Harry S. Truman Presidential Library & Museum

Truman, John Anderson, 1851-1914; Cleveland, Grover, 1837-1908; Chiles, Henry P., 1882-1964; Phelps, Margaret L., 1865-1939; Danford, Robert M., 1879-1974; Paterson, Newell T., 1890-1977; Gates, Marvin H., 1876-1972
Biography; Presidential personal matters; Farms; Farming; Farmers; World War, 1914-1918

Longhand Note of President Harry S. Truman, Not dated. President's Secretary's Files - Longhand Notes.


In 1896 we moved to a nice house at Waldo Ave. and River Blvd. Before I leave the house on Chrysler Street I remember my father's discovery of gas in the back lot where he was drilling a water well. Water was struck at 140 feet but it was sulpher water and the stock wouldn't drink it. So a deeper well was drilled in the same hole. Two stratas of gas and one of oil were hit. We had the old house piped for gas, put in a gas tank and for a while had an ideal set up then the oil choked off the gas and my father traded for the Waldo St. property. There was a cupola or tower on the northwest corner of the Chrysler St. house and when Cleveland was elected in 1892 the rooster weather vane on top of the tower was properly decorated an my father rode a gray horse in the torch light victory parade.

There were a lot of new boys and girls in the Waldo Ave. neighborhood. We had many a grand time with them. In the Spanish-American War we organized a 22 rifle company elected a Captain and marched and counter marched, camped out in the woods just a block or two north of our house and had a grand time. Not one of the boys was over fourteen.

On White Oak Street a block south lived two Houchens boys, sons of a preacher. At the east end of White Oak at Union St. lived two Chiles boys-Henry & Morton. Across Waldo at Woodland College was Paul Bryant. Two doors east on Waldo was Jim Wright and next door east on Waldo were five girls and three boys-the Broorers. Down on Delaware, two blocks east of River Blvd. lived the Paxtons and the Wallaces, with the Sawyers on the corner of Waldo and Delaware St. The grand times we had! Halloween parties and all sorts of meetings after school, making bridges by Caesars plans and discussing what we'd like to be when grown up. We published a high school paper in 1901 called the Gleam for Tennyson's "Follow the Gleam." It is still published by the Independence High School after fifty years.

It was a grand class. Most of them made good. One of them became President of the United States and one the FirstLady. Nearly all the others lived happily and were good citizens.

My father and I made a trip to Oregon county to see about a piece of land he owned. It was a great trip. We crossed a little river by fords, thirteen times in eight miles, found the forty acres running up the side of an Ozark Mountain. It wasn't worth a nickel.

I'd obtained a job with a railroad contractor named L. J. Smith. He paid me $35.00 a month to keep time for four hundred hobos. Every two weeks I had to pay them off in a saloon in Independence or in Sheffield. The hobos would spend all their earnings in the saloon and be back at work on Monday. They received $1.50 a day for ten hours and paid $3.50 a week for board so about $11.00 was all they could get for two weeks work. Three dollars a day was paid for a wagon & team and driver. That is where I learned about minimum wages!

I was with the contractor six months and received about a hundred dollars after deductions.

Then I went to work in the mailing room of the Kansas City Star at seven dollars a week. About that time in the latter part of 1902 we moved to 2108 Park Ave. in Kansas City and I went to work for the National Bank of Commerce at $35.00 a month. After a year I was receiving $60.00 and then went to the Union National at $75.00 a month-a very good salary in 1904. Joined a new National Guard organization in 1905. I'd tried for both West Point and Annapolis under the tutelage of my history teacher, Miss Margaret Phelps. Failed physically on account of my short sight.

The Guard wasn't so particular so I was accepted as a private. Went to Cape Girardeau in August 1905 and acted as No. 1 on the old 3 inch light piece. Went to camp year after year for six years. We moved to the old home farm in 1906 and I became a real farmer. Plowed, sowed, reaped, milked cows, fed hogs, doctored horses, bailed hay and did everything there was to do on a six hundred acre farm with my father and my brother. But we never did catch up with our debts. We always owed the bank something-sometimes more sometimes less-but we always owed the bank

My father died in 1914. My brother had married and was running a farm of his own. In 1917 I rejoined and helped organize a national guard regiment and became a 1st Lieutenant in it. Went to Camp Doniphan at Ft. Sill, Okla. Went to school, ran a canteen and drilled with Battery F. Was examined for promotion in February 1918, sent overseas with an advance regimental detail in March. Left N.Y. on the night of March 30, 1918, on the George Washington, landed in Brest, France on April 13, 1918, was sent to the 2nd Corps Field Artillery School at Montaigne-sur-Aub in charge of Dick-"By God"-Bernleson, brother-in-law of Gov. Vardaman of Miss. And nephew of the Post Master General. He and Col. Robert M. Danford (afterward, Major Gen. Chief of Field Artillery) taught me how to fire a 75 battery.

Along in October notice caught up with me that I was a Captain. I'd been in command of Battery D. 129th since July 11th. In May 1918 I'd seen in the N.Y. Times that I was a Captain so I wore the bars and did Captain's duty but was never paid for it because the official notice did not reach me until October. I put in a claim for the pay and was turned down. I'd not accepted the commission until October-the law's the law g.e.d.

I fired 3000 rounds of 75 ammunition from 4 A.M. to 8 A.M. Sept 26, 1918. I had slept in the edge of a wood to the right of my battery position on Friday night. If I hadn't awaked and got up at 5 A.M. I wouldn't be here because the Germans fired a barrage on my sleeping place! At 8 o'clock my battery pulled out for the front. As we marched on a road under an embankment a French 155 battery fired over my head and I still have trouble hearing what goes on when there is a noise. I went back and told the French Captain what I thought of him but he couldn't understand me-so it made no difference.

We came to the front line at a little town, what was left of it called Buirrelles. I stopped the Battery and went forward with my executive officer and the battalion commander, Major Gates. We located a battery of the enemy and sat in a ditch while they fired machine guns over us. Finally went back to the battery and spend the rest of the night getting it across no man's land. At 5 A.M. the 27th of Sept. the operations officers of the regiment, Major Paterson came to my sleeping place under a bush and told me to fire a barrage in ten minutes! I told him to go to hell, that I couldn't figure one in ten minutes but I'd try! Didn't fire a shot but moved on up behind the infantry. Finally went into position on a road between Verennes and Cheppy about 10 P.M. Sept. 28. In going into position I road my horse under a tree and a limb of the tree scraped my glasses off-and I picked them up from the horse's back behind the saddle! No one would believe a tale like that but it happened. I put the battery into position and then moved into an orchard a half mile a head the next day. Fired on three batteries, destroyed one and put the other two out of business. The Regimental Colonel threatened me with a court martial for firing out of the 35th Division sector! But I saved some men in the 28th Division on our left and they were grateful in 1948!

One of my lieutenants was acting as communications officer that afternoon and had a phone set on his head. He looked up and saw a German plane and remarked to the Bty. Exec. that the so & so German was dropping something. The bomb went off and cut the phone off his head and didn't hurt him. In the mean time I was up in front of the infantry without a weapon of any kind observing the enemy fire from every direction. An infantry sergeant came up to my fox hole and told me that my support had moved back 200 yards and that I'd do well to come back too. I did!

1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10   11   12   13   14   15   16   17