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John Peyton Overton – summary of research (Dec. 4, 1988)

By most accounts, John Peyton Overton was born in Green County, Kentucky, on August 29, 1840. His parents are unknown, and in fact nothing is known of his childhood, how and where he was raised, what schooling he received, or what occupation he held during his youth. He may have had two brothers Allen J. and Benjamin Overton who moved to Missouri in the 1850’s, but this is just speculation at this point.

The earliest record we have of John Peyton Overton was on the day that he enlisted in the United States Cavalry go serve in the Civil War for the Union Cause. This was on Sept. 24, 1863. He was described as being five feet eleven inches tall, with gray eyes, and red hair, and a fair complexion. At that time he was a laborer residing in Baltimore, Maryland. He joined Company G. of the Third Regiment of Maryland Cavalry. He was immediately commissioned as a Sergeant.

Military service records show the John P. Overton was active with his company for about a year, serving as a sergeant, and later as 1st Sergeant. Then on August 2nd 1864 he fell ill in New Orleans where his company was based, and he was hospitalized for two months. Then he was transferred to Company H. and reduced in rank to a private. He remained with this company until the end of the war, and was mustered out Sept 7, 1865 at Vicksburg, Mississippi.

Following the service John moved to Deer Park, Maryland where he began working as a roadman for the B&O (Baltimore and Ohio) Railroad. His work took him into Cumberland which was then in the same county. Here he came into contact with the family of James and Catherine Lynch who were a railroad family. He fell in love with Catherine’s daughter Rosa Ann Dolan, and they were married on May 6, 1866. In 1867 John and Rosa, together with James and Catherine Lynch, followed the tracks west to Ritchie County, West Virginia, and settled in Murphy, where the Lynches purchased a farm and built a home. John settled there as well and never left except to change homes. In various census records from 1870 to 1900, John was listed as a carpenter, railroad laborer, or engineer.

In about 1875 James Dolan and his family settled near John, and by 1890 they were next door neighbors. This family was from Cumberland and might have been close relatives of Rosa. John Overton and James Dolan were close friends. They were both Republicans in a Democratic District. Once while applying for his pension, John remarked that he was having a difficult time finding people who would serve as a character witness for his claim because everyone was a democrat except him and James Dolan, and the others didn’t want him to get any money because of it.

All ten of the children of John and Rosa were born in Ritchie County. In 1906 the family moved to Parkersburg in Wood County, and settled at 1614 Nineteenth Street, where they lived for the remainder of their lives. They were members of St Xavier’s Catholic Church. On May 6, 1916, John and Rosa celebrated their 50th Wedding Anniversary. Two moths later John Peyton Overton passed away at his home, on July 21, 1916. Rosa, who had been ill for some time died two weeks later on Aug. 30. 1916.

Submitted by Mary E. Petty, BA (History)
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Originally written by James W. Petty, AG, CALS, 12/04/1988)

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