Leonadus "Lon" Nichols O'Dell was the son of Clark Odell and Mary Nichols and was born January 6, 1864 in Mason township, Taylor County, Iowa.
Iowa South-West Democrat  Bedford, Iowa  Oct 4, 1884
From Wyoming.
Big Horn, Wyoming Territory, September 4, 1884
C. O'Dell, Esq., Bedford, Iowa: Sir - I told you in my last that as
soon as I got through I would tell you about our trip from Spearfish,
and describe the country as best I could.
    We left our old camp in the vicinity of Spearfish, Dakota, which
place and surroundings I told you of, on the 13th of August, with 254
head of cattle. We had been resting for some time, so horses and
cattle were feeling tolerably fresh, and we made ten or twelve miles
a day. We had no trouble in supplying ourselves with plenty of fresh
meat all along the road, and in fact supplied many of our neighbors.
Deer and antelope are in fine fix, and we found them plentiful. I staid
with the outfit, helping drive, till the 27th, when I left them and struck
out by myself, on horseback, for this place. The distance, as given me,
was 120 miles, much of which lies through a wilderness, marked by
Indian or cattle trails, and dotted here and there by cattle ranches.
    For the first day I road down a rough and rugged gulch a distance
of 15 miles, with no watter to drink. Once I turned to one side to a
little pool, which on examination I found so strong of alkali, or some
other poison, as to kill snakes before they could rescue themselves.
In the one pool I counted near twenty which had lost their lives in
this way, and in many others from one to a half dozen.
    At noon I reached a cattle ranch on Powder River, where I took
dinner and rest, after which I resumed my journey up the River to
the mouth of Clear Creek, where at another cattle ranch I spent the
night, sleeping in a house for the first time since the 14th of May.
    During the next day I traveled on up Clear Creek to the U cross
ranch (U) at the mouth of Piny. There I saw the greatest number of
prairie dogs I ever saw in the same length of time. Near one of the
dog towns I shot an animal the cowboys and I pronounced a wolverine.
He was the meanest looking animal I ever saw, a size smaller than a
black bear. Later in the day I shot a big, spangly, horned, black-tailed
buck, without leaving the trail which I gave (to some folks who were
camped) near. I reached the aforesaid ranch a little before sundown,
having rode a distance of forty miles. As the boys were just preparing
for supper, without a word I stripped my horse and stepped in, and
was kindly welcomed. I enjoyed supper, bed and breakfast, and not
a cent to pay. There were twelve boys. To the ranch belongs 1,600
cattle. The boys ride from six and ten horse apiece.
    On my third and last day I rode on up Piny a few miles, and
then across the hills, following dim trails, or none, to Big Horn City.
Nothing special worth mentioning, except three elk some hunters
had just shot down in a gang, and were just skinning.
    On entering the city I rode to Mr. Jackson's, expecting to find
brother Lon, but he had gone to Buffalo, the county seat, to secure
the bounty on four bears he had been lucky enough to shoot the day
before. They were one old one, two yearlings and one cub. They all
say Lon is too risky on the hunt. At the last for one of the yearlings
he took his revolver and crawled into the thicket where he could
not walk, and got within four feet of it before he saw it, but one
lucky shot between the eyes did it, and he came out without a
scratch. We have been eating the flesh, and it is fine flavored
meat, much resembling nice pork.
    On Saturday I visited the Hardees, where I found my old
friend, Sim Smith, from Buchanan. I returned in the evening,
and in time to surprise Lon on his return. He has improved much
in size since we have seen him. Not boasting, but the boys all
say he is the best man physically in or about the town.
    I also found Frank Hunter and Mert Price. The boys all seem
to be doing well and enjoying themselves.
    Big Horn City is in the valley of Goose Creek, about seven
miles from the canon, where it breaks through a tolerably rough
range of the Big Horn mountains. The streams all have beautiful,
level valleys, which are nearly all cultivated. Between is rather
rough, rolling prairies - not mountains - fit only for grazing.
    They raise small grain and vegetables in abundance but no
corn. Since I came here I helped Lon thresh. His best wheat
threashed fifty bushels per acre, after badly shelling out.
    Prices generally are about double Iowa prices for products
and other articles, such as store goods, etc.
    I have lately contracted to teach the Big Horn school for
six months at $70 per month.
    Board will cost me from $20 to $25 per month.
    The citizens boast of their summer and fall climate. I am unable
to say about that yet, for since my arrival we have had some cold
rains and quite a snow, though the harvesting is not done.
    Snow can be seen on the mountains at all seasons of the year.
    I should like to write you more deffinitely a description of the
country, but have not time, or room on this sheet.
    Lon and I are going on a two weeks hunt soon, as school does
not commence for that length of  time. I shall hope for letters from
home on my return.
      Yours in haste,
        Warren O'Dell
        Big Horn City, Wyoming

