Hiking through Turkey Run State Park in Parke County, you may come upon a statue dedicated in 1922 to Juliet Virginia Strauss. A native of Rockville, Indiana, Strauss was a major force in saving the 2,382 acres of what was then called Bloomingdale Glens. Once described as “a paradise of rocky gorges, glens, bathing beaches and waterfalls,” the property went up for auction in 1915. The Hoosier Veneer Company, recognizing the land’s wealth of hardwood forest, outbid a parks committee by a hundred dollars. Six months later, however, the conservationists prevailed, settling with the timber interests for just over 40,000 dollars.
The legislators and philanthropists who made Turkey Run State Park a reality were aware of the writings of Juliet Strauss. Having spent much of her youth traipsing through these very woods, this small-town mother of two was one of the most widely read essayists in the country. Her column “The Ideas of a Plain Country Woman” appeared in the Ladies Home Journal from 1905 until 1918. Distancing herself from the women’s rights advocates, Strauss glorified the traditional rural experience. “Being a plain home woman,” she claimed, “is one of the greatest successes in life, if to plainness you add kindness, tolerance, and … real interest in simple things.” To many homemakers across the nation, Strauss restored the role of the woman in the home.
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