The history of O’Donnell, formerly known as Patling, is rich with cultural transitions and significant events. It started with the indigenous settlers, who named the place “Patni,” meaning loud and clear, likely due to the echoing sound of the area. Over time, the name evolved into “Patling.”
The arrival of Kapampangan and Ilocano lowlanders brought cultural diversity to the area, prompting the Aetas to retreat to the mountains. When the Spaniards arrived, they found Patling to be a progressive community. The Recollects, led by Fray Patricio Ruiz, played a crucial role in the town’s development, establishing the Catholic church and municipal buildings. In the Recoletos account of 1874 to 1892, Patling mission station was said to have been founded in 1857, most probably on March 19 as a dedication to the patriarch Saint Joseph
The town was officially organized and renamed O’Donnell in honor of Carlos O’Donnell y Abreau, the Spanish Minister, in 1861. Under Spanish rule, it was part of Pampanga, with Bacolor as its capital.
However, the missionary activities abruptly ended with the assassination of Fr. Baldomero Abadia and other Spaniards in 1897, marking the downfall of the Recollect presence in O’Donnell. Shortly after, General Francisco Makabulos encamped his troops in the area but faced challenges due to political rivalries.
The leadership of O’Donnell changed hands over the years, with various gobernadorcillos and municipal presidents serving the community. Despite its history and contributions, O’Donnell was reverted to a barangay of Capas in 1902.
Today, Barangay O’Donnell remains a significant part of Capas, characterized by its large land area and diverse population, predominantly composed of Kapampangans, with some Ilocanos, Zambals, and Tagalogs.