The Overholt-Dillinger Connection
Written by K. R. Overholt Critchfield, July 13, 2005

~ Updated July 27, 2005 ~

Was Dillinger Whiskey Another Overholt Whiskey?

May I extrapolate? Samuel Dillinger learned the business of whiskey-making from the Stauffers and Overholts. A little knowledge goes a long way. Once Henry Clay Frick did his corporate takeover thing with the Overholt trademarks and distilleries, once the Overholt family was prevented from using their family name on any whiskey they might make, perhaps they saw the Dillinger enterprise as the last stand for this uniquely Overholt skill -- separate, but not far removed, from the source.

My introduction to the Dillinger saga came via John and Linda Lipman and the article about their trip to visit what is left of the distillery site in Ruff's Dale, PA. After some e-mail contact with Dillinger devotee Sam Komlenic regarding some historical Overholt documents, plus a few instances where the status of the Dillinger site came up, I decided to research the surname and look for any possible connections to the Extended Overholt Family. Sure enough, I found some!

Specifically, Samuel Dillinger married Sarah Loucks, daughter of Anna Overholt, who as a widow married Martin Stauffer, who was the widower of her sister, Elizabeth Overholt. You will find a more fully developed chart of genealogical information below.

MC724 Annie/Anna Overholt (1770-1845) m1 Peter Loucks (1760-1825);
m2 Martin Stauffer (1780-1869) [widower of MC727 Elizabeth Overholt (1777-1832)]
[Martin m3 Elizabeth Stoner Sherrick (1791-1868), widow of Christian Sherrick 1789-1845)]

There are times when the information gathered about a particular subject is so rich that you do not wish to dilute it by restating the obvious. That is the case with the data you will find on this page -- an amalgam of photos, articles, and exerpts from various historic documents found at the Historic Pittsburgh web site. It will be easy to see the Overholt-Dillinger connections. You will enjoy the photo and piece by Sam Komlenic, wherein he describes his quest to find the grave of Samuel Dillinger.

Also included are several pages from Historic Pittsburgh that discuss the life of a wagoner on the National Pike. This information is here to familiarize us all with the means upon which Overholt Whiskey -- in the early days -- was transported from West Overton to markets all over Pennsylvania and elsewhere. Additionally, the connection to Samuel Dillinger is that this way of life was his way of life -- wagoneering and marketing cattle -- before he "settled down" as a husband, a father, and a whiskey-maker in his own right.

1923 Dillinger Pennsylvania
Straight Rye Whiskey

SAMUEL DILLINGER, a leading man of affairs in the early development of Westmoreland county, was a native of Pennsylvania, born in East Huntingdon township, Westmoreland county, October 28, 1810. He was of German descent in both parental lines.

Daniel Dillinger, his father, was born in the eastern part of Pennsylvania, August 6, 1787, and while yet a boy crossed the Allegheny mountains and located in Westmoreland county, near Bethany. Here he was brought up on a farm, and when he arrived at manhood married Mary Myers, a daughter of Samuel Myers. Their children were: Samuel, Christian. Joseph, Jacob, Abraham, Daniel, Elizabeth (married Alexander Myers), Sarah (married Michael Sheets), and Mary, married John Billheimer.

Daniel Dillinger lived in the vicinity of Bethany until his death, which occurred February 9, 1847, at the age of fifty-seven years, his widow surviving him twenty-six years. After her husband's death she lived with her son Samuel at the home farm where she died June 19, 1871, aged eighty-one years. The husband and wife were buried in the Mennonite cemetery, at Alverton, Westmoreland county.

Samuel Dillinger, eldest child of Daniel and Mary (Myers) Dillinger, was brought up on the parental farm, and received but a limited education. Early in life he was employed by Martin Stauffer, near Jacob's Creek, where he learned the business of distilling. He married Sarah Loucks [whose mother was an Overholt; see below] in 1831, and soon after they purchased and located on what is now known as the "Home farm," near Alverton. Their children were: Annie, married Joseph Hixson; Mary, married Abraham Sherrick; Catherine, married Moses Hixson; Sarah, married Jacob C. Fox; John L., married Mary Mclntire; Elizabeth L., married C. T. Hanna; Eliza L., married A. A. Hasson; Daniel L.; and Samuel L., married Katie Hutchinson.

