Archive for Thursday, September 22, 2011

Overbrook celebrates 125th anniversary at annual festival

September 22, 2011

During the fifth annual Santa Fe Trail Festival, people gathered inside the main tent to rejoice over a special birthday. The Searchlight and Betterment Committee baked hundreds of cupcakes, and townspeople sang “Happy Birthday” to show their pride in celebrating the 125th birthday of their town, Overbrook.

In the middle of the celebration sat Overbrook’s Grand Marshals, Doris Marshall and Allene Hesseltine. The women are sisters whose roots began in the town.

“It was a wonderful little town. We didn’t have a lot of things to do, but we kept busy,” Marshall said.

Hesseltine and Marshall grew up watching Overbrook evolve. They saw businesses open and close and watched the town change just as the times did.

“One of the things that I was pleased with is when (Overbrook) got streetlights, because when we were growing up we didn’t have streetlights. When I heard that I remembered (my friend and I would) walk a block together and then we’d both run home as fast as we could,” Hesseltine said.

Hesseltine and Marshall said even with the changed times they have enjoyed their time in Overbrook and it was still a great place to live.

“It hasn’t gone downhill like some small towns,” Hesseltine said.

Marshall and Hesseltine are not only residents, though. The sisters also have a historical ancestry to the town; their grandfather was a founder of Overbrook.

“I’m proud of my Coffman heritage,” Hesseltine said.

W.T. Coffman, the sisters’ grandfather, was a farmer. According to Overbrook Police Chief Ed Harrison, Coffman and another farmer named Fairchild got the idea to each give 30 acres to make the town.

“The reason they did that is to get the livestock and grain to market, (with a town nearby) they wouldn’t have to go as far,” Harrison said.

Thus, Overbrook was built upon the Santa Fe trail in 1886.

Since then, the farm town has grown to include schools, churches, banks, shops, restaurants and even a swimming pool.

A water tower in the town reads “Don’t Overlook Overbrook,” which is something Mayor Don Schultz also advises against just passing by.

“(Overbrook) is a very high quality of life with recreation and openness and affordable housing. Our downtown offers businesses…different things that are essential for a community of our size,” Schultz said.

Every person agreed that there was one thing that set Overbrook aside from other communities.

“The people. They’re just so openhearted to do things and help people and participate. If we decide we want to do something you just make a few phone calls and people show up and help and contribute time and money,” Schultz said.

With a population of a little more than 1,000 people, Harrison hopes the community continues to thrive.

“We’re still a growing community. We’re still here after 125 years; it’s a good thing. I think our community has a bright future,” Harrison said.

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