The Town of Ash Grove was incorporated in 1871, thirty-five years after frontiersman and military serviceman Nathan Boone and his wife Olive made their family's home in a grove of walnut and ash trees. They raised fourteen children. Nathan owned 1200 acres and eleven slaves when he died in 1856.
Joseph Kimbrough also put down roots when he built the town's first store in 1853. Next came a blacksmith shop. But, Ash Grove didn't significantly begin to grow until after the Civil War.
When peace came, the rich territory in this place attracted many newcomers who organized the community as "The Town of Ash Grove" The census of 1880 was 500 and within 30 years, it grew to more than 1,075, as citizens built a large number of stores, an opera house, hotels, churches, flour mills, electric lights and improved streets. It was a growing into a prosperous little city.
Born in Ash Grove, Arizona Donnie Clark (1873-1935) is best known as Ma Barker, "a vicious dangerous and resourceful criminal brain," according to J. Edgar Hoover. She was mother to four criminal sons in an era of celebrated gangsters. At age 62, Ma was gunned down in a Florida shootout by the FBI.
Historic sites to see in Ash Grove include the Berry Cemetery, the Gilmore Octagonal Barn, the Phenix Marble Quarry, the 1800s Original Quarry of Ash Grove Cement Company, and the Abandoned “Leaky Roof” Rail Line, and the Nathan Boone Homestead State Historic Site.