This is a letter from Lon (brother of Warren above) O'Dell to his father
Clark Odell at New Market, Iowa.
Big Horn, Wyo, Jan the 9th, 1885
Father Dear sir, I thought I would try and write you a few lines,
as I have neglected to write for so long, I have been so busy
and so lazy that I dident take time to write to any body, I had
a tolable cool trip up after ponies this last trip, it was 57 degrees
below zero. and snow 2 feet deep on the level. it kept that way
for a week.
we had to lay up for about 3 weeks. we learned lots about Indians,
had lots of fun holding squaws on our laps and they would kiss
us and make a fellow think of home. tell mother they dont all
look like them that was at the clerinda fair. I have seen squaws
that lays 3/4 of the Iowa girls in the shade. not saying but what
there is some prety girls there.
one old Indian Chief told me he would make me present 100
head of horses if I would marry his girl. she is a nice little girl
14 yrs old, but I guess I wont do it. the first trip I made after
ponies there was 2 other men buying and they got 32 head
and started for home, and one night after they had camped
the Indians dashed in on them and stole all but 1 pony that
was picketed and they never got any of them back. and the
last trip there was 2 other men buying and they stole all but
five head. the first trip there was a white man hunting horses
that had strayed up there and he under took to take them
without explaining the matter and they flocked in around
him and about 50 of them went after him with theyr quirts
and whipped him all over. his face was all welted up some
of them waved theyr tomy hawks over his head while
the rest whipped him. I seen him 2 days after they had
whipped him and his face was marked bad. but if a man
uses them well they use him the same way. I will start
back in a few days we got 43 head of ponies. I now (know)
there is big money in them, some of the ponies that was
bought for $8 was sold for 30 here in big horn. 1 that was
bought for 10 sold for 50. well I guess I will send you a
fine picture. it is the picture of a pagan Indian.
it hante my girl, but she is a dandy girl well you must write
and tell all the rest to write.
well I must close for this time now you dont wand to destroy
that picter.
      write soon
        Lon
        
        
January 16, 1889

Clarinda Herald, Clarinda, Iowa

Lon O'Dell of Big Horn, Wyo is visiting his parents in New Market.
January 22, 1894

Clarinda Herald,

Clarinda, Iowa

Lon N. O'Dell well known around New Market, where he resided for some years fell from a balloon at Atlanta, Ga., and was instantly killed.
August 4, 1898

at the Nodaway co, Mo Black Emancipation Celebration in Maryville, Missouri

In the evening on a vacant lot north of the Keeler building, Prof O'Dell made a balloon ascension. Windows, roofs and streets of buildings surrounding the place were black with buggies, carriages, wagons and people from 4:00 to 7:00 o'clock. Prof O'Dell took up with him two little dogs and advertised the affair as a 'triple' jump parchute leap. Everything went off as advertised. The dogs were taken up and cut loose. Each was fastened to a parachute and came down safely. Prof. O'Dell went up higher and his descent was a beauty. He came down in southwest Maryville and his balloon fell on Dr Moore's house.
April 27, 1899

Bedford Free Press, Bedford, Iowa

New Market (Iowa) is now the permanent home of the celebrated sky scraper Lon O'Dell. He is ready to make contracts with anyone that wants his services.
May 4, 1899

Bedford Free Press, Bedford, Iowa

Last Saturday night as Lon O'Dell was attempting to make a balloon ascension with an illuminated attachment, he struck one of the gables of the Menonite Church and cut a gash in his face and had a foot broken. The ascension was a failure but O'Dell is ready to try it again. This accident occurred at New Market.
May 5, 1899

Clarinda Herald, Clarinda, Iowa

Prof. O'Dell finally made his balloon ascension on last Saturday evening just at dark, though under very unfavorable circumstances. Owing to the high wind the balloon could not be properly filled and when cut loose the wind blew it so that the aeronaut was dashed against the side of the church and one of the cords that held the flaming torch was broken causing the torch to soon burn off and drop. The balloon did not rise high but floated over the tops of the houses and dropped in the first pasture south west of town. Professor had his ankle severely sprained and a bad gash cut in his forehead from striking the church, but is getting along nicely and will be around again soon.
May 12, 1899

