JAMES R. ODELL, druggist at Fremont, son of Jonathan and Mahala (Prouty) Odell, was born in Hillsdale Co., Mich., April 21, 1841. His parents were natives of New York, where they were married, and soon after removed to Michigan and settled in Hillsdale County. They remained there for several years after the death of his father, which occurred in 1854, when his mother came to this county and settled in Fremont, about the year 1867.
James R. remained under the parental roof until 16 years of age, attending the common schools. He then learned the carpenter and joiner's trade, which he followed for nearly five years previous to the breaking out of the rebellion. In September, 1864, he enlisted in the 11th Mich. Cav., and, after serving till the close of the war, was honorably discharged at Knoxvile, Tenn. He participated in several engagements, and was at the capture of Salisbury prison, N.C. After his term of service had expired he returned to Hillsdale Co., Mich., and worked at his trade a short time, when he was taken very sick with typhoid fever, in consequence of which he was unable to work for eight months. After his recovery, in the spring of 1866, he came to Fremont where he worked at his trade about two years. He purchased 90 acres of wild land in Sheridan Township, upon which he worked during one summer and was afterward employed in a general store in Fremont, owned by John Delamater. In two years he purchased a one-half interest in the store, and the firm was known as Delamater & Odell. This partnership continued for about six months, when Mr. Odell sold out his interest to John DeHaas, but remained as clerk until the store was destroyed by fire some two years later. He assisted in settling up the business of the firm and during the following winter was engaged in lumbering, adn was also afterwards in the employ of John DeHaas for a short time. Afterwards he and his brother bought out the stock of drugs and groceries owned by Dr. Root and son. This partnership continued about two years, when he bought out the interest of his brother in the drug department, and in another year sold his own interest in the grocery department to his brother. For a short time the drug store was carried on by Odell & Manly, wehn the latter withdrew, and the business is now conducted by Mr. Odell, who is the leading druggist of the county. He commenced in 1877 to build the fine brick building he now occupies and moved his stock of goods in Febraury 1878.
Mr. Odell was first married in Hillsdale Co., Mich., March 3, 1861, to Mary, daughter of Francis and Minerva (Smith) More, a native of Michigan. She afterward died, October 1864, leaving one child, born Dec. 127, 1863. Mr. Odell was again married, in Hesperia, this county, in the year 1867, to Alice, daughter of Daniel Joslin, and they have had three children: Mary, Eva M. and Pearl; the former is deceased. Mr. Odell has held the office of Township Clerk for ten consecutive years; is a member of the Masonic Order, and has filled various offices in his lodge, having served two years as Master, and is also Commander of Henry Dobson Post, G.A.R. In politics he is identified with the Democratic party. He has been a member of the Village Board, serving as President or Trustee since its incorporation; was also member of the School Board when the graded system went into effect, and is still a member of the same.