Area Information

Liberal, KS is the county seat of Seward County, Kansas. As of the 2010 census, the city population was 20,525.

Liberal History

S.S. Rogers built the first house in what would become Liberal in 1872. Rogers became famous in the region for giving water to weary travelers. Reportedly, Liberal gained its name from the common response to his acts of kindness, “That’s very liberal of you.” In 1885 Rogers built a general store, and with it came an official U.S. Post Office. Rogers named the post office ‘Liberal’. After the railroad was built close by, a plan for the town site was created in 1888. A year later the population was around 800. Drought caused some farmers to give up and look for more fertile territory; however, when the nearby Indian Territory was opened, more settlers headed to the cheap land that would become Oklahoma.

Natural Gas was discovered west of town, in what would become part of the massive Panhandle-Hugoton Gas Field, in 1920. Oil was discovered southwest of town in 1951. In 1963 the largest helium plant in the world, National Helium, was opened.

Liberal’s Economy

Energy and agriculture are the main economic drivers of the area. Natural resources include oil, natural gas, water, gravel and sand. The beef industry (ranches, feed lots and packing plants) is Liberal’s largest source of employment. Hard winter wheat, corn, milo, alfalfa and cotton are common crops. Trucking is a major industry. Dairies and pork processors are a growing business.

Liberal Kansas Government

Liberal has a commission-manager government with a city commission consisting of five members elected at-large. Elections occur every two years in the odd numbered year, and commissioners serve two-year or four-year terms depending on the number of votes they receive. Each year, the commission appoints a member to serve as mayor and another to serve as vice-mayor. The city manager heads the city administration.