Clarinda Herald, Clarinda, Iowa

We are glad to know that Prof O'Dell is able to be on the streets again. Professor says he knew it was dangerous to make the ascension but was driven to do it by the jeers and remarks, accusing him of being afraid, of some people that have more tongue than brains.
May 19, 1899

Clarinda Herald, Clarinda, Iowa

A paper is being circulated to raise funds necessary to hire Prof Odell to make a balloon ascension on Decoration Day.
May 26, 1899

Clarinda Herald, Clarinda, Iowa

Prof Odell will make his balloon ascension on Decoration Day from the same place as last time and at 4 o'clock in the aftrnoon, so that all can get home after it is over in time for choring on the farm.
June 2, 1899

Clarinda Herald, Clarinda, Iowa

Prof Odell on Wednesday afternoon about 5:00 o'clock made one of the most successful balloon ascensions ever made anywhere. It is estimated the balloon went up three fourths of a mile. He cut his parachute loose with his dog suspended when about 2500 feet high. He himself cut loose before the dog reached the ground, his parachute soon filled and he came slowly down. The immense balloon soon collapsed and weighing over 500 pounds came down much more rapidly than the Prof and it was only by great skill and exertions that Mr odell with his parachute got out from under the descending balloon. He reached the ground about three fourths of a miles southeast of town.
July 27, 1899

New Market Herald, New Market, Iowa

L.N. O'Dell visited Villisca, Creston, Lenox, and Bedford last week for the purpose of arranging for balloon ascensions and Roman standing races during the fair at each place. Mr O'Dell's attractions are winners and those cities will do well to secure him.
September 7, 1899

Bedford Free Press, Bedford, Iowa

Prof. O'Dell has been secured to give an exhibition each day of Roman chariot races and make two balloon ascensions on the last two days of the Taylor County Fair, September 20 & 21. 
September 21, 1899

Bedford Free Press, Bedford, Iowa

L.N. O'Dell of New Market has four handsome blooded horses being used in the hippodrome races each afternoon. Beside this Mrs O'Dell is also an aeronaut and is making some good ascensions and parachute leaps.
1900 census Taylor County, Iowa Leonadus N. O'Dell, head of household, white, male, born Jan 1864, age 36, married 7 years, born Iowa, father born Ohio, mother born in Ohio, occupation aeronaut.

Leona E. O'Dell, wife, white, female, born Aug 1877, married 7 years, born Tenn, parents born in Tenn, occupation aeronaut.

Cleveland Penn, nephew, born Jul 1888, age 11, born Tenn, parents born in Tenn.

Mamie Penn, niece, born Jun 1893, age 6, born Tenn, parents born in Tenn.

June 28, 1900

New Market Herald, New Market, Iowa

L.N. O'Dell started on his trip to Sheridan, Wyo, on Tuesday last, where he is billed for several ascensions. He could not say how long he would be gone, further than he had to be back in time for the Shenandoah fair as he has a contract with that association for that time. 
July 26, 1900

Bedford Free Press, Bedford, Iowa

Prof L.N. O'Dell is busy this week making a new balloon. The work is being done in McCampbell's hall, Miss Grace Wilson and Miss Emma Maxwell doing the work necessary on a machine. It takes 1400 yards of cloth to make it.
March 30, 1905

Bedford Free Press, Bedford, Iowa

While making a balloon ascension at Wallace, Idaho, Lon O'Dell and W.D. Middlekart met with a horrible accident. They were making a double balloon ascension and had ascended about 200 feet, when the lower part of the balloon tore away. Both men were seated in parachutes but the distance to the ground was not sufficient to open them, consequently they fell the entire distance. Middlekart was instantly killed while O'Dell was internally injured but had no broken bones.
April 20, 1905

Bedford Free Press, Bedford, Iowa

Lon O'Dell, the New Market aeronaut who was nearly killed in a balloon accident in Idaho several weeks ago, is rapidly recovering and says he expects to be making ascensions and parachute leaps by July 4. One would naturally suppose that one experience of the kind would be sufficient for any ordinary man, but Lon seems to be cut out for a high flyer, and a broken bone or two will not frighten him.
September 21, 1922 Leonadus "Lon" Nichols O'Dell died September 21, 1922 in his bed in Helena, Lewis & Clark county, Montana.