ST. CHARLES COUNTY, Mo. – A new county park near Wentzville, Missouri could be named after a former slave and Union soldier who became a successful farmer and landowner in the area.

St. Charles County Executive Steve Ehlmann has recommended the county council name the 199-acre park after Benjamin Oglesby. Ehlmann called Oglesby’s story is “both remarkable and inspirational.”

“…it will be a fitting tribute to the Oglesby family name and the history of St. Charles County,” he said.

The St. Charles County Council is expected to give final approval with a vote during Monday’s county council meeting.

Born a slave in Bedford, Virginia in 1825, Oglesby was brought to Missouri in 1837 by slaveholder Marshall Bird. Young Oglesby toiled on a farm in the Foristell/Wentzville area, near present day Interstate 70 and Highway W.

In 1864, Oglesby, now 39, fled Bird’s property and went to St. Charles to enlist in the Union Army. His wife and children remained in captivity during his brief military career. Oglesby was assigned to the 56th U.S. Colored Infantry Regiment and was honorably discharged in 1865.

At the conclusion of the American Civil War, Oglesby moved his wife and their six children to Warren County, where they worked on a farm in Hickory Grove Township. By 1871, he bought 146 acres of land in Foristell—now 2949 W. Meyer Drive—and lived there for the remainder of his life.

Martha Oglesby, Benjamin’s wife, died in 1900. He passed away a year later and was buried in Smith Chapel Cemetery, a mile from his farm. Their children continued to own the property into the mid-1900s.