History of the NOA
The need for a national Odom family organization seems to have occurred to several people in various parts of the country at roughly the same time. Many were doing genealogical research on the Odom family name, but there was no coordination of effort.
In 1979 from New Braunfels, Texas, just north of San Antonio, Helen Odum Harrell placed an advertisement in the “Genealogical Helper” asking for correspondence from other Odom descendants and offering to act as a clearing house for information exchange. Far to the east in Atlanta, Georgia, Robert Earl Woodham was striving toward his dream of a national organization with various publications and photo albums as well as the establishment of a museum and a research center.
The First Meeting – 1980
Through the efforts of Mr. Woodham, a family reunion of Odoms was called for in the summer of 1980. A number of Odom descendants met at Eufaula State Park in Alabama for the weekend. At that meeting Mrs. Janmari Williams of Birmingham, Alabama was elected president. Robert P. Odom of Prairieville, Louisiana was named vice-president and Victor L. Odom of North, South Carolina was chosen secretary-treasurer.
In 1981 the Odom Family Reunion again met at Eufaula State Park. There were many more Odom descendants present for this meeting. The urgent need for structure and direction was apparent, and a full slate of officers was elected to serve again under Mrs. Williams’ leadership. The name National Odom Assembly was officially adopted and a newsletter to be called the NOA News was authorized. Helen Odum Harrell agreed to publish the newsletter.
The third meeting was held at Fontana Village, North Carolina in July 1982. A feature of this meeting was a speaker who explained various research methods with emphasis on checking out information to be sure it is true. Another highlight was an evening of entertainment featuring authentic North Carolina clog dancers. Texan, Jimmy Ray Odom of Palestine, Texas was elected president. T. Lafontine Odom of Charlotte, North Carolina was elected vice-president and the ever-faithful Victor L. Odom of North, South Carolina as secretary-treasurer. Helen Odum Harrell was retained as editor of the newsletter for another year.
By the summer of 1983, the National Odom Assembly had grown and its Austin, Texas meeting attracted Odoms from many states. Jimmy Ray and his elected staff and many volunteers had a most enjoyable meeting planned. The Texas barbecue was a huge success. Also at this meeting a constitution and bylaws were approved by the Assembly. Many genealogical charts and family history documents were on display. Governor Mark White honored certain of those in attendance with certificates of honorary citizenship at the banquet on the last night. Numerous other awards were given and a spirit of family and frivolity prevailed. The new officers elected were president Frank E. Odom of North Augusta, South Carolina; vice-president James E. Odom of Lexington, Kentucky; secretary-treasurer Victor L. Odom of North, South Carolina and newsletter editor Beverly Odom of Flint, Texas. As in past years a full slate of state representatives were again elected. The site for 1984 was voted to be Augusta, Georgia. A committee of four was selected to assist president Frank Odom.
The 1984 meeting carried us to Augusta, Georgia. Frank and his elected staff and volunteers were organized and well prepared for the record number in attendance. To celebrate our fifth anniversary, five-year attendance pins were awarded to everyone who had attended all five reunions. Each state representative furnished their state flag and these flags were a colorful addition as they were displayed in the meeting room. This began a tradition that has continued. Genealogical research was exchanged and viewed by many. Awards were presented and many, many door prizes were given. Good food and fantastic fun was enjoyed by all present. The officers for 1984-85 were president James E. Odom of Lexington, Kentucky; vice-president, Barbara Odom Strickland of Columbia, South Carolina; treasurer, Victor L. Odom of North, South Carolina and secretary-newsletter editor, Beverly Odom of Flint, Texas.
The 1985 meeting carried us to Lexington, Kentucky with James E. and Helen Odom as host and hostess. They had a great program planned. The hospitality room had an abundance of delicious goodies prepared by Helen. A tour of Lexington and the horse park was fun and informative. At the banquet on Saturday night many handmade wooden items made by James were given out. The NOA membership was still growing. As is our custom this meeting closed on Sunday morning with a chapel service. The officers elected for 1986 were president, Barbara Odom Strickland of Columbia, South Carolina; vice-president, John Denny of Tulsa, Oklahoma; treasurer, Victor L. Odom of North, South Carolina and secretary-newsletter editor, Henrietta Odom Luttmer of Sallisaw, Oklahoma.
1986 found us in Columbia, South Carolina for our seventh year of NOA conventions. Our organization is still growing. An enjoyable program was planned by Barbara and Jimmy Strickland with a number of volunteers assisting. A hospitality room with lots of goodies and a genealogy display room was provided. Helen Odum Harrell had her new book on the Odoms of North and South Carolina for sale. Jimmy and Barbara had NOA T-shirts on sale with the proceeds going toward the expense of the convention. On Friday night a southern barbecue was enjoyed and on Saturday a tour and luncheon was provided. The banquet on Saturday was good, an entertaining magician, door prizes were given and the final T-shirt was auctioned to the highest bidder. The officers elected for 1987 were president, John Denny of Tulsa, Oklahoma; vice-president, Pearl S. Odom of State Line, Mississippi; treasurer, Barbara Odom Strickland of Columbia, South Carolina replaced her dad, Victor who was recovering from major heart surgery and felt he needed to retire and secretary-newsletter editor, Henrietta Odom Luttmer of Sallisaw, Oklahoma. The chapel service on Sunday morning led by R. D. Odom closed the meeting.
