Foreword–from J. P. Moore’s “This Strange Town–Liberal Missouri”

THIS STRANGE TOWN–LIBERAL MISSOURI
A HISTORY OF THE EARLY YEARS
1880 – 1910

BY J. P. MOORE

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Foreword

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In presenting this history of the early years of Liberal, Missouri, a brief foreword seems appropriate.

I have endeavored to write only of the first thirty years of the town’s history–1880 to 1910. This covers the period from the founding until the death of the founder, which comprises an epoch in itself–the period in which the unique history for which Liberal is noted was made. Various “isms,” “ideologies” and eccentricities figured in the town’s genesis. It was all this that made the early history of Liberal different from the humdrum, colorless annals of the beginnings of the ordinary town across the country.

The founder of Liberal and the persons associated with him in the early and formative years were individuals of positive minds, thoroughly anti-Christian in their thinking and outspoken in their heterodoxy. As the town progressed with its main purpose, as might have been expected, this position drew the fire of those who opposed such. These differences resulted in many verbal clashes–and some physical activities, too. These situations have added spice to the history.

The conditions that lead to the temper of the town’s founder, and of those who joined with him, may be theorized as having been spawned in a period of reaction to an earlier period–one of extreme religious intolerance, when heretics were tortured and suspected witches were burned at the stake. When the founder of Liberal was born in 1834, a century and a third ago, echoes of the agonizing cries of the tortured and burned in the name of Christianity, at Old Salem, were yet more than faintly reverberating across the land. Te result was that with many individuals the reaction sent their thought pendulums swinging to the opposite extreme, in the Christian concept. The founder of Liberal was among the latter, and as a sanctuary for persons of kindred belief Liberal was conceived and became a fact. To what degree this primary influence still persists in Liberal, the reader of this history may form his own opinion.

I have tried to be accurate and factual in what I have written about the persons, activities and things. Parts of the narrative may shock the sensitivities of some readers: but it is all a part of the warp and woof of the cloth from which the town’s early history was cut. It is THE history and cannot now be changed. Any thing else would only be fabrication–not a history. I expect my writing to receive the approval of some and the criticism of others. In either case, the die is cast and the work will have to stand or fall on its merits.

J. P. MOORE

Liberal, Missouri, 1963

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