The Irish and Sugar Ridge Settlers.
The Irish began settling in the township in 1841. Many had been employed upon the North Branch Canal, where work had ceased for the want of appropriations. The times were hard, and the State was, indeed, on the verge of bankruptcy. Erin’s diligent sons must now seek a new field of labor. They had heard of lands that could be had cheap in the vicinity of the "Heverly settlement" and concluded they would go hither and purchase farms.
Thomas McGovern came to the township in 1841 and purchased the improvements of Daniel Slotery, now included in the farm of Michael Murray. He remained a few years, then moved out of the county with this family. Hugh Riley came in and lived with McGovern.
Owen McCann, who had been employed upon the canal, came in with Thomas McGovern and purchased a tract of 400 acres on Sugar Ridge, and traded a portion of it with Charles Dieffenbaugh for the improvements which he had made upon the Kissell place. Here McCann lived until his death in 1871. He had married Margaret Shotts, who died June 19, 1897, age 77 years. Their children were: Edward, Mary Ann (Mrs. Edward Francke), Francis, Catherine, James and Eugene.
Edward McGovern, a native of County Cavin, born in 1799, came to America with his family in 1833. Going to Lancaster, Pa. he joined his brother in railroad contracting, which he pursued on different lines, for eighteen years. By shrewd management he acquired a snug little fortune. In 1841 be came to Overton from Schuylkill county and purchased improvements, made by Baker and Kellogg. He built a saw-mill upon his place on Black creek in 1842, and for some years gave attention to the manufacture of lumber. He owned a large tract of land, did considerable clearing and during the last years of his life devoted his time wholly to farming. He was a man of enterprise and means, and was very active in the move to secure the formation of a new In 1851, Mr. McGovern was made postmaster of Overton. He was frequently called by his townsmen to fill offices of trust, in which he always demonstrated ability and integrity. In politics he was an "old line Whig," up to 1856, when he became a Democrat, and so remained till the close of his life. Mr. McGovern is remembered as a stirring gentleman of the old school. He was in every respect an excellent and worthwhile citizen.
His wife was Margaret Gilleese, whom he married in Ireland. She was a lady who always looked upon the bright side of things, and by her cheering words and deeds of kindness made others happy. Her native wit was brilliant, and she enjoyed mirth in its place. She was a woman of sterling virtues, who left for her children the legacy of a beautiful example. Her death occurred April 5, 1888 at the age of 89 years. The children of Edward and Margaret McGovern were:
John---See "Overton Boys of Mark."
Patrick was a railroad contractor several years, made money but lost his property in the South during the Rebellion. He visited many parts of Europe and saw much of the world. He died in Overton, May 8, 1893 aged 67 years.
Thomas-----See "Overton Boys of Mark."
Bernard was a successful contractor; settled and died at Easton, Pa.
Francis, a bright boy, died in childhood in 1844. His was the first grave in the McGovern cemetery.
Bridget married Thomas Harden of Wellsboro, Pa.; died August 24, 1877, aged 49 years.
Anna, a maiden lady, who was a successful teacher, resides at Lancaster, Pa.
Daniel O’Neill, who had been employed upon the North Branch Canal, came to the township in 1842. He purchased a possession of Christian Heverly, near the huckleberry mountain, which he improved and occupied until his death. Mr. O’Neill was a godly man, and one of the best citizens Overton ever had. With malice toward none, his great ambition was to do good, and it may be truthfully said of him, that he was never known to quarrel or law with his neighbors. He was a scion of the nobility of Ireland, and his race is spoken of as "the once proudest and most powerful of the ancient Irish Kings." Mr. O’Neill married Bridget Hopkins, a lady of refinement and wit. Many still remember her kind hospitality and cup of tea, when returning, fatigued, from their huckleberrying trips. She died in February, 1858, aged 42 years. Mr. O’Neill died August 9, 1881, in his 81st year. Their children were:
Phillip----See "Overton Boys of Mark."
Daniel L.-----See "Overton Boys of Mark."
William Patrick, who distinguished himself in the naval and military service during the Civil War.
