John Owen[s] Odum was born in South Carolina in 1813. Neither the names of his parents nor the county of his birth is firmly established by documents; only two of his siblings are known.
The father of Louisa Odum, John Owen(s) Odum, and Josiah Evans Odum is thought to be one John Odum, born ca 1780 to 1790 in South Carolina. The 1880 census listing for John O. Odum indicates that both parents had been born in South Carolina. To date, no document has been found to identify either parent, and these names are based on oral family tradition and circumstantial evidence.
Family legend is that the father of Josiah Odum was named John. That has not yet been documented, but appears to have been the case since John O. Odum named his first son John W., and Josiah Odum named his first son John L. The naming of a first son in most families of Scots-Irish origin was in honor of the paternal grandfather. If indeed, the old naming pattern was closely followed, we can conjecture that the Odum names of John would come from the paternal line and the name Josiah from the maternal line. In a letter dated 1979, a granddaughter-in-law stated that in her family, the legend was that Josiah's mother was an Evans.
In the South Carolina Federal Census of 1820, when John O. Odum would have been seven years old, there were at least twenty one Odum/Odom families in South Carolina showing males under the age of ten. Since early census enumerations named only head of household, it has not yet been determined whether John O. Odum belonged to any of these families. Numerous Odum families had a son named John. To date, a check of each listed family has failed to locate the family with a son named John who fits the age and migration pattern of our ancestor.
During the years immediately following the War of 1812, a great percentage of the population left South Carolina and headed for new lands in the west, and it is quite possible that JohnÂ’s parents had moved into Georgia or the Mississippi Territory prior to the 1820 census enumeration. Since names of only two of his siblings are known, the search is further complicated.
In 1820, there was the family of one John Odum in Telfair County, Georgia, born between 1760 and 1770. By 1821, John Odum was listed on Tax Rolls in Montgomery County, Georgia, and was there for the census of 1830. In 1832, John Owins Odum was one of the fortunate people in Montgomery County to win one of the Gold Lottery lots in Cherokee County, Georgia. Records indicate that he must have sold his winning ticket, since he did not register the lot in his own name in Cherokee County land records. This John Owins Odum is most likely the older man and not the John O. Odum born about 1813, since the young man was then in Henry County, Alabama, getting married to Elizabeth Jordan.
John O. Odum married ca 1833, probably in Henry County, Alabama, in the sector which was divided to form Covington County, to Elizabeth Jane Jordan, born 1816 in Georgia, daughter of Radford Jordan (ca 1775-1850) and Elizabeth, granddaughter of James Hogg and his wife Chloe, of Greene County, Georgia. The 1803 Last Will and Testament of James Hogg identifies his grand daughter as "Elizabeth Jordan, wife of Radford Jordan." Family oral tradition says that Elizabeth Jordan was a Cherokee Indian, but no evidence to substantiate the legend is yet available, and numerous southern families have the unprovable "Indian grandmother" legend.
Wyley Donald Ward relates that
"...many of the early inhabitants of Covington County were transients. Groups of people, generally poor farmers from the older settlements in neighboring counties or states, would move into an area that was being surveyed and would set up camps from which they would search the surrounding area for good land on which they would settle and stake their claims in hopes that they would be given preemption rights...An early day Methodist minister in the Pea River Circuit was the Rev. Josiah Evans"
In the years 1836 and 1837, a number of Indian massacres occurred in southern Alabama along the Pea River. There is no known account of fighting between the Indians and the whites in Covington County, but massacres and fighting did occur in the neighboring counties of Pike and Dale, and a few white settlers in the southeastern corner of Covington County were in danger. Therefore, in September 1837, a company of mounted infantry under the command of Capt. Littleberry Rogers, was mobilized in Covington County. This company was on active duty from 11 September 1837 until 11 December 1837, and for at least one-half of this time they were in the field, but there is no indication that the company was ever actively engaged in battle.
The original Muster roll at the Alabama Archives, Montgomery, lists John O. Odum as a Corporal in Capt. Littleberry Rogers' Company, and shows that he was paid a total of $79.85 for the three months. Besides basic pay of $7.00 per month, he received $7.50 for clothing allowance, $36.40 (based on 40 cents a day) for services and risk of his horse, and $14.95 (at the rate of 32 1/2 cents per day) for forage and subsistence furnished by himself for forty six days. Each company was commanded by a captain, a lieutenant, an ensign, four sergeants, four corporals, two musicians, and had a minimum of forty-five privates. All company officers were elected by members of their command. The men were required by law to supply their own muskets and attend the musters where they would train for the better part of a day. Elections were held at the musters to fill the vacancies in the unit, and the commander would forward the names of the new officers to the Governor who would issue commissions. Two of John Odum's brothers-in-law served in the same militia group. They were Corporal Wilson Williams, husband of Rachel Jordan who was a sister to Elizabeth, and Bugler Willis Yawn who was married to Louisa Odum, sister of John O. Odum.
