2009 Hall of Fame
Charles A. Leibrandt, Jr. - Jeweler, Merchant, Originator
The Leibrandt family figures prominently in Cameron’s history beginning with the immigration of Dr. C.A. Leibrandt to America from Germany in 1829. He studied medicine in Philadelphia and Charleston, South Carolina. Dr. Leibrandt married in Columbus, Ohio and migrated west, settling in Cameron in 1865 with a town population of less than 200. He reportedly received a $20 gold piece from Jesse James for treating the outlaw’s wounds. Dr. Leibrandt was the third physician to practice in Cameron between 1865 and 1900 when he passed away at the age of 93. His 1890 Master Regulator Clock remains in the store, still running and on time. It was used by trainmen and citizens to set their timepieces and the City once furnished a light in the window all night because of the clock’s value to the community.
Dr. Leibrandt’s son, Charles, Jr. (Charlie), learned the jewelry trade in Plattsburg when he was just 17 and opened a store in Cameron in 1873 on the south side of Third Street. Three years later he moved to his own building where Leibrandt Jewelry has been located ever since.
Charlie’s store sold more than just jewelry. Other merchandise included Crown organs, pianos, musical instruments, Victrolas, White sewing machines, ladies beaded and leather purses plus glamorous hat pins of the day. Restored paintings of musical instruments on the upper store façade date to the 1890s.
After 49 years in business, Charlie passed away March 20, 1923 with his son, George taking over the business. George was active in the community and an avid fisherman who taught the sport to many youngsters. Leibrandt Jewelry remains the oldest Cameron business operated continuously by the same family.
James Burr Russell - Lumberman, Builder, Innovator, Mayor
Many of J.B. Russell’s homes and those built with his lumber remain standing in Cameron.
Russell was born in Ohio in 1863 and graduated from the Gem City Business College in 1885 when he moved to Caldwell County. He began his Cameron-area vocation as a building contractor and opened his lumberyard in 1886 at 318 N Chestnut Street (site of the current CenturyTel building) which became the first lumberyard west of the Mississippi River with covered alleyways.
Russell’s homes were large, ornate and distinguished. His own home at 417 S Cherry and one he built at 621 S Chestnut are prime examples. He also built several sturdy commercial buildings. Russell acquired or added yards at Buckner, Mo, Lebanon, Mo, and Atchison, Ks.
Russell also served as Cameron mayor from 1912-1914. During his term, Cameron built its first paved roads and installed its first sewer system. He was a director of the Farmers Bank and vice president of Cameron Trust. He accepted the post of liquidator of Cameron Trust one year after it closed. He was respected by his peers and was chosen president of the Northwest Lumberman’s Association. Russell died in 1942 at the age of 79. J.B. Russell Lumber continued to operate in downtown Cameron until it closed in 1978 after 92 years.
Sara Bell Tiernan - Teacher, Businesswoman
Sara would not take a back seat to her more-well-known husband, Col. Michael Tiernan whose volunteer engineers surveyed the rail line between Hannibal and St. Joseph providing momentum to the railroad project.
The Colonel always referred to her as “Miss Bell” and the community also adopted the moniker. Miss Bell’s driving force was educating local children. When public schools were thought to be inadequate, Sara founded her own private school in 1880 at 7th and Locust, called Mrs. Tiernan’s Academy which grew to 80 students.
Solomon Musser - Developer, Philanderer, Mayor
The colorful Musser was Cameron’s first mayor following the 1882 adoption of a mayor-city council form of government, and he helped organize the Farmers Bank of Missouri. But he is best known for building much of a 14,000 square-foot palace known first as the Musser House and later as the Musser Mansion. The magnificent structure contains a ball room, and opera house with stage, ornate woodwork and a 5-story walnut spiral staircase leading to the hallmark tower. The massive basement served as a glove factory during World War II. Musser was said to regularly climb to the tower and look over McCorkle Park to admire the row of commercial buildings he built on the South side of the park, known as the Musser Block.
In 1912, the Knights of Pythias purchased the home to serve as its Diamond Cross Lodge and added a North addition. The auditorium became a venue for “dramatizations” and other forms of entertainment.
Musser fathered 13 children, but his amorous adventures landed him in court in a case the local newspaper called “Rich, Rare and Racy Proceedings and Wonderful Developments.”
James A. Carothers - Journalist
Carothers founded Cameron’s first newspaper in 1867 called the Weekly Chronotype. Carothers edited it for only a year and sold the paper in 1868 to Jesse Hakes and J. Harwood who changed the name to the Weekly Observer. It changed hands again in 1872 with a purchase by C.N. Burnam. Cameron had as many as four newspapers operating at a single time in its early history, some lasted only a short while.