Introduction

Tracing the TrumansHarry and Bess Truman—today we take for granted that they became President and First Lady of the United States.  Because we live on this side of history, it is easy to think that the end of the story is the whole story.

But where did this story begin?

Harry and Bess Truman were more than the product of their own life events.  Like all of us, each was part of another family before they married and started their own. 

And those families—the Trumans and the Wallaces—were shaped by still earlier ancestors—the Youngs, Holmeses, Willocks, and Gateses.

These families came to Missouri like so many settlers looking for opportunity, for a place where a man—or woman—could work the land, start a business, raise a family.  They came from Kentucky and Virginia, from Vermont and Delaware, from Illinois. 

Typical of those who looked to the trans-Mississippi West for the promise of a better life, they came to sink their roots into a new place.  They were not planning to give birth to a president, but simply to give birth to their dreams.  Like our own families, sometimes they succeeded, sometimes they failed.  In the process, they influenced Independence and Independence influenced them. 

This is the story of those families.  Perhaps you will find it is the story of your family too.

Exhibition Sponsors

Tracing the Trumans: An American Story is on display at the Harry S. Truman Library and Museum from March 9 through December 31, 2012.

Title Sponsor: Junior Service League of Independence

Presenting Sponsor: Silverstein Eye Centers

Other sponsors: Centerpoint Medical Center; Courtney S. Turner Charitable Trust; Stewardship Capital; Barbara and Allen Lefko; Independence Pioneers Chapter - National Society Daughters of the American Revolution and Hy-Vee of Independence.