Three Hundred and Sixty-Four Years of My Overby Family in Virginia



Overview Map of the area of Petersburg and Northern present day Dinwiddie County, Virginia

























Inset map of “Old Town” Petersburg, Virginia  


























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Fort Henry was built in 1645 by order of the House of Burgesses. It marked the 1646 treaty frontier between the white settlers and the Native Americans following the Second Anglo-Powhatan War. It was situated near the Appomattoc Indian tribe.


In 1645, the Virginia Colony built Fort Henry at the falls, a short distance east of Ronhorak. Following the treaty of 1646, and until 1691, this fort marked the legal frontier of white settlement.


Fort Henry was an English frontier fort in 17th century colonial Virginia near the falls of the Appomattox River. Its exact location has been debated, but the most popular one (marked by Virginia Historical Marker QA-6) is on a bluff about four blocks north of the corner of W. Washington and N. South Streets in modern-day Petersburg, Virginia.


Fort Henry also served as a starting point for subsequent English westward exploration. In 1650, an Appomattoc guide called Pyancha took a party led by Abraham Wood beyond the headwaters of the river.


Nicholas Overbury 1628-1690 -


Nicholas Overbury immigrated to America the year after his father died. Our Nicholas came to Virginia in 1654 as a “headright” for Colonel Abraham Wood who was a merchant, explorer and land trader. Based on ship records from Bristol, England, the port from which Nicholas sailed, he was not indentured or apprenticed like most other emigrants. Nicholas was employed in some capacity by Colonel Wood who was well known by the Overbury family.


Abraham Wood operated his trading business from Fort Henry which was built in 1645 for the defense of the citizens on the south side of the James River. It was on a bluff near the falls not far from where the Appomattox River enters the James River. The garrison had 45 soldiers from the surrounding counties and Abraham Wood was placed in command. The Fort and 600 acres were granted to Abraham Wood. The area is what is now called Petersburg, Virginia, named for Peter Jones who married Woods step-daughter. From this little city of Fort Henry, Colonel Wood began exploratory journeys with pack trains of 50-100 horses loaded with trinkets, blankets and guns. In the year, 1650, he went on expeditions to the west and south with Edward Bland. In 1652, by order of the Assembly, Abraham Wood (then a Major) was granted the right to discover and trade for 14 years, places where no Englishman had ever been.

By the year 1654, our ancestor Nicholas Overby, Sr., had been brought from England by Abraham Wood to help him with his growing business interests. By 1675, Wood had expanded his business journeys over the Great Smokies and into the powerful Cherokee Nation.

There are no records of our Nicholas Overby, Sr. owning any land of his own between 1654 and 1680. It is assumed that he traveled a lot and spent all these years helping Colonel Wood. He provided skilled labor and intelligence for the development of the trading empire and the management of the land holdings.


Interesting that later, Abraham Wood’s Great-Great-Granddaughter, Ann Cousins, married the Great-Grandson of Nicholas Overby the immigrant. Through the Cousins and Archer line, Abraham Wood is my 9th Great-Grandfather.


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Our Nicholas Overby, Sr., was the father of a son born about 1659 in Virginia. The son was called Nicholas "ye younger" and "ye son". I shall call him Nicholas, Junior.

In 1685, our Nicholas, Sr. purchased a developed tract of land for his son Nicholas, Jr. with all houses, edifices, buildings, orchards, gardens, forests and all profit on this same tract of land and plantation. (Henrico Co., VA Deeds, 1677-1692) This frontier land was an area that was administered by Charles City County, VA, but was formed into Prince George Co., VA in 1705. The land was probably near Fort Henry, just south of the Appomattox River, in what was called Bristol Parish. The land was a wedding gift to Nicholas Overby, Jr. Witnesses to the deed were Dysons, who lived near the site of Woods Church, five miles north of Petersburg, Virginia. It is considered the "Mother Church" of Bristol Parish and was named for Abraham Wood. Our Nicholas Overby’s son (Jr.) learned well from his father and from Colonel Wood and by the year 1690, (Jr.) was earning more land for himself, by transporting his own "headrights" from England and taking land grants for their emigration.

There were no further records of our Nicholas Overby, Sr. after 1690 and I assume he died shortly after 1690, in Bristol Parish, Virginia (originally part of Charles City County), somewhere between the Appomattox River and the town of Petersburg, VA, not far from Fort Henry.




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Nicholas Overby “Ye Younger” 1659 - 1739



[Comment: Prince George County was created from Charles City County in 1703, so this land was originally in Charles City County, but became part of the new Prince George County when the latter was created in 1703. Most of Bristol Parish later fell into Dinwiddie County when it was created in 1752.]


Nicholas Overbee the Younger, 1659 - 1739 "Nicholas Overbee the Younger, 323 Acres, Bristoll Pish., Chas. City Co., at ir bear Rahowick. Bounded: at a corner of the lands late of Col Wood which also is a corner of the lands late of Abraham Jones, and thence along the sd. Jones marked line E. … to a pine by the side of a run of the lines of Henry Wall, crossing that Br., then along that line E. … where it falls upon one of the lines of the land late of Col. Wood aforesd, then along that line N.E. … The sd. Land was due by Trans. of 7 psons., 21 April 1690."


Thus we learn from the above, and the deeds at the above URL, that Nicholas Overby was living in Bristol Parish as early as 1690, that his neighbors were Henry Wall, Ralph Jackson, and Richard Jones, and that his land was somewhere on a Rohoick or Rohowicke branch, creek. This is Rohoic Creek south of the Appomattox by present Central State Hospital and crossed by Interstate 85.



