History

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From the Old Overholt Whiskey to the birthplace of Henry Clay Frick, learn the fascinating history behind West Overton Village

The History of West Overton Village

The story of West Overton Village begins with Henry Overholt, his wife and twelve children emigrating from Bucks County, PA to the Jacobs Creek area of Westmoreland County, PA (West Overton Village) in April, 1800. They settled with other Mennonites who were in the area.

The first business conducted at the village was distilling rye whiskey in a very small distillery built from logs.  By 1803, Henry owned 260 acres along what is now Route 819 between the communities of Scottdale and Mount Pleasant.

Henry’s son, Abraham, was a master weaver who then became an elder in the Mennonite church.  He also began the commercial distilling operation at West Overton which included Old Farm Pure Rye Whiskey.  As the industry continued to develop, the village became completely self-sufficient and there was zero waste as part of the distilling industry.

The Birthplace of Henry Clay Frick

In 1846, Abraham Overholt hired John W. Frick, a Swiss immigrant, to work in the grist mill located in the village.  While working, he met Abraham’s daughter, Elizabeth, and they were married in 1847.  On December 19, 1849 their son, Henry Clay Frick, was born in the springhouse located adjacent to the homestead in which Abraham and Mariah Overholt lived.

Henry Clay Frick spent the first thirty years of his life at West Overton.  It was here that his grandfather taught him the importance of a strong work ethic and the inner workings of business which included shrewd bargaining and the importance of taking risks.  He eventually went into the coal and coke business when he established the H.C. Frick Coke Company in Scottdale and became one of the largest coke producers in the country.

Partnering with Andrew Carnegie, he eventually led the Carnegie Steel Industry as a result of the business partnership that evolved out of Carnegie’s needs to purchase coke.

This business partnership would eventually end and Frick and Carnegie became bitter enemies.

Henry Clay Frick passed away in 1919 and left his fortune to his daughter, Helen Clay Frick. She purchased West Overton as a way to memorialize her father.

West Overton Today

Today, West Overton Village consists of the remaining eighteen buildings. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

5 comments to History

  • tina quay  says:

    Henrich “henry Overhold” Oberholtzer is my 6th great grand uncle and one day I would like to come out and see this place that he and the family started.. I just found out about it through ancestory.com.. thank you for keeping it so well.

  • [...] “The story of West Overton Village begins with Henry Overholt, his wife and twelve children emigrating from Bucks County, PA to the Jacobs Creek area of Westmoreland County, PA (West Overton Village) in April, 1800. They settled with other Mennonites who were in the area. The first business conducted at the village was distilling rye whiskey in a very small distillery built from logs.  By 1803, Henry owned 260 acres along what is now Route 819 between the communities of Scottdale and Mount Pleasant.” - West Overton Village [...]

  • Kent & Marsha Smith  says:

    Jessica. What can I say about our visit to the museum! We really enjoyed being guided by Aaron. He was very knowlegdable and answered questions that we had. We really liked being able to enter the various rooms in the house. You can seldom do that in a museum setting. It made you feel closer to the family. We definitely will be back to do some more searching. You mentioned that perhaps you might have info on the family that came to Louth Twsp.in Niagara.If this is available it would be a great help to me in researching my husband’s family connection to West Overton. It was lovely to meet you and be able to put a voice on the phone witha person. Thanks again and hope to hear from you soon. Sincerely Marsha Smith

  • West Overton Barn Wedding Photos | Scottdale, PA  says:

    […] “The story of West Overton Barn begins with Henry Overholt, his wife and twelve children emigrating from Bucks County, PA to the Jacobs Creek area of Westmoreland County, PA (West Overton Village) in April, 1800. They settled with other Mennonites who were in the area. The first business conducted at the village was distilling rye whiskey in a very small distillery built from logs.  By 1803, Henry owned 260 acres along what is now Route 819 between the communities of Scottdale and Mount Pleasant.” - West Overton Village […]

  • Historic Places – West Overton Village | rmb-design  says:

    […] an abbreviated history of West Overton Village here which I will further abbreviate: West Overton began as a farm in 1800 and evolved into a very […]

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