Thomas C. O’Donnell



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Thomas C. O’Donnell (1810-1894)

I think the O’Donnell family might be fascinating. But, because of the old, “too many families, too little time” problem, I’ve never spent much time with them. I have made a little progress with the family over the years. Originally, a transcription told me that the surname was Odamil. For many years, I searched for and found no one anywhere named Odamil. Much later, I saw another record clearly showing O’Donnell. That helped. Though, Thomas does sometimes show up on records as O’Daniel instead. At this point, I do have the outline of Thomas O’Donnell’s life, but wish that I could find more to fill in the blanks, better verify the details, and really sort out all of his children.

Thomas C. O’Donnell was born on 25 Sep 1810 in Tazewell, Virginia, as the third child of Owen O’Donnell and Darkey Gothrin. He had three siblings, namely: Isaac, Ruth, and Rebecca. At some point in his childhood or his very early adulthood, Thomas moved from Virginia to Kentucky.

Louisa, Kentucky

Tazewell, Virginia

Thomas married Martha Canterbury, daughter of Nimrod Charles Canterbury and Mary Franklin, sometime around 1830 in Lawrence, Kentucky.

Thomas C. O’Donnell and Martha Canterbury had the following children:

  1. Rebecca O’Donnell was born in 1830 in Kentucky. She married James Peery on 09 Sep 1849 in Audrain, Missouri. She died 12 Apr 1897 in Callaway, Missouri.
  2. Martha Ann O’Donnell was born about 1833. She married Andrew Jackson Martin on 08 Nov 1857 in Callaway, Missouri. She died after 1875 in Callaway, Missouri.
  3. Matilda Ann O’Donnell was born in Mar 1835 in Kentucky. She married Milton Peery on 28 Oct 1858 in Callaway, Missouri, USA. She married Garharadt Vanderlicht on 31 Mar 1885 in Callaway, Missouri.
  4. Margaret A. O’Donnell was born in 1836 in Kentucky. She married William Riley Estes on 26 Aug 1855 in Callaway, Missouri. She died about 1865 in Callaway, Missouri.
  5. Isabella O’Donnell was born in 1837 in Kentucky. She married Washington Dillon on 05 Aug 1854 in Audrain, Missouri. She died after Aug 1857.
  6. Jane O’Donnell. She married William Cook on 31 Dec 1849 in Mexico, Audrain, Missouri.
  7. Thomas Jefferson O’Donnell was born in 1844 in Missouri.
  8. William H. O’Donnell was born about 1845 in Missouri. He died between 1861–1865 while fighting for the Confederacy in the Civil War.
  9. George C. O’Donnell was born about 1846 in Missouri.

Thomas, listed as Odaniel, was recorded in Lawrence County, Kentucky during the 1830 Federal Census. He and his wife had one young daughter at the time. Note that only heads-of-households were listed in federal census records before 1850.

1830 Federal Census, Thomas O’Donnell.

On 28 Aug 1834, Thomas O’Donnell bought land in Kentucky for the sum of $100 from his wife’s aunt and uncle, Susannah and Benjamin Canterbury. The land was on big Blain Creek and the property description referenced the creek, a beach, a ridge, a ford, and chestnut, buckeye, and sugar trees.

1834 Land transaction, Benjamin and Susannah Canterbury to Thomas O’Donnell.

Sometime in the following decade, Thomas and Martha moved their family from Kentucky to Missouri.

I’ve been trying to find record of when they sold their property in Kentucky, but it is slow going. Property records are online, but not indexed, so searching means reading through page after page after page of old writing in an attempt to find a record for our O’Donnells. Thus far, I’ve not found anything, but I’ve got thousands more pages to look through.

Martha Canterbury O’Donnell died in Missouri sometime around 1846. She was buried at Turk Cemetery, Wellsville, Montgomery, Missouri. Thomas became a widower responsible for many young children.

