Odin – Little Known Facts
"Once you wash your feet in Goose Creek…you
will never, never leave Odin"
By Larry D. Matthews
- It is generally accepted the community received its name in the
1850’s after Scandinavian settlers referred to the community as ODIN
– a tribute to ODIN , the primary God of Scandinavian mythology.
- Legend has it that inventor, Thomas A. Edison, once worked as a
night telegrapher in Odin.
- The first building in Odin was constructed in 1855 by John Hill
– it was a saloon.
- During the years of the U. S. Civil War (1861 – 1885) the
community grew rapidly as many southerners moved into the area.
- When Odin was served by the Illinois Central Railroad in 1856,
the 705 mile railroad in the State of Illinois was the longest
railroad in the world.
- In the 1860’s – the Odin-based A.M. Woodward Co. baled and sold
nearly 4,000 tons of hay yearly.
- The community named ODIN appeared for the first time in the
Salem Advocate on February 23, 1856, to designate the crossing
of the O&M and the Chicago-based IC Railroads.
- In the 1890’s, Odin boasted six hotels for railroad travelers.
Legend has it that a ghostly figure in the form of a WHITE-ROBED
FEMALE would make regular appearances by passing noiselessly through
the hotel door panels to surprise all guests.
- On September 19, 1867,U.S. General Phil Sheridan referred to the
GATES HOUSE RESTAURANT in Odin as, "..the best railroad eating
house I every saw." General Sheridan stopped in Odin on his way
to Washington DC to meet with General U.S. Grant.
- A woolen mill was operational in Odin in the 1870’s. The Odin
Wool Factory manufactured jeans and flannel products. It was
destroyed by fire in 1879.
- Around the turn of the century (1900), the SEBASTIAN & SON BROOM
COMPANY manufactured 15 dozen brooms daily in Odin.
- On the evening of April 1, 1912, Odin was the scene of a
notorious gunfight resulting in two deaths and one person wounded.
This gunfight issue was just prior to a local election to decide
whether the community should remain wet of close its numerous
- As late as 1933, Odin was still the residence of one remaining
Civil War veteran, Mr. Caleb Case (No record found of his
- In 1933, the Sebastian Broom Manufacturing company received a
large order for products from Admiral Byrd to be used for his
expedition to the south pole.
- In 1937, a contract was completed with the Illinois Power
Company to furnish electricity to the entire community.
- Two Odin brothers were professional baseball players: Grover
Lowdermilk, St. Louis Browns, Chicago White Socks, and St. Louis
Cardinals (Played 1907 – 1924). Louis Lowdermilk, Southern
League, later served as Mayor of Odin (Played 1911-1912
- In the 1930’s, a well-known Odin bakery – GUTZLER’S BAKERY-baked
and sold a very popular area bread called TASTY LOAF.
- Odin resident, Ed Tate, owned the discovery well for the 1940’s
area oil boom.
- The Otto Moore World War I Memorial Statue was organized in 1920
by Odin townspeople and the American Legion. Originally placed in a
small park behind the downtown depot, it was refurbished and moved
to Peaceful Valley Cemetery in 1948.
- The 1940 census of Marion County notes that Odin was third
largest community with a population of 1,847 people.
- According to the Odin News of May 1946, Mr. P.H. (Ples) Wilson
held an open house at his new business establishment: the WILSON
- In the 1940’s the Odin Chronicler newspaper was published
monthly in the interest of local churches, schools, and the
community at large. The Odin mayor and other local dignitaries
contributed articles every month.
- Do you remember the GEM THEATRE in Odin? In the 1950’s, you
could catch the latest Hollywood movie for 14 cents for children and
40 cents for adults.
- In the 1930’s and 1940’s, the UNION TOWER AND DEPOT in Odin
housed both B&O and IC Railroad Administrations. At one time the
depot employed 50 people to handle freight, sell train tickets, and
to serve as crossing guards. The original depot was destroyed by
fire in 1946.
- Odin funeral director, Ples Wilson, played football with
President Ronald Reagan at Eureka College in 1932.
- Did you know Odin once had a hobby horse manufacturing company?
The ODIN HOBBY HORSE COMPANY manufactured wooden hobby horses and
tables in the 1940’s.
- Local residents will long remember the clanking of Theodore
"Teddy" Klingries’ newspaper cart as he walked door-to-door
delivering his newspapers. He delivered the St. Louis Globe
Democrat for over 30 years: two cents for the daily paper; five
cents for the Sunday edition; 7 days a week.
- Odin native John Sebastian was an internationally known
basketball trick shot artist in the 1940’s. He made numerous world
tours on the opposing team for the Harlem Globetrotters. Once asked
about his most outstanding basketball achievement, he noted, "making
63 consecutive free throws blindfolded."
- Did you know that Odin and Sandoval once published a joint
newspaper? In the 1940’s the Odin Gazette (Sandoval Gazette)
published a weekly newspaper – one page per community - $1.50 per
- DON’T CALL ME ROSIE is a book written by Kathleen Thomas, which
features the memoirs of Odin Resident, Mabel Ward, who worked as a
welder during WWII in an Illinois shipyard.
- It took Odin resident Harold Lee 1-1/2 years to carve a 6’ tall
carousel horse – complete with armor – from a truckload of wooden
blocks. The horse is on display at the Odin Library.
- Odin resident, Bill Hawley, long-time Salem WJBD broadcaster,
was elected to the Illinois Basketball Association Hall of Fame in
- In December, 2007, U.S. News.com listed the Odin Community High
School as one of America’s Best.
- Odin resident, Ruth Mary (Bartlett) Uhls, was elected to the
Nevada Broadcaster’s Hall of Fame in 2003. Her 21 years experience
in broadcasting covered active participation in national and state
- In 1987, Miss Lori Vaughn of Odin was named Marion County Fair
Queen. Later that summer, she was crowned Miss Illinois State Fair
- Miss Lexi Barton was the 2008 S.I.J.H.S.A.A. Class "S" High Jump
- "Old Abe" was the name of the Civil War eagle that followed
Union soldiers into 29 battles. His caretaker was Odin resident,
Capt. Mason Hedrick. General Grant demanded to see the ".bird that would
screech its anger if a man failed to follow orders."
(Also the origin of the 101st
Airborne nickname - The Screaming Eagles)