Addie L. & A.T. Odom Homestead
Burkeville (Newton County)
The Odom Homestead was built in 1922 by A.T. Odom, a carpenter, building contractor, farmer, teacher and community leader. He built numerous structures including homes, churches, and courthouses and taught young men working for the Civilian Conservation Corps. His wife, Addie, mentored community women, ran the couple’s general store, and served as a supervisor of the Newton County WPA canning plant established for African-American women. Today, the home stands an intact and rare example of African American life in the community of Shankleville.
Shankleville is a Freedom Colony, one of over five hundred settlements in Texas that were built by former slaves after Juneteenth (Texas’ Emancipation). Freedom Colonies, also known as Freedmen’s Towns or Black settlements, are where many African American Texans gather for reunions and homecomings today. Dwindling population and loss of control over property through auctions, partition sales, tax delinquency and sometimes theft have left only a handful of these historic places intact. Still, a small number of Freedom Colony descendants retain landownership and continue to live within these settlements for generations. In addition to the restoration project, the Shankleville Historical Society and the Texas Freedom Colonies Project (TXFCP) are working to raise awareness of the significance of and current challenges facing Shankleville and hundreds of other settlements throughout the state.