Mt. Olive, which
got it's name from the bible, was a settlement that was started by James
Simpson in 1832. The settlement was located 12 miles northeast of Warrensburg,
Missouri, on the Flagstaff Creek and Blackwater River. Most of the settlers
in Mt. Olive were former slaves. There were 20 to 30 black families living
in the settlement. It started at the end of the Civil War.
James Simpson came to Missouri from Virginia. He brought his widowed mother, 101 slaves, and other families. He owned 680 acres of land and was a farmer. His first settlement was the Simpson Township, which grew into Mt. Olive. Members of the Simpson Township included: Joseph Albin, John Bowman, Dr. Z Case, Alexander Greer, Jerome Greer, William Greer, Wm. Lazenby, Robert Maxwell, Jacob Neff, Wm. Pollock, all of their families, and many more.
In the community of Mt. Olive there were 10-12 black owned farms. The residents were quiet, hardworking and resourceful. In Mt. Olive the blacks outnumbered the whites. In their farms they had chickens, ducks, geese and turkeys. They butchered hogs each winter, had a garden, and made milk and butter.
Mt. Olive had a Methodist church built in 1875. When the church was full going there were 30 members. The church served not only as a religious gathering but also as a fellowship for friends to get together. It was a big part of the town. The church held annual Christmas programs and served all denominations. Services were held in the afternoon because the pastor gave services in Warrensburg in the morning. The second church was built in 1914 and the third in 1955.
In Mt. Olive education was valued as second only to religious freedom. The Foster School was built in 1870 and was destroyed in 1874 by a fire. The school wasn't opened until 1878, where many people found that the colored children were quick learners. "The colored schools are doing well here. They are making rapid strides in education," said Ewing Cockrell in 1881. In 1831 the East Lynn School was built. It was closed in 1955 due to integration and it would cost money to keep a black school open.
The closing of the school caused many people to move to Warrensburg, essentially shutting down the whole town. All that is left of Mt. Olive today is the cemetery, where Mary Elizabeth, the first person in the cemetery, was left in 1900.
"Mt. Olive: A Legacy of Living History."
Lucille D Gress. February 22, 1998.
"An Informal History of Black People
of the Warrensburg Area."
"Churches Played by Role in Black
Daily Star Journal. Lucille Gress. February 11, 1993.
History of Johnson County in Missouri.
K.C. Historical Company, 1881.
Untitled Newspaper Article.
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