June 3, 2002
Tonight I ran across the following in a book at the Odebolt Library. In light of Odebolt's upcoming Quasquicentennial June 14 through 16, I thought it was worth sharing. It sheds more light on the on-going saga of how Odebolt got its name.
It is taken from the book "Our Heritage, A History of Ida County", Editor in Chief, Bruce L. Godbersen; Associate Editors, Carl Johnson, Stacy Richardson; published by Midwest Industries, Inc., Ida Grove, Iowa, 1977.
(Chapter 9, page 4, column 2)
Whether it was for social, religious , political or economic reasons, the flood of pioneers into Iowa continued during the 1850's. Among them were Ida County's first settlers, Ed Smith, Michael Townsley, Samuel King and a Frenchman named O'debo.
(Chapter 9, page 6, column 2, quoting from Giles Moorehead's Historical
Collections of Ida County)
"My father (John Moorehead) first came in the summer of 1855...The Hawthorn and Smith families were here and some trappers and hunters had 'dugouts' along the river banks."
"An old Frenchman and his wife lived in a log shack two miles up the stream now known as the 'Odebolt.' He was but little known and was called O'Debo by the settlers. He lived on what is now known as the 'Quail farm' (just east of the bridge near the Ida Grove Airport). Gnarled low branching forest trees grew on the high south bank of the stream and sumac, hazel brush and plum thickets covered the bottom. Drift from the gravel bank covered the bottom of the stream making a fine ford that was used by all travelers. Beaver dams were numerous, affording good trapping, and the brush-filled ravine to the north was a paradise for the hunter. The old Frenchman blended with the picture and the stream was called 'The Odebo Creek.' The transition from O'Debo to Odebolt like Topsy 'just growed up'."
And so the "French trapper" story pops up again, but this time, where he lived is identified by the son of one of Ida County's earliest settlers! No doubt his "French" name is misspelled, but if this account is true, the creek was named after this man O'Debo.
Barb Girvan Horak