My Brick Wall - Leonidas and Emma (Johnston)Odom Trinity, Texas 1880's

+2 votes
Hello again!

I have a serious brick wall I have been trying to knock down for over 20 years now. Growing up, I was told that my Great-Granny Martha Ann (Odom) Shaw, never knew her parents, as they died when she was very young.

After 18 years of searching, I did mange to find probate records of Mattie Odom in Trinity County, Texas, that lists her father AND her mother's name - Leonidas Odom and Emma Johnson Odom. Emma and Leonidas show up in the 1880 census in Trinity with baby Emma, but she must have died before 1885. I found Emma Johnson on the census in Texas and her father's name, Robert Isaac Johnson. Robert was the one who claimed guardianship for Mattie when she was 5 years old. Leonidas was one of the first land owners of Trinity County, Texas due to the homestead act. I did find in that information that he was married at the time in 1876 - of course, luck would have it - the marriage records from 1873-1877 have been lost.

So, my brick wall you ask? Leonidas appears on the 1870 census, along with this sister as Leonidas PURVIS and Martha PURVIS, living with Lucie Purvis. They live next door to John and Nancy (Purvis) Odom. The census does NOT state that Leonidas and Martha are Lucie's children. Leonidas is 12 and Martha is 9. So, I got back to the 1860 census in Texas and I can find Lucie Purvis, living with John and sister Nancy Odom, but there is NO SIGN of Leonidas anywhere! It is as if he never existed! And WHY would he have the last name of Purvis? Could people just change their last names on a whim? There are too many coincidences that put Leonidas with the Odoms - he homestead's next door to them, Joe Odom signs as a witness on his homestead papers. There has to be a connection, I just don't know where. I also cannot find anything regarding the death of Leonidas and Emma - only their dates of death in the probate records. I can't even find them in any cemetery in Trinity, Walker or Houston county. I am stuck trying to prove who Leonidas is and who are his parents. What happened to them? There is no mention of him in anything but tax lists - and what happened to his land after he passed away on Jan 1885? It didn't go to his daughter, that's for sure.

Any help, or lead would really help me. It always helps to have a second set of eyes on something to see what I have missed.

Thanks so much everyone!
in Genealogy Help by Jen Riegle G2G1 (2.0k points)
I saw your post and thought I could help but right now I need the exact birth of Leonidas Odom and Emma Johnston or Johnson?  Can You tell me where they were born, and also do you know if Emma has a middle name or if Leonidas has a middle name and if he married and when or if Emma married.?  I found several Emma Johnson's and I found Several Emma Oldham but I am not sure what name she would be using or a date of birth or something that I can tell which one is yours.  

I did find a Leonidas Oldham born 15 Sep 1858  Hancock Co, Indiana and died 4 April 1903  age 44   Marion Co. Ind. Crown Hill Cemetery, Marion Co, Indiana   Find a grave Memorial # 45984900

Parents :  Francis Marion Oldham  - 1836-1868  Mother: Lois Fort Oldham: 1836 - 1926    SPOUSE:  Mary Susan Oldham B. Unk   died 1944   married 1882    SIBLINGS:  Frank Oldham B unk - 1940   &   William E. Oldham - Born 1856- 1907

This is all I found but if you have other information then I will search again. Just let me know.  Nancy
Hi Nancy,

Thanks for taking a shot at this! Unfortunately, I do not have exact birth dates. I don't even have the exact marriage date of Leonidas and Emma. The courthouse burned in 1876 and all records before then were luck would have it, I imagine they were married early that year or right before. I believe, given the ages on the census records, Leonidas was born in 1857 or 58 and the same with Emma. The problem I have with Lucy being his mother is - he is NOWHERE on the 1860 census in the Odom household - so he isn't with Lucy when he was 2 or 3. I searched thinking he might be Richard - but Richard died in the 1940's and listed John and Nancy as his parents - so that ruled him out. It is like he appeared out of nowhere.

