MORRIS ODELL was born in New Jersey in May of 1863 to John H. and Isabella Odell. His father was a farmer, and in 1860 the family lived in Marlboro, Monmouth County, New Jersey. The 1880 Census shows that he was living with his older brother Lawrence, sister-in-law Sarah, and nephew Morris in Madison, New Jersey, which is in Middlesex County. Morris Odell was then working as a clerk in a store, according to the census sheets.

The 1883-1884 and 1884-1885 Camden City Directory shows Morris Odell living at 442 Bridge Avenue. He was then working as a clerk for the Pennsylvania Railroad. Morris Odell married Althea Flaglor Hayes on February 19, 1885. The Odells lived briefly at 612 South 2nd Street, then moved to Burlington, where they resided through at least the early part of 1888. 

Morris Odell continued to work for the railroad through the 1880s and 1890s. While in Burlington Morris and Althea Odell started a family. On March 28, 1886 a son, Lawrence Bisset Odell was born, followed by daughters Mabel Hayes Odell on October 3, 1887 and Isabella on April 8, 1889.

Morris Odell is listed as a fireman in the 1889 Burlington City Directory. He appears to have been a pretty good baseball player in these times, as evidenced by a newspaper article stating that he was the center fielder for the Burlington Reserve Base Ball team that year. The Odells had returned to Camden for good by the time the 1890-1891 City Directory was compiled, and took up residence at his former home at 442 Bridge Avenue. Another son, Floyd, came on March 25, 1891, and a daughter, Lillian Middleton Odell, on July 27, 1894. Sadly, and all too common at the time, one of the Odell children, Mabel, passed on February 20, 1894. The family was then still living at 442 Bridge Avenue. The 1897 and 1898 Directories show the family at 316 Bridge Avenue. They moved to 232 Mickle Street in time for the compilation of the 1899 Directory. By the spring of 1900 they had moved to 315 Mickle Street in South Camden, where they lived across the street from the home of the late poet Walt Whitman, who lived across the street at 328 Mickle Street, and of architect Stephen Decatur Button, who had lived at 330 Mickle Street.

Morris Odell had come to Camden as an employee of the Pennsylvania Railroad, worked through 1900 as a fireman. He had job skills however that would take him considerably farther. He appears to have gone into politics as a Republican and by 1904 had been appointed to the position of Assistant City Clerk, where he worked for many years under William D. Brown. When Brown was appointed Camden County Clerk in December of 1920 in the wake of Francis Ford Patterson Jr.'s election to Congress, Morris Odell was elevated to the position of City Clerk.

Morris Odell also belonged to Camden Lodge 293, Benevolent Protective Order of Elks. He was elected Exalted Ruler of the Camden lodge in 1912, and in December of 1913, when the Elks lodges throughout around New Jersey formed a state-wide organization, was elected its first President.

The 1910 Census indicates that daughter Isabella had wed. Morris and Althea Odell and their remaining children then lived at 732 Washington Street. The 1914 Camden City Directory shows the Odells at 771 Wright Avenue. The three children were still at home. Lawrence Odell had for the moment left the railroad to operate a fish business at 315 Broadway. Floyd and Lillian were both working as clerks. Floyd married soon afterwards and moved to Cramer Hill.

Morris Odell was still working in the City Clerk's office and active in Elks affairs on a state-wide basis as late as November of 1922. He passed away at home on January 4, 1923.

By the time the 1924 Camden City Directory was compiled Morris Odell had passed away. Althea Odell was then living at 550 Washington Street. Mrs. Odell was living at 400 Chambers Avenue in 1940 and at 401 South 7th Street in 1943. She had passed by the time the 1947 City Directories listings were assembled

Of Morris and Althea Odell's four surviving children, what became of daughters Lillian and Isabella is not known as of this writing. Oldest son Lawrence Odell returned to his father's original vocation, working for the railroad for many years. He resided for a number of years with his mother. The 1940 Camden City Directory shows him working as a stationary engineer and living at 310 South 5th Street. Lawrence Odell passed away on August 30, 1942 and was buried at Evergreen Cemetery. Younger son Floyd Odell married Edna May McMeekin and moved to Cramer Hill. A grandson, Morris McMeekin Odell, was born June 24, 1915 to Floyd and Edna, named after his two grandfathers. Floyd Odell worked in Camden's shipyards.

Morris McMeekin Odell was appointed to the Camden Fire Department on July 31, 1941. He reported for duty the next day, and remained with the department into the mid 1960s. His son, Robert M. Odell, who is the great-grandson of the subject of this article, was appointed to the Camden Fire Department on August 1, 1961. Robert M. Odell retired from the Camden Fire Department on February 1, 1993. Between father and son, the Odells had served the City of Camden continuously for over 61 years.

Philadelphia Inquirer - March 22, 1889
Burlington Reserve Base Ball Club - John Barckley
John Rodman - George Sison - Harry Phillips
Edward Thompson - David Avery - William Lippincott
Morris Odell - Thomas Allen - Elwood Hepworth 

Philadelphia Inquirer - February 20, 1894
Bridge Avenue

Camden Daily Courier * September 18, 1902
Robert F. Miller - Albertson Matlack - Albert Keaser - John Corbettt - George V. Murry - James S. Hanson
Samuel P. Jones - Theodore Leas - John S. Broome - Benjamin Lawton - Morris Odell - Joseph Nowrey



Trenton Times
November 4, 1904

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PDF File of Full Article




Philadelphia Inquirer - November 23, 1904
John S. Roberts - Morris Odell

Philadelphia Inquirer - February 3, 1905
Charles H. Ellis - Morris Odell - Harry Humphreys

Philadelphia Inquirer - July 28, 1905
Jim Hicks - South 2nd Street - Bridge Avenue


Philadelphia Inquirer
September 28, 1905

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J. Leroy Willis - Kathryn Esworthy -  Morris Odell - Lawrence B. Odell

Philadelphia Inquirer - May 7,1906

Floyd Odell - Morris Odell - Mickle Street

Philadelphia Inquirer - December 12, 1906

Camden Post-Telegram
December 12, 1908

S. Linokoski - Annie Nevlin
Albert Austermuhl - Harry Foulkes
William Fithian - Louis Munyan
Louis Leigh - Edward Holloway
Walter Smith -
Crawford Smith
Charles Adkins - Hollis Lightfoot
Morris Odell - George W. Kruck
William P. Walsh
Wilfred B. Wolcott
O. Glen Stackhouse


Philadelphia Inquirer - April 15, 1910

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Philadelphia Inquirer - August 10, 1911

Samuel L. Jones - Morris Odell - Cooper Street

Philadelphia Inquirer
December 15, 1913

Philadelphia Inquirer - April 22, 1921

Birth Certificate Issued by Morris Odell
December 4, 1921




Philadelphia Inquirer
July 11, 1922

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Trenton Times
November 16, 1922
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Trenton Times - January 24, 1923

Camden Courier-Post - May 14, 1934