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An Olive-Sternenberg document in the archives of the Olive Scott Petty Company of San Antonio reveals how quickly the mill, town, and business enterprises (which belonged to the company) disintegrated during the spring and summer of 1912. The lumber company published a 14-page list of equipment offered for sale and dated July 15, 1912. Since no band saws, circular or gang saws, or planers appeared on it, it is assumed these items had already been purchased by another company, probably Kirby Lumber Corporation. However, such diverse items as one barber chair and razors (from the barber shop), lots of prescription and patent medicines, unused corks and bottles (from the drug store), saloon equipment, and a huge volume of surplus hardware from the company store and sawmill, typewriters and safes from the company office, and other items were offered for sale.50

After 1912, there are other indications that the Olive residents disappeared rapidly until only a ghost town remained, an expected occurrence whenever livelihoods were severed. According to Mr. Clyde See of Kountze, chairman of the Hardin County Historical Commission, all buildings were quickly removed or torn down until only the single building that housed the final office and books of the Olive-Sternenberg Lumber Company and burned down in 1968, survived. By 1913, Fred W. Sternenberg, Jr., had moved to Austin (although he remained secretary of the lumber company for several years thereafter), and Charles A. Sternenberg had moved to Beaumont.51 Instead of buying more timber after 1912, the Olive-Sternenberg Company began to sell their limited marketable trees to logging contractors at $5 per thousand feet of “stumpage” (log measure), to be cut elsewhere.52

By 1915, however, the lumber company was basically a real estate firm, leasing tracts of land to oil drillers who contracted to sink an oil well within thirty days.53 In 1917, the Olive-Sternenberg Lumber Company, still owned by V. A. Petty and Emma B. (Mrs. G. A.) Sternenberg, leased 9,962 acres of cutover stump land to Charles Mitchell for the purpose of oil drilling, and that lease agreement noted that Olive, even if limited to a single building, was still headquarters of the lumber firm.

50Photocopy, “List of Saw Mill Machinery, Extra Parts, Supplies, Pipe, Machine and Blacksmith Tools Offered For Sale, Olive-Sternenberg Lumber Company, Olive, Texas, July 15, 1912,” in the Scott Petty Company Archives, San Antonio, Texas.

51Volumes 60, p. 130; 69, p. 565; and 71, p. 600, Hardin County Deed Records.

52Ibid., Vol. 69, p. 192.

53Ibid., Vols. 67, p. 364, and 69, p. 565.

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