Elijah Overman was born in South
Carolina and migrated to Hillsboro, Ohio, where he operated a grist mill and
owned a general store. He settled in Villisca, Iowa in 1858.
It was in Hillsboro that Elijah
met and married young Rebecca Spargur, whose father, Joseph Wolfesbarger, had
built the grist mill and Rebecca inherited as her share of her father's estate.
In the 1840's and 1850'd, when the
westward movement was growing, Mr. Overman attended a grand lodge meeting of
Ohio Masons. It was there that he met a Mr. Perkins, who was then vice president
of the Burlington & Missouri River Railroad. In conversation with Perkins,
Overman related that he had an opportunity to sell his grist mill, store and
belongings, and was considering doing so that he might move to western Iowa.
It was his understanding that the
railroad would extend to the Missouri River, and Overman suggested to Perkins
that if the railroad were built west from Albia, where it was at that time
completed, to Kanesville (Council Bluffs), the road would go through or near the
town of Milford (Grant).
Mr. Perkins advised Elijah Overman that
the railroad would not go anywhere near the town of Milford, but would drop
southward to The Forks of the Nodaway Rivers. He also said that to Overman
should buy all of the railroad lands he could handle near the junctions of the
Nodaway Rivers, and in doing so he would surely hit upon the spot where the town
would be built.
Overman liked the idea of buying the railroad
lands at a cheap price, as well as government land. He could build a store and
perhaps even a grist mill and do exactly as he had done in Ohio. So it was that
early in the year 1858, Elijah and Rebecca Overman rigged their wagon, loaded in
their large family, and came across the prairies and rivers to the spot that is
Elijah did as he was advised by Perkins
to do, for he bought most of the land from the north side of the square for two
miles. He built a large house at the north end of Third Avenue, which had a huge
living room and fireplace, for many of the early chuch services held in the
Overman home. After the services on Sundays, the tables were put together,
and the baskets and boxes of food that were brought by the pioneers, were eaten
Elijah Overman was a member of
The Friends back in Ohio, but was taken from the rolls of that organization when
he married outside the Society. He was a very broadminded man religiously and
opened his home to and and every denomination.
Elijah was appointed the first
postmaster at Villisca by Abraham Lincoln, and his daughter, Amy Overman, was
appointed Deputy Postmistress. It was she that distributed mail all during the
Civil War until 1869, when she married David Stipe. Mr. Stipe met Miss Overman
at the postoffice window after returning injured from the Civil War.
Elijah and Rebecca Over were the
parents of thirteen children, all of whom eventually settled in or near
Villisca, as did many of the Spargurs.
Elijah Overman passed away
December 20, 1875 and Rebecca passed away in December, 1905 at the age of 87
years, 10 months and 5 days. At the time of her passing she was survived by six
of her children: Asa, Aaron, Tom, and Borter Overman, Mrs. C. H. Hall and Mrs.
David Stipe, 40 grandchildren, 65 great-grandchildren and one great-great