The History of Thomas Jesse Crosby and Lizzie Anne Odom
By Juanita Crosby and Alice Odom (This is my guess, Ruth Hansen)
The Crosbys and Odoms were from around Cusseta, Georgia. The migrated from place to place together. Pleasant Odom seemed to be the leader in the group. In fact, Pleasant married Elizabeth McKenzie, a sister of Lucinda who married Jesse Swent Crosby.
On May 6, 1864, Jesse Swent joined the 20th Regiment of the Georgia Volunteers. At the Battle of Wilderness in the state of Virginia, he was wounded in the right leg which led to the amputation of the leg below the knee. In 1879 he applied for money to get him an artificial leg and soon received $75 dollars to acquire one.
All the Jesse Swent children were born in Cusetta, Georgia. Thomas Jesse was the fifth child. He was born in Stewart County, Georgia on 4 July 1866.
When the missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints came to Cuba, Alabama, some of the Odoms and Crosbys joined the church. When the missionaries encouraged the saints to move where they were gathering, which was to the Rocky Mountains, some did. About 1888, Pleasant Odom and some of his family went to Mennesah, Colorado. Lizzie Anne, daughter of David George Washington and Sarah Frances Powell, joined Pleasant Odom, who was Lizzie’s grandfather. Lizzie would tell how the clouds would roll over Mt. Blanco. It was too cold for them to live there and they couldn’t find work so they went back to Cuba, Alabama. Pleasant went down in South East Texas and found warmer weather and good land. He sent for the rest of his family to come.
After Lizzie and family got back to Cuba, Alabama, Thomas Jesse came courting Lizzie and they were soon married. The marriage took place at her parents’ home on 20 August 1892.
When Pleasant sent word for the families to come to Texas, David George Washington Odom went to check it out, he liked what he saw and sent for his family.
They arrived in Tyler county in about 1893. There the Odom Settlement was mad about 14 miles east of Woodville and 7 miles northwest of Spurger.
Jesse worked at the Pedigo farm. There, their first child was born Fannie Fredonia on 4 May 1894. She was named after the woman that helped deliver her. Dona (Fannie Fredonia) had sores on her head and this lady helped cure them.
The second child, George Thomas, was born on 13 February 1896. The family moved to Spurger and Jesse worked for Mr. Cook for one year. Then went to work for Kick Mayo at his Grist Mill making corn meal. He made $12 dollars a month.
Another son was born, Noah Lee, on 22 March 1898.
In 1900 the missionaries came to Spurger. They found Jesse and Lizzie and began to teach them. They were baptized 10 April 1900. Mr. Mayo was an anti-Mormon and told Jesse that if he let the missionaries come back that he would have to leave. Jesse left and went to Titus County in East Texas. While the family was there another son was born, Clarence Timothy on 19 June 1901.
Lizzie had always wanted to learn to read so she could read the Bible. Jesse could read print. While they were in Titus County a lady helped Lizzie to read print. After the children went to school they helped their mother read better and she was able to read her Bible.
They moved back to the Odom Settlement and Dick Mayo came to beg Jesse to come back to work. He said that the corn meal was so bad that people would not bring their corn to be milled. Jesse said he would if the missionaries could come visit with no trouble. Mr. Mayo agreed.
Jesse bought a home in Spurger, but soon he sold it and moved back to the Odom Settlement, on the Charlie Beddingfield place. He built a log house on the 50 acres he bought from Lizzie’s grandfather Pleasant.
Another son was born, Roy Emory, on 23 March 1904.
A daughter, Mary Gladys, was born 24 June 1907.
Dona, George, Noah Lee, Clarence went to school at Midway School, about a mile from home.
Jesse got a job at Silsbee in the logging woods rolling logs on the skidway. They moved the family to Silsbee. While Jesse was working in the woods, Lizzie ran a Boarding House. They needed money to pay for the land that they bought.
Noah Lee and Clarence went to school in Silsbee. A daughter was born on 20 November 1910. They went to school for a year and then went home to farm.