I am trying to find Martha Purvis, Leonidas sister. She was married to a Robert Andrews and divorced in 1904 and remarried a Thomas Henry, or Henry Thomas Huffman. They lived in Spring Hill, Louisianna. They had a daughter, Verna. I was trying to find their marriage record - as Verna was born in 1905 - that narrowed my window down for their marriage date - but came up with absolutely nothing. I thought for sure this marriage record would list her parents and the mystery would be solved....but no such luck as of yet.

Thanks for trying! I appreciate everyone here and helping me try to solve the mystery!


1 Answer

+2 votes
It looks like Jake M Odom (2nd great grandfather) was stilll residing in Karnes County, Texas. in 1900– but moved to Trinity County shortly thereafter.
by Deidra Odom G2G Rookie (260 points)

This is a complicated story. Leonidas was probably illegitimate. The 1870 census has this 


Leonidas Purvis

    Name: Leonidas Purvis
    Age in 1870: 12
    Birth Year: abt 1858
    Birthplace: Texas
    Dwelling Number: 62
    Home in 1870: Trinity, Texas
    Race: White
    Gender: Male
    Attended School: Y
    Cannot Read: Y
    Cannot Write: Y
    Inferred Mother: Lucie Purvis
    Household Members:
    Name Age
    Lucie Purvis 33
    Leonidas Purvis 12
    Marthie Purvis 9

    Source Citation

    Year: 1870; Census Place: Trinity, Texas; Roll: M593_1606; Page: 354A; Family History Library Film: 553105



    Then Lucie, his mother is here


    Lucy Pervis

      Name: Lucy Pervis
      [Lucy Purvis]
      Age: 18
      Birth Year: abt 1832
      Birthplace: Mississippi
      Home in 1850: Simpson, Mississippi, USA
      Gender: Female
      Family Number: 30
      Household Members:
      Name Age
      John Oldham 23
      Nancy Oldham 25
      Isaac Oldham 6
      Mary A Oldham 1
      Lucy Pervis 18

      Source Citation

      Year: 1850; Census Place: Simpson, Mississippi; Roll: M432_381; Page: 289A; Image: 78


      and Lucie appears to be the sister of 


      Nancy Purvis


          Name: Nancy Purvis
          Gender: Female
          Birth Place: Mississippi, USA
          Spouse: John Odom
          Child: R O Odom

          Source Citation

          Texas Department of State Health Services; Austin Texas, USA; Texas Death Certificates, 1903–1982


          So it looks like Leonidas took his uncle's last name, possibly adopted.


            Name: Lucy Perois
            [Lucy Purvis]
            Age: 25
            Birth Year: abt 1835
            Gender: Female
            Birth Place: Mississippi
            Home in 1860: Western District, Trinity, Texas
            Post Office: Sumpter
            Dwelling Number: 135
            Family Number: 135
            Household Members:
            Name Age
            John Odam 35
            Nancy Odam 30
            Isack Odam 14
            Elizabeth Odam 10
            Jerry Odam 6
            Joseph Odam 4
            Richard Odam 2
            Lucy Perois 25

            Source Citation

            Year: 1860; Census Place: Western District, Trinity, Texas; Roll: M653_1306; Page: 310; Family History Library Film: 805306


            William Leonidas Purvis aka Odom
            Hello everyone!

            Normally, I would agree with you on Leonidas being happens. I just wish I could confirm this as Lucy Purvis being his mother. He doesn't show in the 1860 census with her at 18 - he would be 2 or 3 at that time - so where was he? Also, the 1870 census does not state that Leonidas nor Martha are Lucy's son or daughter.

            This got me thinking - Leonidas took the name Odom - maybe that was ALWAYS his last name - as it is only mentioned ONE time and that is in the census of 1870 - every other document I have says Odom. Could it be possible that John Odom is his uncle? In other words maybe John had a brother and died - and that is why he shows as Purvis in 1870 with Lucy - he really wasn't John's son, but wasn't Lucy's either, and that's is why is wasn't mentioned on the census, just living next door.

            Everyone one here has been so great! You get me thinking outside of the box and see things I have might have missed! I love this site!



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