March 15, 2024 | Allison Robertson

Odd, West Virginia


Odd, West Virginia

West Virginia is home to several small settlements, spread all over. One in particular, named Odd, is a small community with one particularly intriguing secret.

virginia sign and inbred family split image

The Location

Odd is rural hamlet in Raleigh County, West Virginia. It is located in a hollow in the mountains of eastern West Virginia.

US Post Office in Odd, West VirginiaJimmy Emerson, DVM, Flickr

The Name

Odd got its unusual name way back when townspeople were encouraged to think of an “odd” name for their town.

Without thinking too hard, they settled on “Odd, West Virginia.”

Close-up Photo of The Odd Schoolhouse in OddJimmy Emerson, DVM, Flickr

The Population

There are only 779 people currently living in Odd. It is said to be a “small and peaceful community.”

Landscape Photo of Odd, West VirginiaMichael Anderson, Flickr

The Government

Odd is an unincorporated community—which has no local government or elected officials in the area.

Landscape Photo of Odd Town in West VirginiaKnut Hybinette, Flickr

The Infrastructure

The small community only has a post office, a church, and some small residences spread along nearby roads.

Odd West Virginia Post Office signJimmy Emerson, DVM, Flickr

The Town

The town itself is fairly rural in all aspects. There are several one-track roads which are almost completely covered with wild, overgrown greenery.

There are minimal street lights, signs, and typical city amenities.

Close-up Photo of The Odd Schoolhouse in Odd, West VirginiaJimmy Emerson, DVM, Flickr

The Coal Mine

There is also an abandoned Untied Coal mine in the area, along Odd Road, which is currently closed. It was once the main workplace for most of the town’s original occupants.

Which might include one of the town’s most famous families—The Whittakers.

Grayscale Photo of West Virginia coal mine, interiorPenn State Special Collections, Flickr

The Whittaker Family

The only interesting thing about Odd, West Virginia is the Whittaker family, who gained national attention after two you-tubers came across their compound when exploring the town.

Just wait till you find out why they’re famous.

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The Whittaker’s Fame

The Whittaker family has become “famous” simply because they are a severely inbred family. They are now known as “America’s Most Inbred Family.”

Family portraitSoft White Underbelly

The Whittaker Family Beginning

It all started back in the 1800s when two cousins got married and had children together. But then it went further and some started to marry their own siblings.

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Kissing Cousins

The family has clarified that the cousins were “first double cousins”—meaning they shared both sets of grandparents—which intensifies the consequences of mating with your cousin.

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Complications of Inbreeding

The complicated family tree has contributed to a host of mental and physical abnormalities, including unusual facial features and communication struggles.

With some family members having a specific way of communicating.

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Communication

Some family members, like Ray, only communicate using grunts and squawks. Despite their limitations, they seem to comprehend what others say—they just cannot communicate back.

If Ray doesn’t like what you’re saying, he starts yelling at you.

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Understanding

The Whittaker family doesn’t seem to understand that their genetic issues are from self-pollinating the family tree. Instead, they blame it on something else.

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Blame It on the Coal Mining

When one person asked family member Kenneth why his eyes were not facing forward, he responded, “might be the coal mining.”

Family portrait

Memories

The family members currently residing in the compound do not seem aware of their genetic issues, nor do they seem to remember much about their parents.

They didn’t have a normal childhood, either.

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School

Only one family member had apparently graduated high school: Timmy—who is one of the younger family members.

So, how are they all related exactly?

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The Whittaker Family Tree: First Generation

The Whittaker Family tree began with the marriage of William and Abigail Whittaker in 1819, and they had three children: George, Rachel, and Joseph.

William and Abigail are considered the Whittaker family's parents and the family's first generation.

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The Whittaker Family Tree: George

George married his cousin Elizabeth in 1840, and they had seven children: Thomas, Sarah, John, Mary, Rebecca, William Jr., and Joseph Jr.

But then they got closer.

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The Whittaker Family Tree: Sibling Marriage

George and Elizabeth’s two kids, Thomas and Sarah, married each other in 1871, and had two children: Charles and Annabelle.

Charles followed in the family footsteps.

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The Whittaker Family Tree: Cousin Marriage

Charles married his cousin, a woman named Martha, in 1895, and they had four children: Henry, Emily, Robert, and Clara.

Clara also followed in her father’s footsteps, and married one of her cousins.

