|By Lucille D: Gress, An informal History of Black Families |
in the Warrensburg, Missouri Area Amazon.com
LATE NINETEENTH CENTURY EMERGENCE OF THE AFRICAN AMERICAN COMMUNITY
As a whole, the backdrop of the African American in the area was rural, with Old Town in Warrensburg providing a more urban experience. The settlement patterns of African American families in the Warrensburg area have three major focal points. Mt. Olive, located 12 miles northeast of Warrensburg in Simpson Township dates to the end of the Civil War in 1865. Many of the earliest settlers of Mt. Olive were former slaves brought into the area by Sarah Simpson and her son, James, in 1832. The congregation of the Mt. Olive Church, established in 1875, erected a house of worship at the intersection of what later became NE 221 Road and NE 950, which also served as the meeting place of the informal community of African Americans. The village eventually grew to include the Mt. Olive Cemetery, opened in 1900; Foster School and, later, East Lynn School; a series of general stores, garages and welding shops; a horse training and race track; a bandstand pavilion; and approximately 20 homes. The community was self-sustaining, practicing shared work and projects. By the 1950s, the nature of farming, and new opportunities for work for blacks opened up in nearby towns, prompted members of this community to find jobs elsewhere. As the rural population declined, the church became inactive and, with the integration of county schools in the late 1950s, the 38 Other towns in the surrounding area with sizable African American populations were Centerview, Mayview and Knob Noster. dnr.mo.gov/shpo/survey
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.
"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 Cultural Development."
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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