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Juliet Strauss Memorial, Inside Turkey Run State Park

Juliet Strauss Memorial, Inside Turkey Run State Park

Juliet V. Strauss was born in 1863 in Rockville, Indiana, in a rural agricultural area of the state. Her parents were William and Susan (King) Humphreys, both new to the region and there to make new lives as pioneer farmers. She grew up and married the editor of the local paper, the Rockville Tribune, for which she started writing a daily column called "Squibs and Sayings." She mostly poked fun at her husband and wrote editorials about the need for common sense in life. Her writing became very popular, and she soon started writing for magazines.

Under the pseudonym "The Country Contributor," Strauss wrote a column she called "The Ideas of a Plain Country Woman," in the Ladies Home Journal. Over the course of eleven years she wrote fourteen articles, later collecting some of her favorite articles in a book, The Ideas of a Plain Country Woman.

One topic that she elaborated upon in her column was the aura of depression that settled upon her when she went into the city:

Occasionally I go to the capital city.... I try to fortify myself for the trip, arming myself against the depression that invariably settles upon me at the sight of the high buildings, the dingy approaches to the big railway station where one sees men black with car grease and smoke, women in squalid houses, and listless children in the shadows of the brewery, or in the bits of ragged yard. . . . (21 Mar. 1907: 38 )

Urbanization creates stifling and dirty living conditions to its residents, according to the Country Contributor, but in contrast, people who live in the country enjoy its many luxuries. The fresh air and unpolluted environment with space for living are very different from the imagery of the city:

[F]or country people really are the only people who live in this world, if by this world is meant trees, and hills, and fields, and clear running water courses, and blue skies.... In the country poor folk revel in the luxuries which are only names to the vast majority of city people. To them come calm days away from noise and turmoil, sweet food fresh from Nature’s Storehouse, a worldful of clean air untainted by smoke and human breath.... (21 Jan. 1906: 34)

She writes about the country in another article, which discusses the relationship between the farmer and the land:

I used to get dreadfully discouraged in the spring of the year because I wasn’t a man. I longed to get out in the field and guide the plow, feel the earth responding to my touch as the furrow began to curl up over the plowshare, and the team fell into the swing of it, and every force of Nature seemed to respond to the mood of spring and the stirring of new life and hope. (21 May 1907: 28)

In this entry, Strauss focuses on the closeness between the pioneer farm workers and the land. They lived off the land, and it provided them with everything that they needed. They worked with the land on a sensual level, with their hands helping the land to produce. This is something that has almost been forgotten in today's agriculture, as most, if not all, of the work is done by heavy machinery.

It was through the use of her popularity as a writer and speaker that Strauss was able to save Turkey Run State Park from lumber harvesters. Turkey Run is a 2,382-acre nature preserve located in west central Indiana. It was purchased by the state and made into Indiana's second state park in 1916. Strauss used the influence that she gained in the Rockville Tribune to inform people of that area about the danger threatening the natural beauty of the park. She wrote to the state representatives to plead for help. Because of her efforts, the money to save the park was raised. As a tribute to her unfailing work, in 1921, three years after her death, the Woman's Press Club of Indiana dedicated a memorial statue to her in Turkey Run State Park, commemorating her great respect for the natural world.

Strauss wrote about the environment of Indiana as something beautiful and a luxury to those who are lucky enough to be able to live there. Her writings express a great respect for nature, and an admiration for what it provides for the human race. Her respect for nature shows in her commitment to protecting nature.