Biography of Hon. Benjamin B. Odell
Orange County, NY Biographies





HON. BENJAMIN B. ODELL. - In reviewing the life of this venerable and distinguished citizen of Newburgh, a few words regarding his ancestry will not be amiss. The family is of French and English descent, but has been represented in America for many generations. His grandfather, William Odell, was born in New York City, and there for some years he was proprietor of the Bull's Head Tavern. In 1835 he moved to Orleans County, N. Y., where he bought a tract of land and with the assistance of his two sons improved a valuable farm. His death occurred there at the age of more than ninety years.

Isaac Odell, the father of our subject, was born in Tarrytown, Westchester County, N. Y., and reared in New York City, whence, about 1820, he came to Orange County, settling on the DeWitt Clinton farm at Little Britain, where he remained until 1830, when he removed to Newburgh and was employed in the freighting business with the firm of Powell, Wardrop & Johnson, with whom he remained until his retirement from business. He died at the age of sixty five. His wife, Mary A., was also a native of Westchester County. She died in New York City in her eighty first year. Their family consisted of two sons and two daughters, of whom Benjamin B. was the second in order of birth. He was born in the Governor Clinton homestead, New Windsor town, September to, 1825, and reared in Newburgh, where he attended the public schools. In 1843 he entered the employ of B. W. Van Nort, in the restaurant and hotel business where he remained until 1847, when he embarked in business for himself, opening a restaurant in Third street. Twenty years later he sold and abandoned the business permanently.

Mr. Odell foresaw a promising field in the ice business, and. in 1863 purchased from James R. Dixon the ice property now known as Muchattoes Lake, and conducted the business personally until 1886, when he organized the Muchattoes Lake Ice Company, of which he has since remained president.

Mr. Odell was one of the organizers of the Columbus Trust Company in 1892, and was the first president, but resigned after one year in office. He is president of the Central Hudson Steamboat Company and a director in the Orange County Traction Company.

For over sixty years Mr. Odell has been prominently identified with the administration of public affairs of Newburgh and Orange County. In 1863 he was trustee of the village; 1865, alderman from the Third ward: 1879, supervisor of the town of New Windsor; 1880 to 1883, sheriff of Orange County. In 1884 he was elected mayor of Newburgh, continuing in that office until 1890, when he refused to be a candidate for another term. In 1894, however, he was again nominated and reelected mayor, serving until 1900. During the twelve years of his administration the city witnessed the creation of many public improvements and an era of great progress and increase in population.

Amid the multiplicity of his public and private affairs, Mr. Odell has never allowed his religious duties to be neglected. In the American Reformed Church he has been an official, serving at different times as elder and deacon. In 1850 he married Miss Ophelia, daughter of Hiram Bookstaver, of the town of Montgomery. Eleven children were born to them, of whom four are living: Benjamin B., Jr., Governor of New York State (1900 to 1904) ; Hiram B., postmaster of Newburgh; Clara, who resides with her father, and George C. D., professor in Columbia University, New York City.

By his energy and resolute character, coupled with a genial disposition, Mr. Odell has not only advanced his own success, but has given an impetus to the growth and prosperity of Newburgh by his progressive spirit and enterprise.

From:
The History of Orange County New York
Edited by: Russel Headley
Van Deusen and Elms, Publishers
Middletown, N. Y. 1908


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