Well guys, today's foray into an idiot describing stuff is going to go into the general, basic history of Liberty Park. 


For me, Liberty was always the park we would go to as a kid.  It was the closest to the house, and had more kids around.   And right now, it's a great place to go fishing, play on the swings, have a picnic.... even if at one point it had something a little more exciting, like horse racing.


First of all, let's back up a bit.  The general area that is Liberty Park now was originally a farm.  Although I have seen conflicting accounts of who owned it, so that's a little fuzzybritches.  Some sources say it belonged to someone named Mr. Woods, and some say it was owned by Cyrus Newkirk and Colonel A.D. Jaynes.  Maybe it was that Mr. Woods owned it and sold it Cyrus or the Colonel, I don't know.  But the sources agree on when it was bought, who bought it, and for how much the land was bought to build the park.

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The Story of How Liberty Park Came To Be

The farm land was bought by two brothers named Frank and Joseph Sicher.  Who are they?  What's their deal? Let's find out.

From what I could find online, The Sichers came from Austria, emigrating to St Louis in the early 1850's ish era.  Well, most sources talk about them starting with Joseph, making me think he was the older, 'more in charge' brother.  Joseph was about ten when they came to The States, which would have put it around 1849/1850.  Austria was in a huge amount of conflict at the time, so you can understand why the Sicher parents wanted to get their family the heck out of dodge. If you have time, this video might help explain.

After spending some time in St Louis and Illinois, the Sichers moved to Sedalia in 1872. After that... it's a wild ride.

Just a couple of years later, Frank would have an encounter with the famous criminal, Jesse James, and his gang near Holden. Basically Frohaim and a couple of work co-horts were minding their own, about to cross Big Creek.  They were doing the usual stuff - feedin' the horses, stopping for water, you dig.  Then, they were stopped by six dudes. Six.... suspicious dudes. With lots of guns. The group called out Frank and the guys to stay, but... they, smartly, did not. They ran for the hills!  AND YOU WOULD, TOO. If you had a lot of expensive stuff you were trying to transport from one place to another and you were suddenly confronted with six shady looking dudes that made sure you saw their guns...you'd beet feet, too. The James gang ended up shooting at them four times (although they did miss), which was scary enough. Near miss.


Fast forward a few years, and Joe and Frankid are doing great. According to the census numbers that year, Joe, who was forty years old, and his wife Lizzie had two kids, Daniel and baby Camilla. It also lists Frankie as being 32 at the time, and having a wife as well. They both lived in the same general area and listed their employment as "Hotel Keepers", although Joey was also known as a "confectioner" and was involved in the construction of a street railroad.


So, they decide they want to expand their enterprise. They bought what is now the park for a cool $10 grand, aka about $300,000 in today's money. They had big plans, and decided to deck the place out to the nines.

They spent $30,000 improving the area, adding mile and half-mile tracks, a 5,000-seat grandstand, and five-acre lake. It included an elegant hotel that featured hot and cold water and gaslights, with a dining room seated 500 people. Initially known as Sicher’s Driving Park, the area was renamed Association Park and now is Liberty Park. Attractions through the years have included a bandstand, roller rink, Tom Thumb golf course, and zoo complete with monkeys.

And yes, using that same math... that means Joe and Frank spent about a million bucks in today's money on the park. It opened in on the 4th of July weekend (starting on the 3rd), 1880.


However, something went wrong.  There are a ton of economic reasons, fires, and I'm sure there was probably some other more personal factors, but the park did not stay with Joe and Frank. About ten years later (although I've seen conflicting accounts of when the park was sold), they sold the park to the City. And, just ten years after that, (1901), Joe had filed for bankruptcy.  He owed about $104,000 (almost four million in today's money).  Although, it might have been one of those "rich people bankruptcies", you know, where they do a reset of their finances but aren't Really Bankrupt, if you know what I mean.  It didn't sound like he was in trouble or in a position where people looked down on him.  In fact, it seemed to be the opposite - he was well respected and considered a big player in town.


Anyway, the City took it over and added Convention Hall in 1911, and by 1940 Liberty Pool was ready to go. And now, it's one of the many parks we have here in Sedalia.  It's used all the time for concerts, events, parties, and all sorts of great things.   If you walk around it now, you might be able to imagine the way it was... and maybe some of the work that went into it.   I bet Frankie told the Jesse James story a few times by the lake.

Parkingly yours,

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