When he was 39, he married a widow, Nancy McPherson Canterbury, on 15 Nov 1849 in Audrain, Missouri. The family was recorded in the 1850 Federal Census. They were living at Audrain, Missouri. It was a blended family. Nancy had previously been married to George Canterbury. The children she brought to the marriage became step-children to Thomas O’Donnell, though he probably already knew them well since he had previously been their uncle. Thomas’ new wife, Nancy, had previously been his sister-in-law through marriage. Thomas and Nancy’s deceased spouses, Martha and George, were brother and sister. Once widowed, Thomas and Nancy married to each others and the children, previously cousins, then found themselves as step-siblings.

1850 Federal Census, Thomas O’Donnell.

Together, Thomas C. O’Donnell and Nancy McPherson had the following children:

  1. John Wesley O’Donnell was born on 08 Apr 1852 in Missouri, USA. He died after Oct 1935.
  2. Samuel Owen O’Donnell was born on 22 Sep 1854 in Wellsville, Montgomery, Missouri, USA. He died on 14 Oct 1935 in Wellsville, Montgomery, Missouri, USA (Age: 81).
  3. Sarah O’Donnell was born in 1856 in Missouri, USA.
  4. Emma O’Donnell was born on 06 Oct 1861 in Wellsville, Montgomery, Missouri. She married Allen F. Burwell in 1874. She died 08 Jul 1918 in Wellsville, Montgomery, Missouri.
1878 Plat map of Upper Loutre Township, Montgomery, Missouri, showing Thomas C. O’Donnell land ownership.

Wellsville, Missouri

In October 1889, Thomas wrote his will. It distributed his property among eight of his children.

In the name of God, Amen: I Thomas O’Donnell of Montgomery County, Missouri, being of sound and disposing mind do make publish and declare this my last will and testament, hereby revoking all former wills by me made.

Item 1st. I will and direct that all my just debts be paid. I will that in the course of two or five years, all of my real estate be sold for the highest price obtainable and the proceeds be divided among my eight children, or in case of the death of either, their children, in proportion as follows: John and Sam O’Donnell, my oldest daughter Rebecca Peery, and my youngest daughter, whose first husband was named Peery, to have two shares each; my four other children to wit: Margaret Estes, Martha, Isabell, and Jeff O’Donnell to have one share each. Before sale of land John and Sam O’Donnell to have privilege of renting real estate.

Having deeded land to my daughter Emma Burwell, she shall have no share of my real estate, but I will that she have all the household furniture belonging to me at death.

I direct that all the live stock of every kind which I may have at time of my death be sold and proceeds of sale be applied to the payment of the expenses of Administration and other expenses.

I appoint E. P. French of Martinsburg, Missouri my sole executor.

Witness my hand this 9 day of October, 1889.
Thomas O’Donnell
(signed by his mark)

We attest the above as witnesses:
N. W. Friedman
Joseph Clutter
E. P. French

Thomas O’Donnell, Last Will and Testament.

Thomas O’Donnell died on 26 Nov 1894 in Martinsburg, Audrain, Missouri (Montgomery County). He was buried in Turk Cemetery, Wellsville, Montgomery, Missouri.

Mexico Weekly Ledger.

Where is he in the tree?

Relationship chart, Thomas Leland Estes to Thomas C. O’Donnell.
Pedigree chart, Thomas C. O’Donnell.

Selected Sources:

“Martinsburg Items,” 29 Nov 1894, page 3 ( : accessed 13 Sep 2018), Mexico Weekly Ledger, Mexico, Missouri, online images (

“Missouri Probate Records, 1750-1998,” images, FamilySearch ( : 22 September 2014), Montgomery > Wills, 1889-1914, vol 1-2 > image 120 of 723; Missouri State Archives, Jefferson City.

Dodd, Jordan, Missouri Marriages to 1850 (Provo, UT, USA, Operations Inc, 1997),

An Illustrated Historical Atlas of Montgomery County, Missouri, Edwards Brothers (1878), Township 50 North Range 6 West ( : accessed 17 Sep 2018); online images, ExLibris Rosetta (

Lawrence County Kentucky, Deeds, 1822-1863, 1865-1902 ; indexes, 1822-1970, Vols. A-C 1822-1847 (v. C has no index), image 366 of 732 ( : accessed 17 Sep 2018). Benjamin and Susannah Canterbury to Thomas O’Donnell, Family Search – The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, discussion list (

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