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Elmer W. Oliver was born September 13, 1898, in Natchitoches Parrish, Louisiana. However the World War I veteran made his home in North Texas, coming to the area to work as a salesman, marrying a local girl and raising his family here.
It was his marriage in 1925 to Myrtle Fowler of Mansfield – a young school teacher he met while singing around the piano of a Dallas boarding house – that gave the young salesman his first introduction to the small rural community south of the Dallas-Fort Worth area. As they raised their three daughters – Geraldine, Marianne and Eleanor – in Fort Worth and later Dallas, the Olivers often found themselves in Mansfield visiting family. So it was no surprise in the 1960s when Elmer and his wife purchased 200 acres of wooded property along Walnut Creek in Mansfield for a farm and gathering place for their growing family. Over the next 10 years the family sold off some the property, leaving about 60 acres on the north side of Walnut Creek for their retirement homestead.
Over the year the fields of wildflowers and prairie grass shaded by large pecan trees became a wonderful gathering place for the family during holidays and special celebrations. Their daughters, spouses and 13 grandchildren enjoyed the tranquil setting the farm provided. Grandchildren climbed over the rocks of the "Rocky Ford" in the creek and draped themselves across the tire swing hanging from the trees. Mr. Oliver loved the property and tended to it himself, mowing the acreage on his tractor and trimming each tree by hand. The beautiful property he loved became what Elmer Oliver envisioned when he first saw the land in the early 1960s; "This is where roamings end."
Elmer Oliver died in November 1977 at the age of 79. Myrtle Oliver died in 1989 at age 92. Their Mansfield property was left to their daughters. Daughter Marianne and her husband, attorney Kelly Williams of Houston, purchased the land from her two sisters and the Williams family carried on the tradition of hosting special family gatherings with their own seven children and 23 grandchildren.
Meanwhile, in 1994 the Mansfield Park Facilities Development Corporation accepted a 13-acre land donation for use as a linear park from the residential developer building on the south side Walnut Creek, adjacent to the Williams property. In 1999 the city acquired seven acres of the Williams property to widen Matlock Road as well as create a detention pond and linear park trail connection.
Although Mansfield was growing around their property, Marianne Oliver Williams wished for the land her father held so dear to remain untouched. With fond memories of their family’s time on the land always on her mind, Mrs. Williams approached the City of Mansfield about purchasing the property for a park; more specifically, a park where the beauty of the natural space would be maintained and education, appreciation and preservation would be the principal goals driving its development. The city agreed to the sale in 2003, just a few months before Mrs. Williams’ death in November 2003, and the sale was finalized in 2004. The property in this sale, as well as the 20 acres previously acquired by the city, comprises the 80-acre Elmer W. Oliver Nature Park.
The nature park was named for Elmer W. Oliver at the request of Kelly and Marianne Williams and their children, to honor the man known as "Pops" who first walked among the trees nestled by the creek bank and realized that this is where his "roamings end."