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Odom Family

Speech Given at the Burke Town Cemetery

Cemetery Association & Family Reunion

May 15, 2004

By Charnita Spring Justiss


[Editor’s note:  When the Charnita asked for descendants to stand up, the sentences were deleted.]


As many of you know, this is the Burke Town Cemetery, named for Benjamin Burke, the first individual buried here, and appropriately there are more Burkes buried her than anybody else.  In doing a quick check of the cemetery, I counted 24 Burkes.  There are also several other names of note.  For example, I counted about 13 Smiths, 3 Riseners, 5 Sullivans, 4 Springs, 3 Cambells, and two each from the Allen, Fredregill, Lee, Roach and Teeter families.  I also came up with 16 Odoms, and that is who I wish to discuss today.


In doing some research, I learned that the Odom family had their origins in England.  The family came from several different counties scattered across southern and central England and they took their names from several sites, some of which were small towns, other which were ancient holy sites.  All of these places were named for the ancient Saxon god, Woden, also known as Odin, the Scandinavian god of wisdom.


There are several Odoms present here today along with numerous individuals who have Odom ancestors….


Now, for those of you who don’t know, there is a link between the Odoms and the Smiths.


Back in April of 1858, a 16-year-old girl named Adeline Gandy married James Manly Odom.  From that union came one son, James Albert Manly Odom, who was born in July 1861.  Adeline and James might have had more children, but James died in September 1862 while in service to the Confederate Army.


In February 1866, after the war ended, Adeline married Simon Jackson Smith, a Confederate veteran.  Only 24 at the time of her second marriage, Simon and Adeline had 6 children.  In 1875, the Smith family moved to Texas and settled in Trinity County….


In January 1877, Simon died at the age of 34, Adeline found herself a widow once more.  She relied heavily on her oldest son, James Albert Manly Odom, who was on 16, but he helped his mother and younger brothers and sisters as best he could.


In February 1883, at the age of 21, James Albert Manly Odom married 15-year-old Bennie Burke, the granddaughter of Benjamin Burke.  Bennie and James had five children who survived to adulthood: Electra Jane “Lec”, Tom, Delle, Clarence, and Gordon.  They are all dad now, but most of their children still survive.


Their firstborn, Electra Jane or Lec, married twice, first to William C. Hutson and then to Fran Gwin.  She had one son, Howard.


The second son, Tom, married Estelle Spring, and they had five sons: Harrell, Clinton, Wendell, Tommie Guy and Orville.


Their third child, Delle, married Milledge Spring, who happened to be the sister of Estelle, who married Tom Odom, who was Delle’s brother.  Confused?  Their offspring are double first cousins.  Milledge and Delle’s children are: Gilbert, Glenora, Gerry, Gilmer, Gary, and Garner. 


Their fourth child, Clarence, married Eva Chapman and they had three children: Lorraine, James and Wayne.


Their youngest child, Gordon, married twice, first to Carrie Belle Taylor, and then to Modenia Due, and had a total of five children: four girls and one boy: Bennie, Martha, Joyce, Linda, and Billy.


James Albert and Bennie were country people of modest means, but they saw to it that their children had educational opportunities that they did not have.  As a result, their many descendants include, among others, lawyers, teachers, college professors, judges, dentists, pharmacists, bankers, ranchers, CPAs, and many other notable occupations. 


Now that we have had our history and genealogy lesson for today, enjoy yourselves, visiting with your cousins, second cousins, double first cousins, brothers, sisters, etc.  After all, that is what a family reunion is all about.