Olive Texas 11
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The commissary, which does a large business, is in charge of A. B. Hall, while the orderly and well-stocked saloon is presided over by W. A. Brooks. The large force in the woods is under the direct supervision of Mr. Joe Payment… one of the most important men connected with this enterprise.

Olive itself is quite a little burg, and is supplied with school and church buildings, a hall of the Knights of Honor (a fraternal order), also one for public entertainments. Moreover, it has a newly-organized brass band, consisting of twelve young men of culture and refinement. The members are Sam Barnett, the band leader; V. A. Petty, who plays the B-flat cornet; U. A. Sternenberg, C. F. Sanders, W. Brooks, Arthur Furby, J. Melancon, A. Miller, and J. Miller. The boys, rigged out in their dress suits and beaver hats, look charming, and when they go out to play . . . they become the heroes of the hour and the admiration of the ladies. [For years, the Sunset band played for Beaumont’s annual firemen’s masquerade and leap year balls.]… One always finds here Colonel J. A. Sternenberg, who in his vine-clad home, always extends to his guests that generous hospitality that makes a visit to Olive an unforgotten pleasure.24

Throughout 1890, there was great demand for and an increasing shortage of lumber in East Texas, which forced up the price by $3 a thousand feet, and left the Sunset mill with a very low inventory of two million feet on its yard.25 The market, however, was soon to turn sour as the nation entered a disastrous depression. Luckily, the decade of the 1890s, due to major expansion of the American railroads, brought unprecedented demand for railroad crossties, bridge timbers, and depot materials, which kept many East Texas sawmills free of bankruptcy as demand for lumber for housing plummeted.

As an example, in September, 1891, Beaumont’s Reliance Sawmill signed the largest sales contract, for 100,000,000 feet with the Omaha, Kansas City, and Galveston Railroad, ever recorded for a Southwestern sawmill, an amount so large that it would have required the entire output of five sawmills for more than a year. During 1892-1893, about one-half of the Sunset mill’s output was sold to the Reliance Sawmill to enable the latter to meet the terms of its contract.26

24“Forging to The Front,” Galveston Daily News, August 21, 1890.

25Galveston Daily News, March 29 and October 9, 1890.

26Ibid., September 17, 24, 1891; see also W. T. Block (ed), Emerald of the Neches: The Chronicles of Beaumont, Texas From Reconstruction to Spindletop (Nederland: 1980), pp. 463,481.

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