Before Liberty Lake was given the name we still use today, it was Lake Grier, an area that was close to the home of the Coeur d’Alene Tribe and Chief Andrew Seltice.
That was before a man who was born Etienne Eduard Laliberte moved to the west side of the lake in 1871. He had been born in Quebec, but immigrated to the United States in 1862 before eventually changing his name to Stephen Liberty.
He worked as a fur trader before heading west to try his hand at gold mining in Montana, but continued on to Cabinet Landing on the Pend Oreille River with a man named James Peavy. The two bought a station house and contracted to deliver the mail to Connors near Rathdrum, Idaho.
After moving to Lake Grier, he became close friends with Seltice and became an advocate for the native tribes.
A pioneer of the area, Liberty is now memorialized with a marker near the entrance of the new arboretum. Mayor Wendy Van Orman and Duane Broyles, president of the Fairmount Memorial Association, unveiled the monument last week during a brief ceremony.
Van Orman talked about the Liberty Lake area and the advantages of living here.
“All this would not be possible without Stephen Laliberte and his family,” she said.
The memorial is similar to one that stands near Liberty’s grave in Fairmount Memorial Park in Spokane. This was dedicated recently by the Spokane Law Enforcement Museum and the Fairmount Memorial Association. Van Orman was there and had an idea to get a memorial in the town named for him.
The Liberty Lake Kiwanis Club, Liberty Lake Rotary Club, Liberty Lake Historical Society and the family of Stephen Liberty all contributed toward the memorial. The basalt and marble monument bears the story of Liberty and his picture.
Jackie Moore, a resident of the city, is Liberty’s great-granddaughter and was at the unveiling with her granddaughter, Ashley Moore, 7. She said she remembers her father telling stories about Liberty as a child. There used to be a plaque dedicated to him in one of the local parks and her father pointed it out to her.
“Now he’s back,” she said.
Van Orman said she would like to see more historical markers throughout the community in the future, smaller ones to line the trail system.
“If we can do a little more history all the way through that would be a good thing,” Van Orman said.