Profiles from the Archives: William F. Odom

Author: 
Matthew M. Peek, Military Collection Archivist

William France Odom was born on November 24, 1895, in Wayne County, N.C., to William B. and Jeannette Price Odom. By 1900, the Odom family was living on a farm in Wayne County, where the older William Odom worked as a farmer. By the time of his federal draft registration for World War I, William F. Odom was working as a tenant farmer for Jessie R. Price, on land a quarter of a mile south of Dudley, N.C. He was inducted into service for WWI in Goldsboro, N.C., on July 5, 1918.

Odom was assigned in the U.S. Army to Motor Company #1 at Camp Greenleaf, Georgia, where he remained for training through August 14, 1918. He was transferred to Motor Company #9 at the camp, in which unit he remained through September 12, 1918. Before being shipped overseas, Odom was transferred to the U.S. Army’s Medical Department [believed to be as a driver for medical trucks carrying patients]. On Armistice Day—November 11, 1918—Odom left from the United States aboard a troop transport ship for Europe. His job or service locations during the war are unknown, as few of his records are available.

Odom remained in Europe stationed at various U.S. Army base hospitals as a driver it appears. He was promoted to the rank of Private First Class on March 10, 1919. On May 21, 1919, William Odom and a number of other enlisted Army soldiers were ordered to serve as attendants for a convoy of mental patients from Savenay, France, to the port at Brest, France, where the patients would be returning to the U.S. Odom seems to have been involved in this type of work during the U.S. Army of Occupation’s time in Europe, where he remained until arriving back in the U.S. on June 18, 1919. After returning to the U.S., Odom was sent to Camp Lee, Virginia, where he was honorably discharged from active Army service on July 1, 1919.

After the war, William Odom returned to Wayne County. On January 7, 1922, married Glendora Weaver [who went by “Glennie”] in Wayne County. By 1930, the Odom family was living in the community of Brogden, just south of Goldsboro, N.C., where William worked as a farmer on his own farm. By 1940, the Odoms were still in Brogden on a farm, where they raised their seven children. During World War II, Odom’s son William F. Odom Jr. was inducted into military service in the U.S. Army in April 1945, though it appears he never served overseas during the war.

Odom continued to work as and would retire as a farmer in the Mount Olive, N.C., area. William F. Odom died on July 5, 1992, in Wayne County, N.C. At the time of his death, he was the only surviving World War I veteran in the Mount Olive area.

This blog post is part of the State Archives of North Carolina’s World War I Social Media Project, an effort to bring original WWI archival materials to the public through the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources’ (NCDNCR) various social media platforms, in order to increase access to the items during the WWI centennial celebration by the state of North Carolina.

Between February 2017 and June 2019, the State Archives of North Carolina will be posting blog articles, Facebook posts, and Twitter posts, featuring WWI archival materials which are posted on the exact 100th anniversary of their creation during the war. Blog posts will feature interpretations of the content of WWI documents, photographs, diary entries, posters, and other records, including scans of the original archival materials, held by the State Archives of North Carolina, and will be featured in NCDNCR’s WWI centennial blog.