MRS. MARY OVERFELT

Surnames: PYLE, LAIRD, GORDON, GOODWIN, HARRISON, KIMBALL, AYERS, McCRACKEN, LENZ, HATCH, LOCKE, HANNA, EASTERDAY, McKEE, WOOD

  A splendid example of what a far-seeing, progressive and industrious woman may accomplish, when thrown upon her own resources, is furnished in the life and activities of Mrs. Mary Overfelt, the highly esteemed pioneer, who was born in Illinois about thirty miles from Chicago, on October 26, 1839.  Her grandfather, Edward G. Pyle, was a native of Virginia, and one of the Revolutionary patriots who also participated in the War of 1812.  He moved to Kentucky, where Thomas Pyle, the father of our subject, was born in 1810.  Later the family migrated to Indiana, then to Illinois, and afterwards to Missouri, and in all their adventures they were sturdy frontiersmen.  In 1846 Edward Pyle brought his wife, three sons and three daughters, with two sons-in-law, to California, and they were members of what was known as the Pyle-Whiteman party, consisting of Mr. and Mrs. Whiteman, Mr. and Mrs. Laird, Mary Pyle, who later became Mrs. Gordon, and Thomas, Edward and John Pyle.

  Thomas Pyle had married Miss Elizabeth Goodwin, who was born in 1812, and was a member of a family that came from Ohio, where her Grandfather Goodwin was a magistrate in an early day.  Thomas Pyle was accompanied by his wife and family, which consisted of four children: Edward G. who lived until February 10, 1915; Mary, Mrs. Overfelt; William Henry, who died on February 28, 1912; John Francis, who passed away on July 8, 1921.  Mary Pyle was then a girl of seven years, so that the events of that memorable trip are stamped indelibly on her mind.

  On October 26, the Pyle-Whiteman party arrived at Sacramento and located at Sutter's Fort, one and a half miles from the old town, where they remained over the winter, while Thomas Pyle went out to help subdue the Spaniards under General Fremont.  He returned to his family at Sutter's Fort early in the spring of '47, and then the Pyle family went to the Mokelumne River, thence to the Stanislaus River, where they wintered in Stanislaus County.  Two and a half years were spent on the Tuolumne River and in the spring of 1850 they settled in Santa Clara County.  Thomas Pyle had come here in the fall of '49 and bought a ranch of some 500 acres, but when it was surveyed, finally, it lacked ten acres of that area.  He devoted this land to raising garden truck, which sold readily in the town, and stock raising.  After the death of Grandmother Pyle, Grandfather Pyle made his home with his son Thomas. He had come to this county at an early day and had purchased some lots when  San Jose was plotted.  He had spent a short time at the mines, but preferred the life of a rancher, as a surer way to wealth.

  Mary Pyle attended the Berryessa school, where she studied, first under Mr. Harrison and then under Mr. Kimball, and later she attended the Hammond private school in San Jose.  She remained on the home ranch until December 27, 1854, when she was married to William C. Overfelt, a native of Virginia, where he was born in April, 1827.  His father, Michael Overfelt, was born September 25, 1780, and died on March 12, 1864, and his mother, before her marriage on October 10, 1805, was Miss Polly Ayers.  William Overfelt came to California from Missouri in 1849 and settled at first at Placerville, where he mined.  He then came to the Penetencia Creek district and bought 160 acres, where he raised stock and grain, but sold this ranch, being afraid that he would lose it through a dispute over the old Spanish title.  About 1858 he moved to the old Pyle ranch, his wife's part of the estate being about seventy acres, and he also purchased the portion of his brother-in-law, Edward Pyle, thereby coming to own over 100 acres.  Later, with Mr. McCracken, he purchased some 300 acres of land on which Los Gatos now stands.

  Mr. Overfelt passed away May 26, 1876, the honored father of five children, then living.  The children born to Mr. and Mrs. Overfelt are: William Elijah died at the age of eighteen months; Charles Franklin resides in San Jose with his wife, formerly Rose Lenz, and their two children, Dorothy and Harold; John Thomas died at eight years, and Christopher, while in infancy; Elizabeth has become Mrs. Wm. D. Hatch and lives on North Thirteenth Street, San Jose; she is the mother of two daughters--Veva B., Mrs. Frank S. Locke, and Leah, Mrs. Jay Hanna; Edward Jackson lives on the home ranch; Martha E., Mrs. F. S. Easterday, died on August 6, 1915; Mildred L., for a number of years a teacher in the public schools of the state, is at home.

  Directly after her husband's death, Mrs. Overfelt, carrying out the plans made by herself and husband prior to his death, built the home in which she now lives at the corner of Jackson and McKee roads, and moved into it in 1877, dispensing there a generous Californian hospitality to her many friends.  William Overfelt, with Joseph McKee, were the three men who first secured the first free public school in the county, east of San Jose, and organized the Pala district, Mr. Overfelt being one of the trustees for many years.  During his lifetime he sought to do his duty as a citizen under the banners of the Democratic party.  Mrs. Overfelt is independent in her views and votes for the best men and measures, regardless of party lines.  Her two sons, Charles F. and E. Jackson Overfelt, are well known and successful ranchers of the valley, where they also have achieved prominence as  breeders of Percheron and Belgian draft horses, and at one time they had five prize stallions.

Transcribed by Joseph Kral, from Eugene T. Sawyers' History of Santa Clara County,California,  published by Historic Record Co. , 1922. page 387

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