Skip to main content

"Echoes Of The Past - Odum, Georgia"

(NOTE: The following appeared in the 1985 Odum Homecoming program and was written by Hazel Dean Overstreet. It is being reproduced here for the Odum, Georgia website....KH)

I am indebted to Mrs. Susie Dent Daniel, Mrs. Jo Knight Odum, Mr. Melton Boyd, Miss Juanita Bennett and Mrs. Frankie Bennett Watkins, Mr. Joe Wilson, and many of the Godfrey Odum descendants for information pertaining to the History of the town of Odum, Georgia, and Mrs. Maude Poppell Smith (Mrs. Bert Smith), for they are some of the oldest residents living in Odum in 1995, when I tried to compile these notes for a history of Odum.

About the year 1877 (twelve years after the Civil War or the War Between the States, whichever you prefer to call it), the town of Odum as it is known today was not in existence. Most of the land in the vicinity of the present town of Odum was owned by Mr. Jim Poppell, grandfather of Mrs. Maude Poppell Smith, Mr. Leslie Poppell, and Mr. Brantley Poppell, all residents of Odum at this writing (year 1955).

Mr. Poppell owned a large store at that time which sold everything from whiskey to trace-chains. He was a very generous old fellow and folks recall hearing how he used to 'set' all his customers up to a 'drink' from the cider barrel which he kept filled at all times. It is also told that Mr. Poppell, seeing an honest conscientious young fellow trying to get ahead, would, out of the generosity of his heart, give that young man a farm or strip of woodland just to see the young fellow settled in the neighborhood.

There were many changes occurring around this vicinity during the 1860's and 1870's (called the Civil War Days and Reconstruction Period), and by the turn of the century (1900).

Using the Civil War as the revolving point to work from in compiling historical data on Odum, we find that the first year after the War, the railroad bed was laid through this little town (the rail tracks were laid later). At that time the place was called Haslam in honor of a Mr. Haslam who owned a sawmill at the present site of Mr. Melton Boyd's house (formerly Allen Clary's place).

The first nail drove in Odum was at this old sawmill.

By this time there was a post office, about the year 1867 (two years after the Civil War) and it was named Haslam. When Mr. Haslam moved away, the name of the little place and post office was changed to Satilla because of the fact that it was located in such close proximity with little Satilla Creek.


About 1880 (fifteen years after the Civil War), Mr. Godfrey Odum came to this place and settled. Born in Bulloch County in 1832, he farmed there in that vicinity, but at the age of 29 (about the year 1861), he left that section and came to Appling County which, after redivision of boundary lines at a later date, portions became Wayne County. All old deeds of the section called Odum read "formerly Appling, now Wayne." Mr. Odum bought out Mr. Poppell. Old church records show Mr. Odum deeded .27 acres of land in Odum for the Methodist Church in the year 1881.

Mr. Odum was an able business man. An old history book in the possession of one of Mr. Godfrey Odum's grandsons, Mr. Genell Odum, of Odum, states that Mr. Odum in the year 1900 could command, upon a moment's notice, $10,000.00 (no little sum in those days) and owned a vast tract of land, consisting of twelve thousand acres (12,000). About the year 1934, Mr. Odum's Estate was dissolved, division being made among his heirs and descendants.

Mr. Melton Boyd (considred the oldest man in Odum in the year 1955, being 81 years of age) says that he and his wife, Bessie Collins, were married the year Mr. Godfrey Odum died, 1904. He further stated that Mr. Odum owned 52 lots of land that ranged in scope from Nesbit (known today as Redland) to the Devil's Woodyard (known today as Brentwood), a tract of about ten miles in length and equivalent to 12,000 acres.

In 1866, when the railroad bed was laid through this town by the East Tennessee, Virginia, and Georgia Railroad (known to old timers as the E T V & G), the town of Odum went by the numerical number of Five.

So to sum up the names and dates of this place, it would be thus:

1867 - Haslam (For the sawmill owner by this name)

1868 - Satilla (for nearby Satilla Creek)

1870 - Number Five (for the railroad station)

1880 - Odum (for early settler Godfrey Odum)

John Boyd was born on March 23, 1878, and his brothers, Melton Boyd and Somp Boyd, were three of the oldest men I could find to get information from on Odum's history.

By 1888, there were only a very few houses in the town of Odum. The Tyler O'Quinn house stood where Mrs. Connie O'Quinn Thompson's house stands today. The 'Old Blue House' where Eldridge Withrow now lives was built about this time by Mr. Melton Boyd's father-in-law, Jim Collins, for Mr. John B. Roberson, merchant. This was about the year 1889.

About the year 1892, a house was built on the present site of Gene Tyre's house (formerly Lewis Tyre's home) for Bascom Carter, merchant in Odum. Ryal Reddish, father of One-eyed Jim, Dude, and Georga (deceased) lived here, also.