I would like to include a picture of Odessa if I find one.
I am sharing a lot from Facebook and this story comes from Vanishing West Georgia
Odessadale, GA. (Between Mountville and Greenville, GA), on Hwy. 109, take Harman Rd. The town was named for a well known resident, Odessa Jane Thompson. It was once a thriving town with a bustling business center, all due to the railroad that came thru that town. The Macon and Birmingham Railroad was built nearby in 1890 and shortly thereafter, Odessadale began to boom. The most important local business was the granite quarry. The railroad built a spur track to the quarry and granite was shipped to cities all over the SE United States. Elm St. was the main business section of Odessadale and it had a drug store, post office, a cotton warehouse, a blacksmith shop, a cotton gin and seed house, a jail and a doctor had an office there. Tragedy struck in 1908, when lightning struck a building and killed the town’s only doctor, Dr. Charles Evans Stipe. Tragedy had struck once earlier in Odessadale in 1893 when a tornado destroyed their school.
Schools and churches were built. The Odessadale Methodist Church was built in 1897 and the original building still stands today, with services twice a month.
All looked promising for Odessadale until the Macon & Birmingham railroad closed in 1927. Businesses started closing and the business center on Elm St. had vacant buildings and others were torn down for the lumber. One building, the J.A. Glanton general store, was built on Elm Street and opened in 1891, but later moved by Claude Harman’s grandfather and great uncle nearby to Cedar Hill farm of the Harman family and it remained open until the 1950s, mostly serving the employees of the Harman family who worked on their large farm. That J.A. Glanton general store building that was moved to Cedar Hill is the only remaining commercial building left from the main business district in Odessadale.
Information from the Brooks of Honey & Butter by William Davidson and the Historical Account of Meriwether County by Regina Pinkston.
Odessadale & Greenville, GA. By popular demand, I am reprinting this post from 2017.
THE 1893 KILLER TORNADO THAT DEVASTATED GREENVILLE, GA
Around 8:30 PM on the evening of March 3, 1893, a lightning storm came up in the Greenville area and the lightning was almost continuous, according to one resident. The lightning was scary, but what happened next was much worse. The tornado that had first hit Mountville in Troup County, continued eastward hitting Odessadale and destroying their school, had finally reached Greenville.
This tornado had such strength that it practically devastated Greenville, according to historical accounts. The 1832 brick courthouse in the town square and the jail were damaged beyond repair. The courthouse roof was gone and the western side collapsed, leaving only a pile of bricks. 170 out of the 175 homes in Greenville were damaged, some heavily damaged and beyond repair, according to other accounts of the storm. Amazingly, only one person was killed in Greenville, but many were injured. Six members of the Wright family survived the collapse of their home and crawled out of the wreckage. Tom Keener gave an account that he fled to the jail, thinking the stone walls would offer shelter from the storm, but the door was locked and he could not enter. Having no other options and with the storm upon him, Tom held on to the jail door knob and even though the storm lifted him off the ground several times, he was able to hang on and survived being blown away. Greenville Town Marshall Ab Fuller reported he pulled up an iron manhole cover and survived by being below ground level. The Greenville Post Office was completely blown away. On the north side of Court Square, it was reported that all buildings were completely flattened. The tornado continued on eastward and heavily damaged Molena, GA.
The devastation the following morning was everywhere to be seen. To make matters worse, after the storm, the temperature fell sharply overnight and survivors awoke the next morning to a landscape covered with icy frost and then snow began to fall. It was reported that many residents only had the night gowns they were dressed in the following morning, all their possessions were blown away or under a pile of debris. The offices of the Meriwether Vindicator newspaper were totally destroyed, but the Columbus Ledger Enquirer offered to print editions for them until they could get re-established. The Greenville Baptist and Presbyterian Churches were heavily damaged, but the Methodist Church suffered less damage and was usable and offered use of their church in the interim to the Baptists and Presbyterians.
Due to the timing of the storm, many farmers could not plant crops in the spring of 1893 due to the disruption caused by the tornado, and since this was primarily an agricultural area, this had serious financial consequences for Greenville. No Greenville family was left untouched by this natural disaster.
Local churches appealed to their state or regional offices, Greenville desperately needed help. Appeals went out to nearby towns and the state capitol in Atlanta and a special center was set up in Greenville to receive supplies and food as it streamed in from surrounding areas by railroad and wagon. Out of town carpenters and contractors came to help with the rebuilding. Insurance agents streamed in to assess the damage for claims. The Meriwether County Commissioners began discussions about a new courthouse and jail. The long process of rebuilding Greenville and the surrounding area had begun. The school was rebuilt first in 1893, then the new jail was completed 3 years later in 1896. The new courthouse was the last to be built and it was completed in 1903.
This terrible tornado is the reason many structures in Greenville date to after 1893. A fire had ravaged many older wooden buildings around the square in 1891, so many of those replacement buildings were badly damaged by the 1893 tornado. Within 10 years the town of Greenville was virtually rebuilt from the ground up. Greenville, GA, is the town a terribly destructive tornado could not destroy.
Historical accounts in this article are from of the Historical Account of Meriwether County by Regina Pinkston and Brooks of Honey and Butter by William Davidson.
Reference Facebook Vanishing West Georgia https://www.facebook.com/765118173647410/photos/a.765275350298359/1360139417478613/?type=3&theater