Originally called Watson's Crossroad, Olive Branch was founded near the spot where several old Chickasaw Indian Trails crossed. When the first post office was established in 1846, Mrs. Frances Wilson Blocker - a descendant of one of the community's founders - suggested the name Olive Branch. She felt the new name symbolized a dove bringing a branch to the seagoing Noah.
Among the earliest settlers in the Olive Branch area were Stephen Flinn and his wife's brother-in-law, Milton Blocker. They purchased DeSoto County Sections 34 and 35 from Chickasaw Chief Lush-pum-tubby for $1,600. Blocker was probably responsible for the village's first business, a mule-powered cotton gin. Later, a creamery and boat factory boosted the community's economy, an indication of what was to come.
At the dawn of the 20th century, Olive Branch began to emerge as a commercial center as well as an agricultural one, eventually eclipsing the thriving settlements of Pleasant Hill and Cockrum.
Modern Olive Branch boasts one of the most diverse economies in the region, thanks to a wide variety of industrial and distribution employers. The industrial revolution of Olive Branch began in 1971 when a site just a couple of miles from downtown was chosen as the home of Holiday Inn University and Conference Center. Today the Whispering Woods Hotel & Conference Center is open to the public offering magnificent meeting facilities, a 200 unit hotel, 18-hole championship golf course, tennis courts and hiking trails.
In January 1973, an industrial park that is today called the Metro Industrial Park was opened. The park is a fully planned, improved, and restricted industrial facility. It includes the Olive Branch Airport, one of Mississippi's busiest, offering a paved, lighted runway and full-service fixed base operations.
Memphis Metro Area
In less than a century and a half, Olive Branch has gracefully made the transition from Indian Territory to the fastest growing city in the fastest growing county in Mississippi. Located adjacent to the Mid-South's leading metropolitan center, Memphis, Tennessee, Olive Branch offers the best of two worlds - pleasant, comfortable, uncontested living and employment all less than 30 minutes from the cultural, financial, and distribution center of the Mid-South.
The 10,000 seat DeSoto Civic Center is home to the Memphis River Kings (ice hockey) and the Memphis Xplorers (arena football). Located on Interstate 55 and Church Road, the civic center has increased tourism and convention business throughout the county.
The Baptist Hospital located in DeSoto County recently completed a $175 million expansion, including a 10-story bed tower. The construction increased the hospital's bed count from 199 to about 340 to continue to provide first-rate health care to meet the needs of the growing county.
The 135 acre City of Olive Branch has many park amenities to offer the community. The Olive Branch City Park, located at and offers three lakes (one with a pier), five tennis courts, a playground, three ball field complexes, an eight-lane track, two miles of walking trails with exercise stations, a one-half mile nature trail, a scenic overlook, an amphitheater, and a picnic pavilion. In part because of the large city park, the City of Olive Branch was named Mississippi's 2005 Scenic Community by the Mississippi Urban Forest Council.
The DeSoto County School District is the second largest in the state of Mississippi and maintains one of the state's lowest operating costs. DeSoto County Schools continue to lead the state in academics, technology, and the performing arts.
At the 2000 census, the population of Olive Branch was 21,054 and current estimates show a population exceeding 30,000, but the community still loves to come together to celebrate. Whether it is the old-fashioned, small-town 4th of July, Mayfest in Olive Branch Old Towne, Concert Under the Pines or of the many other great annual events, there is plenty to enjoy throughout the year.
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