The Descendants of Godfrey Odum
Wayne County, Georgia
1831 - 1904
Godfrey Odum was born June 22, 1831 or 1832 in Bulloch County, Georgia. He appears to be in Mary Odum's household there on the 1840 census. In September 1849, after Mary's death, the Bulloch County Court appointed James Rimes as Godfrey's guardian. A year later, the 1850 census finds Godfrey listed as a as a 16 year old farmer living in the household of Ezekiel and Sarah Clifton in Emanuel County, Georgia.
On September 18, 1856, Godfrey married Rebeca Moody in Liberty County, Georgia. Rebeca was the daughter of James M. Moody and Eliza Bradley there, one of about 10 children. The 1860 census shows Godfrey and Rebeca living in Appling County, Georgia with two children: Vicey, daughter, age 5, and an unnamed infant daughter listed as 5 months old when the census was taken in June. The unnamed daughter did not survive.
Acording to an 1895 biographical sketch published in the Memoirs of Georgia1, Godfrey eventually became a sucessful businessman in Wayne County and had only two children, a daughter Vicey and another who died in infancy. It turned out that Godfrey was so sucessful that the town of Odum, Georgia was later named after him.
Beginning with the 1870 census, things begin to get confusing regarding Godfrey's children. The 1870 census lists Godfrey and Rebeca living in Appling County with no children in the household. Vicey, who should have been 13 then, is not to be found in any household in Appling, Wayne or surrounding counties.
The 1880 Wayne County census shows Godfrey and Rebeca Odum with Marion Odum, male, age 8. No relationship is shown for Marion. Also, "V. Moody" is listed in the household as a female servant, age 28. Daughter Vicey, age 21, reappears as the wife of Tyler A. O'Quinn in her own household elsewhere in Wayne County.
Rebeca Odum died September 25, 1897. The 1900 census shows Godfrey as head of the household and no wife is listed. Godfrey is shown as being born June 1831 and still married with 2 children and 1 living. The entry regarding the children is marked out with no replacement made and 4 children are listed as his sons, all single and born in Georgia:
- Wallis Odum, born April 1883
- Mershaun Odum, born May 1887
- Walter Odum, born January 1886
- Leonard Odum, born January 1887
Also listed in the household is "Vick Odum", "boarder", male, born December 1852, widowed, with the ocupation of "housekeeper."
There is obvious conflicting information concerning Godfrey's children between his 1895 biographical sketch and the 1880 and 1900 census data.
Godfrey Odum, as sucessful businessman as he apparently was, managed to depart this life without a will. However, there is quite a bit of documentation on his heirs and estate at the Wayne County Probate Judge's office. Godfrey is stated to have died on February 13, 1904 in Milledgeville, Georgia "where he had gone for treatment and care by physicians."
Acording to the 1904 - 1906 court records2, Godfrey had the following additional, surviving children by two other women during the time he was married to Rebeca:
Three by Rachel Johnson, "an unmarried woman" whom he never married but is stated to have adopted their 3 children during his lifetime:
- Marion Odum
- Issac Odum
- "Mrs. Allice Bennett" (Alice Odum married Milton V. Bennett March 27, 1889)
Four by L. Victoria Moody, artfully, but acurately, described in the court records as Godfrey's widow even though Godfrey and she were not married until October 29, 1902:
- Wallace G. Odum
- Mershon Odum
- Walter Odum
- Leonard Odum
The above children by Rachael Johnson are shown in her Wayne County household and as her children on the 1880 census with the Johnson surname. Apparently, Marion was listed twice - in Godfrey's household as well as in Rachael Johnson's. Rachel is listed as the head of her household. She is shown as a widow with 5 children - Marion (age 9), Isaac (age 7), Alice (age 5), Robert L. (age 3) and Maning (age 7 months). There is no mention of Robert or Maning in Godfrey Odum's court records.
There is, however, a William Manning Odum who appears in Wayne County on the 1910, 1920 and 1930 censuses. William is shown with birth dates ranging from 1872 through 1879. He married Kate J. Brannon (or Brannen), daughter of Abraham and Mary Brannon, on January 4, 1907. I do not know if this William is the same person as the Maning Johnson in Rachel Johnson's 1880 household.
Rachel Johnson, born about 1848, was the daughter of Daniel and Holly Ann Johnson of Appling County, Georgia. Apparently, she died in Wayne County between 1910 and 1920. In 1910 she was listed in the Wayne County household of Marion Odum and his family as Marion's mother, age 64 and single. I have not found any burial information for her.
The children by Victoria Moody are listed on the 1900 census in Godfrey's household. Also, the "Vick Odum" housekeeper was probably incorrectly reported as a male on the 1900 census in Godfrey's household. This is apparently the same person as the female "V. Moody" listed as a housekeeper on the 1880 census.
The other heirs to Godfrey's worldly possessions (other than the 7 children listed above) are stated to be "Mrs. Victoria Odum" (L. Victoria Moody Odum, current wife) and "Mrs. Vicy Odum O'Quinn" (daughter by first marriage). Rachel Johnson was not further mentioned.
Victoria Moody was probably the daughter of William B. and Julia Moody of Liberty County, Georgia, the eldest of 10 children. Her marriage to Godfrey Odum was apparently her first marriage. I do not know if there is any relationship between Victoria and Godfrey's first wife, Rebeca Moody. However, they are both from Liberty County. Victoria Moody Odum died March 4, 1940 and is buried in the Odum City Cemetery in Wayne County. Her date of birth on her headstone is December 24, 1851.
Godfrey Odum and his first wife, Rebeca, are buried in the Old Bethel Baptist Church Cemetery, Wayne County, Georgia.
Just to further complicate matters, there is one more child that may be another son of Godfrey. A January 1921 passport application by William Odum, a ship corker (caulker) at Key West, Florida, states that he was born in Wayne County Georgia, January 13, 1894 and his father was Godfrey Odum. The passport application also included William's wife, Florence, who was reported to be about 20 years old and born in Quitman, Georgia. Florence was Florence Lillian Coachman, born November 1, 1899, probably in Thomas County, Georgia, daughter of James Francis Coachman and Rosa B. Coats. William Odum died November 5, 1970 in Dade County, Florida, followed by Florence there on April 27, 1981. William's death certificate, however, lists his father as William Odum. The information on both death certificates was provided by Colon Dixon.3 William and Florence had two children: Colon William Odum (also known as Colon William Dixon, Jr.), born January 26, 1921, in Miami, Florida and Paul Odum (also shown as Paul Dixon), born October 16, 1923. Both sons apparently kept "Dixon" as their surname throughout their lives.
There were two Godfrey Odums in or around Wayne County on the 1900 census. The second was a son of Henry Odum, Godfrey's brother. William Odum was not in either household on that census, nor was I able to locate him elsewhere.
Footnotes: (click number to return to text)
1 Memoirs of Georgia Vol. I-II. Atlanta, GA, USA: The Southern Historical Association, 1895. Volume 2, pages 1014 and 1015.
2 Probate Judge, Wayne County, Jesup, Georgia. Minutes Court of Ordinary, Minute Book 1904, pages 3 and 85.
3 This would be Colon William Dixon, Jr. There is another, as yet undetermined, relationship between Colon Dixon (Sr.) and the Odum and Coachman families. It is possible that William Odum and Colon Dixon, Sr. were the same person. Colon Dixon, Sr. was a son of Sonny Dixon of Wayne County, Georgia, another reputed son of Godfrey Odum. I have not found any death record for Colon Dixon Sr.
4 Information is provided tracing the family for two or three generations. More recent data has been omitted for privacy reasons.