Evermore Genealogy

Article on Liberal by the Workers of the Writers Program of the Work Projects Administration, 1941

Back when writers were considered as being worthwhile individuals, I guess, and given jobs in which they got to write, or compile, whatever.

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MISSOURI A Guide to the “Show Me” State
Compiled by Workers of the Writers Program of the Work Projects Administration in the State of Missouri

Copyright 1941
The Missouri State Highway Department

2. Right on US 160 to a junction, 9.9 m., with State 43 a graveled road; R. to County K, 14.5 m; L. to LIBERAL, 17.1 m. (885 alt, 771 pop.) founded in 1880 by G. H. Walser (1843-1920), a disciple of Robert G. Ingersoll. Walser, born in Indiana, served in the Civil War, and lived for a time in Rockport before moving to Larmar, where he conceived the idea of establishing a refuge for free-thinkers. Walser purchased land and platted Liberal. Within a few months, a settlement of enthusiasts, ranging from “out and out Agnostics to the more spiritual minded Deists and Spiritualists,” developed. According to “Camp’s Emigrants Guide” of May 1883, the citizens of Liberal “boast…they have no church, no preacher, or priests, no saloon…They have no hell, no God, no devil, no debauchery, no drunkenness. They believe in but one world at a time, and a heaven of their own making.” Although they “practiced the art of doing good, being happy, industrious, sober and independent,” the community aroused opposition locally and nationally. Unperturbed, Walser built the Universal Mental Liberty Hall, “to proved a place where any person could come and speak on any subject,” and established in 1884 the Liberal Normal School, advertised as providing an education free “from the bis of Christian theology,” which announced in 1885 that it had 113 students representing 7 States. Walser’s semimonthly magazine “The Orthopoedian” was published until 1900. In 1881 “an addition” to Liberal was established by H. H. Waggoner, who invited only orthodox Christians to move in. The Liberalites answered by erecting a barbed wire fence between the two settlements “to keep the Christians out,” and in in 1883 Walser bought the Christian suburb outright. Meanwhile he had become interested in spiritualism, and seances were regularly held until about 1887 when a fire exposed the spiritual manifestations as a fake. The last spiritualistic camp meeting in Liberal was held in Catalpa Park in 1899. Since Walser’s death in 1910 the community has lost much of its original character. The FRED SACKETT COLLECTION (open 8-5 weekdays), office Municipal Light and Water Company, Main St., contains approximately 4,000 Indian relics, the majority of which are of Osage and Sauk origin.

Southward to Carthage, the route enters the Springfield plateau, an area in which dairying is a major industry. Few if any of the herds are large, but nearly all are of improved stock.

The Carthage area is underlaid with marble and limestone, as well as lead, zinc and other minerals. “Carthage White Marble” came into prominence of 1880, when C. W. Fisher, a stonecutter, exhibited a highly polished specimen, and in time secured a national market. Marble quarried in the area has been used by architects in some of America’s best-known buildings, including the Macy department-store building, New York, the Field and Rosenwald museums in Chicago, and the Rust Building, San Francisco.

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The Orthopoedian? That’s the name of a freethought magazine destined not to be remembered. Sounds like freethought delivered in a brown paper wrapper that will go unnoticed by the postman, friends and casual passerby.

“Hmmm. What’s that they’re reading? The Orthopoedian? Do I really want to learn about the muscular-skeletal system today? Wonder if they’ve got a copy of McClure’s?”

I would like to have been a fly on the wall during the meeting where the name was proposed.

Incorporated the initial bit on Carthage as my Noyes grandmother settled in Carthage and I spent a number of summers there.


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