THIS STRANGE TOWN–LIBERAL MISSOURI
A HISTORY OF THE EARLY YEARS
1880 – 1910
BY J. P. MOORE
Mr. Walser’s Residence in Liberal
Mr. Walser’s first home at Liberal, as near can now be determined, was not within the original town plot. But it was about one-fourth mile south on a proposed extension, or commons, of the town’s limits, in a house he owned on his land. It is very probable that the house was there when he bought the property, yet he may have built it. Here he moved his family early in 1880, and here he lived during the process of platting the town and relating activities.
Among the town’s first buildings was a small frame structure built by Mr. Walser to serve as an office. From this office he carried on his law practice, and any other business matters, until about 1900. The building stood about where the present Edwin Lipscomb grain and elevator business office is located, on the east side of Main street at the south end of the business section.
The dwelling house above referred to, a two-story frame structure of about six rooms, was destroyed by fire in about 1887. The writer has been unable to learn the exact date. The house was rebuilt on its original foundation and still stands today in approximately its original form.
If Mr. Walser lived there after being divorced from his first wife and his marriage to Mrs. Hannah M. Allen is not known. But soon after his marriage to Mrs. Allen they were living in a small frame house owned by her, within the city limits. This house was originally a two-room structure. Either before or during Mr. Walser’s occupancy it was remodeled and enlarged into a six-room dwelling. It still stands and has been made modern. This house is located on Lot one, of Block eight, original town of Liberal, directly across the street south of the present Christian church on Yale street.
The town lot, of course, originally belonged to Mr. Walser, as part of the original town plot. On June 7, 1882, he sold the lot to Mrs. Fannie Baker for $25.00. Mrs. Baker and her husband, Frank, built thereon a small two-room frame house. The Bakers sold the property to Mrs. Hannah M. Allen on April 5, 1883, for $150.00. Some time after her separation from Mr. Walser, and while living at Denver, Colo., on July 14, 1899, the former Mrs. Allen-Walser sold to Ab Sweatt. Subsequent owners were F. W. Condict, and J. O. Pinkerton, Ethel and Charles Brand, Hubert and Gail Andrews, and presently by Mr. and Mrs. Clarence Snodgrass.
It was during Mr. Walser’s occupancy, and at this house, that his daughter, Lena E., was married to J. G. Todd, at that time a rising young Liberal merchant, and later a banker.
In 1890 Mr. Walser founded Catalpa Park, built and moved to a frame house there. This structure was destroyed by fire in about 1906. It had been a six-room cottage with full basement. It was rebuilt of concrete blocks, on the same foundation. Here Mr. Walser lived the remainder of his life. There he died.
This house was used during the middle and late 1920’s as a club house for the Liberal Country Club. The club was demised with the financial crash of 1929. After this the house remained a rental property until about 1940, when it was razed to clear the ground for a steam shovel coal mining operation. The whole of old Catalpa Park was a victim of this same commercial activity.
Communities, today, are clamoring for public parks. Liberal could have retained this beauty spot at a relatively low cost. But now it is gone. To restore it would entail a cost probably too great fo the community, at the present time.