Samuel Dillinger followed the business of farming, buying and selling cattle and horses. etc. He had for some years a large Conestoga wagon with six horses, with which he traversed the National Pike transporting merchandise between the cities of Pittsburgh and Baltimore. He subsequently engaged in contract work building school houses and churches, and other edifices. He was an untiring worker for the free school system, and was an efficient member of the board of school directors for many years. In his prosperity he added by purchase additional farms adjoining his "Home farm," until he owned upward of six hundred acres in one body, all of which was underlaid with Connellsville coking coal.

In addition to his farming interests, about 1850 he purchased a custom grist mill in old Bethany, and soon afterward erected in connection with the mill a distillery, both of which he operated successfully for about thirty years, until 1881, when they were entirely destroyed by fire. The following year, with his two sons, Daniel L. and Samuel L., he built a new distillery at Ruff's Dale, in Westmoreland county, which until his death was successfully operated under the firm name of S. Dillinger and Sons. The business has been continued by his sons up to the present day, and is one of the largest and best known in the state of Pennsylvania. It has a daily capacity of five hundred bushels of grain, or a product of fifty barrels, and has six warehouses with a combined storage capacity of fifty-five thousand barrels of whisky.

With his sons, in 1872, he erected a number of coke ovens at Hawkeye, and in 1879 extended the coke business by the erection of additional coke ovens at Tarr and Pennsville, and later with the McClure Coke Company at Alverton, the latter being known as the Donnelly plant. Dillinger and Sons are therefore entitled to rank among the pioneer coke operators of Pennsylvania.

Mr. Dillinger's activities were also extended to important interests in other directions. He was one of the projectors of the Southwest Pennsylvania Railway in 1871, and served upon the directorate for some years. As a business man he was distinguished for the order with which he conducted all of his affairs, for his firmness and decision, promptness, great energy and punctuality. He was gentle to his employees, and straightforward in all his dealings. As a citizen he was what his character would indicate as a business man, and which commanded for him the highest respect of his fellow citizens. He was public spirited and zealous in politics. During the administration of President Buchanan and prior to that time, he was affiliated with the Whig party.

While he was opposed to slavery, he was also opposed to confiscation and the Civil war, believing that slavery would terminate its own existence by the education of the people to the fact that it was wrong, and that this course would at the same time better prepare the slaves for their freedom. In this, like all his other motives, he was conscientious in what he believed, and naturally united with the Democratic party .He was never an aspirant for political office, but always advocated the nomination of the one whom he thought to be best qualified for the position. He was an honest man, and never feared to express the convictions of his conscience. He was a constant friend and neighbor, and was ever ready and willing to lend a helping hand to the weak and erring or downtrodden.

His last illness was paralysis coming upon him suddenly, and from which he never regained consciousness. He died August 25, 1889, at the age of seventy-nine years. He was buried in the Mennonite cemetery, at Alverton. His bereaved widow, Sarah, to whose energy, faithfulness and frugality a large portion of his prosperity may be attributed, survived him about nine years, during which time she made her home with her son, Daniel L. Dillinger, at Greensburg, Pennsylvania. She died August 19, 1898, in the ninetieth year of her age. She was buried by the side of her husband in the Mennonite cemetery, at Alverton, Pennsylvania.

Source: Page(s) 117 - 118, History of Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, Volume 2, by John N Boucher. New York, The Lewis Publishing Company, 1906.
Transcribed June 2001 by Nathan Zipfel for the Westmoreland County History Project. Published 2001 by the Westmoreland County Pennsylvania Genealogy Project.

Karen's Note: I was unable to locate the volume named above at the Historic Pittsburgh web site, searching for the author or the title of the book. It must not be available online, at least not at Historic Pittsburgh.

The Dillinger Obelisk

Remember Sam Komlenic? He is featured in John and Linda Lipman's article about the Dillinger Distillery at Ruff's Dale, PA.

This past April, after visiting the Ruff's Dale site, Sam felt a desire to seek out the Mennonite Cemetery in Alverton, hoping to locate the gravesite of Samuel Dillinger. See below how he has described this journey of discovery.

