ANDREW J. ODEM, WASHINGTON TOWNSHIP.
It is significant of the rapid progress of the country, that although but one-hundred years of its independence had passed when Andrew J. Odem located in this county, the advancing hosts of colonization and conquest had already crossed the Ohio, the Mississippi, and large portions of the vast expanse to the Rocky mountains and the Pacific coast. True, Cass county at that time was much of a wildernes, and not far advanced in the state of its development. But its virtues as an agricultural possibility were known and appreciated, and while the vanguard of the army of industrial subjugation had its outposts far beyond this locality, portions of the army itself were settling here and making headway against the obstacles to their comfort and progress.
Mr. Odem was born in Mahaska conty, of this State, on November 28, 1853, a son of James and Matilda (Sellers) Odem, who were natives of Indiana. The father was a blacksmith and followed the trade in his native State until 1840, when he moved into the wilderness of Mahaska county. The luxuries of cultivated life were unattainable in that region then, and even the common comforts of existence were often few and hard to obtain. But wild game was abundant and helped out the scanty supplies for the table, the monarchs of the woods were available for building purposes, and the soil, although as yet untouched by the plow, was nevertheless fertile and continuously responsive.
Amid these conditions, confronted by these hardships, privations and dangers, the elder Mr. Odem entered a tract of Governemnt land and began the work of clearing it and preparing it for cultivation. He lived to break up his land and transform it into an excellent farm, with good buildings and all the other necessaries of a comfortable country home, and on it he died on January 14, 1904. His good wife survived him a little more than a year, passing away in 1905. Of their six sons and five daughters all are living, but Andrew is the only one resident in this county. The parents were zealous members of the Baptist Church.
Andrew J. Odem was reared in his native county and educated in its district schools, meanwhile assisting his father on the farm. In 1874 he migrated to southern Kansas, where he remained two years, when sickness obliged him to return to Iowa. On his recovery, in October, 1876, he located in Cass county, purchasing land north of Atlantic, which he redeemed from its wild condition and upon which he resided for many years. He then moved to his present farm in Washington township, which also has felt the quickening force of his progressive hand and shows the results of his enterprise in its first class buildings, high state of cultivation and generally attractive appearance.
In 1873, in Mahaka [sic] county, Mr. Odem was joined in wedlock with Elizabeth Demoss, a native of Grant county, Ind., whose parents, Joshua and Rachel Demoss, settled in Mahaska county about 1850, and died there many years afterward. Mr. and Mrs. Odem have seven children living, Raymond, Aden, Earl and Ernest (twins), Grace, Claude and Gladys. The father has served as school director at times. Fraternally he is connected with the Modern Woodmen of America.
From "Compendium and History of Cass County, Iowa." Chicago: Henry and Taylor & Co., 1906, pp. 458-459.