The missionaries would come to the Odom Settlement. Sometimes they would stay a few weeks to visit and teach. They would hold meetings at the homes. On one of their trips a mob was formed to run the missionaries out of Tyler County. They first came by Jesse’s. The mob demanded to know where the missionaries were. The six men that were at the head of mob were known . Jesse wouldn’t tell but ask them to go home and leave the missionaries alone.
The mob went over to Pleasant Odom’s home and asked if the missionaries were there. He said, “Just wait a minute and I’ll see.” He turned around and got his gun from around the door. He told the mob that they were there but the first one to come in the gate would be shot. The men knew that Pleasant was a man of his word so they left. The missionaries were sent to other places for five years.
One day Lizzie found lice in Noah Lee, Clarence, and Roy’s head. The washing and doctoring was started. First, Lizzie cut their hair real short. The boys didn’t like that. The worst thing then happened, a picture was taken.
To help make money, Jesse made baskets out of white oak trees. He also made axe and hoe handles. He also made bottoms for chairs. Anything they needed he could make it.
Lizzie was a midwife for 21 years. We don’t know how many babies she delivered but lots of them. Fred Sheffield told her fortune one time. He told her that she would get real sick. During this sickness she would get a call to go deliver a baby for Allie Odom. He said she would get up and go to Allie’s aid. He said Allie would have tow convulsions while delivering the baby. This did happen.
Lizzie taught all of her children to work saying that someday they would need to know. All the family worked in the fields. After Lizzie cleaned the house in the morning she would fill a syrup bucket full of bread and meat and other goodies and take it to the children who were working in the field. It was just like a picnic and oh---so good!
Lizzie was the one who dealt the discipline. The one who did wrong was told to go find a switch. They knew to get a good one. Lizzie would tell them why they were getting a whipping while she would smooth the switch. By this time she would be calm, and get on with the show (whipping).
Clarence can remember two whippings that he received, one for scaring Paul Odom’s horse, and another for lying about carrying matches.
All the women would go down to a spring to wash their clothes. It was so cool down there; no sun rays could filter down. The spring was down in a deep gully. After the clothes were washed they would carry them up to the top of the gully and hang them in the sun to dry. The children would play while the mothers washed.
When Fat Grandma (Sarah Frances, Lizzie’s mother) would come to visit, she would have to have help to bathe. She was short and fat. The children could hear her laughing as she bathed. She would say that when Lizzie would lift the fat to wash her that it would shake and tickle.
Lizzie would always clean the kitchen after dinner and wash her feet and then lay down to rest. She enjoyed reading for an hour before going to bed. As farmers all got up early and days were long, hot, and tiring.
A daughter, Nena Faye was born on 2 March 1913. Four hours later Eula died. She was always a sickly child. Dona was making biscuits and let Eula help her. Eula patted her stomach and said, “I sick.” Dona carried her in to see Lizzie and Fat Grandma. Grandma took Eula in her arms and then she died.
George found good black land in Emilee about 20 miles north of the Odom Settlement and Jesse found the land was so rich you didn’t have to fertilize. Jesse went to work for Sanford Smith. He sold his home and moved to Emilee.
The last child, a daughter, Rosie Mae was born on 5 May, 1915.
Thomas Jesse went to work for Mr. Smith for a year and then bought and 101 acre farm and house from Jim Reynolds in Emilee, Texas. He farmed for himself. He raised corn, peanuts, cotton, sorghum, and potatoes. Also, he had a garden. He always had plenty to eat for his family and for anyone who came.
George, Jesse’s son, was old enough to go to the war in 1918. He got to France the day that the Armistice was signed. So it wasn’t long until he was home. Noah Lee was in the army and was to be shipped out when word came that the war was over. The third brother, Clarence was in the service also.
Jesse owned a syrup mill. He made his syrup and then the people in the community would bring their cane and Jesse would make the syrup.
