THE STORY OF LIBERAL, MISSOURI
BY O. E. HARMON
Published by THE LIBERAL NEWS, J. P. MOORE PRINTER, LIBERAL, MO, 1925
Soon after the founding of the town steps were taken toward providing instruction for the young. The first educational institution was the “Instruction School.” One Professor Youmans was superintendent. We notice the names of Mrs. Belk, Mrs. Greeley, Mrs. Boulware and Mr. Brown as teachers. Miss Rene Mayer was secretary of the organization and an occasional assistant teacher. This school continued until the opening of the Liberal Normal in 1884. W. E. Grayston was principal.
This institution later merged into the Free Thought University. Soon after came the public school, and so far as the writer is able to learn, the following teachers have been connected with the public school of Liberal, either as principal or superintendent:
Fank Yale, E. E. Markley, W. E. Grayston, A. N. Warden, Mrs. Joseph McGuffin, Thomas W. Martin, W. J. McKinney, B. F. Brous, E. S. Pettigrew, W. E. Condict, J. A. Swank, N. A. Mackey, H. M. Vorhies, C. H. Button, L. K. Brous, Mrs. G. L. Blatchley, J. J. Ping, W. S. Stephenson, Thomas Hurt, J. A. Wilson, J. B. Bundy, C. H. Hatten, Allan Piatt, E. D. Watson and J. M. Steele the present superintendent. Miss Rene Mayer was connected with the Liberal school in the various grades for many years and is the present County Superintendent of Schools. That office has also been filled by Prof. J. A. Swank and Prof. C. H. Button, mentioned above.
The old school building that stood on the present site of the new one was built before 1894. The original structure received additions and repairs until the new one was built in 1916. Liberal has always maintained a good public school, and the high school is accredited as first class at the present time.
Before the schools in Liberal were organized the nearest public schools were, the Lookout school, southwest of Liberal, Barton City, northeast, and Prairie Star, a little more than two miles east. Mrs. Jennie Curless Guffy taught in all these districts, and was the first teacher at the Barton City school.
In this connection may be mentioned the newspapers that have been published in Liberal since the founding of the town.
The first newspaper was “The Liberalite,” which was later changed to the name, “The Liberal.” This was under the management of Mr. G. H. Walser, and generally had an assistant editor. Among the assistant editors may be mentioned Frank Greene and Byron Cowley.
After the “Liberal” came the “Liberal Enterprise” with W. A. Martin as editor. Later came the “Independent” of which Grant Comfort was editor, Carl Hesford succeeded Grant Comfort as editor of the Independent, and Luther Lipscomb and W. T. Cowgill were later editors, Mr. Cowgill changing the name to “The Republican.” When that paper dropped out the Enterprise was left alone until 1910 when the Liberal News was founded by J. P. Moore and C. L. DeLissa, and is still conducted under the management and ownership of Mr. Moore. The Enterprise discontinued in 1913.
It may be added here that in the early days of Liberal, a juvenile paper called “The Lyceum” was printed and had quite a local circulation. Also “The Orthpaedian,” a semi-monthly magazine, was published by Mr. Walser, and was his last venture as a publisher. The magazine was suspended in 1900.