Peaceful Valley Cemetery

By John Soper


BOARD OF TRUSTEES: Ruth Mary Uhls ~ Bill Hawley ~ John Soper


Social Scientists who want to know the make up of a community usually study the institutions of that community. They will check on businesses, schools, churches and neighborhoods as well as local politics. But if they really want to know the community they will go to the cemetery. How a cemetery looks says a lot about that community. Because cemeteries are considered sacred by many people, how they are maintained reflects on the community itself. Cemeteries are the last wordly address of people who have died, therefore they are sacred to many people.

Cemetery 2Odin is a community that has always taken pride in its cemetery. Odin became a village in 1860 and the cemetery was doing business shortly thereafter. A person making a trip to Peaceful Valley Cemetery today would find it truly peaceful. The roads are good, the lots are well maintained, and it would stand inspection and reflect very well on the community.

Let us take a walk in Odin’s Cemetery as it is today. We will go in the main gate which is the Northern part of the cemetery. We will stop first at the war memorials. On our left we see the large WWI Memorial that used to sit by a depot platform. When we used to ride trains this memorial was quite a sight. It is still a great sight having been kept in good shape by the cemetery officials. A person should spend some time at this spot. Read the names of the men who have fought in American Wars. Remember these are ones who paid the price so we could enjoy the lives we have today. On this spot is where the American Flag is flying.

When we are finished here we should walk over to the Old cemetery across the road to the right. We should look closely at these stories These are the first settlers of Odin, and they had a vision of what Odin should be. The people lying here lived in a different age. They had pride and confidence in their community and they passed it on before they died. The day is warm and the wind is rustling in the trees. Some of these trees have been here for a long time, and some have not. They all have one thing in common, they are well maintained, and they give peace and beauty to the cemetery. Standing at the tool shed and looking southwest we can see the village park and baseball field. Between the tool shed and village park is the pride and joy of Odin, Goose Creek. It has been stated that if you get your feet wet in Goose Creek you will always come back to Odin.

We move now to the Southeast part of the cemetery. This is the new part of the cemetery, and it contains two hundred and thirty-eight lots with four grave spaces each. It is beginning to fill up. It is a beautiful place with a circle drive. It was the vision of Raymond Woods, the skill of Wilbur Hawley and civic dedication of Marvin Jenkins that made it that way. As we move along the East part of the cemetery we pass through Cemetery Three. There is a wood that borders the cemetery that adds to the peace of the place. As we get to the Northeast, which is the Shields Addition we can see the Southern most part of town. It is also beautiful and peaceful just like the rest of the cemetery. It takes about an hour to take this walk. As I moved through this cemetery and saw the beauty and peace of the place it made me feel good to be a part of the Odin community. We were always taught to respect the dead. The way Mick Kelly keeps this cemetery shows respect for the dead and respect for this community.

We will now attempt to discuss the specific nomenclature of Odin Cemetery Maintenance District Peaceful Valley Cemetery.

The Old Cemetery has four blocks and 200 lots. The last four rows of lots in Blocks 3 and 4 were used for paupers. The people in this cemetery are the first citizens of this community. Some of them died in the early 1860’s. Poor records make it hard to determine the exact time. Records were kept by the village clerk and some did better than others, as recorded by H.W.Jackson in 1913.

Odin Cemetery #2 has six blocks and three hundred and seventy-three lots. They were selling lots in this cemetery in 1895 and sold lots till 1970. This is the largest of the cemeteries. It stretches out on both sides of the main cemetery road. Some people were buried in the cemetery before 1900 and some will be buried long after the century has been over.

The Shields Addition to Odin Cemetery became a part of the cemetery in 1912, and began selling lots in 1919. The addition contains four blocks and one hundred and forty lots. It is the site of the veterans monument. During the Depression and WWII the addition did a great service for the community. In 1959 the West Cemetery Avenue Addition opened for business. It has two blocks and sixty-six lots. Within two years fifty-five lots were sold. A short time later it was completely filled. It was a beautiful addition to the cemetery. Cemetery Three has two blocks and one hundred and ninety-two lots. It began selling lots in 1966. By 1999 it was full up. It also sets on both sides of the main drive.

The rest of the Odin Cemetery is made of up Merritt Street Addition added in 1906. Blocks A and B contain 20 lots. North Street Addition has 20 lots. East Street Addition has 8 lots. South Roadway Addition has 30 lots. The new Cemetery Four has four blocks and two hundred and thirty-eight lots. If you total them all up you have around 1287 lots. When you look at the whole cemetery you will see it is a large job to keep it in the shape it should be. The job gets bigger as the cemetery gets larger. But we know that in recent years that job has been done well.

Cemeteries are made up of people who have died. Let us take a look at some of the individuals who lie in rest in Peaceful Valley Cemetery.

In Old Cemetery Block One Lot One, Grave Space One lies Dr. John Fyke. He came to Odin in 1866. He lived in a house on Wood Street, two houses South of the B&O Railroad Tracks. He married Minerva T. Phillips September 1, 1867. They had three sons. Dr. Fyke and his wife were life-long members of the Methodist Episcopal Church. It set on Perkins Street two houses South of the Irvin Funeral Home. He opened an office on South Main Street, South of the Depot in 1866 where he practiced medicine for fifty years. He was successful and well loved from the start. During his fifty years of practice he wore out seventy-five horses and three automobiles and traveled about 300,000 miles over Marion County Roads.

One of Odin’s early settlers was James M. Garretson 1837-1876. He is buried in the Old Cemetery Block One Lot 41. He was called Capt. Garrison. His father was a Captain under Andrew Jackson at the Battle of New Orleans.

