Commerce blossomed early at this important wagon crossroad; only Brookeville and Unity predate it as villages. By 1800 William Kelly had opened a blacksmith and wheelwright shop and Quaker Whitson Canby ran the Fair Hill Pottery Manufactory, employing a dozen Irish potters and producing earthenware plates and bowls. For his home Canby built the log core of today’s Olney House, barracking his potters in the old Brooke home Fair Hill. Soon Benedict Duley was operating a general store and William Starkey a tavern. With this cluster of artisans the village acquired the name Mechanicsville. In 1837 Charles and Sarah Brooke Farquhar took over Canby’s home and named it Olney, after poet William Cowper’s village in England. Eventually the house gave its name to the local post office and ultimately to the village itself.
A succession of merchants, farmers, and developers helped shape the crossroads – Barnsleys, Hawkinses, Olands, Hineses, Finneyfrocks, Hoyles, Murphys, Sopers, Burnses, Bells, Ladsons, Armstrongs, Downeys, Berlins, and Lambornes. A black community grew up near today’s Hines Drive south of the crossroad. In 1978 the growling of bulldozers signaled the widening of the Olney intersection and the leveling of virtually all of old Olney.