"IT STARTED WITH A SAWMILL......"
The town of Odum had its beginning in the sawmill industry that flourished on the great
harvest of the celebrated virgin growth of pine trees with their esteemed "solid heart."
Records show that the "Haslum" post office was established on July 31, 1871, and that
the name of the office was changed to Odum on March 8, 1887. The first date indicated
that the Odum community is possibly over 100 years old.
Melton Boyd, a resident of Odum for over 80 years, says that the post office was called
Satilla for a period before it was named Odum. An early map of the Macon and
Brunswick Railway shows Satilla as a stop on the railroad, and the site of a sawmill
was on the Satilla Creek which flows to the west of Odum.
The members of the Haslum family were landowners and saw mill operators in different
sections of the former and present Wayne County for many years. J.H. Haslum and E.
J. Haslum, of Chatham County, bought a sawmill, 47 mules and horses, and a variety of
equipment, including "locomotives and railroad iron" in Waynesville in 1892.
In the same year, George W. Haslum, also of Chatham County, purchased and sold
within the period of twelve months a sawmill and a range of property located near
Waynesville. One of the deals made by George Haslum was that of the "Rogers locomotive
designated as Number Five.
The Haslum sawmill was in operation in the vicinity of the present city of Odum about
1870. During that time, the Odum stop on the Macon and Brunswick Railway was
called "Number Five," and it is likely that Haslum had given that name to the locomotive
and sold at Waynesville in 1892.
Although many Haslums were around, the city of Odum could have just as easily been
called Poppell. But there was, in fact, a better reason to call it Odum.
James A. Poppell sold land lots numbered 121, 122, 123, 140, 175, and 177 which
comprised 2,940 acres including the whole of Odum and the surrounding section to
Godfrey Odum in 1879. This sale of the six lots was the initial swell in the wave of land
speculation in the Odum section. On December 23, 1881, approximately two years
after buying the lots, Godfrey Odum sold them to K.A. Smith for $5,000, making a profit
On that same day, Smith sold the 2,940 acres tract to R.B. Lutterloh of North Carolina
for a profit of $500. In 1882, Lutterloh sold a half-interest to Henry and John Elliott
and operated under the name of Lutterloh, Elliott and Company. The three bought a tract of
6,700 acres lying between Odum and Goose Creek from W.H. Whaley.
However, on January 10, 1884, Godfrey Odum bought the six lots of land again. This
time, he paid $3,200 for them and once again became the owner of Odum and the vicinity.
In 1888, Godfrey Odum gave a half acre to the trustees of the Methodist
Episcopal Church to serve as "a dwelling" for Methodist ministers. John R.
Roberson was the purchaser of a quarter-acre lot in 1890 and, in the same year,
George Reddish and Spencer Poppell bought "a part of lot 121." In the
following year, the firm of Reddish and Poppell bought a storehouse and lot and,
again, Godfrey Odum gave a quarter acre to the Methodist Church Trustees.
Leonard Carter bought another parcel of one and one-half acres in 1892, well on
his way to becoming a prominent merchant.
Records for a 20-year period ending in 1903 show Godfrey Odum did not
confine his purchases to the Odum community. He eventually sold in the third
land district, which comprised the town of Odum, three times the acreage in the
original six lots. He bought and sold a large number of city lots in Jesup. In his
first years, he sold more than 4,000 acres in fourth and district lying south of
Odum, and this acreage included the famous J.P. Shedd dairy farm tract.
Jim Collins is said to be Odum's earliest carpenter and contractor. He built the
John B. Roberson house about 1890. The oldest home in Odum faces the
northside of the railway, and stands on the street leading northward to the school
The O'Quinn block on the northside of the railway was Odum's biggest
business. The block was erected by W.J. O'Quinn in 1912. The old Bennett
mill, owned by John Bennett, west of Odum, was a big operation for a long time.
First, there was a water mill grinding corn and cleaning rice. Later, it became a
sawmill operated by three 20-horse power engines, but using only one set of
Common Sense was the name of a newspaper published weekly at Odum. The
January 28, 1918 edition shows that G.H. Shriner as the editor and publisher. The
number of that edition was 79, indicating that the publication was started in 1916.
Among the interesting features of the 1918 edition was a complete directory of the
new telephone subscribers of Odum.
In the early days of Odum, Godfrey Odum set two rows of oak trees that formed
a shaded lane along the present business section of Odum on the southside of the
railway. A public well stood near the present Pearce Store on Highway 341.