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The “Chain’s Breadth” tract.


In 1714 one Nicholas Overby patented 964 acres in what is now Dinwiddie County Virginia. That’s 1.5 square miles of land, a good sized tract, but what sets it apart is its shape. It was two independent 400 acre parcels connected by a strip of land 3 miles long that was one chain (66feet) wide.  I would speculate that his intention was to own a road from one parcel to the other. This is probably Nicholas Ye Younger as his son Nicholas III was only 20 years old in 1714. Nicholas “Ye Younger” already owned land very close and probably adjacent to the eastern parcel of this 964 acres.


It appears that portions of this property were inherited by Nicholas III 194-1740, the son of Nicholas “Ye Younger”.


Later, in 1746 & 1783 Nicholas “Ye Younger” Overby’s grandsons, James and Jeremiah, (sons of Nicholas III) had a patent and a grant for land adjacent to the western parcel of the “Chain’s Breadth” tract, and Overby’s Chain’s Breadth, is referenced in the property description of the 1783 grant.







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Jeremiah Overby 1725-1795 and his son John Overby 1754-1820


A portion of this same property is later inherited by John Overby, and at his death 150 acres is divided among his children including my 3rd Great-Grandfather Robert Overby. Robert Overby paid taxes on his inherited 30 acres on Georges Branch in Dinwiddie County from 1820 to 1824, when he obviously sold the 30 acres as he paid taxes on it no more. Robert was married in Chesterfield County in 1817 and the tax record for the 30 acres in Dinwiddie list his place of residence as Chesterfield.


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Robert Overby 1784-1862, is the father of William Epps Overby and is buried at Blandford Cemetery.

In the census years 1830,40,50,and 1860 he is living in Petersburg, South Census Ward.

In 1817 he married Mary “Polly” Spinner in Chesterfield County. In the 1850 and 1860 census he is in the same neighborhood as Joseph Spinner, and several families of Williamson. His son William Epps Overby married Elizabeth Green Williamson in 1837 in Petersburg, VA. The exact location of Robert’s home in Petersburg is UN-known.


Robert in 1850 Census Petersburg, VA


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At this time William Epps Overby and family are living in Raleigh, NC, they returned to Petersburg prior to the 1860 Census.     Blandford Cemetery gave site.











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William Epps Overby 1818-1863


William and family are living on Plum Street in Petersburg by the 1860 Census and Elizabeth his wife continues to live there until her death in 1879. William and Elizabeth’s son James is still there in the 1880 Census and James’ daughter Lula, who married her cousin Louis, the son of David Overby, lived out their lives in the same general area.   Family Bible  Blandford Cemetery




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David Overby 1851-1931 


David Overby, son of William Epps Overby, married Mary Elizabeth Moore in 1869 and in the 1870 Census they are living in Petersburg. In the 1880 Census they are in Petersburg and Mary’s mother, Elizabeth Moore is living with them. In 1882 they are living on Gilliam Street, as per the city directory, and in the W E Overby Bible there is a tax receipt which shows David living on Gilliam Street and paying personal and real estate property taxes.


Their Gilliam Street home is only a few hundred feet from the home of his mother and brother James on Plum Street, and probably less than two miles from the home of his Grandmother Rhoda Williamson, who is shown in the City directory as living on Ettrick Street.


Text Box: AIs it coincidence that Robert Overby (my 3rd G-Grandfather) and his descendants are living within a few hundred yards of the site of Fort Henry and the Abraham Wood/Peter Jones trading post?         Or did Robert also inherit property in the area? Nicholas “Ye Younger” Overby definitely owned property in the 1600s near the home of Robert in Petersburg where he lived the rest of his life after marrying in 1817. There is no record of property inheritance by Robert in Petersburg, but it is interesting that he and his descendants lived within a few hundred yards of the site where Nicholas “The Immigrant” lived and worked 200 years earlier. Did Robert even know that his 3rd Great-Grandfather had been there?

Through the generations, many other siblings of my line of Overby Ancestors remained in the same general area of Petersburg and others migrated. The children of Nicholas “Ye Younger” and Nicholas III are found in Dinwiddie, Brunswick, Mecklenburg, and Halifax Counties Virginia. And their descendants have migrated throughout the US. Many of the earlier migrations were to NC, KY, TN, AK, and GA.



Maps (google street view) of the Plum Street and Gilliam Street homes of David Overby and his parents and siblings.


Gilliam Street, photo is of one of 4 homes now on this street. It is not known if this was the home of David Overby, but is looks as if it was there in the 1800s.

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Plum Street, there are several period homes on this street, the one pictured here was built in 1830, so it was there at the time the Overbys lived on Plum Street.


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David Overby and wife Mary E. Moore moved to Lunenburg County, Virginia in the 1880s, after 1882 and before 1885. Mary had previously lived in Lunenburg, probably born there. This is probably why the move was made.


Lunenburg County home sites of David Overby are shown at




Mary died in Lunenburg circa 1885. David remarried to Sallie Ann Skinner, they are the parents of my

Grandfather James Washington Overby 1894-1974. James lived his entire life in Lunenburg making his family home on a portion of the 200 acre tract that his father David purchased as his final home site.



I currently live in the family home built by James Washington Overby, my maternal Grandfather.      Ancestral Home



For information on the Ancestors of Nicholas Overby “The Immigrant” visit another 170 years of the Overby Family in England -




Prepared by David Arthur – an 8th Great-Grandson of Nicholas Overby “The Immigrant”

August 30th, 2018