County’s oldest business turns 127 Print
Thursday, 18 April 2013 10:09

This grand residence at 506 N. Sherman Ave. in Liberal (which still stands and is lived in by owners Rick and Chris Yearick) was built by Abe and Harriet Stoufer in 1906. Abe was the editor of the Liberal News and served as postmaster. The home features considerable rooms, a double staircase and a third-story ballroom. It has been said that when the Stoufers entertained in the summer, all windows and doors were thrown open, and people danced and laughed the night away. Margaret Stoufer is on the balcony. The Liberal News became the Southwest Daily Times, which is the Leader & Times. Today, the paper publishes its Volume No. 127; issue No. 1. Photo courtesy “Liberal and Seward County” by Lidia Hook-Gray


Dedicated to the interests of the Southwest


L&T staff report
For a community to take hold in the late 1880s, it required legitimate businesses to take up residence to show that there is a commitment to the town’s future.
One highly-sought business among the communities in Seward County was a newspaper.
A pennsylvanian by the name of Abe Stoufer made his way to Fargo Springs in 1885 to visit his brother, and it was soon learned that Stoufer was a newspaper man.
Stoufer was the editor of the Lathrop Monitor in Missouri, but the folks in Fargo Springs began to recruit him.
Stoufer returned to Fargo Springs to discuss the proposition, and according to the reports of the day, it only took 10 minutes to raise the funds from local investors to start the Fargo Springs News.
In April 1886, the first edition was presented to the public.
Two years later, Stoufer could see that Arkalon was more prosperous, and he moved his publication there. 
In 1892, the writing was on the wall that Liberal was to be the community that would carry forward, and Stoufer again moved his publication, and it became the Liberal News.
Stoufer built a home at 506 N. Sherman, a grand home with a basement and three stories more, the top floor being reserved for community gatherings. That home still stands today and is owned by Rick and Chris Yearick.
Stoufer did more than publish the paper in the early days of Liberal.
He also served as county clerk and assessor for 10 years. At various times, he served on the city council, was a member of the school board, led Sunday school and taught Bible classes. He also served as postmaster twice.
Fifteen years after establishing the newspaper, Stoufer sold his publication to Ray Millman.
At that time, Liberal did not have a bank, and Millman began a campaign.
As a result, the Liberal State Bank, which is now called First National Bank, was established in 1900.
Millman’s paper contributed to the fund to build schools in Seward County, and Millman started the effort to have the city mapped so that free mail delivery could be established.
The Liberal News was the leader in promoting the construction of a courthouse.
The Liberal News continued to push for progress in the community and was not afraid to take a stand to defend the local businessmen. In 1912, the front page featured a story of Liberal offering the highest price for grain at the local elevator, curtailing an effort from the Tyrone elevator from attracting wagonloads of wheat away from the local community.
In that same edition, a paragraph was dedicated to a card game played at John Baughman’s home, and Abe Stoufer was one of the invited guests.
The newspaper became a daily in 1935, and it continued to push for an expansion in local business with a controlled spending approach.
At one time, the paper called to turn down a school bond issue in 1948 and to petition for a separate bond that focused on the “true needs of the district.”
The Southwest Daily Times was also a catalyst for the expansion of Southwest Medical Center and contributed to the capital campaign.
The Times also contributed to and advocated for the restoration of the Rock Island Depot and Grier House.
In 2008, the paper’s owners sought to reduce the publication from a daily to three times per week, but publisher Earl Watt and a majority of the staff established the Daily Leader to maintain daily news service to local and area residents.
In 2010, the Times was sold to the owners of the Daily Leader, and the papers were combined, maintaining the continuous existence of the paper, and it has never missed an edition in 127 years.

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