A Brief History of Molena
(This concise history was sent by the 1921 Senior Class of Molena High School, the historian adding the first and last paragraphs.)
In the early days of the county, if there was a store with a post office and one or two dwellings, the spot could be dignified as "ville." The first store near what is now Molena was owned by Mr. A. A. Snider and the place was called Snidersville. Later, Mr. Newt Jenkins bought him out and the place then became Jenkinsville. It soon grew into a village of some size, nestling in a pretty setting at the base of Pine Mountains. Mail was brought here by horseback.
This was before the railroad was built. After the railroad came, the name of Molena was agreed upon and it was incorporated in 1888. The first store built in Molena was by H.G. Jordan, now a resident of Barnesville.
The first citizens were Mr. Jack Brooks, farmer and millwright; Newt Jenkins, merchant; Bob Pilkinton, farmer and owner of mill; Jim Justice, farmer; John Thompson, owner of mill; Sam Parks, Farmer; Green Blount, farmer and notary public; Jim Brooks, farmer, peach grower, merchant, inventor, and railroad contractor who helped build the railroad through Molena.
The Baptist church was organized in 1888 with a membership of thirty-five. The first pastor was Rev. Pritchard and the first deacons were John N. Brooks, H.G. Jordan and C.J. Dunn.
The Methodist Church was organized Oct 31, 1892, with Rev. R.B. Hamlin first pastor. among the early members were W.F. Cochran, J.H. Hooten, Theo Rumble and Mrs. S.L. Hardy.
There have been five school buildings erected in Molena, including the present building. The first was a wooden building with only one room. The second was also a wooden building with an upper story which was used as the Masonic Hall. This building was burned and the third structure erected where it burned. This building was later sold and torn down. (It was made into a dwelling where Dr. J. H. Grubbs now lives.) The fourth structure was made of concrete blocks. There were four classrooms and an auditorium. It was valued at $5,750. It still stands and is used as a dwelling. The fifth and present building is made of brick. It has eight large classrooms, a library well-equipped and an auditorium.
The Bank of Molena was founded in 1899. It is the oldest bank in the county and was at first a branch of the Barnesville Savings Bank. It later became one of W.S. Withem's chain of banks. It was chartered Oct. 11, 1901 with W. L. Perkle, cashier, and Z. Lawrence, president. He served until Jan. 1927 when he retired on account of ill health. This bank has continued business for thirty-three years.
A terrific cyclone came through Molena March 3, 1893. Mrs. Martha Feld was killed. She was the grandmother of Mrs. J.A. Melton. Several dwellings and a ginnery were destroyed. Mt. Olive Church was also blown down. This cyclone went in a path about half-mile wide from Molena by Mt. Olive to Piedmont.
The Masonic Lodge
The first Masonic Lodge was at Flat Shoals and was called Mt. Olive Lodge No. 122. It was moved to Jordan's Store in Molena, and later it was moved upstairs in the school building in Molena. The present location is above C.R. Willis' store.
Mr. Jim Brooks invented several practical things, among which were a car coupler, a clock, a barrow road wheeler, and an electric churn.
Some Early Settlers of Molena District
Along the line dividing the Molena and the Springs Districts, some on one side and some on the other, lived several early settlers that had much to do with the history of that section. From Monroe County came John Jordan, father of Henry and Max Jordan, and Newton Willis, grandfather of C.R. Willis; James Holmes, who had the unique history of being born in a fort in some eastern county and who helped in the founding of Pike County; Johnny Leak, who lived to be 102 years old; Jerre Reeves, father of W.J. Reeves; John Gardner, father of Reverend G.W. Gardner; Ed. Connelly and Steven Elliott. Old Mt. Olive Church, founded about 1836, was the main place of worship for all this countryside.