On March 1, 2020, the Town of Mount Olive kicked off its 150th Anniversary Celebration with a public event that brought together live music, history and stories about the town’s roots. Two weeks later, the COVID-19 pandemic shut down everything, including the planned yearlong celebration of Mount Olive’s history.
This week, the 150th Anniversary Committee restarts the celebration with the burial of a time capsule at the Arlene Talton Municipal Center, launching many of the activities originally planned two years ago. The time capsule was followed by a new proclamation by the Mount Olive Board of Commissioners at its March meeting.
“When the pandemic hit, we had to cancel everything, and even though we are two years after the big anniversary year, we decided we still needed to celebrate,” said Committee Chairperson Lynn Williams.
“One big discussion was what to call all of this. The 150th Anniversary didn’t seem right. So we decided to simply call it the Mount Olive History Celebration, rather than trying to explain this is the 150th celebration plus two years.”
The buried time capsule, which contains artifacts that are helping mark the 150th anniversary, is set to be opened 100 years from now. One of those artifacts is a 150th Anniversary commemorative Christmas ornament, which features the town’s Historic Train Depot. The ornaments will be on sale at this year’s North Carolina Pickle Festival April 23.
Mount Olive sprang up around the depot and post office placed here in the 1850s with the completion of the Wilmington to Weldon Railroad. By the time of its official incorporation on March 1, 1870, Mount Olive was a thriving small village. Three churches – First Baptist, Northeast Chapel Free Will Baptist, and First United Methodist – were organized by then (1863, 1865, and 1870 respectively) as was the Mount Olive Masonic Lodge 208 (1859).
The committee has a full schedule of events lined up throughout the rest of the year, including history talks at Steele Memorial Library sponsored by the library and the Mount Olive Area Historical Association, wagon tours of downtown in May, cemetery walks at Carver Cemetery and Maplewood, and more.
“That’s one of the many stories about Mount Olive – we all call it Maplewood Cemetery, but it’s actually named Myrtle Grove,” Ms. Williams said. “It became Maplewood only when a new undertaker came to town. The cemetery in his previous town was Maplewood, and out of habit he called Mount Olive’s cemetery Maplewood, too. And the name stuck.”
The complete listing of History Celebration events is available on the Town of Mount Olive’s website, www.townofmountolivenc.org.