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The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

ODENBACH, FREDERICK L., SJ - The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

ODENBACH, FREDERICK L., SJ (21 Oct. 1857-15 Mar. 1933), priest, meteorologist, and professor at JOHN CARROLL UNIVERSITY for 40 years, was born in Rochester, N.Y., the son of John and Elizabeth Minges Odenbach. He received his bachelor's degree from Canisius College in Buffalo in 1881, joined the Society of Jesus in Sept. 1881, and was sent to the Netherlands for training. Although he taught at Canisius for two years (1885-87), he spent much of the decade studying in Europe. He was ordained into the Catholic priesthood in England in 1891.

Odenbach returned to the U.S. in 1892 to become professor of physics and chemistry at St. Ignatius College (later John Carroll University) in Cleveland, where he remained until his death. In 1902 he became professor of astronomy and meteorology at the college. In 1895 Odenbach, with the assistance of Geo. E. Rueppel, established a meteorological observatory, on 6 Dec. 1901 becoming the sixth person to observe the rare Helvetian Halo. He was skilled in mechanics as well as science; in 1898 he took only 3 days to reassemble the 1,001-piece Secchi meteorograph offered to him by the Smithsonian Institution. He made many of his own scientific instruments. In 1899 he invented the ceraunograph, an instrument recording the occurrence of thunder and lightning. He also developed an electrical seismograph after he established a seismological observatory in 1900. In 1909 he proposed a plan for a cooperative seismological program involving Jesuit schools throughout the U.S. and Canada, and later became director of the Jesuit Seismological Service.

Last Modified: 10 Jul 1997 05:11:34 PM

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