A JOURNEY DOWN THE BOULEVARD IN MT. OLIVE
As early as 1858, a post office was established in the community of Mt. Olive. Mt. Olive became the first community in Covington County nestled in the northern part of the county. With the arrival of Scottish settler, John C. Calhoun and his family between the years 1810 to 1840, the town started to take root. After Calhoun, other Scottish settlers also made the move from North Carolina and Alabama settling in the growing, backwoods community.
In the early years of the territory, what would become Mt. Olive was little more than a small farm here and there on land originally purchased from the Choctaws. However, in the mid 1890's, a railroad surveyor stabbed a stick into the middle of a cornfield saying, "This is where the depot will be." and hence, began the town of Mt. Olive.
When the Gulf and Ship Island Railroad (GSIR) built it's railway from Jackson to Biloxi, Mt. Olive's small depot was placed along the railway. However, unlike the other communities with depots that accommodated the raging lumber business such as Mish and Gandsi (named for the GSIR), Mt. Olive had a different beginning as one of America's first planned communities. The GSIR tracks were finished in 1899, and Mt. Olive was incorporated on May 18, 1900. Some legends tell that the town was named for the community of Mount Olive, North Carolina, that still exists between Raleigh and the North Carolina coast.
As we said, Mt. Olive was one of the nation's first planned communities. It was set out on a two-mile portion of land. Entering the town from the north on what is now Old Highway 49, a lovely wide boulevard was built in spite of many objections that it was a waste of space and money for a road on which only horses and wagons would travel. However, the pro-boulevard planners won the argument. After the boulevard was built, 100 oaks were planted along the boulevard giving the town a Meet Me In St. Louis-esqque air. As the road continues into the downtown business district, the grassy median with statuesque oaks gives way to a wide street with parking areas that run down both sides and through the center of Main Street.
In the beginning, Mt. Olive was a center of trade for the agriculture and timber industries with the various shops, stores and businesses that also supported the residents involved in those industries. It was a bustling, thriving town in 1937 according to the account written in Covington Crossroads: a History of Covington County, Mississippi. A list of the businesses in town according to one of Mt. Olive's older residents in 1988 (on pg.18 if you can get your hands on a copy of the book) was, "the Baptist church, Texaco filling station, Pan-Am filling station, Rawls' Cash Store, the old J. B. Byrd Store, a sandwich shop, a grocery store, the bank, Gatewood's General Store, Calhoun Drug Store, the Church, the Greentree Hotel and another filling station. To the left headed east from the Baptist church on Main Street were Lampton-Rawls store, city hall, the post office, the Calhoun-Fairley store, Dickson Motor Co., and the filling station." Two smiths did a roaring business seeing to the horses, wagons, and creating various implements needed in the agricultural and lumber enterprises.
Today, joined by the local civic group, City Beautiful which has renewed the promotion of both economic and community development in the town, the Mt. Olive municipal officers including Mayor Robert C. McNair and Aldermen Roger Pittman (Mayor Pro-Tem), Terry Barron, Ramon Johnston, Kelvin King, and Alderwoman Kathryn McGee. In addition, the Widgets of Mount Olive Ministries have developed the town's website and have kept cyberspace buzzing with the activities going on in Mt. Olive year round.
Mt. Olive High School (MHS) has been the back to back 2009 and 2010 Group 1-A State Champions in football.
THINGS YOU MIGHT WANT TO KNOW ABOUT MT. OLIVE!
YES, WE LOVE OUR FOOTBALL IN MT. OLIVE
To say that Mt. Olive's folks have always been BIG on their high school and their football program would be an understatement! Three (3) Class 1-A State Championships in the school's history prove that point, especially with two of them back to back.
School pride and his family's relentless drive to encourage him to be his best self, also guided Steve McNair (1973 - 2009) on a path that would take McNair to a professional football career. McNair was the quarterback for the Houston Oilers, the Tennessee Titans and the Baltimore Ravens.
He was raised in the Mt. Olive community and graduated from MHS playing football through his high school career. After graduating from Alcorn State in Lorman, MS, he was the first round draft choice of the Houston Oilers in 1994. When the Oilers' franchise was sold, and they became the Tennessee Titans, McNair moved with the franchise to Tennessee. However, in 2005 he was traded to the Baltimore Oilers and after two seasons, he retired from professional football. On July 4, 2009, he was killed. The McNair football spirit lives on in other members of the McNair family, and with MHS's back to back State Group A football championships.
It can't be written any better or more succinct than the writers from the Titan's Locker Room.com have written it, so here's what they wrote after Steve McNaiir's death.
Remembering Steve McNair 1973-2009
The Tennessee Titans lost one of their greatest players in franchise history when long-time quarterback Steve McNair was tragically killed in Nashville on July 4, 2009. McNair, who led Tennessee's famous drive that came a yard short of forcing overtime in the 2000 Super Bowl, made an even greater impact in the Nashville community through the Steve McNair Foundation.
Much like his play on the field, McNair's work in the community was done without a desire to receive publicity for his efforts. He did it for the love of helping others and the smiles his work would invariably bring to those who benefited from his generosity. For his incredible efforts in the community, he was selected as the 2005 Titans Walter Payton Award Winner, given to the team's Community Man of the Year.
In 13 NFL seasons, including 11 campaigns with the Titans and two with the Baltimore Ravens, the former first-round draft pick set team records and accumulated the most wins of any quarterback in Titans/Oilers history.
SOURCES AND LINKS:
Covington Crossroads: A History of Covington County, Mississippi, by Gwen Keys Hitt, University of Southern Mississippi Printing Center, November 1985
2010 Town of Mount Olive Mississippi, http://townofmountolive.com/ Designed by The Widgits, Mt. Olive Youth Internet Club, December 17, 2010
Steve McNair, Wikipedia: the free encyclopedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steve_McNair , December 17, 2010
Remembering Steve McNair 1973-2009, Titans Locker Room.com, http://www.titansonline.com/team/history/steve-mcnair-tribute.html January 14, 2011
Mount Olive Pirates, FACEBOOK, http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1528503533&suggestfriends&ref=email_friend_confirmed#!/MtOlivePirates, January 16, 2011