Rosa Fields’ School Report on Liberal, Missouri

Liberal’s paper, “Enterprise”, published a number of essays on Liberal which were written by school students. A now defunct page on Liberal gave the following essay, by Rosa Fields, as published in December 1895.

The first schoolhouse was built in Liberal in 1884. A 2 year high school was begun in Liberal in 1897, the first graduates being–according to J. P. Moore’s “This Strange Town, Liberal Missouri”–a class of 1 male and 4 females: Charles Mellor, Alta W. Mayer, Hithia Becker, Edna Jackson and Elizabeth Thompson.

I don’t locate Rosa Fields in the 1900 census in Barton county. I don’t know if she may be part of the family of Henry and Hattie Fields who were in Barton City in 1880, with children Frederic, Milly and Charles. Henry was 34 and from Illinois. Hattie was 26 and from Ohio. Henry is again in the census in Ozark in Barton County in 1900 (I’m assuming it is the same Henry), Hattie perhaps having died. He is 54. His wife is given as Martha A., also 54, born in Virginia.

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Liberal is situated in the southwestern part of Barton county, on the Missouri Pacific, and Kansas City, Ft. Scott and Memphis railroads. It is about 124 miles from Kansas City and 76 from Springfield. It was founded in the summer of 1880 by G. H. Walser who still resides here. One of the great disadvantages of the town in its early days were the difficulties between its religious sects. Another was the fires. The first fire was in 1888. The second fire was in June 1893, which burned about half of Main Street. It has since been rebuilt with stone buildings which adds greatly to the improvement of the town. Liberal has several good advantages. First is the immense stone quarries, second the vast coal fields, third the many acres of productive berry farms. And other advantages too numerous to mention. The last and best of all is the Public School which consists of three departments. J. A. Swank, Principal, W. E. Condict, Intermediate Instructor, and H. M. Branson presides over the Primary Department. We have an interesting school and an enrollment of 140 pupils. The total inhabitants of the city is about 1000 prosperous and energetic people.


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