighting this battle. The Extended Overholt Family should be represented also. Our history is intertwined with the history of Henry Clay Frick." But I never received a reply, and the message I left on her office answering machine did not prompt a reply, either.

Which brings me back to my point about West Overton. In the words of someone who obviously knows, the Foundation has not taken care of West Overton.

[Karen's Note: If you go to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette web site, use their Search engine. Type in the name, Helen Clay Frick Foundation, and links to about 24 recent articles will come up.]

First Contact With the Riffle Family

All I can say is, "Thank heaven for the Internet!" My postings at the GenForum "Overholt" web page caught the eye of another web-surfing inquirer. After recognizing some of the names in my abbreviated Family Tree, she visited my GeoCities site, and then sent me a note filled with questions, most of which I could not begin to answer. However, with this e-mail [dated 7-16-01], I received my first contact from a member of the Riffle family.

My great grandfather, George Washington Overholt (---- 1908) was married to Agnes G. Riffle, and were the parents of my grandfather, George Frederick Overholt (1892-1966) [see Overholt's Orchestra], but that is about all I really knew about them. I have a photocopy of their marriage certificate [Nov. 5, 1891, in Wooster, Ohio], and a certificate of baptism for their son, George F. Overholt, which reiterates their names, etc. Last year, I was very grateful when my new-found Aunt Joan mentioned the Riffle connection, writing, "I also have a picture of them [i.e., Fred & Ralph Overholt] with Aunt Dude (Agnes Riffles's sister, I believe). She took care of them for a while." And she also wrote, "She took care of them when their Mother first died, but she was old and it got too much for her."

But this new respondent wrote, "The name that caught my attention is actually Agnes G. Riffle, George Washington Overholt's (---- 1908) wife. I believe this woman is my husband's gr-gr-aunt and I'm hoping you have additional information on this family." I was happy to send back the information shown on the two certificates, but ultimately, she supplied me with just as much or more. Now I know Agnes was born May 13, 1859, inWooster, Wayne Co., Ohio, and died August 23, 1933, and in 1903, she was living in Mt. Pleasant, PA. Along with a few other facts, I now have a list of her siblings and their birthdates, but it's only a beginning! There's a promise to stay in touch and to send me more information in the future, as she continues to collect data. I must say, these family connections that come "out of the blue" are so precious!

Highlighting The Oberholtzer Book

When I first began my noble quest via the Internet, charging forth [actually, tiptoeing] into the unknown territory of the World Wide Web, seeking tidbits of information about The Extended Overholt Family, I kept running into the name of Barbara Ford. First, on AOL genealogy message boards, and then elsewhere, Barbara Ford's name appeared as the sage and expert person one needed to contact regarding the most accurate data for anyone researching Oberholtzer/Oberholtser/Oberholser/Oberholtz/Overholser/Overholts/Overholt (and no doubt other spellings), plus the myriad other surnames that are connected by marriage.

Also, I kept coming across people who mentioned the Overholser Family Association, their publications and family reunions in Eastern PA. And then I kept reading about a new book that was considered to be "the last word" in our many lines of genealogical research. Many people were freely giving testimonials and urging others to contact Barbara Ford for the best information available. I, myself, have been referring respondents to the expertise of Barbara Ford for a long time, explaining that the volume of A. J. Fretz material that I have is flawed and could not be considered totally accurate.

While I do not yet have my own copy of The Oberholtzer Book, I certainly look forward to having one. From Barbara Ford: "The Oberholtzer Book was published in 1995 by the Overholser Family Association. It is a Foundation Book of Oberholtzer Immigrants and Unestablished Lines. There are six immigrants lines, 18 unestablished lines, Canadian lines, Virginia lines and female lines. It is 424 pages. The major lines have the first five generations, and others have fewer generations."

You can order your own copy of the book from Barbara Ford, 313 Henry Lane, Wallingford, PA 19086. Enclose a check for $29.50, plus $3.50 for shipping and handling -- pay to the order of The Overholser Family Association [see below].


Attention! Update!

Since this memo was written and published, author Barbara Ford passed away, and the contact information for purchasing The Oberholtzer Book changed. For current information, please see my web page, Memoir: Barbara Babst Ford, in my Table of Contents.


Endangered Trees in Pennsylvania

One of my new web pages features a quilt square, the subject of which is a big old tree [see Karen's Quilt Square]. But let us now focus on real live trees. This past April, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette ran an article about some of the tactics being used here by a number of lumber companies. Titled Forum: Pennsylvania forests: Act now to avert their pillage, the article declares we are at a turning point, because, "Lumber compaines, encountering environmental opposition in the Pacific northwest, are turning their gaze towards Pennsylvania," and "How we manage our forests in the next two decades will determine whether our forest industry and our trees will remain robust for another century or crash to the ground like so much fallen timber," much as it did in the past, as recently as one generation ago.

Pointed out is the pertinent fact, "Now the classified section in nearly every rural Pennsylvania newspaper has competing advertisements from loggers offering cash to private landowners for their trees. While creating some revenue for marginal rural economies, these sales may be creating more problems than they are solving." The article quotes independents forest consultants and their warnings about fly-by-night loggers, and praises the Forest Stewardship Council and the forest management practices which "protect forest ecosystems, water quality, wildlife habitats and local communities."

While I am no expert on trees or forest management practices, I do suggest we all become knowledgeable enough to protect our own corner of natural woodland. It is my belief that America needs more trees, not fewer trees, especially since other countries are still losing their trees at an alarming rate. Plant a tree! Especially fruit trees and all kinds that produce true nuts! And don't forget to add berries into the mix! You never know when a lone apple tree will save your life!

I remember seeing a lovely cartoon animation about a man who planted trees in a great, barren wilderness for the whole of his lifetime, until the result of his effort was a vast, beautiful forest. One tree at a time -- that is all it takes. Plant them and grow them up, or cut them down and lay waste a natural habitat. Does anybody hear a John Denver song wafting in a playful breeze?

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