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The Whittaker Family Tree: Another Cousin Marriage

Clara married her first cousin Roy Whitaker in 1925 and had one son named Paul.

Paul also married a cousin.

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The Whittaker Family Tree: Cousins and Kids

Paul married Elsie, his first cousin, in 1953 and they had six children: Susan, David, Martha, Mary Anne, Richard, and Stephen.

At some point, the lineage gets blurry as cousins become siblings, and so on.

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The Current Whittaker Family Members

The most recent family members are products of twin brothers Henry and John’s kids (John and Gracie) who got married and had 15 children together.

So basically, two cousins again, having multiple children who then had children with each other.

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Marrying Outside the Family

Some members branched out and married outside of their family (like the parents of these teenage Whittakers), but many have chosen to stay true to the family’s roots and marry within the clan. 

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The Whittakers Today

Today, there are several family members living on the same property, sharing a small compound in Odd, West Virgina, where they have all grown up together.

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The Whittaker’s Living in Odd

The family members still around today include: John, Gracie, Ray, Timmy, Betty, Kenneth, Lorraine, Freddie, and an unnamed sister.

It is also believed the family has more members who have not been addressed.

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Ridicule

Sadly, the Whittaker family has experienced threats and challenges from outsiders who ridicule them as a lack of understanding for their unique background.

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Neighborhood Watch

The Whittaker’s neighbors feel badly for the family since they are not even fully aware of the consequences their family has bestowed upon them, and so they protect them by approaching outsiders before they get close and warn them not to take photographs or cause trouble.

Inbred familyDaily Mail

Poverty

It is said that the family lives in squalor, with very little financial assistance. Their homes are half-built and broken, their furniture is ripped and stained and sits on the front porch—where the family likes to hang out.

Inbred familyDaily Mail

Unemployment

Since they live in a small, rural town which does not have employment opportunities, most of the family members do not work.

It is also assumed that their mental and physical abnormalities prevent them from being functional within society.

Inbred familyDaily Mail

Go Fund Me

A Go Fund Me page has been set up to help alleviate financial stress on the Whittaker family members residing in Odd.

It has brought in over $50,000 in donations for the family so far.

Inbred familyDaily Mail

Going Way, Way Back

If we were to trace the Whittaker family tree way back to its origins, we would find that the ancestral lineage is believed to have originated in England during the 16th century.

They were a very prominent noble family, known for their vast estates and influence in local politics.

Inbred familyDaily Mail

First Marriages

Over time, the Whittaker family expanded their wealth and power through strategic marriages and alliances with other influential families—ultimately bringing them to America.

At some point, they lost their way and somehow took a liking to their own family members instead.

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Featured Media

The Whittaker Family has been featured in a series of videos by filmmaker Mark Laita from Soft White Underbelly—who is also responsible for setting up the Go Fund Me page.

His first video, released in 2020 has been viewed on YouTube more than 28 million times.

PhotographerSoft White Underbelly

Inbreeding in America

Although the Whittaker’s are considered the most inbred family in America, they are certainly not the only ones. There are several other similar cases, they have just not been documented.

Landscape Photo of a red barn in the snow in West VirginiaPatti, Flickr

Back to Odd, West Virgina

Although the small town is most known for the Whittaker family, it is also a close-knit community known for its friendliness, compassion, and community welfare.

Landscape Photo of Cluttered Barn Yard Seen near Seneca Rocks, West Virginia, USABrad Prudhon, Flickr

Protecting Each Other

The residents of Odd take pride in protecting and defending the Whittaker family, making sure that their town is not known for something negative—rather a story deserving of compassion and understanding.

Landscape Photo of Round top barn seen in West VirginiaPatti, Flickr

What Odd Should Be Known For

Rather than attributing Odd with the Whittakers, those living in the small community would like others to remember Odd for its beautiful landscape, and charming countryside features.

Landscape Photo of Blackwater Falls Waterfalls in West VirginiaForestWander, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons

The Landscape

The one you-tuber, Melody, who stumbled upon the Whittakers, says Odd, “looks like a nice peaceful place to live”, adding that the landscape was “beautiful, with rolling hills and a small pond.”

Her partner, Shane, said, “it feels like home”—and that is exactly how the residents of Odd would like it to be remembered.

Landscape Photo of Early autumn scene in rural Lewisburg, West Virginia (USA)Carolyn Lehrke, Flickr

Sources: 1, 2,


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