St. Charles County Parks’ newest park near Wentzville is Oglesby Park, named after one of the property’s early owners. The 199-acre plot of land is at 2949 West Meyer Road and is scheduled to open this summer.
Benjamin Oglesby was born enslaved in 1825 in Bedford, Va., and was brought to Missouri in 1837 at the age of 12 by his owner, Marshall Bird. He worked on a farm near present-day I-70 and Highway W in the Foristell/Wentzville area.
In 1864, at the age of 39, Oglesby fled captivity and enlisted in the Union Army in St. Charles. His wife and children remained in captivity while he went through basic training in St. Louis to eventually fight for their freedom. Oglesby was assigned to the 56th United States Colored Infantry, fought in Arkansas, and was honorably discharged in 1865.
According to the 1870 census, Oglesby, his wife, Martha and their six children – Medora, Samuel, Oskar, Bell, Albert, and Charlie – worked on a farm in Hickory Grove Township in Warren County. In 1871, he purchased 146 acres of land in Foristell. He financed the property through a $2,000 Deed of Trust and paid off the property six years later.
Oglesby farmed the land at 2949 West Meyer Road for 30 years. His wife died in 1900, and he died in 1901. He is buried in Smith Chapel Cemetery, a mile from his farm. The Oglesby children owned the property through the 1950s.
The St. Charles County Council passed a resolution at their April 11 meeting to recognize Oglesby and his descendants. More than 25 of Oglesby’s descendants attended the meeting, including Barbara Love (pictured, left), Oglesby’s great-great-granddaughter; and Stanley Luckett (pictured, right), Oglesby’s great-grandson.
Plans for the park include moving a 1920s one-room schoolhouse to the property. Oglesby’s descendants attended school there until it was closed in the late 1950s. Douglass School, named after abolitionist Frederick Douglass, is located approximately one mile from Oglesby Park. The schoolhouse will be disassembled, and all pieces labeled and cataloged to be reconstructed on the site. The building is approximately 15’ x 30’ and will be open for public viewing.
“As St. Charles County continues to expand westward, this park is in an ideal location,” Ehlmann says. “The park will offer shelters, natural surface and paved trails, and a playground when it opens this summer. It will be a fitting tribute to the Oglesby family name and the history of St. Charles County.”
Ehlmann says the property allows the Parks Department to maintain green space for the future. This will be the 18th County park to open since the parks system was founded 25 years ago. There are three other park properties in reserve for the future.