1867 Westmoreland County Historic Atlas
#52 The Old Homestead Farm & Residence of Samuel Dillinger;
Residence of Daniel L. Dillinger;
Flouring Mill & Distillery of S. Dillinger & Sons;
West Bethany, Westmoreland County, PA

The Samuel Dillinger Distillery, 1910 - "Ruffsdale," PA

The Dillinger Obelisk, Mennonite Cemetery, Alverton, PA.
Photograph by Sam Komlenic, 4-16-05

Sam Komlenic Discovers the Dillinger Monument

The following was taken from an e-mail to me from Sam Komlenic, dated 24 Apr 2005, regarding his April 16 visit to Alverton.

"I drove into town Saturday night and decided to head to Alverton to see if I could locate Sam Dillinger's grave, which is in the Mennonite cemetery in Alverton. Made it to this very attractive cemetery, parked, and started to look around. The Mennonites obviously hold the obelisk in high regard, as the cemetery is dotted with them, averaging 10-15 feet in height. The caretaker came by driving a lawn tractor pulling a cart with a couple of kids in tow, and I asked if he knew the location of the Dillinger plot. I had assumed I would be looking for a prominent marker, and he pointed down the hill, saying "It's that tall one just below those pine trees." I kept looking for something that was in scale with the rest of the markers there, and really couldn't see what he was pointing to, so I began to walk in the direction he had pointed. It soon became apparent that the reason I couldn't see the marker was that I wasn't looking "up" enough.

"Samuel Dillinger has the most impressive gravestone I have ever seen in a rural locale. It consists of a three stone pedestal, the base of which is 9 feet square. That pedestal is topped by a stone whose shape replicates the obelisk base. This is complimented by a decorative stone which supports the 20 foot obelisk overhead. The total height of this massive monument is at least 30 feet! The Dillinger name on the front spans four feet, and the epitaph on the back reads:

Erected to the memories of an honest man and constant friend, a devoted wife and loving mother.
Samuel Dillinger 1810-1889 - Sarah Dillinger 1808-1898

"I was absolutely floored! I stepped up on the base of the monument and went to touch the obelisk. As I got within inches of it, I involuntarily and instantly jerked my hand back and stared in stunned silence. It had felt as if my arm was suddenly charged with static electricity, which was what caused me to pull away. Literally, the hairs on my right arm had raised as I went to touch the stone, and I felt a cool rush of air between my hand and the marker. I tried again and felt the same sensation, but to a much lesser degree. Once I touched the stone, that feeling was gone. The bells in the church at the foot of the hill began to chime, and the rising moon was visible above the cemetery. Some time ago, when I first read your description of feeling someone push you toward the door of your family's ancestral home, I thought there might have been a certain amount of exaggeration involved. My doubts have been erased.

"I spent at least an hour there, watching the sun set behind the hill. There are Stauffers buried here, too. Martin Stauffer, who taught Sam to distill, was heavily involved with the Overholts, too, and Sam's dad and mother are here somewhere. Three of his children are buried behind the obelisk. The caretaker has a book listing all who rest here, and I'll check that out one of these days. I just thought you'd like to know that you came instantly to mind during this unusual encounter. We will certainly meet near this place someday. I have attached a photo of the marker to make my point."

Karen's Note: Additionally, from Sam, I learned that Seagram owned both the Dillinger Ruff's Dale distillery and Overholt Broad Ford distillery in their last years, and apparently closed both permanently at virtually the same time -- the mid-1960s.

Look for a new web page featuring the photographs I took at the Alverton cemetery, during a June 18 trip to West Overton with my son, Matthew. I spent some time taking pictures of the obelisk and the graves of our Stauffer and Overholt ancestors.

The Genealogical Data

I thought it would be a good idea to show the genealogical data I have pulled together from the usual sources. The Overholt-Stauffer connections are multitudinous, and need no explanation. Regarding the Myers connections, Samuel Dillinger's mother was Mary Myers, daughter of Samuel Myers. (If anyone has more data regarding this Samuel Myers, please pass it along to me.) Barbara Ford's book lists about 61 individuals with the Myers surname, all related by marriage to the Extended Overholt Family. Also, a quick scan of the Ford pages reveals the Fretz and Myers families are as closely interrelated as are the Overholts and Stauffers.

The underlines and bold font are mine. Remember to pronounce the Dillinger surname as "Dillin-gerr," with a hard "g" sound.

