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Harry S. Truman & Independence, Missouri

By John T. Marck

Located on the outskirts of Kansas City is the fascinating town of Independence, the hometown of President Harry S. Truman, and one of Missouri's most historic cities. It would be here in Independence that the Santa Fe Trail began in 1821, and a part of the Oregon and California Trails in the 1840s. During the Civil War, its occupation changed hands several times, being occupied by both Union and Confederate troops.

At Grand and Pacific Streets is the Union Pacific Railroad Station. It played a key role during the Civil War, as well as for Truman during his 1948 whistle stop campaign trail.

Harry S. Truman National Historic Site

As one travels down picturesque Delaware Street, you'll find, located at 219, the spacious fourteen-room Truman home, in a neighborhood absorbed in wonderful memories of days gone by.

The Truman home was originally the home of Harry's future wife Bess, who was born here in 1924 and continued to live here her entire life. It was built in the 1860s by Bess's grandfather. When Harry and Bess married in 1919, it would then become his home too. Very family oriented was Harry, he was probably the only U.S. President to be so attached to home and family. He once said that "it seems like a hollow week if I don't arrive at 219 Delaware at least one day in it."

Harry so loved being home that he would spend much of his time there while president, and made it his "Summer White House." The Truman's remained in this house until Harry's death in 1972, and Bess remained until her death ten years later.

Following Harry's death, Bess went to great efforts to keep the house interior as he had known it. Many of the furnishings date from the 1860s when her grandfather occupied the house. But there are many other everyday pieces familiar to us all, giving rise to the fact that they lived as an "ordinary" family. Consequently, these lend quite an nostalgic feeling to the home.

Although the Truman home is the centerpiece of the neighborhood, other areas of interest located nearby are the president's boyhood home, the Harry S. Truman Library, and the Jackson County Courthouse, where Harry sat as a presiding judge.

But through all the exhibits and sites, it is the home that should not be missed. Little today has changed since Harry took his daily walks on Delaware Street, wearing his famous dapper fedora and overcoat. Upon entering the front hall in the Truman home, visitors can see his hat and overcoat hanging on the rack, as if he was still there.

Visitors may also see the many nineteenth-century heirloom furnishings, as well as memorabilia from his years in the White House.

The Harry S. Truman Library and Museum

Not far from the Truman home on Delaware Street is located the Harry S. Truman Library and Museum.

Here visitors can see many objects of fascinating historical interest depicting the career of President Truman and United States history between the years 1945 and1953. Two of the most fascinating exhibits are the replicas of Truman's White House office, and the desk on which he signed the United Nations Charter. Further exhibits are abounding showing the history of the presidency.

In the beautiful courtyard are the graves of President and First Lady Truman.

The Harry S. Truman Courtroom and Office

Jackson County Courthouse

Also of historical interest are Harry S. Truman's courtroom and office located in the Jackson County Courthouse at Independence Square. Here visitors can see a thirty-minute sound and light show feature titled, "The Man from Independence."

This film focuses on the president's youth and retirement years in Independence. Of particular interest is the fact that the film is shown in the actual courtroom used by Truman when he presided as a judge. His personal office that adjoins the courtroom is also included on the tour.

Copyright 1993-2022 by John T. Marck. All Rights Reserved. This article and their accompanying pictures, photographs, and line art, may not be resold, reprinted, or redistributed for compensation of any kind without prior written permission from the author.