Clay County Events
City of Liberty
the organization of Clay County, in January, 1822, the
land on which the city of Liberty now stands was owned by
JOHN OWENS and CHARLES MCGEE.
Owens had built a house on what is now the northwest
corner of Water and Mill Streets some time the previous
year, and kept a sort of tavern, or house of
His house was a rather large and roomy affair, and, as
elsewhere stated, was used to hold the first courts in,
and for county-seat purposes, which donation was
accepted, and soon after the town was laid out.
The legislative act creating the county appointed JOHN
HUTCHINS, HENRY ESTES, ENOS VAUGHAN, WYATT ADKINS and
JOHN POAGE commissioners to select a "permanent seat
of government" for the county, and provided that,
until such selection, courts should be held at the house
of JOHN OWNES.
WILLIAM POWE was afterward appointed on the commission.
In their report to the circuit court, July 1, 1882, as a
reason for their selection, the commissioners say:
"That, in pursuance of the object of their
appointment, they assembled together on the 20th of March
last, to examine the different examining the sites for a
town; that after mature deliberation and minute
investigation the tract of land owned by John Owens and
Charles McGee was thought best adapted for the object for
which it was designed, as being more central for the
population, surrounded with good and permanent springs,
lying sufficiently elevated to drain off all superfluous
waters, in a healthy and populous part of the county, and
entirely beyond the influence of lakes, ponds, or
stagnant waters of any kind; they, therefore, unanimously
agreed to accept of the proposition of Mr. Owens and Mr.
McGee of a donation of 25 acres each for the use of the
As soon as the town was laid out, which was in the early
summer of 1822, improvements began to be made. The first
sale of lots was on the 4th of July, and at that time,
nearly all of those fronting on the public square were
disposed of. But up to about 1826 there were not more
than a dozen houses in the place, and these, with perhaps
one exception, were log cabins.
Early hotel-keepers were LEONARD SEARCY, who had a
licensed tavern in the fall of 1826 and continued in the
business for six of seven years; LABAN GARRETT, who
opened a licensed tavern in December, 1827, and JOHN
CHAUNCEY, who began in about 1832.
These hotels, of "taverns", as they were
universally called, were simply affairs, but were
comfortable enough, furnished plenty of good, wholesome
food, and were adequate to the demands of that day.
Probably the first store in Liberty was kept by WILIAM L.
SMITH, the county clerk, who brought up a few goods with
him from Bluffton in 1822, and sold them in his
This page was last updated
June 7, 2005.