Smith County, Texas

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I. Dr. Samuel Overton's Birth Family


Samuel Egbert Overton was born January 22, 1821 to Jesse Overton (1787 - 1856) and Susanna Alexander Overton (1789 - 1858), the third son and sixth of twelve children of this union. Samuel's birth was recorded in the Jesse Overton Bible, which also showed numerous other births, marriages and deaths in this early Tennessee family. Samuel's father Jesse moved his family from North Carolina to Maury County, Tennessee around 1816, having purchased a parcel of land in the Columbia area. Jesse Overton died in 1856 and is buried in the Alexander Cemetery in Spring Hill, Tennessee. Samuel's mother Susanna was born in Lancaster County, South Carolina in 1789 and died in Smith County, Texas in 1858, after moving there with her son John F. Overton. She is buried in the Elkins Cemetery near Omen, Texas.

For a comprehensive data base of the Overton family tree, dating back some seven hundred years, click here.

Ten of the twelve children born to Jesse and Susanna Overton lived into adulthood. Two children, both girls, died in early childhood are buried with their father in Tennessee. Of the seven male children, four eventually found their way to East Texas and all lived in or around the present site of Omen, known as "Old Canton" in the middle part of the nineteenth century. Only one of the five daughters born to Jesse and Susanna migrated to Smith County, Margaret Caroline Overton (1814 - 1891). Margaret married Colonel Joseph L. McKay in Tennessee in 1834, and moved to Smith County, Texas around 1860.


Eleazer Claiborne Overton
(Photo courtesy of Thomas Peebles, Columbia, TN)
The oldest son in Samuel Overton's birth family was his brother Eleazer Claiborne Overton (1812 - 1903) who lived his entire life in Maury County, ultimately buying the 250 acre family farm from the estate of the father, Jesse, for the princely sum of $5,750 around 1860. Fortunately for those of us who study history and genealogy, Eleazer was a prolific writer, often chronicling the status of his family at the time of a letter, as well as opining on the state of the weather, crops and government, all factors he found to be outside his sphere of control. In one particular letter written on March 15, 1880 to a half-cousin, once removed, Mattie Belle Overton, of Clinton, Louisiana, Eleazer gave very specific information to his relative concerning the state of his family. Eleazer was a schoolteacher at heart and his written tales of woe relating to the after-effects of the Civil War serve as excellent history teaching aids.  For a review of the twelve letters written by E. C. Overton to his brother John in Smith County, click here.


John Franklin Overton
(Photo courtesy of Howard Bramlette, Nashville, TN)
The second son in the Jesse and Susanna Overton family was Colonel John Franklin Overton (1816 - 1879). John was the leader of his siblings in terms of moving south to Texas. In fact, the Republic of Texas issued certain land grants to John as early as December 10, 1839 in San Augustine, Texas, several years prior to Texas being granted statehood. John first was married to Mary Jane Jameson in Tennessee and had perhaps two children by her, the first being named John Franklin, Jr. Mary Jane moved to Smith County with John, but died in 1849 and is buried in the Elkins Cemetery.

Mary Drucilla Walker Overton
(Photo courtesy of Howard Bramlette, Nashville, TN)

In 1852, John Franklin Overton married Mary Drucilla Walker (1833 - 1911), daughter of a prominent Tylerite, Beverly Walker. John and Mary Overton had eleven children, several of whom with descendants still living in east Texas. John and Mary's home for almost all of their married life together was located just north of Swinneyville, east of Lake Tyler. A very good description of the old home place was presented in the Fall, 1970 issue (Volume 9, Number 2) of the Chronicles of Smith County, Texas. As noted in the same article, John F. Overton was given his honorary title of Colonel due to his commercial involvement in the supplying of troops for the Confederacy. The city of Overton, Texas takes its name from Colonel John F. Overton.

The fifth son of Jesse and Susanna Overton, and younger brother of Dr. Samuel Overton, was Robert Carter Overton (1827 - 1893). Robert moved to Smith County, Texas long enough to marry Amanda Parlee Pace in 1852, and to serve in Captain John D. Hamilton's Company D, 14th Texas Volunteer Calvary in 1861. This Company was known as the "Rusk Avengers." Robert and Amanda then moved on to Barry County, Missouri, where Robert died in 1893. They had eleven children, two of whom attended medical school. The second son, Benjamin Franklin Overton (1855 - 1940) followed in his uncle Samuel's footsteps and practiced medicine in Omen for many years. Dr. Ben Overton and his wife Sarah Adeline Hays are buried in the Ebenezer Cemetery just south of Arp, Texas. 

Abdon Independence Alexander Overton (1830 - 1913) was the sixth son of Jesse and Susanna Overton, and moved to East Texas, marrying Elizabeth Pace in Rusk County in 1851. Abdon also was a doctor, and moved his practice to Missouri, living the latter part of his adult life near his brother, Robert C. Overton. Some sources suggest that Abdon Overton served in the same Calvary unit as Robert during the Civil War.

The seventh and last son born to Jesse and Susanna Overton was the namesake of the father, Jesse Overton (1832 - 1866). This Jesse Overton attended medical school at University of Pennsylvania, graduating in 1856. He moved to East Texas within a year of graduation, marrying Lucinda Elizabeth White in Rusk County on September 17, 1857. Jesse Overton, MD, practiced medicine in Omen, with his office located very close to his older brother, Dr. Samuel Overton. Jesse served as detail surgeon with Captain Mayo's Camp, Speight's Regiment for only a month from May 1, 1862 until June of that same year. He was discharged in favor of a petition submitted by citizens of the Old Canton and vicinity, wherein an appeal was launched for his return to their medical needs.

Note: ©This work is the property of the East Texas Genealogical Society and J.P. Childress, collectively. It may be used freely by individuals for research, teaching and personal use as long as this statement of availability is included in the text.

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