The Overholt-Stauffer-Loucks-Dillinger Connection
Overholt to Dillinger Genealogical Line taken from Barbara Ford's The Oberholtzer Book

MC Marcus Oberholtzer (c1664-1726) m. Elizabeth [name?]
7 Children

MC1 Jacob Overholt m. Barbara [name?]
MC2 Henry Oberholtzer
MC3 Daughter Oberholzer [perhaps Nanny, wife of Jacob Wismer]
MC4 Marcus Oberholtzer
MC5 Samuel Oberholtzer m. Elizabeth [name?]
MC6 Elizabeth Oberholtzer [wife of Peter? Kolb]
MC7 Martin Oberholtzer m. Agnes Kolb

MC7 Martin Oberholtzer (c1709-1744) m. Agnes Kolb (1713-1786)
5 Children

MC71 Barbara Oberholtzer m. Christian Fretz
MC72 Henry Oberholtzer (Overholt) m. Anna Beitler
MC73 Maria Oberholtzer
MC74 John Oberholtzer
MC75 Martin Overholt m. Esther Fretz

MC72 Henry Oberholtzer (1739-1813) m. Anna Beitler (1745-1835)
12 Children

MC721 Agnes Overholt [wife of Christian Fretz]
MC722 Maria Overholt [wife of John Myers (no issue)]
MC723 Jacob Overholt [m Elizabeth Detweiler]
MC724 Annie/Anna Overholt [wife of Peter Loucks]
[wife 2 of widower Martin Stauffer]
MC725 Martin Overholt [m Catharine Overholt of Bucks Co.]
MC726 Barbara Overholt [wife of Jacob Durstine]
MC727 Elizabeth Overholt [wife of Martin Stauffer]
MC728 Henry Overholt [betrothed to Miss Myers in Bucks Co., died single]
MC729 Sarah [died young]
MC720 Abraham Overholt [m Maria Stauffer ]
MC72a Christian Overholt [m Elizabeth Stauffer]
MC72b Susanna Overholt [died single]

MC724 Annie/Anna Overholt (1770-1845) m1 Peter Loucks (1760-1825);
m2 Martin Stauffer (1780-1869) [widower of MC727 Elizabeth Overholt (1777-1832)]
[Martin m3 Elizabeth Stoner Sherrick (1791-1868), widow of Christian Sherrick 1789-1845)]
9 Children w/ Peter Loucks

MC7241 Catherine Loucks [wife of John W. Stauffer]
MC7242 Henry Loucks m1 Mary Myers [2 children],
m2 Barbara Stauffer [6 children]
MC7243 Jacob Loucks m. Catherine (Smith) Fretz
MC7244 Mary Loucks [wife of Jacob Shupe]
MC7245 Rev Martin Loucks m. Nancy Stauffer
MC7246 Nancy Loucks (died young)
MC7247 John Loucks m. Sarah Bassler
MC7248 Peter Loucks m. Anna Barkey
MC7249 Sarah Loucks (1808-1898) [wife of Samuel Dillinger (1810-1889)]

The Loucks-Dillinger Connection
The Loucks to Dillinger Genealogical Line taken from Along the Banks of Jacobs Creek
Additional material from the article,
"Dillinger, Samuel R." A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans

Lo19 Sarah Loucks 30 Nov 1808 - 19 Oct 1898, age 90. Bu Alverton.
m Samuel Dillinger
28 Oct 1810-25 Aug 1889, age 78.
Bu Alverton. Farmer and distiller at Bethany.
An 1867 map shows Samuel Dillinger owning quite a few
farms south and southwest of Old Bethany.
8 Children
Lo191 Annie Dillinger
1833-1852, age 19. m Joseph Hecksor

