To Mrs. J.A. "Hattie" Page goes credit for
preserving the earliest history of Olivet Christian Church five
miles east of Columbia. When she was a special student in the
School of Journalism at MU, Hattie Page gleaned historical facts
from documents that were later destroyed in a home fire. In 1924
she published a freelance article about John 0. White, enroute to
California in the gold rush, and his almost certain death. He was
captured by Indians and prayed desperately for God to save him.
He promised to preach the gospel for the rest of his life. God
saved him and White kept that promise.
Olivet’s history parallels the growth of many other
congregations in Boone County.
J.O. White brought people together for religious services in
his home, in a one-room country school and, in summer, outdoors
under a shade made from boughs of maple trees in Tom
Turner’s yard. They often spoke of having an organized
church with a meeting place but White died four years before that
became a reality.
Hattie Page and her family later lived in the 1820s home built
by Tom Turner and his slaves east of Columbia and south of Fulton
Gravel Road Route WW. P
age found an old marble stone, lying in grass at the edge of a
cornfield engraved: "Rev. John 0. White, died 1870, age 60
yrs. 20 Years A Preacher of the Gospel."
Mrs. Page wrote, "In the heart and mind of this man was
the vision of what later became Olivet Church at Harg. They
talked of building but carpenters were scarce and expensive and
the people had little money. White had instilled the desire for a
church but didn’t live to see it built four years later. The
burned record said, The good people of the community deemed
it their duty to connect themselves together in one Christian
body and meet together on the Lord’s Day to worship Him who
rules and governs mankind.’"
They chose a site on Reuben Hume’s land and, on Sept. 24,
1873, Richard Estes paid $50 for one acre "to build a church
for publick" sic "worship and while it ceases to be
used for that purpose it is hereby distinctly understood that the
title is to revert back to the person or persons at that time
owning the balance of said land..."
Tom Turner, J.R. Boulton and Edward Dailey solicited funds for
the building. William Berkeley Estes donated trees for the floor
joists. Men made sleds to drag the long heavy beams by mules,
through mud, more than two miles. Contract for the frame building
went to Adams and Lukin of Columbia with a completion date of
It wasn’t easy to raise $200!
Mrs. Leslie "Mary" Wegener wrote the following:
"This church was not built with surplus wealth ... it was
built with money which was their living. All had big families and
they ate what they raised. Hogs brought four cents a pound and
chickens, three cents. They came in buggies and spring wagons,
farm wagons or on horseback or foot. But they came!
"Once-a-month church services usually lasted all day with
a basket dinner at noon. The horses were hitched all around,
mostly out east. Who remembers the horses neighing and stomping
and switching at flies? The smell of fresh manure?
"Imagine tablecloths spread out on the grass under the
shade trees west of the church cloth made gleaming white
with homemade lye soap. Women broke off maple branches and waved
them back and forth to shoo the flies (remember the horses on the
east side) as they waited for the men to assemble, plates in
hand, and for the minister to ask the blessing."
More about Olivet’s history on another Tuesday.