Mt. Memorial's Notables
Cullen Melone (d.1853) is noteworthy for his encounter with Germany’s Prince Maximilian of Wied-Neuwied, who was a German explorer, naturalist and ethnologist. Prince Maximilian came to the United States in 1833 to explore the west. Like many western explorers traveling up the Missouri River, Maximilian paused at the Liberty Landing to re-supply his provisions before continuing on. Cullen Melone signed on as a rower and set off with the prince’s expedition. On the return trip from North Dakota during the winter of 1833-34, Melone, in a drunken state, convinced many of the other Americans in the party to abandon the Europeans and leave them to fend for themselves in the foreign land. His friends agreed, but changed their minds once sober. The prince, unmoved by Melone’s apology, left him behind at Fort Pierre, South Dakota. Melone eventually made it back to Liberty and became Liberty’s postmaster in 1849.
Edward M. Samuel (d.1869) is one of the most distinguished people buried in Mt. Memorial for his connection to William Jewell College. Samuel was a charter member of the Board of Trustees of William Jewell College. He also served as the first elected treasurer of the college, serving from 1851-1864. Samuel was president of the Liberty branch of Farmer’s Bank of Missouri from 1857 until 1865, when he moved to St. Louis, Missouri. After his death in 1869, his remains were brought back to Liberty and buried at Mt. Memorial, along with his two wives, and several children by his first wife. His second wife, Sarah Prosser, was a cousin to Stonewall Jackson.
Madison Miller (d.1871), the first mayor of Liberty. Miller was born in Berkley County, Virginia, on August 30, 1811. He moved to Liberty in March 1839 with “considerable means,” when it was still a frontier town. Miller was a dry goods merchant, banker and later operated a drugstore. He made many important contributions to Liberty; one of the most lasting was his influence on education in Liberty. He proved invaluable to William Jewell College, serving as a member of the Board of Trustees from 1858 until his death in 1871.
Greenup Bird (d. 1882) came to Liberty from Glasgow Kentucky. He built the Clay County Savings Association in 1859 on the northeast corner of the square and was the bank’s president. He and his son, William Bird, a clerk, were working there on February 13, 1866, when the first successful daylight bank robbery was committed, allegedly by the infamous James-Younger Gang. Bird held several significant roles during his lifetime, including as a trustee of the Town of Liberty. He was one of the five trustees named in the deed when the plot of present day Mt. Memorial was sold to the Town of Liberty in 1836. Bird served as the County Clerk from 1848-1853.
Michael Arthur (d.1884) was a banker who came to Clay County from Kentucky in 1825. He considered himself the “architect” of his own fortune, having borrowed $200 in 1827, only to leverage that into several successful real estate and business holdings. He was president of the Pro-Slavery Aid Association, which sent men and means into Kansas to further the pro-slavery cause. He was said to be a great benefactor to his slaves, paying them for their labor. When the slaves were liberated after the Civil War, his were given considerable sums of money and acres of land. Along with General Alexander Doniphan and Edward M. Samuel, he organized and led the Liberty Insurance company. He built the first railroad between Hannibal and St. Joseph, MO, and was the most generous investor in the construction of Liberty’s 1st hotel in 1855, which was named for him: the Arthur House Hotel.
Frank Hughes (d. 1937) was a local businessman and philanthropist. Upon his death, Hughes’ largest bequest was for the establishment of a $57,000 trust fund for a public library, and the lot on which to build it. The Frank Hughes Memorial Library was the first public library in Liberty and a key example of civic philanthropy. It is listed individually in the National Register of Historic Places and currently serves as the home to the Clay County Archives.