Research Entry #3

RE: The Overholt-Stauffer-Critchfield Connection;
Along the Banks of Jacobs Creek, by Winifred Erb Paul

Written and Edited by Karen Rose Overholt Critchfield, © 9-24-00

Karen's Note: Very early on, as we begin researching the Extended Overholt Family, we discover the Stauffer family connection. It would be difficult to say exactly how many intermarriages occurred between these two Western Pennsylvania families. Has anyone actually counted them all? If so, please let me know, and I'll post the total! Anyway, it is easy for the Overholts to appreciate the Stauffers, since we are so intimately related -- at least, in our past generations. I wonder if there are any "recent" intermarriages that would add to the story? Again, if anybody knows, please tell me, and I'll post the stories! Recently, I had the pleasure of receiving e-mails from two Stauffer cousins, one of whom has an astounding connection to both the Overholt and the Critchfield families.

Source: Thomas Ridenour . . . E-mail: August 11, 2000

"A distant relation, Ron Stauffer, forwarded your URL to me tonight.

I am descended from Abraham Overholt Stauffer (1786-1853) brother of Maria Stauffer Overholt, the wife of Abraham Overholt, the distiller. Therefore, we have a common ancestor in their father, Rev. Abraham Stauffer (1752-1826). Also, it might be of interest to you that I have met two contemporary Mennonite Overholts, minister John J. Overholt (1918-2000) of Sarasota, FL, and Bishop Rudy Overholt of Russellville, KY.

My great grandfather Aaron S. Ridenour (1844-1914) was employed at the distillery as a cooper in the 1860's, and enlisted in the PA Militia during the Civil War under Capt. Abraham Overholt Tintsman. One of his best friends was also an Overholt employee, Chess Booher.

On another branch of my family, my GG Grandfather, John Frederick Keck (1848-1891), of Broadford, PA, was a coal miner and was said to have worked side by side with Henry Clay Frick in the mines, evidently when Frick was first starting out and still getting his hands dirty. in 1891, he refused to go on strike and was called a "black leg" by the strikers, so he rolled up his pant leg and replied, "My leg is just as white as yours." He paid for it with his life, as he was later mobbed on his way home from work, leaving eight or nine orphans (his wife had died the previous year).

I also have several cancelled checks [see below] for the Mount Pleasant and Broadford Railroad, which were signed by Henry Clay Frick and passed down through the family.

I am also related to the Critchfields. My GGG grandfather was James Critchfield (1788-1873) of Springfield Twp., Fayette Co., PA. He was the son of William Critchfield, a Revolutionary War veteran who settled in Somerset Co., PA."

Source: Ron Stauffer . . . E-mail August 10, 2000

"Abraham's wife, Maria Stauffer, b. 13 July 1791, d. Nov. 1874, was the daughter of Abraham Stauffer and Anna (Nissley) Stauffer. This and more information is referenced in a book called Along the Banks of Jacobs Creek. Further generations of Henry Overholt and Anna (Beitler) Overholt are listed in this book, as well. Some migration clues also exist within this book."

Karen's Note: The day I found Thomas Ridenour's introduction in my AOL mail, I found his cousin's note waiting for me in my Yahoo! mail. That evening, I set about trying to find a copy of that book, checking the usual Internet sources (i.e., book sellers and the Carnegie Library), but there was no lead to the publication. Then Ron Stauffer replied to my query, writing, "I, too, was unable to find a copy in print. Tom just sold me his spare copy last week. I was at a LDS FHL [Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints/Family History Library?] this weekend and they have the book on microfilm. The book appears to have been written around 1990. It was compiled by Winifred Paul. The introduction lists an address . . . You may be able to contact her personally for a copy."

The Internet supplied me with a verification of that address, plus a telephone number, and after three tries on consecutive days, I got Winifred Paul, herself, on the line. See the story below.

RE: Along the Banks of Jacobs Creek, compiled by Winifred Erb Paul, c. 1990.

In 1990, to commemorate the 200th anniversary (1790-1990) of the Mennonites who settled the area, the town of Scottdale, PA, put together a celebration. The citizens of the town held a symposium, a craft fair, a slide show, etc., and Winifred Paul sold copies of her genealogical compilation of the original Mennonite settlers, entitled, Along the Banks of Jacobs Creek. Printed by the Mennonite Publishing House, there were only 200 copies printed, she said, “And I sold them until they were gone.” At this time, there are no plans to print more copies.

In a telephone conversation with Mrs. Paul, I learned it was her idea to compile the information (gleaned from local families, visits to local cemeteries, old deeds and wills) for the benefit of current generations who had descended from those early pioneers. She thought, “it would be a good idea if people knew how they were all related, since the families intermarried quite a bit.” Information about the Overholts was pulled from the A. J. Fretz material found in the volume published by the folks at West Overton Museums (i.e., Oberholtzer & Nash Family Histories). She also used some information supplied by the Newcomer, Shallenberger and Stoner families.

Now 76 years old, Winifred Paul has lived in the Scottdale area since her marriage to Milford Paul, who grew up in the region. I asked her to pass along my name and number to anyone willing to let me borrow their copy of the book, or willing to send me a photocopy of it.

To learn more about Scottdale, Mount Pleasant and other communities surrounding West Overton, you'll find local history and photographs at the following web sites.

West Overton Museums

Zephyr Glen Bed & Breakfast at Stauffer Homestead

Scottdale, PA, in Westmoreland County

Mennonite Publishing House, Scottdale, PA

Mount Pleasant, PA, in Westmoreland County

Westmoreland County Sites

Youghiogheny River Trail

For more information about the Overholt-Stauffer Family Connection,
link over to:
"Our Stauffer Cousins"

END OF "Research Entry #3" -- Return to "Karen's Branches"