It’s time to celebrate

Posted

The town of Mount Olive was officially incorporated on March 1, 1870, and that means we are approaching 150 years old as Wayne County’s second-largest municipality and home of nationally-known business operations.

The big “to do” is on March 1 at 4 p.m. on the campus of the University of Mount Olive inside the Hazel Waters Kornegay Assembly Hall at 207 Wooten St.

Churches in town have been asked by officials to simultaneously ring their bells at 2 p.m. on that day to begin the celebration.

There will be a variety of activities on that day, and details can be seen elsewhere in this issue of your Tribune.

Mount Olive was a village in its early days, even years before it was actually incorporated as a town.

The coming of the railroad was the town’s blessing and it was known as the Wilmington to Weldon rail line.

Towns sprang up, grew and prospered throughout that long stretch of rail line.

What you see today is a product of those early years.

I am a history buff anyway, and looking at the records of the early years of this town is somewhat surprising.

Sure the times have changed, but even 100 years ago the issues facing town officials then were pretty much the same ones we see today.

A look at minutes of the town board meetings from 1917 until as late as 1930 confirmed that. Problems then at nearly every town board meeting focused on street improvements, hiring and firing employees, drainage, ditches, dogs, taxes and other infrastructure needs or issues.

I went over some of those early board meeting minutes and found it interesting to note that as late as 1930 town fathers enacted law prohibiting billiards or pool tables to operate within the town limits. There were no details as to why.

There was one incident in the 1920s when the town’s police chief was under the gun himself. He was accused of assaulting a town resident “in front of the Victoria Motion Picture House.”

A warrant was obtained by the victim and when the police chief was found guilty of the assault, he was directed to turn in his badge. His salary at that time was $125 a month.

Changing police chiefs back in the early days appeared to be a fairly normal event.

Mount Olive’s history has details of interest, but as most all towns along the new rail line, it survived - even the Civil War that was a few years before its incorporation.

Do yourself a favor and try to attend the kickoff event for the big celebration at UMO.

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