History: Over One Hundred Years of Being "Liberal" The year was 1872, and western Kansas consisted of mile after mile of waving prairie grasslands and one large, flowering river. Settlers traveling west on the Santa Fe, Jones and Plummer, and western cattle trails simply passed through thinking this area "uninhabitable". But one undaunted man, making his way west, did stop and settle. Mr. S.S. Rogers was the first homesteader in what would later become Liberal. Outside of the Cimarron River, water was very scarce in Southwestern Kansas and there was usually a charge for even a small amount, however Mr. Rogers always gave his water free to passing travelers. Quite often he would hear a reply of "that's mighty Liberal of you" from the grateful recipients. By 1885, Mr. Rogers had opened a general store and the government established an official Post Office. It seemed only natural to call the new town "LIBERAL". As the Railroad extended its line through Seward County people became interested in the area and Liberal's growth began. In April of 1888, the plat for the present town site was created. In eight days 83 plank constructed houses were built. Within a year the population grew to 800. Drought and the opening of the Oklahoma Strip did much to decrease the population in a town whose economy was entirely dependent on crops and cattle. Although the population was low, the spirits of the remaining settlers were not. Always optimistic that something wonderful would come in the future, these hardy souls remained and made it through some of the worst years the state would see. Because of county seat difficulties between Springfield and Fargo Springs, the Rock Island deflected its route southward and really created the town of Liberal. Originally the survey called for the railroad to leave Plains in Meade County and go through the center of Springfield in central Seward County and cross at the more accessible crossing of the Cimarron River, but the townspeople of Springfield offended the construction crew and the road was changed to cross the Cimarron River at Arkalon. Upon reaching the end-of-the-line, Mr. M.A. Low ordered the surveying of a new townsite a mile east of the Rogers place, having purchased part of four sections of land there for that purpose in the center of the present day Liberal, Kansas. The plot of the townsite of Liberal was opened April 13, 1888. During the following twenty-four hours, the sale of lots totaled $180,000.00 of which some $60,000 was paid in cash. Within a week there were 83 wooden constructed houses in Liberal, and within a year the boom was on, and Liberal was incorporated as a third class city. In the following years citizens moved their homes and businesses from Fargo Springs, Arkalon and Springfield to Liberal, which became the new county seat. In 1920, gas was discovered west of Liberal on what was to become the vast Hugoton Gas Field -- the largest gas reserve in the world. In early 1951, oil was discovered southwest of Liberal. During exploration, two layers of gas production below the Hugoton Gas field were discovered, extending life expectancy of gas in this area into the next century. Those early settlers were right. Something wonderful was in the future, and still is. That optimistic, "can-do" attitude still exists, and it is this attitude that will carry Liberal into the twenty-first century preparing for and embracing new opportunities along the way.