The Withers family and their land have played a vital role in Liberty history.
The name Homestead is deeply rooted in a history of farming and land-owning. The land itself that Homestead is built on is rich with history and goes back to a time shortly after Liberty was settled in 1822.
THE WITHERS FAMILY
In the 1830's, Abijah Withers moved west from Kentucky to Liberty, Missouri and bought a piece of land. Abijah began his family business upon the backdrop of expansion and exploration that was defining the United States in the early 1800's. He went back to Kentucky, got his wife and children, and established the family in Missouri. He built a log cabin and officially started the Withers Homestead on the land. Abijah and his wife Prudence had 9 children that grew up on the land. When Abijah died, his son took over the land and it stayed within the family for over 100 years.
During its time of operation, the Withers Homestead was a fully operating tobacco farm. Tobacco was a major crop in the 1800's, and the Withers family took advantage of this as they made it their primary business crop. In addition to tobacco, their farm harvested hemp, grains, and even had an area nearby known as the "sugar camp" where maple syrup was made. Operating a farm in these days was incredibly difficult. Overproduction and a lack of efficient machinery made the work unpredictable and challenging. The Withers weathered these storms and maintained the farm and the land for years. Barns and structures from the operation of this farm still stand on the land today.
INFLUENTIAL IN LIBERTY
The Withers family exerted major influence in Liberty, Missouri as the town grew. Abijah, along with Alexander Doniphan and James T.V. Thompson helped to found William Jewell College in 1849. Abijah then served on the trustee board of the college for years. Withers was also influential in the founding of the Liberty Tribune, as well as the Long-Bell lumber company, a Kansas based company that was one of the largest wood conglomerates of the era. The longevity and consistency of the Withers family gave them a respected presence in Liberty over their many years of residence.
The very first home on the land was a simple log cabin built by Abijah upon his first arrival. In 1842, Abijah decided to construct a new home. He built a fine, much larger home out of a single walnut tree on the land. That house is now in old Missouri Town at Lake Jacomo donated by the Withers Family. In 1885, a new house was built that still stands on the property, just south of the entrance to the Homestead of Liberty subdivision.