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Below is a family biography included in Portrait and Biographical Record of Berrien and Cass Counties, Michigan published by Biographical Publishing Company in 1893.  These biographies are valuable for genealogy research in discovering missing ancestors or filling in the details of a family tree. Family biographies often include far more information than can be found in a census record or obituary.  Details will vary with each biography but will often include the date and place of birth, parent names including mothers' maiden name, name of wife including maiden name, her parents' names, name of children (including spouses if married), former places of residence, occupation details, military service, church and social organization affiliations, and more.  There are often ancestry details included that cannot be found in any other type of genealogical record.

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JAMES S. O’DELL. The agricultural part of the community is its bone and sinew, from which comes the strength and vigor necessary to carry on the affairs of manufacture, commerce and the State. When the farming people are composed of men and women of courage, enterprise, intelligence and integrity, prosperity will attend all departments of activity, and this is pre-eminently the case in Cass County.

The prominent farmer of whom we now write has ever been a resident of Porter Township, and was the first male white child born in this township, his birth occurring January 10, 1830. His father, Nathan G. O’Dell, was a native Virginian, born October 1, 1803, and the grandfather, also Nathan G. O’Dell, was born in the same State November 4, 1772. The progenitors of this family came originally from England, but for many generations the ancestors resided in the grand old State of Virginia. Although they lived in a slave State, not a member of this family ever owned slaves, and, so far as known, all were opposed to slavery.

Nathan G. O’Dell, Sr., married Miss Rebecca Kife, a native also of Virginia, born July 3, 1780, and they had nine children. Thomas, the eldest, was born January 22, 1796, and was for more than forty years a Methodist preacher. He went to Iowa, and there died in 1861. James, born September 13, 1798, married Miss Nancy Carr, and came to Michigan at a very early day. He died in St. Joseph County September 24, 1835. John, born March 24, 1801, died in Ohio August 19, 1826. Nathan G. was next younger; Elizabeth, born on the 21st of May, 1806, was married in Ohio on the 19th of May, 1835. Enos P., born August 7, 1808, went to Illinois, where he followed farming until his death, February 22, 1852. Lorenzo D., born October 29, 1810, was a member of the Ohio Congress, and died in that State about 1883. Rebecca, born May 17, 1812, married Thomas Burns, and they came to Michigan, where she died in September, 1846; and Silas P., born September 15, 1817, died when but two years of age.

The father of the above-mentioned children was a miller by trade, and owned a mill in Virginia. In connection with milling he also carried on farming. Pearly in 1800 he went with his family to Ohio, settled in Wayne County, and there took land. He also owned and operated a gristmill. In 1828 he came to Michigan and settled in the eastern part of what is now Porter Township, where his death occurred in October, 1835. His wife followed him to the grave two months later. His son, Nathan G., father of our subject, was married in Ohio in 1828 to Miss Sarah Drake, and directly after marriage left the Buckeye State with several other families and came to Cass County, Mich. Mr. O’Dell settled in what is now Porter Township, and there he and his father took up Government land. To his marriage were born five children.

Of these children James S. was the eldest. Thomas, the next in order of birth, was born January 30, 1831, and married Miss Luvina Travers. He was a farmer by occupation and a leading man in local politics. For a year he was Justice of the Peace, for eight years Supervisor, and a member of the Michigan State Legislature. He died January 30, 1892, leaving a family of six children. The third in order of birth of Mr. O’Dell’s children was David, whose birth occurred on the 27th of March, 1833. He went to Iowa, and subsequently enlisted in the Civil War. After being discharged he returned to that State and there died soon after. Marguerite, born November 9, 1834, married Henry J. Brown, who died in 1884. She is still living and makes her home in Porter Township; John, born October 30, 1836, married Miss Jane Smith, and is now farming in Porter Township.

The mother of the above-mentioned children died in October, 1836, soon after the last-named child was born. Her husband’s second marriage was to Miss Eliza Shivel, who bore him two children. Sarah, whose birth occurred December 25, 1842, married John Draper, and died while he was in the army; and Eben, born December 27, 1843, went into the army when but sixteen years of age and remained in the service until the cessation of hostilities. He married Miss Nettie Motley, and they have three living children.

The original of this notice was but thirteen years of age when his father died, and as he started out soon after to make his own way in life, his education was necessarily very limited. Being industrious and economical, he bought the land where he now lives in the fall of 1856, and one year later was married to Miss Jane Travers, a daughter of Robert Travers, who was one of the pioneers of Cass County, Mich. She was born March 27, 1858, and died leaving a little girl baby but ten days old. This child, who was named Sarah Jane, was born March 17, 1858, and died July 13, 1869. February 27, 1859, Mr. O’Dell married his present wife, Caroline Louppee, who was born in Wayne County, Ohio, November 8, 1837, and who was a daughter of George and Wilmina (Stiner) Louppee, both of whom were born in Germany. They came to this country shortly after their marriage, settled in Wayne County, Ohio, and in the spring of 1843 moved to Cass County, Mich., where the father died the following August. Her mother was three times married, the last time to Jacob Rinehart. She died in 1876.

Mrs. O’Dell had six brothers and one sister. George, her eldest brother, went to Iowa, married and has a family of children. Lewis also went to that State, but later entered the army. After the war he settled in Kansas. He is a blacksmith by trade. Fredrick went to Wisconsin, where he now lives and where he follows the trade of black-smith. He is married, but has no children. William is a baker at Constantine, Mich., and is married and has children. John is a prominent farmer of Porter Township, is married and has a family of children. Sarah married Seth Talbert, a farmer, and they live in Porter Township. They have a family of children. Oscar, a merchant and Postmaster at Union, is married and has children. The half-sister of Mrs. O’Dell, Eveline, married Martin Stanard and went with him to Nebraska. She is residing there now, but is a widow. Mrs. O’Dell’s half-brother, Henry Wright, is a farmer of Porter Township.

To Mr. and Mrs. O’Dell have been born four children. Nathan, born April 23, 1860, married Addie Hutchings, and they have two children, Vida and Ruble. He is a merchant at Jones, Cass County, Mich. Carrie M., born May, 18, 1865, married Fred Sheldon and has two children, Clarence and Nida. Ida, born December 11, 1870, resides at home; and Ross, born February 24, 1875, is also at home. Mr. O’Dell has been a life-long Democrat, but has never aspired to office of any kind. He is a prominent member of the Masonic fraternity, and is public-spirited and enterprising. He has one of the finest farms in the county, all the result of his own exertions. He has done much to develop the country and bring it from its primitive condition to its present wonderful state of development.

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This family biography is one of numerous biographies included in the Portrait and Biographical Record of Berrien and Cass Counties, Michigan published in 1893. 

View additional Cass County, Michigan family biographies here: Cass County, Michigan Biographies

View a map of 1911 Cass County, Michigan here: Cass County Michigan Map

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