The David John Aaron
Teaching and History Museum
Mount Olive, North Carolina


History     Railroad     Agriculture and Industry     Town     About us

Our History

picture of David John Aaron Teaching and History Museum, 137 East Main Street, Mount Olive NC.  Photo copyright Patti O'Donoghue

The Mount Olive Area Historical Society invites you to explore the economic and social history of our town and our region.  Click here for a list of events in Mount Olive area history. 


Come by and see our history in person!  See the About Us section, below, for hours and directions.


The Museum is named for David John Aaron, a civic, business, and political leader of Mount Olive from 1881 to 1910.  The house was built about 1900 in the Queen Anne architectural style and was originally occupied by Aaron's son, Dr. Leonard Aaron.  Use of the building was donated by Lippman Aaron Long, Jr. and his wife, Christine.    Top



The Railroad

In a very real sense, Mount Olive was brought about by the coming of the railroad.  In 1840, the Wilmington & Raleigh Railroad began operation between Wilmington (on the Atlantic Ocean) and Weldon (on the Roanoke River, near Virginia).   An 1859 railroad schedule is available on-line from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. 


The railroad was a major supply route for the Confederacy during the War Between the States.  This made Mount Olive and Goldsboro military objectives for the Federal armies.  Two major battles were fought in the area, at Wyse Fork, and at Bentonville


Today, CSX Transportation owns and operates the railroad through Mount Olive.  The line is used for local and through freight.    Top



Agriculture and Industry


The railroad and the fertile land in and around Mount Olive brought farmers to the area.  Starting in 1880, "truck farming" became an important local industry.  Local truck farmers raised beans, cantaloupes, corn, cucumbers, oats , potatoes, strawberries, and other crops.  The railroad sent the produce north to Richmond, Virginia and cities in the Northeastern U.S. 


In 1926, local businessmen formed the Mt. Olive Pickle Company  to increase demand for cucumbers.  Today, Mt. Olive Pickle Company products are sold in more than 40 states. 


Other industries in and around Mount Olive include poultry processing (Butterball), lumber (Georgia-Pacific), traction power electrification, (IMPulse NC), banking (Southern Bank), and restaurant franchising (Hwy 55 Burgers, Shakes & Fries).    Top


Our Town


photo of Kids World playground in Mount Olive.  This playground was built as a joint project of the Friends of the Parks (a private group) and the Town.  Photo copyright Brian O'DonoghueEven before our town was incorporated, the community had established a common life with churches, commercial establishments and various social groups. 


After the railroad began service in 1840, homes and commercial buildings were built near the present downtown area.  In 1870, the town was formally incorporated.  The Bank of Mount Olive was founded in 1901.  This bank grew into today's Southern Bank, with branches throughout the region.  In 1904, the Mount Olive Tribune  newspaper began to publish.  The newspaper continues to operate today as Mount Olive's hometown newspaper. In 1905, an electric generator and electric lighting were installed here. 


In 1951, the Convention of Original Free Will Baptists moved their college to Mount Olive.  Since then, Mount Olive College has become a 4-year institution with a modern campus on the west side of town. 


picture of people gathered near the former railroad depot during the North Carolina Pickle Festival.  Photo copyright Brian O'Donoghue.Our town's common life continues today, with active and vigorous churches and volunteer organizations.  The Boys & Girls Club, Friends of the Parks, the Chamber of Commerce, and many other organizations bring people of good will together for the common good. 


Today's Mount Olive is a town with modern transportation, schools, utilities, and industries.  Recent upgrades in the railroad  right-of-way allow faster and safer running of trains.  Industrial and retail zones on the north and west sides of town are attracting new businesses to the area.  Improvements to U.S. Route 117 give the area improved access to the State Capital and to points north on I-95.  At the Mount Olive Area Historical Society, we are proud of our history, and we look forward to making a prosperous future history for those who will come after us.    Top


About Us


The Mount Olive Area Historical Society operates the Museum.  The address is 137 East Main Street in downtown Mount Olive.  It's one block east of Southern Bank.  Click here for a street map, courtesy of Google Maps.  The museum is open on the second Sunday of each month from 2:00pm to 5:00pm, and by appointment.  The Society requests that school groups, groups of five or more, and those with mobility impairments contact the Museum in advance to make arrangements. 


picture of David John Aaron Teaching and History Museum, 137 East Main Street, Mount Olive NC.  Photo copyright Patti O'DonoghueThe Mount Olive Area Historical Society was organized in 1997 as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.  The Society’s goals are to discover, preserve and disseminate knowledge of the history of Mount Olive and surrounding areas; to designate historic districts, sites and structures; to publish pamphlets, brochures and maps about our history; to support economic development through tourism; and to operate the David John Aaron Museum.  In 1998 the Society helped save from demolition the former Mount Olive High School and in 1999 it had the Mount Olive Historic District listed in the National Register of Historic Places.  In 2002 the Society began renovating the house at 137 East Main Street for use as the Museum. 


This picture shows that the front door is reached by a short flight of stairs.  However, an accessible entrance to the museum is available near the northwest corner of the building, just beyond the left edge of the picture. 


Over time, the Society will be building an interactive website at this address as a teaching and educational resource.  Send e-mail to the webmaster if you would like to be informed about updates to the web site.    Top


History     Railroad     Agriculture and Industry     Town     About us     Top



Thanks for visiting the David John Aaron Museum, 137 East Main Street, Mount Olive NC 28365 USA.  For information about the museum, call +1 919 731 2779 or e-mail the director.   For technical issues, e-mail the webmaster


© Mount Olive Area Historical Society.


Last revised April 15, 2018