ARCADIA – About 55 descendants of the men who built the Arcadia Round Barn met Oct. 27 for what might have been the first official reunion of the Odor and Keely families, and almost certainly the first one held in the loft of the Round Barn.
The barn was built in 1898 on what was then the 320-acre farmstead of William Odor, with help from his wife’s brother, J.H. Keely. Family members said Odor in turn helped Keely build a smaller round barn on Keely’s farm east of Arcadia, but that barn was destroyed by a tornado a few years later.
Among the treasure trove of vintage photographs brought to the reunion was a photo of the smaller barn under construction, shared by Suzann Keely Ham of Tulsa. Also in Ham’s attractive scrapbook was a photo of the Arcadia High School Band in 1922, and most of the musicians had the last names of Odor and Keely.
“This first time we kept it simple and just got to know each other,” said Claudia Burcham, one of the organizers of the reunion, which featured a catered barbecue dinner and tours of the Arcadia Round Barn museum. “Most of us Odors had heard stories all of our lives and I wanted to put some faces to the names. Marci Odor Willis felt the same.”
Burcham said the hard work and creativity required to build the barns are traits she can see in her cousins.
“We seem to have a lot of artists, engineers, inventive types, scientists, thinkers and everyone has an innate ability to communicate,” said Burcham, who is a retired public affairs officer for the Oklahoma National Guard. “We are solid Okies and we all still seem to carry that pioneering spirit.”
The Round Barn was restored in the late 1980s and donated to the nonprofit Arcadia Historical and Preservation Society. It is now operated as a museum and is a popular Route 66 tourist attraction.