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Below is a family biography included in Portrait and Biographical Record of Berrien and Cass Counties, Michigan published by Biographical Publishing Company in 1893.  These biographies are valuable for genealogy research in discovering missing ancestors or filling in the details of a family tree. Family biographies often include far more information than can be found in a census record or obituary.  Details will vary with each biography but will often include the date and place of birth, parent names including mothers' maiden name, name of wife including maiden name, her parents' names, name of children (including spouses if married), former places of residence, occupation details, military service, church and social organization affiliations, and more.  There are often ancestry details included that cannot be found in any other type of genealogical record.

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IRA OVERACKER. It is in the fruit industry that the prosperity of Berrien County finds its impetus. No location on the continent excels that of southwestern Michigan for the encouragement offered to fruit-growers in supplying the means for their success. With a constant increase of population, the incentives to industry and rewards open to enterprise exist here to a degree not exceeded by any portion of the United States. It is not strange, therefore, that a large number of judicious and ambitious men have settled here for the purpose of developing fine fruit farms, and have met with flattering success.

On section 9, St. Joseph Township, lies a fruit farm belonging to Mr. Overacker and consisting of twenty-six and one-half acres, of which twenty-three acres are devoted to the cultivation of fruit. Here he raises apples, pears, grapes, peaches and every variety of berries, shipping his products to the principal markets, where they find a ready sale at fair prices. Our subject is a native of New York State and was born in Rensselaer County April 10, 1816. The family of which he is a member originated in Germany and was represented in America during the early period of the history of the United States.

The paternal grandfather of our subject, John Wendell Overacker, was born in Dutchess County, N. Y., and at the age of nineteen enlisted in the Revolutionary War, where he did valiant service in defense of the Colonies. He married Miss Anna Wethawax, and they became the parents of seven children. Of their four sons, Michael was the eldest. He was born in Dutchess County, N. Y., and was reared to manhood in Rensselaer County the same State. During the War of 1812 he enlisted in the ranks and served with valor and fidelity in the cause of the United States. He married Miss Mary Hoffman, who was born in Rhinebeck, Dutchess County, N. Y., being one in a family of seven children.

After his marriage Michael Overacker located in Rensselaer County, N. Y., where his son, our subject, was born April 10, 1816. He afterward made his home in Otsego County, whence he removed to Tompkins County, and there resided until his death in 1860. He and his wife were the parents of seven children, six of whom grew to maturity, and three are now living, viz.: Albert W., a farmer residing in Tompkins County, N. Y.; Archibald D., who resides on the old homestead in New York; and Ira, our subject. The deceased are: Alida, who died in girlhood; Angeline, who married Francis Van Pelt, and died in Tompkins County, where her husband was engaged in farming; Jacob, who died in Tompkins County; and Eliza, who was called hence at the age of two years. The father of this family, through industry, and notwithstanding the fact that he was handicapped by poverty and lack of education, succeeded in accumulating a large and valuable property. He was a Whig in his political relations and was a man of note in his community.

An infant when taken by his parents to Otsego County, N. Y., our subject was six years of age when he accompanied the family to Tompkins County, the same State, and his education was received in the common schools. In 1847 he came West and, being pleased with the soil and climate of northern Illinois, he purchased four hundred acres in Ogle County, buying the property of the Government. After he had spent two years alone upon the place, he took unto himself a wife, being married October 25, 1849, to Miss Anna Maria Dusonberry, a native of Tompkins County, N. Y. She is a lady of unusual intelligence, and taught eighteen terms of school in Wayne County, N. Y., and Kane and Ogle Counties, Ill. At the age of only sixteen she commenced to teach, and occupied a position in the public schools of Elgin when seventeen. It was at that age that she accompanied her brother, Cornelius, to Illinois and settled in Ogle County, remaining there until her marriage.

In this connection a brief mention of the ancestors of Mrs. Overacker will not be amiss. Her father, David Dusenberry, was born in Sand Lake, Rensselaer County, N. Y., September 18, 1791. Her grandfather, Jacob Dusenberry, was likewise a native of that county, and married Anna Sweltland, by whom he had seven children. David, upon attaining to manhood, married Miss Ann Andrus; her father, Benjamin, was a native of Hartford Count\’, Conn., and as a partial compensation for his services in the Revolution he was a pensioner of the Government for a number of years. Mr. Dusenberry was a minister in the Baptist Church and also a teacher for many years prior to his death, which occurred July 27, 1842. His wife parsed away November 20, 1875, after having become the mother of six children.

For eighteen years after his marriage, the subject of this sketch resided in Ogle County, Ill. Upon disposing of his landed interests there he came to Michigan, and in Berrien County purchased a ten acre fruit farm on the lake shore, where he made his home for nine years. In May of 1877 he came to his present farm, where he has since engaged in the occupation of a fruit-grower. A Republican in his political views, while in Ogle County, Ill., he held the offices of Supervisor of the township, Trustee and County Commissioner, and has aided the progress of the community in every way possible.

Childless themselves, Mr. Overacker and his estimable wife have opened their hearts and home to four children, upon whom they have bestowed the most careful training and to whose welfare they are tenderly devoted. These adopted children are: George Crane, who now resides in Arkansas; Christine Fretts, a nurse residing in Chicago; Lillie Smith, who married Henry Kennedy and lives in South Dakota; and Fred H. Barbour, who was taken into Mr. Overacker’s home when an infant of four weeks, and is now superintendent of an orange grove in Arizona.

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This family biography is one of numerous biographies included in the Portrait and Biographical Record of Berrien and Cass Counties, Michigan published in 1893. 

View additional Berrien County, Michigan family biographies here: Berrien County, Michigan Biographies

View a map of 1911 Berrien County, Michigan here: Berrien County Michigan Map

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