Sarah Holman Odell

Name: Sarah Holman Odell
Born: 11 December 1803 / Boyle County, Kentucky
Died: 01 January 1887 / Dayton, Oregon
Parents: George Holman & Elizabeth Jane Fisher Holman
Spouse: John Odell
Married: March 1820 / Wayne County, Indiana
Arrived in Ore.: 26 September 1851
DLC: OC 913 / 320.12 acres

Sarah Holman Odell was born on the 11th of December, 1803, in Boyle County, Kentucky. Sarah’s father, George Holman, served as a private during the Revolutionary War, and later in General Clark’s exhibition to the Wabash during the Northwest Indian War.

While living in Harrodsburg, he enlisted in March 1777, served as a private in Captain James Harrod’s company under Major George Rogers Clark, was at the siege and two battles at Harrod’s Fort and continued on guard duty and in scouting parties at the fort until the spring of 1779, at which time he was under Colonel Bowman. In 1781 he was living at Boone’s Station, Kentucky, and in February of that year while on his way from Louisville to Boone’s Station transporting empty barrels in which to salt down meat for the settlers, he was taken prisoner by the Indians and held by them for more than three years, until he made his escape. He served for three months in 1787 at private in Captain Morris or Morrison’s company in General George Roger Clark’s Expedition to the Wabash.

The soldier, George Holman, continued to live in Kentucky until 1805, when he moved to the vicinity of Richmond, Wayne County, Indiana.

While living in Wayne County, Indiana, he served in the War of 1812 as a spy in the company of his son, Captain William Holman under Colonel George Hunt.

– A.D. Hiller, Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Application Files, November 1934

At the age of eight years old, Sarah and her family moved to Wayne County, Indiana. The Holman family was one of the first three families to settle in Wayne County, Indiana – about two miles south of present-day city of Richmond.

Sarah married John Odell when she was 16. The couple welcomed their first child two years after they were wed.

In 1825, John and Sarah Odell and their children moved further west to Deer Creek Township (near Delphi), in Carroll County, Indiana. They were among the first white settlers in the area. The Odells helped grow the community, and were instrumental in the organization of the First Delphi Methodist Church. John and Sarah had total of ten children, the youngest being John Albert, who was born in 1844.

The Odells were known and well-respected pioneers of Deer Creek Township. Sarah and John built the area’s first schoolhouse on their farm. Sarah, along her husband and others (some of whom would eventually emigrate to Oregon) helped organize the First Episcopal Methodist Church of Delphi. About nine years later, they founded a new church at the Odell’s log schoolhouse called “Deer Creek Church”.

In March of 1851, the Odells set out for the Oregon Territory. All ten of their children accompanied them on their six-month journey. Sarah rode a horse named “Old Fly” all the way from Indiana to Oregon. They settled on a Donation Land Claim of 321 acres where Sarah and John lived until their deaths.

Footstone of Sarah Odell’s grave

Sarah and John were prominent figures their entire lives, and produced sons and daughters that helped shape not only Yamhill County, but also the state of Oregon. One of their sons, W.H. Odell, was an outstanding and impactful member of Oregon’s pioneer society. He served as Surveyor General for the State of Oregon (Odell Lake was named in his honor). He won the nomination to serve as Elector for the State of Oregon during the 1876 Presidential election, and carried Oregon’s votes to Washington, D.C. He owned and published Salem’s Statesman Journal newspaper, and served as State Printer for two years. He was member of the board of trustees and president of the board of Willamette University.

Dr. George Washington Odell, also buried in the Odell Pioneer Cemetery, was a prominent pioneer doctor of both high skill and reputation. James A. Odell was a well-liked and valued attorney in the Eugene area. Nearly all of the Odell daughters married important figures in the community and state.

Sarah Odell died at the home of her son, John Albert, on New Year’s Day of 1887. She was 83 years old. She was buried next to her husband , and is surrounded by the graves of her children.


Webfoot — Mrs. Sarah Odell was born Dec. 11, 1803 and died Jan. 1, 1887. Her maiden name was Holman. In her 18th year she was married to John Odell who passed away about 17 years ago. In 1851 she came across the plains settling the place known as the Albert Odell farm, she becoming a part of her son’s family after the death of her husband. She was the mother of ten children.

– West Side Telephone, January 18, 1887

Delphi Times, 7 Jan 1887, p.1

Statesman Journal, 2 Jan 1887

Do you have any information about Sarah Holman Odell? Or, do you love researching and would be willing to donate your time to the Odell Pioneer Cemetery Research Project? If so, please contact:
Reference: Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Application Files. Washington, D.C.: National Archives. Publication No.: M804. Catalog ID: 300022; Catalog title: Case Files of Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Applications Based on Revolutionary War Service, compiled ca. 1800 – ca. 1912, documenting the period ca. 1775 – ca. 1900 | 1850, 1860, 1870, & 1880 United States Federal Census | Stewart, Dr. James Hervey, Recollections of the Early Settlement of Carroll County, Indiana. Cincinnati: Hitchcock and Walden, 1872 | Odell, John C., History of Carroll County, Indiana. Indianapolis: B.F. Bowen & Company, Inc., 1916 | | Early Oregonians Index, 1800-1860 | Portrait and Biographical Record of the Willamette Valley Oregon. Chicago: The Chapman Publishing Company, 1903 | Helm, Thomas B., History of Carroll County, Indiana. Chicago: Kingman Brothers, 1882