John, who lost his life in the Civil War.
James, living in the West.
Bridget, a most estimable lady, who died in your womanhood.
Hugh, living in the West.
William Fawcett was the second settler on Sugar Ridge in 1844. He came in from Sullivan county, where he was born April 20, 1820, and settled along the county line. He cleared and improved a large farm, upon which nearly his whole life was spent. He was a splendid citizen and Christian gentleman. His wife as Catharine Barge. She died in 1893 and Mr. Fawcett, January 9, 1909, aged 89 years.
Thomas Sweeny, a native of County Sligo, Ireland, left his native land in August, 1848, and reached Overton on the 10th of October. Here he tarried over winter, then went to New York state, remaining three years, when he returned to Overton and settled upon the farm, which he has since occupied. At this time, the "Ridge" was a great wilderness, full of wild beasts. The only outlet was a foot-path to Campbell’s mill, where the settlers went to get their corn ground. In speaking of his trying experiences, Mr. Sweeny says: "To provide the wants of my family I worked out much, considerable for Joseph Rogers of Elkland, receiving a bushel of corn for a day’s work. Mr. Rogers would never take the Irishman’s money, he said ‘go only to those who will accommodate in that way’.
"Corn would not grow successfully on new ground, so did not grow it, but wheat, rye, potatoes and cabbage----the Irishman’s dependent staff of life ---grew large, never failing. I purchased, for $12, a cow, as did the other Irishmen when they came in. The cow was allowed to roam in the woods to procure her own food. After I got a little patch cleared I always had enough. In the beginning I many times carried a bushel of corn in on my back, and on different occasions, as I was returning from some neighbor’s with a bag of corn upon my back or from the mill, would remain in the woods all night for fear of getting lost. Deer were very plentiful. They came in and browsed upon the trees, which I had cut down. In fact, many times they came in droves and had to be driven from my crops. Yes, we saw many sore times; raised buckwheat that made cakes as black as your hat, but was glad to get that."
Thomas Grimes, a native of County Sligo, came to America in 1847, and from Scranton to Overton in 1850, settling the place which he has since occupied. His log cabin was without a door, a quilt being hung up to keep out the cold and wild animals. Mr. Grimes cleared up his entire farm and reared a large family. He is living at the age of 93 years.
Michael Byron, also a native of County Sligo, came in from Scranton with Mr. Grimes, 1850, and located on the place where he still lives. He has been a very industrious and prosperous citizen, and is now said to be the oldest living person in the town.
Bartholomew Mullen, a native of County Mayo, emigrated to America in 1847 and came to Overton in 1851, locating on the farm now occupied by his son, Thomas. He had married Ann Judge, they being the parents of nine children. Mr. Mullen died in 1862, aged 67 years.
James Frawley, a native of County Limerick, joined the "Ridge" settlers in 1851. He had a family of six sons-John, James, Patrick, Michael, Thomas and Timothy, and a daughter, Mary (Mrs. Harry Reagan). His son, Patrick, afterwards occupied the place settled by him. Michael was noted for his strength, being the most powerful man on the "Ridge." He and his brothers, Thomas and Timothy, settled in other parts.
James Shahan, a native of County Limerick, arrived in American in 1842, and came to Overton in 1852, settling on the farm where he spent the rest of his days. After pitching his little log house he made a small clearing and "grubbed among the stumps and stones to raise a little food for the family; worked out much for food or corn for those who had it to spare, but such persons were few."
John Flynn purchased a large tract of land and settled on the John O’Connell place in 1852. His brother, William Flynn, purchased and lived adjoining the Callahan place. After some years the Flynns sold out and moved to Minnesota.
James A. Paine, whose father had purchased for him a large tract of land along the line of the Old Genessee Road, came in about 1850 and caused large improvements to be made. He opened a house of public entertainment for the accommodation of raftsmen on their return trips. After about four years Paine traded properties with Mr. Blackman of Monroe.
