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Women’s Organization Pushes Name Changes At State Parks

MO State Parks

A Missouri organization is working to change the name of a state park in southwest Missouri.  The Women’s Foundation, based in Kansas City, wants to add the name of Nathan Boone’s wife, Olive, to the name of the Nathan Boone State Historic Site in Ash Grove.

According to Wendy Doyle, president and CEO of the organization, the effort to ensure equality in the names of Missouri state parks stems from a trip a Women’s Foundation employee made in 2017.

"We actually had a colleague here at the Women's Foundation who visited every state park in the state of Missouri and recognized through that tour that there were no women represented.  There was not a woman's name represented with a state park in Missouri," said Doyle.

That started a dialogue with the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, which oversees state parks.  Doyle said DNR officials have been “open and very supportive” of the effort.

In fact, DNR changed the name of another state park in March.  The Abel Van Meter State Park in Marshall is now the Annie and Abel Van Meter State Park.  Annie donated the culturally and historically significant land to DNR after her husband died.

Doyle said Olive Boone deserves the same recognition.  And Ben Ellis, director of Missouri State Parks, agrees. 

"R. Douglas Hurt has a book out about Nathan Boone and the American Frontier, and he spends quite a bit of time talking about the amazing efforts that Olive did of keeping the homestead running while Nathan was  gone about on his adventures," said Ellis.

He said the name changes are a chance for DNR “to pay tribute to these strong Missouri women who have served as a role model for others in the state.”

Doyle is pleased with DNR’s willingness to work toward greater inclusiveness in the state park system.

"We applaud them for having the courage and going back in this moment in time and taking this opportunity to be really inclusive of Missouri's history," said Doyle.

Ellis expects a decision to rename the Ash Grove site to the Olive and Nathan Boone State Historic Site to be made in late August or early September.   

And he said they continue to evaluate all their sites.

Doyle said they want DNR to be sure people know about the practice of slavery that occurred at the Nathan Boone homestead area as well.  There's a slave cemetery at the site.