John O. Odum is found first in the 1840 Federal Census of Covington County, Alabama, Southern Township, page 327, line 7, as a young married man with 2 young males and 2 young females, all four under age five. Later censuses confirm that four children were born in Alabama, placing the family there as early as 1833. Subsequent censuses of 1850, 1860, 1870, and 1880 list ages appropriate to John OdumÂ’s birth year of 1813. The maiden name of his wife, Elizabeth Jordan, was found on the Texas death certificates of two of their children.
John and Elizabeth Odum moved from Covington County, Alabama, sometime between the end of 1840 and the spring of 1842, to yet another Covington County -- this time in south central Mississippi. The Federal Census of 1850, Covington County, Mississippi, dated 28 September 1850, lists by name all members of the household, along with the age in years, and place of birth for each. The John O. Odum family was comprised of:
John O. Odum 37 SC, farmer
Elizab. 34 GA
Elizabeth 16 AL
John W. 14 AL
James T. 13 AL
Lusallie 08 MS
William M. 06 MS
Henry J. 03 MS
Martha Ann 01 MS
Benjamin Jordan 18 AL, laborer
LusallieÂ’s birth in Mississippi places the family there by 1842. The three teenagers shown in 1850, Elizabeth, John W., and James T., were born in Alabama, but the 1840 census indicated that there was another female child under five years of age at that time. Since she is no longer with the family, it is probable that by 1850 she had died. Benjamin Jordan was a son of ElizabethÂ’s brother.
The Odums were farmers in the western part of the county between Collins and Mt. Carmel, Mississippi. A look at the names of their close neighbors in both counties provides some insight into probable family relationships. From the 1837 military payroll, we see that one Simon Williams and a Wilson Williams are listed along with John O. Odum. The 1840 census also places them as neighbors.
In 1850, very near the Odum family was the Wilson Williams family:
Wilson Williams 31 AL
Rachel 32 AL
John 11 AL
Matilda Annie 09 AL
Elizabeth 07 MS
Mary Ann 03 MS
Edmond S. 7/12 MS
* Clark Jordan 07 MS
* William M. Jordan 05 MS
Again, ages of the children born in Mississippi, place the family there by 1842-1843. Rachel Williams and Elizabeth Odum were sisters; their brother and/or his wife had died, and Elizabeth and Rachel were raising their Jordan nephews.
In house #259 of the same census, between the Odum family and the Williams family, lived a widow Martha Powell, probable widow of Hardy Powell who had lived near the Radford Jordan family years earlier.
Martha Powel (sic) 44 GA
Frances 16 GA
James T. 15 GA
Asa W. 12 GA
Henry 08 GA
Martha Ann 06 GA
There is striking similarity in the names of the children in all three families. Martha Powell was in Alabama as late as 1843-1844, having come to Mississippi after the birth of daughter Martha Ann. It is possible that she is a relative of John Odum, and the widow of Hardy Powell who settled in the far southeastern corner of Alabama before 1830.
In Covington County, Mississippi, in 1850, there was one other Odum family, that of the younger Josiah Evans Odum, born ca 1823 in Georgia. Enumerated in his household were his wife Mary Ann "Polly", born ca 1828 in Mississippi, and children Mary Jane, John, and William T. A few years later, both John O. Odum and Josiah Evans Odum would name sons Joab Evans Odum.
During the decade of the fifties, John and Elizabeth Odum moved a few miles northwestward into Copiah County, appearing on the tax roll in 1846 and the 1850 census in Covington County, but on the Copiah County tax roll in 1856, when he paid 1 poll @ 40 cents, county tax of 40 cents, and special tax of 30 cents, for a total of $1.10. Two sons and one daughter of John and Elizabeth were married in Copiah County, and both the sons enlisted in the Confederate army from Copiah County.
Copiah County deed records indicate that John O. Odum had earlier patented land in that county, since on 4 January 1858, the sheriff sold patented land of John O. Odum to Mrs. Frances Jordan, in lieu of payment of $164 indebtedness. Book P, p. 4, LDS film #1 498 142
John O. Odum patented two parcels of federal land in Copiah County in 1859. The first patent, Certificate No. 31573, dated 1 March 1859, was for 79.62 acres in section 36, Township Nine North, of Range Eight East, signed by James Buchanan, President of the United States. A second patent, Certificate No. 33424 was issued 10 August 1859, for 159.24 acres in Section 36, Township 9 North, of Range 8 East, in the District of lands subject to sale at Jackson, Mississippi.
The censuses of 1860 and 1870 place the John O. Odum family in two different Louisiana Parishes, where he was listed as a Methodist Preacher. Elizabeth died late in the 1870s. John O. Odum went to Texas with his grown children, and lived the last few years in Nacogdoches County, Texas. His name appears on the 1880 census, but it is probable that he died ca 1881. Place of his burial is not known.