sidebar menu icon


ODEM, DAVID (1857–1925). David Odem, sheriff, rancher, and businessman, was born near Gussettville in Live Oak County, Texas, on February 14, 1857, the son of David and Elizabeth (Timon) Odem. His father died when he was three, and he began working in the stock-raising business as a boy. He was educated in private schools in Live Oak County. On March 3, 1877, he married Adeline Gallagher; the couple had eight children. Around 1880 he moved with his family to San Patricio County and became involved in ranching. He was elected sheriff of San Patricio County in 1882 and served two terms before refusing reelection in 1886. That year he sold his cattle and moved back to Live Oak County. In 1896 he returned to San Patricio County after citizens there petitioned him to return and resume his duties as sheriff. He served until 1914. In the early 1890s Odem became a partner in the Sinton Town Company, which laid out the town of Sinton in central San Patricio County. He purchased the Sinton general store of L. N. Schofield in 1901 and operated it until 1907, when it was chartered as a stock company under the name Sinton Mercantile Company. In 1908 he and several others founded a newspaper, the San Patricio County News, which operated for three years. Over the years Odem acquired a large amount of land, some of it through sheriff sales. Near the railroad flag stop Dofin in the southern part of the county he had a 110-acre site platted as a townsite, which was named Odem after him. Odem was a colorful character, and there are many stories about his days as sheriff. Though he was known for not wearing a gun, he commanded the respect of county residents and would merely send word to a wanted man to turn himself in. Odem was also known for his long-standing opposition to the Ku Klux Klan. In 1914, after the largely Protestant recent settlers in the county began to gain political power in county politics, Odem resigned his position as sheriff. He died on November 10, 1925, at Santa Rosa Hospital in San Antonio after an operation.

Corpus Christi Caller, November 11, 1925. Corpus Christi Times, November 10, 1925. Lewis E. Daniell, Texas-The Country and Its Men (Austin?, 1924?).
Frank Wagner

Image Use Disclaimer

All copyrighted materials included within the Handbook of Texas Online are in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 related to Copyright and “Fair Use” for Non-Profit educational institutions, which permits the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA), to utilize copyrighted materials to further scholarship, education, and inform the public. The TSHA makes every effort to conform to the principles of fair use and to comply with copyright law.

For more information go to:

If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.


The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Handbook of Texas Online, Frank Wagner, "Odem, David," accessed January 18, 2018,

Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.