The 1987 NOA convention was held in July in Tulsa, Oklahoma with host and hostess John and Amanda Denny planning a wonderful time. We gathered in a castle known as the Camelot Hotel. Again the hospitality room was great. A real Oklahoma barbecue followed by the outdoor drama of Oklahoma was a treat for all the visting Odoms. Entertainment at our meeting on Friday night were native American singers from Witt Memorial Methodist Church. At the Saturday night banquet everyone enjoyed the American Indian dancers in costume and performing authentic dances. The Lords Prayer was performed in signs. For the finale the audience participated in a friendship dance. An authentic Indian teepee was displayed in the parking lot for all to inspect and enjoy. Awards were presented and door prizes were given out. As at previous conventions, there was time allowed for business meetings and free time. Officers elected for 1988 were president, Pearl S. Odom of Stateline, Mississippi; vice-president, Bertha Odom Cosby of Mobile, Alabama; treasurer, Elna Counterman of Claremore, Oklahoma and secretary-newsletter editor, Amanda L. Denny of Tulsa, Oklahoma. The traditional chapel service on Sunday morning closed this meeting.
In July 1988 Jackson, Mississippi was the site of the NOA convention. There was a total of 151 in attendance at the Sheraton Regency Convention Center. Pearl had planned a great program. The hospitality room and genealogy room were busy places for visiting, researching and fellowship. The usual business meetings were held, free time to do some sight-seeing and visiting old and new friends was enjoyed by all. The banquet on Saturday featured southern fried catfish with all the trimmings. Everyone was entertained by a wonderful group of cloggers. A photo session was held by a photographer with prints made available for sale. Pearl and her staff did a wonderful job. Officers elected for 1989 were president, Bertha Odom Cosby of Mobile, Alabama; vice-president, Emma Cox Odom of West Fork, Arkansas; treasurer, Elna H. Counterman of Claremore, Oklahoma and secretary-newsletter editor, Amanda L. Denny of Tulsa, Oklahoma. Chapel service on Sunday morning concluded this meeting.
Everyone looked forward to the tenth anniversary of the National Odom Assembly in Mobile, Alabama in July 1989.
The next 10 years saw a large growth in the NOA, as our reunions became more organized and structured as well. Along with a chance to do genealogical research in different places each year, they gave an opportunity to see long-distant cousins who quickly became fast friends as well. Held in different locales around the country, they also offered opportunities to see places that might not necessarily be seen otherwise. By 1995, it was acknowledged that the original membership was aging, but younger families were also finding out about the fun of family research in the NOA. By this time also there were more activities planned for everyone: usually a Friday night dinner get-together at a local restaurant, sightseeing after the Saturday morning business meeting, and a lively Saturday night formal banquet. The traditional chapel service on Sunday morning wound up the reunion. Along with the structured events, everyone was made aware of local attractions, as many family vacations came to be planned around the middle week of July. For early arrivals, Thursday activities began to be included. Larger cities, such as Salt Lake City (1991), New Orleans (1995), Charleston (1998), and Tampa (1999) provided many more possibilities.
Held in downtown San Antonio, Texas, at the historic Menger Hotel next door to the Alamo with the Riverwalk just across the street. A great Texas-sized celebration in 2000.
Eufaula, Alabama. One of the highlights this year was the beginning of the ODOM yDNA Project. which is advertised as being THE way to sort out all our ODOMs. Another was the beautiful service with flowers tossed in the lake in memory of our departed ODOMs.
Raleigh, North Carolina. Neither heat nor rain dampened the spirits of our ODOMs as they gathered to share good times and information on our families, past and present.
Richmond, Indiana, east of Indianapolis, was the site for the ODOMs to gather once again and a good time was had by all. The ODOM yDNA Project is beginning to really show results and some “supposed cousins” became “just friends” and some old friends were recognized as cousins.
Held in Hartsfield, South Carolina, in July.
Was held in Augusta, Georgia.
Was held in Hodgenville, Kentucky.
Was held in Hattiesburg, MS
Was held in Chattanooga, TN
Was held in Melbourne, Florida
Was held in Savannah, Georgia
Was held in Nacogdoches Texas
Was held in Russellville, Arkansas
Was held in Mateo, North Carolina
Was held in Eufaula, Alabama
This history transcribed through 1999 from: National Odom Assembly Cook Book – Tenth Anniversary – Favorite Recipes; A Book of Favorite Recipes Compiled by Victor and Beatrice Odom – Charter Members of the N.O.A. for The National Odom Assembly On Their 10th Anniversary – 1989