Olive Texas 19
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In May, 1911, during a Southeast Texas survey to determine the volume of wood waste products being generated daily, the Olive Sternenberg Lumber Company reported that it cut 37 tons of such by- products (log slabs, shavings, etc.) each day, an indication that the mill was still cutting timber at about half-capacity.46 Perhaps the last thing of local interest to occur there was the marriage of Charles A. Sternenberg, mill superintendent, on March 1, 1912, a date by which he was surely aware that the mill would be closing down in three weeks.47

It is indeed ironic that the beginning days of Olive and the Sunset Sawmill are better chronicled than the closing days thirty years later. The Hardin County Deed Records, which usually had bestowed so much information for the writing of this story, become suddenly silent and especially vague about the last days of the mill and town. Likewise, there are no recorded contracts, bills of sale, etc., involving the purchase of mill machinery or its disposal in the Deed Records. Nevertheless, other sources confirm the closing of the sawmill in 1912, and one factor in particular suggests that it shut down in March of that year.

The long obituary of John A. Sternenberg of Houston in May, 1914, states that “this [Olive] mill operated for 31 years.” And that figure added to the founding year of 1881 adds up to 1912 as the year of the mill’s demise. The obituary also stated that J. A. Sternenberg “had acquired large property holdings in Beaumont, Houston, and San Antonio.” Earlier, Sid Olive, who had amassed quite a respectable fortune, died at Waco on August 4, 1906.48 A Beaumont tax list of 1908 verifies that J. A. Sternenberg was a substantial owner of business property there, rendered for taxes at $31,000.49

For seven years, beginning in 1905, some one at Olive had contributed a weekly or semi-monthly social or “gossip” column, published in the Beaumont Enterprise and captioned “Olive, Texas.” Ordinarily, the columns contributed very little to the town’s history, usually documenting on the activities, visits, etc. of a few prominent families. Although the columns appeared three times in March, 1912, they ended abruptly with the issue of March 25, and did not resume at any time thereafter.

46“Lumber Products in Greater Beaumont Country,” Beaumont Journal, May 28, 1911.

47Beaumont Enterprise, March 3, 1912.

48“Useful Life Came to End,” Obituary of J. A. Sternenberg, Houston Daily Post, May 3, 1914; “Funeral of S. C. Olive Took Place Yesterday,” Waco Daily Times Herald, August 6, 1906.

49Beaumont Enterprise, May 5, 1908.

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