Mount Olive Baptist Church in the Berea community of northeast Ashley County, Arkansas, was active for some one hundred years, spanning from 1859 to the late 1950s. With each passing generation, the stories and recollections of these times grows fainter, with much information forever lost. This work is intended to consolidate existing records and written history of the church, and provide some genealogy on the early church families who were among the pioneers of the county.
The electronic version of this document provides a means to broadly disseminate this historical material via the internet. It is therefore made available to all those having an interest, be they avid historians or simply those with a passing interest in their family history. The records are a particularly valuable genealogical reference, and provide rare detail beyond the usual genealogical “facts” typically considered.
The church records presented are those as transcribed in 1967 from the originals by the Ashley County Librarian, Ann Etheridge Veazey, to whom we are greatly indebted. A hardcopy of her work is available in the Ashley County Library of Hamburg. Sometime prior to 1959, the original church records were preserved via microfilm by the Arkansas Historical Society. It’s of interest to note that the 1949 newspaper article also provided in this compilation includes information from the church records which was apparently lost prior to Mrs. Veazey’s transcription.
The tombstone inscriptions are provided courtesy of the tireless work of Dr. David Moyers, editor of the Ashley County Ledger. Dr. Moyers has avidly labored to enumerate many rural Ashley County cemeteries, making the headstone transcriptions available from the Ashley County Ledger website. Dr. Moyers has also made a wealth of other historical information available from the Ashley County Ledger website, to include the church records of Central Baptist Church. Central Baptist Church was only three miles to the south of Mount Olive, resulting in many families appearing in the records of both churches.
The descendants of some of the early families are presented. This information has been gathered by examination of census records, in conjunction with much enjoyable correspondence I have had with distant cousins, as well as those familiar with the history of the region.
Finally, a name index is included enabling easy location of passages of interest to the reader. Throughout this document the original spelling and punctuation have been preserved to the extent possible. As such, the name index should be scrutinized for many possible alternate spellings.
My personal interest in the history of the church is a natural outgrowth of researching and learning about my ancestors. Both my mother and father’s side of the family have roots at Mount Olive. Among my ancestors known to have attended Mount Olive are two grandparents, four great-grandparents, eight 2nd great-grandparents, four 3rd great grandparents, and at least three 4th great-grandparents! It is my hope that this compilation will enable broader access to this information, and help preserve the rich history of this Church and the Berea community for our descendants.
James Robert “Jim Bob” Shell, II