By Alexis Zotos
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ST. LOUIS, Missouri (KMOV) – The land off West Meyer Road and Highway W in Foristell will be the future home of St. Charles County’s newest park. But it is the history of the country from which it will take its name.
The park will be named Oglesby Park after Benjamin Oglesby, a slave who was brought to the area from Virginia in 1837. In 1864 he ran away and enlisted in the Union Army, training at Benton Barracks in St. Louis and served in the 56th Colored Infantry. After the Civil War, he was able to purchase the Foristell land.
“When I read Benjamin’s story, he kept fighting. He wanted to do something, not just for himself, but for his family,” said Barbara Love, his great-great-granddaughter.
Love learned of the story when St. Charles County sought relatives. His uncle Stanley Luckett grew up on the farm. It was in the family until the mid-1900s.
St. Charles County has purchased the land and will honor Oglesby’s legacy and history. About a mile away, Oglesby is buried in Smith’s Chapel Cemetery. On the cemetery property is a one-room schoolhouse where Luckett and other locals attended school before desegregation.
Now the county plans to move the structure to the new park.
“We’re going to move or rebuild this school in the park, we’re going to have the Benjamin Oglesby story but also the black education story in this area,” County Executive Steve Ehlmann said.
He says the 199-acre park will open in July and will feature trails, structures and possibly a playground. Barbara Love says she can’t wait to take her grandchildren to Oglesby Park.
“To have someone who has done so much, someone who was a slave and comes to buy their own land, the ability to live off the land and leave the legacy to their family,” Love said. “To say that I am a descendant of Benjamin Oglesby is a blessing.
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