Jonathan Camp came from Eastern Bradford in 1853, purchased and occupied a portion of the Paine tract. He had a family of seven stalwart sons----Rueben, Henry, Levi, Matthew, Lucius, George and John. Three, Reuben, Henry and Levi, were soldiers in the Civil War, Henry and Levi losing their lives. In the 60’s Mr. Camp moved to Illinois with his family.
William W. Cahill, born June 19, 1813 in Orange county, N.Y., came to Athens in 1827, where he remained until February, 1853, when he removed to Overton and settled in the wilderness in the back part of the town. His hardships and privations were many. He frequently made trips to Towanda with his ox-team, coming or going after night. Mrs. Cahill, with a pail of butter on her arm, often footed it to Towanda and back the same day. This journey of 32 miles was made alone and the greater part of it through a wilderness. By remitting toil Mr. Cahill cleared up and improved his farm and spent his closing days in comfort. He died December 8, 1893 and is buried in the family plot upon the farm.
James Sheedy, a native of County Limerick, was one of the comers in 1853. He settled and improved the farm now occupied by his son, John, where he died April 30, 1882, aged 61 years.
Timothy Fleming settled the place adjoining Mr. Sheedy in 1853. Here he spent his life in faithful toil and died October 22, 1882, aged 82 years.
Isaac Frear in 1853 settled the place now owned by John Dorsey. After several years he removed from the township.
Loren H. Beagle, another settler in 1853, occupied the place which he afterwards sold to Daniel Lane. He served in the Civil War, after which he took up his residence elsewhere.
Leahy Brothers, Thomas and Patrick, were natives of County Limerick. The former came to the township in 1853, locating at first on the Cusick place and afterwards on the James Frawley farm. He remained in the township only a few years. Patrick came in 1855. He settled and improved the farm now owned by his son, Francis. Here he died September 3, 1888, aged 78 years. These brothers had married sisters of John Flynn. Patrick was a celebrated dancer. When past three score and ten he would take the floor and dance an Irish jig with that expertness which made the young men look on with envy. His son, Thomas says: "After we had settled on the ‘Ridge’ many were the nights I listened to the hideous howls of wolves; deer were so plentiful they had to be chased off the grain, and would come within a short distance of the house, and try titles with the cow for the licking of salt."
The Luces came to the "Ridge" in 1853. William located on the Cusick place, and Jonah, a blacksmith, had a shop near school house No. 3. They were short residents of the town.
John Obourn settled east of the McHale place in 1853. He served in the Civil War and soon after its close removed from the town.
Other ’53 Comers----Patrick Britton located on the place of afterwards Michael Lane; Patrick Gately on the place of Michael Byron, Jr.; William Annis on property of now Thomas Sweeny. The Buttons and Barbers were here probably a year earlier and lived on the Sullivan place. Mr. Cahill says, "They were a worthless gang, whose principal business was to steal timber and manufacture it into boat oars. Whenever they got a little money from the sale of oars they put in a supply of grog and had a big time."
Keefe Brothers, Dennis, Jeremiah and Patrick, natives of County Kerry, settled on the place below and adjoining Mr. Cahill in 1854. All became permanent residents. Jeremiah is still living.
The Lanes ---- John Lane, a native of County Kerry, and sons, Dennis, John and Michael, came to the "Ridge" in 1854. Another son, Daniel, followed some years later. Dennis settled the farm opposite John O’Connell, John on the farm adjoining his brother, Michael on the Britton place and Daniel on the Beagle lace. The father lived with his son, John. Michael removed to Wilkes-Barre and is the only surviving brother.
Patrick McHale, a native of County Mayo, who emigrated to America 1849, located on the farm in 1855, which he improved and where he met a tragic end, November 3, 1903, by being burned to death.
Patrick Cusick, a native of County Limerick, moved to the "Ridge" in 1855 and occupied his farm until 1886, when he sold and moved to Towanda. He is living at the age of 81 years.
Patrick Callahan, a native of County Cabin, came to the township before Mr. Cusick, but was not as early on the "Ridge." He settled next to Mr. Cusick and there lived until his old age.
Daniel Moore came in 1855, settling on the Level Branch, where he lived until the time of his death ---January 14, 1897, aged 69 years.