James came back to Odin in 1863 after losing an arm in the battle for Vicksburg. Marion County History states that he started the first hotel in Odin in 1859. It stood at the corner of Perkisn and South main Street. In 1865 four men had to pay income tax in Odin and Garretson was one of them. James Garrison was the first postmaster of Odin.

William Aird was an Odin business man who owned a hotel on North Main Street. It had a bowling alley and a bar. In 1864 the hotel, bowling alley, and bar burned down. It was thought that the fire was set. He rebuilt his business and he had a very nice hotel. Then years later it burned to the ground. He died in 1878 and lies in Old Cemetery Block One Lot 57.

In 1898 Charles Denman worked at the Odin Coal Mine. He rode the cage to the top and the cage stopped a little high off the ground landing. It was dark and the lighting was poor and he stepped off falling back down the shaft 715 feet below. Rumor says that the company would not let the men off for the funeral so they buried him at night. He rests In Peaceful Valley Cemetery in an unmarked grave.

Cemetery 3The first dwelling in Odin was built by N.B. Morrison. He was the first president of the Odin Coal Company. He was a civil engineer, was elected to the General Assembly of the State in 1874, and elected mayor of Odin in 1883 and was re-elected in 1884. Mr. Morrison was engaged in the grain business. He lies in rest at Old Cemetery Block One Lot 56.

Grover Lowdermilk was a major league baseball player. He pitched in the 1919 World Series. This series was known as the Black Sox Series. Grover did not take park in trying to fix it. He lost because ther were so many errors made behind him. After he stopped playing he lived in the North part of town. He lies in rest in Cemetery Two, Block Two, Lot 134.

A.M. Woodward came to Marion County in 1863 and purchased a farm two miles West of Odin. By 1866 he was engaged in the hay, grain, and lumber business. Mr. Woodward took active part in the coal company. He was known for his shrewd business judgment. He lies in rest in Old Cemetery Block Two, Lot 50.

The Odin Cemetery has served veterans in the Civil War, The Spanish American War, and two World Wars. It continued to serve in Korean War and the Vietnam War; it will always serve veterans in the wars to come. There are still grave spaces that are reserved for any veteran that has a need for one.

Odin has always had a cemetery of which it could be proud. The citizens of the community have made sure that their cemetery reflects the pride of their community. It was the individual citizen, giving of their own time and talents, that made Peaceful Valley Cemetery the place of serenity it is today.

There is no way we can be sure what individuals contributed to the cemetery in its earliest years. But people living now can remember the contributions of many individuals both living and deceased. We would like to remember some of these now.

Albert Hawley took care of the cemetery before we had high priced machines that did all the work for you. He had to dig the graves using a shovel. He did the mowing with a push mower, walking the entire area of the cemetery. Mowing and cleaning around each monument day after day and week after week till the job was done to his satisfaction. It took a lot of steps to cover the entire cemetery but he did it and made the cemetery look like he wanted it to.

Albert Burton for many years took care of the cemetery. He took a person interest in making it a place the whole community could be proud of. He worked day and night to keep things looking good. It would be very hard to measure the dedication that Albert had for the cemetery. It was made better because of him.

Dan Fisher was an Odin business man. He operated stores in Odin for many years. He was also a strong supporter of the Odin cemetery. He played an important part in the opening of the west side addition. Dan went from door to door selling lots for that addition and making sure that the addition would become a reality.

Ples Wilson came to Odin shortly after WWII. He came as a business man but it became apparent that he also came as a good citizen. He became involved in Odin as a whole. It was no surprise that he served the cemetery. He was interested in the cemetery from the time he came to Odin till the day he died. He did more for the cemetery, than most know, because he was not the type to bring attention to himself.

Ben Purvis was a business man in Odin for years. After he retired from this business he spent a large amount of time in the cemetery. He made the road in the western part of the cemetery his personal road to take care of. Ben showed a great deal of dedication toward his cemetery, the same type that has kept our cemetery going for many years.

H.W. Jackson was a village clerk for many years. He spent many hours working and revising the early records. They had been poorly kept; some were burned and a great deal of what we have today, we owe to his efforts.

Memorial Day was first started in the south. A group of women got together to put flowers on the graves of the South. Word got around and it was not long before women of the North began to put flowers on the graves of the North. Women have played a great role in promoting respect for cemeteries.

There was a time when a young boy sitting on the back row in the Odin Christian Church know that a certain time of the year Marie Tate would get up and address the church. She would remind us that Memorial day was coming up. There was going to be a program at the Cemetery and we were all expected to be there. She had a great respect for the cemetery, and she thought we should also. We went and there was a large crowd. They would back a flat bed truck into the old pat of the cemetery. This truck was the stage. For many years Wally Goodall would get up on that truck and sing to the crowd. Wally was a great singer using his talent to benefit the cemetery.

Cemetery 4Irma Emmett loved Odin Cemetery. If there was a need at the cemetery, Irma would be there. She had an internet in making the cemetery look the very best it could. She got involved in the planting of trees and the way the roads looked. She believed that each citizen should be proud of the cemetery and do their best to keep it in shape.

Mildred Hawley served as Secretary of the Odin Cemetery. It was supposed to be for a short time, but she spent many years watching over the care of the cemetery. She likes for things to be done right. She understood that the cemetery was special and should be treated special. The cemetery was a better place because of her concern and hard work. There are of course many more women who have made contributions to the Odin Cemetery but time, space, and a limit of knowledge leaves their stories untold.

We have tried to inform our readers about the Cemetery in Odin. We have attempted to describe the cemetery itself, the people who have died and are buried there, and also some of the people who have played a part in keeping it going. Times change, but the community’s duty remains the same, keeping the cemetery in a condition that shows pride and respect for the dead and the community as well. Visit our community, you will leave with a feeling of pride.