© 2008 Michael L. Oddenino




Joseph Oddenino's son Francesco Lorenzo Luigi Oddenino became known as Francis Lawrence Louis Oddenino in America and he primarily used Louis Oddenino, dropping the first two names of Francis Lawrence, for the most part. Louis was born in Chieri, Italy on October 4, 1861. The year 1861 was not only momentous as the year the U.S. Civil War began, it also marked the beginning of the Kingdom of Italy.

My only memory of "Grampa Louis," as he was sometimes called, is when I was five years old and my parents took me to see him at the nursing home he was at. I remember seeing an old man lying in bed, which is not so memorable in itself, but what stood out in my five-year-old eyes was that he was wearing a night cap! I had never seen a real person wearing a night cap. Only time I had seen someone wearing a night cap was the father in books telling the story of "T'was the night before Christmas." Grampa Louis is forever etched in my memory as the man wearing a night cap in that story.

Before Louis came to America, he worked in the Panama Canal zone during construction of the canal.  His daughter Mary is the source for this information as well as the fact that he spoke seven languages.  His work in the Panama Canal zone ended after the company for whom he had been working saw their headquarters engulfed by fire. 

This company was reportedly involved with the sale of pharmaceuticals in the Canal zone.  Louis returned to Italy and then in 1887 he came to America with his mother Celina. About one year after he arrived in America, Louis married Mary Elizabeth Delph on the 19th of September 1888 in Madison County, Virginia.  Mary Elizabeth Delph was born on April 2, 1860 in Madison County, Virginia.  She was the daughter of Robert Delph and Adeline Kennon.  


Click here for a look at the historical events that took place during the life of Francesco Lorenzo Luigi Oddenino

Below is the Marriage License for Louis Oddenino and Mary Delph:

Here is a photo of Louis and Mary with their children, Lawrence, Charles, Mary and John, estimated to have been taken in approximately 1899:

Louis, Lawrence, Charles, Mary, John and Mary Delph Oddenino


Louis was, by all accounts, a very intelligent and active man.   His grandchildren report that he spoke English without any accent.  After coming to America he lived in Madison County at the farm in Aroda where he was one of the first to attempt to have a vineyard and winery in Virginia.

Reports are that he also worked for a time with the Land and Industrial Department of the the Southern Railway  in connection with settling European immigrants in the U.S. South.  Louis Oddenino used to hire people to work on the farm which was called Repton Mills.  He built a big two story chicken house at the farm. Here is a surviving lettter head that Louis used when he called the farm Repton Mills:


The farm is situated on beautiful rolling hills in central Virginia.  The road leading to the farm is the dirt one to the right.


Here is an autumn view of Elly Road leading up to the Oddenino Family Farm in Aroda, Virginia:


Here are some other views of the farm once known as Repton Mills:
Front of house Rolling hills

Rear of house

Side view of farm house

Old cabin on farm

The cabin restored

More recent photos of the property

Autumn in Aroda, Virginia
The family cemetery The house before renovation


The house after renovation:


Louis cared for his father Joseph on this farm in Madison County, Virginia until Joseph's death in the old cabin house on September 23, 1913.  Before Joseph's death, Louis assisted in insuring that Joseph received his appropriate Civil War pension.


After his father Joseph died, Louis submitted the following application for reimbursement to the Commissioner of Pensions:


Below is Luigi's Italian License to Carry a Hunting Weapon
Below is Luigi's Ticket for Passage from Havre, France to New York, U.S.A., leaving March 6, 1892



After their children were adults, Louis and Mary moved to Richmond, Virginia and then in 1918 they relocated to Washington, D.C.  Before he moved, he sold the farm to his son John F. Oddenino for only $2,000.00 and the promise that John would send him fresh eggs every month.   David Oddenino, son of John Oddenino and Louis's grandson, reports that his father did send fresh eggs for quite some time until ultimately the practice stopped.


These photos of Louis Oddenino and family members were taken while he was living as a widower in Washington, D.C. :

Louis Oddenino Louis and his daughter Mary Louis and granddaughter Teresa Eaheart in 1950


Memories of Grampa Louis by his grandchildren who lived with him in Washington, D.C.:

When Louis was living in Washington, D.C., many of his grandchildren came to live with him after they graduated from high school. 

His grandson David Oddenino confirmed that many of the grandchildren came to 1104 4th St., N.E.,  Washington, D.C.  (Echington neighborhood in N.E.) to live with Grampa Louis at one time or another after they left Aroda, Virginia.    Grampa Louis' place became the temporary home for not only his grandchildren but other residents of Madison County.  Many people from "the country" took the bus between Orange, Virginia and Washington, D.C. to stay at Grampa Louis' place and he always seemed to welcome anybody from Madison County.

Grandson David Oddenino recalls:

I remembers my grandfather as a very smart man who was very frugal.  He would play the stock market daily.   I know that a dish of fried onions and fried potatoes was one of his favorite foods.  And, of course, he loved fresh eggs.  I still have an image of "Grampa Louis" sitting in a chair, elbows on the armchair, hands just below his face with his fingertips touching when he was talking to us.

    Grandson John Oddenino recalls

My brother Louis lived with "Grampa Louis" at  Washington, D.C. in the early 1940s before Louis Lee joined the Army.   "Grampa Louis" did not have a car while living in Washington, D.C. as he always road the street car. 

More memories of Grandson David Oddenino:

Grampa Louis loved to read, he was always reading a book or a magazine.  He would read some western magazines and then send them to my father (John) in Aroda. I can still hear Grampa Louis asking all us kids:"Have you opened a bank account yet?" as he always encouraged his grandchildren to save money.  Grampa Louis might have been too frugal at times, as I recall seeing him reading a book with his gloves, overcoat and hat on to prevent spending too much money on heat.    

Granddaughter Jane shared these memories of "Grampa Louis":

My sister Teresa lived with Grampa Louis in Washington, D.C. when I was in sixth grade. Theresa came home for a weekend and took me back with her to visit for a week. It was an exciting adventure for me to go to the big city. I remember answering a question from Grampa Louis once with a “yeah” and he said to me, say “yes, sir.” You had to have manners with "Grampa Louis."

I also remember that there was High’s convenience store on the corner near the row house of "Grampa Louis" on 4th St. I remember my Uncle Charlie would give me a nickel so I could get a great big ice cream cone at High’s. I remember my favorite flavor was butter brickle.

When I got back to Aroda, I told my mother that I wanted to move to Washington, D.C. and I remember Ma said, “well, maybe we will,” but I'm sure she said that just to shut me up. I always remembered visiting "Grampa Louis" in Washington, D.C. as being an exciting trip for a young girl from Aroda.

David Oddenino said he has a vivid recollection of Grampa Louis coming to visit at the farm in Aroda and asking for some fresh water.  David remembers that he was able to pump some cold water, put the long dipper into it and then serve it to Grampa Louis. 

Grampa Louis was somewhat of a "larger than life" figure to the grandchildren who all grew up on the isolated farm in Madison County, Virginia. 

Below is a copy of the American citizenship document of Louis Oddenino from 1939: 


Here is Louis Oddenino's tombstone in Washington, D.C. with his grandson and namesake Louis Lee Oddenino behind the tombstone.


Below is a photo of Charles Oddenino, Louis (Luigi) Oddenino's grandson, and Lynn Oddenino Hackney, great-granddaughter of Louis (Luigi) at his tombstone in Washington, D.C.: