The Odells of New Hampshire

I have to be upfront about this. I’m married to an Odell and I’ve given birth to a couple of ’em, but I’m not really one myself. That doesn’t prevent me from nosing around the family history with great enthusiasm. I got started two years ago, whil…

I have to be upfront about this.  I’m married to an Odell and I’ve given birth to a couple of ’em, but I’m not really one myself.  That doesn’t prevent me from nosing around the family history with great enthusiasm.  I got started two years ago, while participating in “Welcome Home to New England” guided research week at the New England Historic Genealogical Society in Boston.   The first discovery was a bit startling – an entry in Noyes, Libby and Davis’ Genealogical Dictionary of Maine and New Hampshire (p. 517) details the career of Thomas Odell, counterfeiter and forger.  After that, though, the line settled in Stratham, New Hampshire, for four – upstanding – generations.

On a recent trip to Portland, Maine, to visit my sister, I seized the opportunity to take a day trip to Stratham, about an hour away.  I don’t mind stomping around cemeteries and browsing libraries by myself, but this time, I was very happy to have an Odell-by-birth join me.  Meaghan, of Dover, New Hampshire, met me at the Stratham Historical Society. 


The society library is not open on Mondays but a volunteer had graciously offered to meet me there anyway.  Teddie was wonderfully helpful, and with Meaghan’s help, I gathered new textual materials, and we both got oriented to our target cemeteries in Stratham and nearby Greenland.  We couldn’t have had a more beautiful day!   Still, we fought off the mosquitoes and had to ignore incessantly barking  dogs who didn’t appreciate us being that close to their yard.

At each of the three cemeteries we visited, Meaghan was the eagle eye who spotted the Odell monuments.  Interestingly, all three were group monuments with multiple names and dates. 


We are curious about how that came about.   Although deprived of photographing true 1780s markers of her direct ancestors,  the fine marble stones made our job easier – even if the dappled sunlight didn’t.


The real story here is this: until very recently, Meaghan Odell, a native of New Hampshire, and her father, a transplanted Marylander, had no idea how geographically close to their roots they were.  It took the genie-aunt-by-marriage to bring them together and I am proud of that.   She has offered to chase down more of the Odell history in New Hampshire.  Not only am I thrilled to have ground forces there, I am confident that Meaghan will carry the connection forward for years to come.


12 thoughts on “The Odells of New Hampshire”

  1. Hey – This is great. My dad, John Charles Odell, is Yvonne’s youngest brother. It was neat to see pictures of "Granny Alice." I was poking around looking for family names and stumbled across your page.

    1. I made a mistake, my mom Miriam Gleason burns was the grand daughter of Mollie Gleason odell

  2. My mother was Virginia Odell daughter of James Eustice Odell. She was born in Boston and moved to New Jersey in the 1930’s. Many of James E Odell’s grandchildren live in NJ.

    1. Thanks for getting in touch. Several years ago, I visited with your uncle Vincent by phone and got some information on the New Jersey branch. The last of the nine Odell siblings in our line just passed away last month.

      1. This New Jersey branch goes back a further generation and is descended from Lawrence’s brother James. But I have no doubt there are plenty of Lawrence descendants in New Jersey!

  3. Hi, have you looked into a connection between the Odells and Governor Thomas Wiggin of New Hampshire and Governor Simon Bradstreet of Massachusetts?

  4. Dr. James Odell (1748- 1822) was married to Charlotte Hilton (1790 -1866), Her parents were Daniel Hilton and Sarah Wiggin (1762-1799) Sarah Wiggin was the daughter of Simon Wiggin (1734-1823) and Hannah Mable (1737-1811). Simon Wiggin was the Grandson of Andrew Wiggins (1641-1708 son of Governor Thomas Wiggin) and Hanna Bradstreet (1642-1707 Daughter of Simon Bradstreet Governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony and Anne Dudley). Hanna Bradstreet is recognized as America’s first published Poet. The Odell’s are mentioned in the history of the Dudley’s. The Dudley’s history can be traced back to the Norman Invasion of England 1066. Anna Dudley appears to be a direct descendant of the Barons of Dudley.

    1. I did know about those two Wiggin marriages but in my research/writing (and there’s about to be a long article in the New Hampshire Record) on the Odells, I did not push the Wiggin research back any further. Thanks for the source!

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