Someone would feed each stalk into the mill that would squeeze the juice into a barrel. A horse would go around making the mill work. Then the juice was taken into the cooking room and there, Jesse would cook it into syrup.
Jesse was getting older and couldn’t do the farming so he built a little log store across the road from his house. He stayed in business for about 2 years before he went broke. People just wouldn’t pay their bills.
Jesse was all for progression. He was the first to get a telephone and he had carbide lights put in the house.
With all the children around, the house was always full. He would have parties, dances and gatherings of all kinds. People would bring a basket lunch and they would eat and visit. Clarence and his family came to live with Jesse and Lizzie in 1935. They lived in the house with them.
The missionaries would come and conduct meetings. It wasn’t long until a small church was built. It didn’t last long because they didn’t have enough leaders to carry on the responsibilities.
Jesse got sick and decided to retire. When he reached 65 years old he received his old age pension. After he retired Jesse and Lizzie would go visit their children. They would stay a few weeks at each place.
Jesse came from a family of 7 boys and 1 girl: Isaac, William Wert, James Jackson, Mary Jane, Thomas Jesse, Charles Franklin, David, and Willis Andrew.
Lizzie came from a family of 5 boys and 4 girls: Mary Ann Elizabeth, James David George Washington, Elizabeth Amanda Jane (Lizzie Annie), Lugenia, William Henry, Laura Ann Lucinda, John Emery A. P., Charles Thomas, Perry Daniel.
A reunion was organized in 1938. They had one every year except during World War II. This was the best way to keep in touch with everyone.
On a visit to Noah Lee’s, Jesse helped to build a back porch. Agnes had a bad spell of asthma and Noah Lee had taken her to her sister’s house in Dallas. The higher climate helped her to breathe better. After completing the porch, Noah Lee went fishing on the river with friends. That night Doris got real nervous and Lizzie got up to quiet her. While she was in the room with Doris, Jesse started coughing. Lizzie went back to help Jesse get to the back porch thinking he needed more air. Lizzie called Alice and Doris to run get Emory Odom. He lived up the road about a quarter mile away. The girls ran every step of the way, in the dark, and told Emory to come. The girls beat Emory back to the house even though he came in a car. Emory lifted Jesse and put him on the bed. He was already dead. Someone went to get Noah Lee. Two days later Noah Lee hauled the casket in the back of his truck to the Fairview Cemetery where there was a graveside service. He died 27 April 1938 at the Williamson Settlement.
The next winter the old home burned. Lizzie was at Glady’s just a short ways down the road. Lizzie just sat and cried and watched it burn. Everything was lost. Clarence then built a house on the same spot for his family.
Now her husband was gone and her home burned she just lived with her children. She would to to those who needed her, On her visits she enjoyed doing the patching. I’m sure some just waited their turn to get the patching done. She loved to piece quilts and wait on the sick. She enjoyed going to the store and buying groceries and coming back and cook it. She was a good cook. She loved to go fishing on the creek.
While she was at Rosie Mae’s, Rosie Mae’s son, Willard, was studying about pioneer times. Lizzie went to Willard’s class and showed them how to card cotton. The children sat around her on the floor and watched.
Lizzie’s birthdays were always celebrated. On her 80th birthday she was at her daughter’s Nena Fay’s.
Lizzie would go see Gladys and cook the meals while Gladys and Lee tended the 9,000 chickens.s
While she was at Rosie Mae’s she got sick. Noah Lee came to get her to take her to the hospital. They were going to operate to remove the gall bladder but she went into shock. The doctor said she would die on the operating table; so the children decided to let her go home. Gladys took her home with her. About 2 weeks later she died on 16 March 1959 at Tyler County Hospital in Woodville, Texas.
Her funeral was held at the Fairview Baptist Church. Elder Rex Kennerly, Branch President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints conducted the service.
Jesse and Lizzie had good times with the hard times, but left a legacy of good memories never to be forgotten,
We hope by writing this story, that their posterity will have the desire to get better acquainted with their roots. The family unit is very important to us all.