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Historicity, Inc. is a nonprofit organization that publishes the Prairie Connection
121 West Main, Harper, KS 67058

Rosalea’s Big Seven Ohhh!

Donate and help restore Rosalea’s Hotel!

Contributions may be sent to: Rosalea's Hotel Restoration Fund, 121 West Main, Harper, KS  67058

1883 & 1968 Rosalea's Patterson House Hotel

Were you a traveling hippie in the 1970s?  Perhaps you stayed at the famous Rosalea's Hotel in Harper, KS.  Now you can help restore it as an historic prairie icon of the 70s!    Goal:  100,000 at $10 each and it is preserved for future generations!

Kansas Past

Pieces of the 34th Starr

David Hann, Lib’ral

Liberal, Ten Days Old (Kansas State Historical Society)

The Cimarron River, when it flows, is about ten miles from the southwest Kansas town of Liberal. It is not a dependable water supply for a town. However, a few springs made settlement of the area possible. When the region was settled in the 1880s, water was scarce and well owners locked their wellhouses to prevent wayfarers from watering animals and exhausting the supply. Ranchers and farmers limited the amount of water travelers could have and charged from five to ten cents per bucket, a steep price in days when $30 was a good wage.

Word quickly spread about anyone who defied the normal rationing and selling of water. The name of the men mentioned in the following account varies with the telling. One source mentions L.E. Keefer, another Seymour S. Rogers. When travelers on the Fargo Springs trail stopped at the man’s well and asked his price, he said, “Oh, just help yourself to all you want at $25 the bucketful!”

The thirsty wayfarers realized the $25 figure was given in jest and replied, “Why thank you! That’s mighty lib’ral of you, Mister.” They called the place the “Liberal Well” and finally, simply, “Liberal.” The federal government established the Liberal Pony Express Office at Roger’s (or Keefer’s) ranch. Today, the site of the old well is near the intersection of Second Street and
Western Avenue in Liberal.

After quenching their thirst, visitors may go the Liberal Memorial Library and find it, figuratively an open book, one made from concrete. George Pitcher, a local architect, designed the weighty tome and Vane Higgins, a local contractor cast the concept into concrete. Higgins completed the construction of the library front in 1953.

The libraries local reference section has a bit of area history, where a visitor may be directed to local places of interest. One such place exists because of, not in spite of, Liberal’s remoteness. The dry and wide-open spaces surrounding Liberal made life difficult for travelers heading west, but met needs of the U.S. Army in World War 11.

The army needed a safe and remote place with stable weather to train bomber pilots and crews, helping to develop the flyers known as the Army Air Force, which evolved into the U.S. Air Force. Thus, `00 years or so after the U.S. Army troops were sent to fight Indians and keep Spain at bay, the army returned. Perhaps descendants of soldiers and the Indians who fought them trained, flew and together fought the Axis powers in World War 11.

The level country outside of Liberal became the Liberal Army Air Field. The facility housed a unit of the Army Air Forces Training Command and 5,493 B-24 Liberator bomber pilots earned their wings there during World War 11. That air field is now the site of the Liberal Air Museum, fourth largest general aviation museum in the United States. Its display of more than 60 aircraft spans decades of aviation history.

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