John R. Overstreet (1819-1876) was born in Cabell County,
Virginia (now West Virginia), in 1819 to Dabney and Jane Rogers Overstreet, but
spent most of his life in Athens, Menard County, Illinois, and vicinity. His
marriage to Rachel Cantrall in 1824 united the Hall-Overstreet group with two
other early Illinois pioneers families: Levi Cantrall and Stephen England, both
of whom settled in the Fancy Creek (Cantrall), area. John R. was listed in 1860
Menard County Census as the keeper of a hotel which was located on the northeast
corner of North Main and E. Jackson Streets in Athens. They had six children:
Vanessa, Louisa J. (Henry Shepherd), James W. (Mrs. Martha Dunlap), Elizabeth A.
(Sebastian Bass Shepherd), Charles, and John T. (Maggie Bramen and Minnie
In 1856, John and Alexander Hale erected a large, two story brick steam-operated
flouring and saw mill in Athens, located across the street to the west of the
Athens Methodist Church, at the corners of Jackson and Mill Streets. The mill
burned in 1897 and was never rebuilt. By 1870, the family had moved to the
Williamsville District near Fancy Creek, Sangamon County, Illinois. John R.
Overstreet died in November 1876. His widow moved back to the Athens area and
was living south of the city with granddaughters in 1880.
Barbara Shannon Cox