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Olar — Olar, South Carolina

SC Picture Project  |  Bamberg County  |  Olar

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This granite marker in the Bamberg County community of Olar is dedicated to the town’s founders and tells a brief history of the village and how it got its name. Olar was first called Buford’s Bridge for the bridge built by Colonel William Buford over the Salkehatchie River in 1792. Yet at the end of the nineteenth century, four brothers and Civil War veterans – Elisha, Henry, James H., and Richard Morris – owned large tracts of land in the area that they donated to the South Bound Railroad, which would pass throughout the community. A depot called Hammond Station was subsequently built on Richard Morris’s land, and the town that grew around it, called Hammond for the depot, was incorporated in 1891.


Jim Jenkins of Chesterfield, 2015 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

By October of 1892 a post office was in service in Hammond, called Olar for Richard Morris’s daughter of the same name. In 1894 the town’s name was changed to Olar in keeping with the post office. Olar is home to historic Mizpah Methodist Church, built in 1856 when the town was still known as Buford’s Bridge. Pictured above, the granite marker in honor of the Morris Brothers stands next to the railroad tracks and was dedicated by Morris descendants in 2000.

Olar Police Station

Sara Dean of Moncks Corner, 2016 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

Though the police station in Ridgeway holds the title as world’s smallest, the former public safety building in Olar gives it a run for its money. The shed-sized building seen above operated until the later part of the twentieth century, with one police officer occupying the station. Today a modern police station serves the community, but the former tiny police house remains in the center of town as a nostalgic reminder of simpler times. The classic police car pictured below also harkens back to a different era and is the impetus of the Olar Model T Festival held each October.

Olar Model T

Sara Dean of Moncks Corner, 2016 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

The antique police car leads the festival parade of Model T’s, Model A’s, and tractors. According to local lore, Olar businessman C.F. Rizer invested in a Ford dealership – the largest in South Carolina – in 1913, shortly after the advent of the car. Prior to the dealership, Rizer had proven his business acumen by successfully selling general merchandise, buggies and accessories, and farm equipment. After he expanded with his Model T dealership, apparently Henry Ford himself reached out to Rizer and asked him to invest in the Ford Motor Company so he could expand manufacturing. Rizer invested $25,000 in Ford, which resulted in the production of half a million cars by 1914. A train with 64 box cars delivered 256 of these cars straight to Rizer’s dealership. Rizer then focused solely on selling Ford products for the remainder of his career. Though not an original Olar police car, the Model T seen here stands on display in town. The bank building seen below, thought to have been built around 1900, was operated by C.F. Rizer.

Bank of Olar

Brandon Coffey of Charleston, 2018 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

A string of closed businesses harkens back to the thriving times of Olar. Flanking the end closest to Highway 64 is the old general store known as Creech Variety Store, its name faintly seen on the rusty hanging Coca-Cola sign hanging from its corner. Established in 1938 and facing the railroad tracks that once helped economy of the town, this store provided the town with many of its most common provisions needed for daily living.

Olar Stores

Brandon Coffey of Charleston, 2018 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

Olar Info

Address: 3rd Street, Olar, SC 29843
GPS Coordinates: 33.181040,-81.185464

Olar Map

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10 Comments about Olar

David Gray says:
October 29th, 2019 at 6:31 am

My father and his three brothers – Sonny, Raddy and Bob – grew up in this wonderful little town – my granddaddy owned and operated the Corner Grocery there – my childhood is rich with memories of going to Olar for Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter – every summer my brother and I would ride the Greyhound bus down to spend the week with our grandparents – many lessons were learned during those times – I especially recall my grandmother’s cooking, getting slathered with 6-12 to repel the gnats, buying roasted cashews at Poole’s Five and Dime and untimely visits from Bo Cave, who always seemed to drive up in his Coachman Scooter right as we sat down to eat … my brother, Chris, and I have often wondered how fantastic it would be if we could gather all of our Olar stories and condense them into a script – it would make a classic movie for the ages.

Doug Gray says:
October 28th, 2019 at 1:30 pm

Unfortunately, I do not have a photo of the cotton gin.

Amelia M. Nelson says:
October 26th, 2019 at 8:10 am

Good to see your post, Doug. Do you have a photo of the cotton gin?

Doug Gray says:
October 23rd, 2019 at 1:54 pm

I grew up in Olar and have great memories of my childhood. My father owned a grocery store downtown and my grandfather owned a mercantile store and cotton gin downtown as well. I went to the Olar Graded Schools until we merged with Denmark 8 miles away. My mother taught the 4th grade. The police dept. consisted of one policeman named Earl (Squirrel) Sanders.

Amelia Morris Nelson says:
October 14th, 2019 at 8:27 am

This is my hometown. The namesake Olar was from my great-great-grandfather. I miss the “good ole days” when life was simple. Like Mary Barr Behlke, the school is missing from the history. I think I have a photo if you would like to post it.

SC Picture Project says:
April 28th, 2019 at 2:48 pm

We hope you are able to get there, it is a great place!

Milan Olar says:
April 28th, 2019 at 2:06 pm

This page is very interesting for me because my family name is Olar. I hope one day I will visit this town.

Ted Lauretano says:
March 8th, 2019 at 2:04 pm

I visited Olar many years ago as a guest of E.D. Bessinger. I fell in love with the little family run stores. The town was a breath of fresh air from city life and I thoroughly enjoyed visiting and talking to the town members.

SC Picture Project says:
October 24th, 2018 at 3:20 pm

We can certainly try and get something added on about the school! Which school in particular was it?

Mary Barr Behlke says:
October 23rd, 2018 at 7:42 pm

Really enjoyed seeing this post but would have also liked to see a picture of the school! I miss the people of Olar – such an important part of my life.


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