Levi D. Olvey

One of the earlier families of Hancock county, noted for their public spirit and, splendid achievement, is the Olvey family. The late Levi D. Olvey, who was so conspicuously identified with the best interests of Hancock county, was a member of this family. This history of this county would be incomplete if mention were not made of the life of Levi D. Olvey, whose life was a succession of splendid endeavor and notable achievement. Levi D. Olvey was a native of Hancock county, born in Green township, August 20, 1840, the son of Enoch and Martha (Denny) Olvey, both of whom were natives of North Carolina.

Enoch Olvey came to Hancock county at a very early day and located in the same section, part of which forms the home of the late Levi D. Olvey. Enoch Olvey was a self-made man. In spite of the lack of brilliant education, he forged ahead with an indomitable spirit and made a splendid success. He was a devout and charitable man. Enoch Olvey was assisted by a splendid helpmate, he having married Martha Denny, daughter of James and Fannie Denny, before coming to Hancock county. On his arrival in Hancock county he first entered land in Vernon township, which he later sold and bought the farm which his father-in-law had entered in Green township. This farm is now part of the farm owned by Mrs. Levi D. Olvey. Enoch Olvey improved his place in many ways. He built a substantial house and erected other buildings as they became necessary. He was known as a substantial citizen in all respects. A child born to Mr. and Mrs. Enoch Olvey was the first person to be buried in the cemetery on the farm, which has since become a public burial ground. Enoch Olvey and wife were members of the "Hardshell" Baptist church during their lifetime, in which they took much interest. To them were born the following children, Diana, Jane, Elizabeth, Ransome, who served in the Civil War; Noah, Nancy, Sarah Ann, Levi D., Lavinna, Jasper and four others who died in infancy. Mr. and Mrs. Enoch Olvey passed the remainder of their lives in Hancock county, and they established a name for good citizenship, and were of the best type of pioneers.

Levi D. Olvey was a man of tireless energy who lived constantly with a purpose. His early training was that of the average farmer's son. He received his education in the schools of his day and made the most of his limited schooling. After leaving school he applied himself to the duties of the farm. About the time of reaching his manhood, the Civil War had engulfed the nation and young Levi Olvey enlisted for service in Company B, Twelfth Regiment, Indiana Volunteer Infantry, and gave two years in the defense of the country. At the end of his military service he returned home somewhat broken in health. He went West about the time the Union Pacific railroad was being started and was present when the golden spike was driven that celebrated the building of the first transcontinental railroad. He secured a contract to furnish cross-ties for this railroad and helped materially in its construction. While in the West he suffered many hardships, at one time being almost frozen to death. He pitched his camp on the plains in the dead of winter and the cold was so terrific his feet were frozen. His condition was so bad the doctors wanted to amputate his legs, but he refused and eventually recovered. He finally returned to Indiana, first buying a farm in Boone county, and later returning to Hancock county, where he applied himself to farming, gradually increasing his acreage until he had more than five hundred and twenty acres. He was a good manager and made a success of his business of farming.

On November 24, 1872, Levi D. Olvey was married to Elizabeth Cauldwell, who was born in Vernon township, January 8, 1844, a daughter of William and Sarah (Crim) Cauldwell, who were natives of Virginia. The Cauldwells were of good sturdy old Virginia stock. David and Hannah (Henton) Cauldwell, the grandparents, were among the earliest settlers in Vernon township, coming from Virginia during the early settlement of this state. The maternal grandparents of Mrs. Levi D. Olvey were John an Elizabeth (Copp) Crim, who were also from Virginia, coming to Wayne county, where they engaged in farming, and where they lived until their death. William Cauldwell and wife lived in Vernon township, where he had entered one hundred and sixty acres of land on coming from Virginia. He made his home in Vernon township until his death. He and his wife were devout and earnest members of the Episcopal church.

The late Levi D. Olvey was noted for his great fund of human sympathy and his great charity. Thirty-one years before his death he became a member of the Friends church. He gave the ground on which the church was built and donated money for the erection of the building. He took pride in this church and in the cemetery, which he also donated. He devoted his own time and money to make them attractive and in the cemetery many of his friends were buried. It was his constant care to see that their last resting place was kept beautiful. In politics, he was a life-long Democrat. Mr. Olvey was called away to his eternal rest on the 22nd of November, 1913, survived by his faithful and living wife and a daughter, Mrs. Fannie L. Andis. Hancock county has had many noble sons, of none of whom she should be more proud that the late Levi D. Olvey.

Fannie L. Olvey was born on November 13, 1878, and was married on August 31, 1899, to George M. Andis. George M. Andis was born in Johnson county, Indiana, June 9, 1871, the son of Isaac and Mary (Myers) Andis. Mr. and Mrs. Andis live with Mrs. Olvey and Mr. Andis is manager of the farm.

Transcribed from History of Hancock County, Indiana, Its People, Industries and Institutions by George J. Richman, B. L., Federal Publishing Co., Indianapolis, Indiana, 1916. Page 1088-1090.

Submitted by Sylvia (Rose) Duda, Laingsburg, MI November 17, 2001.

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Tom & Carolyn Ward / Columbus, Kansas / tcward@columbus-ks.com

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