Lo192 Mary Dillinger xx-8 Feb 1934, age 100.
m 1852 Abraham Sherrick 23 Mar 1832-25 Feb 1892, age 59.
Son of Abraham Sherrick and Anna Overholt. Farmer near Pennsville.
Owned Pennsville mine and 70 coke ovens. Abraham bought a farm
in Pennsville from Abraham Shallenberger. Going from Alte Menist
Cemetery, down the hill toward 119, it is the first farm on the right.
11 Children
Lo1921 J. Franklin Sherrick
, age 8
Lo1922 Samuel Sherrick m Sarah E.
Lo1923 Burton Sherrick T. m 1st Clara Belle Burkhart;
m 2nd Catherine Stevens
Lo1924 John D. Sherrick m Emma Jane Noel
Lo1925 Sara Luella Sherrick m Edgar J. Enos
Lo1926 Carrie Sherrick m Charles B. Woods
Lo1927 Charles Sherrick, age 42
Lo1928 Ora Sherrick, single
Lo1929 Lydia Sherrick, single
Lo192a Mary Sherrick m George F. Boyd
Lo192b Edwin Sherrick m Ruth Ankeny

Lo193 Catherine Dillinger 1836-1918, age 82. Bu Alverton.
** Moses Hixson 1832-1916, age 84. Bu Alverton.
Lo194 John L. Dillinger m Mary McIntyre.
Lo195 Elizabeth Dillinger m Cyrus T. Hanna.
Philadelphia Miller and distiller. Presbyterian.
Lo196 Eliza Dillinger 18 Feb 1844-9 Apr 1926, age 81.
m A. A. Hasson 31 Mar 1844-6 Mar 1920, age 75.

Lo197 Daniel L. Dillinger (1829-1857) m. Nancy Davis (b. 1836)
[dau of John Davis & Louisa Groover].
2 children: Samuel R. & Daniel
Lo1971 Samuel R. Dillinger m. Melissa Belle Gallentine
[dau of Daniel & Sarah (Ritner) Gallentine].
6 children:

Lo19711 Samuel R. Dillinger
Lo19712 Helen Dillinger m. M. F. Fritts
Lo19713 Nellie Dillinger
m. W. E. Wing
Lo19714 Otis W. Dillinger
Lo19715 Letha Dillinger
Lo19716 Irene Dillinger.

Lo1972 Daniel Dillinger.

Nancy Davis m.2 Christian Ziegler (1838-1914)
4 children:
David R Ziegler, William Ziegler, Harriet m. Mr. Fourner, Lucy Ziegler (d. 1905).

Lo198 Samuel Dillinger m Katie Hutchinson [farmer, Westmoreland Co., PA].

See Hixson-Dillinger article below.

From Public Squares to Pike Journeys: The Story of the Wagoners

Taken from Old and New Westmoreland, Volume 4, by John N. Boucher;
originally published in New York by The American Historical Society, 1918.
Found at Historic Pittsburgh,

The Hixson-Dillinger Connection

Taken from Old and New Westmoreland, Volume 4, by John N. Boucher;
originally published in New York by The American Historical Society, 1918.
Found at Historic Pittsburgh,

The Baer-Dillinger Connection

Taken from Old and New Westmoreland, Volume 4, by John N. Boucher;
originally published in New York by The American Historical Society, 1918.
Found at Historic Pittsburgh,

The Dillinger Connection to Coal Mining & Coke Works

Westmoreland County Pennsylvania Coal Mine
Index S to the Bituminous Coal Mines of Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, U.S.A.

Index to the Coal Mines and Coal Companies which mined the Bituminous Coal seams of Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, U.S.A.

Compiled by Raymond A. Washlaski, Historian, Editor; Ryan P. Washlaski, Technical Advisor; Peter E. Starry, Jr. "The Old Miner."

Samuel Dillinger & Sons Company
See: Hawkeye Mine & Coke Works, East Huntingdon Twp., Westmoreland Co., PA
Tarr's Station Mine, East Huntingdon Twp., Westmoreland Co., PA


Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania
Coal Mine Index H to the Bituminous Coal Mines of Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, U.S.A.

Hawkeye, East Huntingdon Twp., Westmoreland Co., PA
See: Hawkeye Mine & Coke Works, Hawkeye Station, East Huntingdon Twp., Westmoreland Co., PA

Hawkeye Mine & Coke Works (ca. 1871-72- ? ), located on the Southwest Branch of the Pennsylvania Railroad, north of Scottdale, at Hawkeye Station, East Huntingdon Twp., Westmoreland Co., PA
Owners: (ca.1871- ? ), Samuel Dillinger & Sons Company,
(ca. ? ), McClure Coke Company, Scottdale, PA
(ca.1903- ? ), H.C. Frick Coke Company, Scottdale, PA

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