THE STORY OF LIBERAL, MISSOURI
BY O. E. HARMON
Published by THE LIBERAL NEWS, J. P. MOORE PRINTER, LIBERAL, MO, 1925
The Founder of Liberal and The Surviving Pioneers
Mr. George H. Walser, the founder of Liberal, died May, 1, 1910. In closing this sketch, it seems proper to set out in review those traits of his character that promoted the growth of the town.
It is generally conceded that he was a man of broad public spirit. He was always ready to help in whatever way would advance the general welfare of the community. It is true he had many clashes with those around him; but this was only the result of his positive temperament. Differing as he did from the Orthodox Christians, he found ready cause for conflict. He founded Liberal as a Free-thinker’s town, and was himself a Free-thinker in the early years of the town; but later he became converted to Spiritualism.
Whatever faults he may have had, it must be admitted that he was a man of wide reading and fine intelligence. The books he wrote demonstrate this. This prose works comprise “Orthopaedia” and “The Life and Teachings of Jesus.” His
poetical works are “Poems of Leisure” and “The Bouquet.” This last book deals with the language and meaning of flowers; and it would be hard to find a more beautiful interpretation of the flowery kingdom. Botany was always a favorite study with him, and the collection of flowers around his home proved that he had an artistic mind, and loved with deep spiritual vision the beautiful in nature.
Mr. Walser’s literary efforts extended to the lecture field. One of his favorite subjects was “John Brown and the Border,” on which he lectured many times.
Many people now living remember the social gatherings at Catalpa Park, and especially the Old Settlers’ Picnics that drew large crowds. He always tried to make these picnics a source of enjoyment to the visitors, and in this he succeeded well. The town of Liberal will always be associated with his name, and the differences he had with some of the people of the town will be forgotten in what he did to advance the public interest.
He used to say that if any person had ever drank of the waters of Drywood and had left Barton county, the wanderer would have a longing to return. We know that some have left
Barton county, but the memories of Old Drywood induced many to return; and Liberal and its vicinity have received a large share of the returning prodigals.
We here take occasion to list the surviving pioneers of Liberal. Only those who were here prior to 1885 are included, as this makes them fory-year residents:
Capt. J. G. Mayer, Dr. J. W. Clark, Dr. J. S. Gish, Mrs. J. K. Belk, John G. Todd, John H. Todd, Frank Curless, Mrs. Kate Hesford, Uncle George Hesford, Gilbert O. Adams, Arthur Guffy and wife, George Thomas, W. A. DeLissa, Mrs. America Sackett, Frank Cramer, Jake Betz, Mrs. Belle Hamilton, M. N. Minor, and Mrs. Matilda Comfort.