John McAndrew, a native of County Sligo, settled next to Patrick Gately in 1855. He died August 12, 1859, aged 57 years. In 1855 Owen Gleason also settled on the back part of the "Ridge."
John Mead was one of the earliest settlers on the "Ridge", adjoining Richard Bedford. He sold out and removed West.
The Fredericks----Christian and Philip Frederick about 1855 began an improvement along the old Genessee road a mile or more below Cahill’s. After they left, their log house which was said to be "haunted" went to ruin and decay.
Patrick Dorsey came to the "Ridge" in 1856 and lived on the farm, which he cleared and improved, until the time of his death ---- April 29k 1901, aged 87 years.
John Sullivan, a native of County Carey, emigrated to America in 1836. For some years he lived in Western New York and peddled Yankee notions. His calling clung to him and he was known as "Yankee John." In 1858 he came to Overton, locating three years later on the farm, which he cleared up and where he died in 1877, aged 62 years. His wife was Mary Monahan, born in County Cork. She died in 1876, aged 61 years. Their children were: Katherine (Mrs. John Callahan), Maggie, Mary (Mrs. Thomas Coggins), John F., Ellen and Cornelius J. John was for many years a prominent and successful teacher and writing master. Maggie lives with her brother, Cornelius, in Towanda.
Other Ridge Settlers from 1856 were: Matthew Fogerty, Michael Hannon, Patrick and Timothy Collins, Anthony Mullany, John Murray, James Purcell, Richard Cunningham, William Clark, Joe Barns, James Fleming, Nathaniel and Silas Bailey.
The most of the Irish families settling in Overton were from the South of Ireland. When they began their battle with the wild woods, they were poor men, but through industry and economy they carved out fine farms, erected good houses and barns, and have been Overton’s best money-making citizens. While many of these Irishmen were without an education, they saw to it that their children were not neglected in this respect, always taking a deep interest in the public schools, from which many of their sons and daughters have gone forth as teachers and other callings in professional life.
Inhabitants in 1853.
The first assessment for Overton, made by Gideon
S. Boyles, assessor, and returned December 16, 1853, contained the following
|William Annis||Amasa Heverly||James Molyneux|
|E. I. Beagle||Christian Heverly||John Molyneux|
|Loren H. Beagle||Daniel Heverly||Bartholomew Mullen|
|Franklin Bedford||Daniel Heverly, Jr.||Jacob Musselman|
|Gideon S. Boyles||Eli Heverly||John Obourn|
|Patrick Britton||Henry Heverly, lst||Daniel O’Neill|
|Delos Button||Henry Heverly, 2nd||James A. Paine|
|James Button||Jacob Heverly||Josiah Rinebold|
|Osden Button||Jacob Heverly, 2nd||Lewis Rinebold|
|Michael Byron||James Heverly||Reuben Rinebold|
|Wm. W. Cahill||John Heverly||Michael Ronan|
|Patrick Calahan||Orlando Heverly||Stephen Ruth|
|Jonathan Camp||Geo. W. Hottenstein||James Shahan|
|Orange Chase||Jacob Hottenstein||Henry Sherman|
|Chas. Dieffenbaugh||Dennis Lane||Peter Sherman|
|Joseph Fawcett||John Lane||James Sheedy|
|William Fawcett||Thomas Leahy||Isaac Streevy|
|Timothy Fleming||David Luce||Jacob Streevy|
|James Frawley||Jonah Luce||John Streevy|
|Isaac Frear||Stephen Luce||Thomas Streevy|
|John Flynn||William Luce||Thomas Sweeny|
|William Flynn||Cornelius Maloney||Hiram Waltman|
|Patrick Gately||Edward McGovern||William Waltman|
|Patrick Gleason||John McGovern||Andrew Wilt|
|Thomas Grimes||Owen McCann|
The assessor’s report also contains these facts: Total value real estate, $16,456; personal property, $2,205; money at interest, $300; greatest valuation of any one person --- Edward McGovern being $1,778, which included $300 at interest; Jacob Heverly stood second on the list, his valuation being $940.