Harry Truman was named in honor of his mother’s brother, Harrison Young. Harry was never given a middle name, only the initial “S” – a compromise tribute to his maternal grandfather, Solomon Young, and his paternal grandfather, Anderson Shippe Truman. So, the proper way to write his name is Harry S Truman, without a period behind the middle initial.

Harry Truman was named in honor of his mother’s brother, Harrison Young. Harry was never given a middle name, only the initial “S” – a compromise tribute to his maternal grandfather, Solomon Young, and his paternal grandfather, Anderson Shippe Truman. So, the proper way to write his name is Harry S Truman, without a period behind the middle initial.

I guess you could say Harry was a ladies man, but it wasn’t other women he was interested in. It was only his mother, Martha, and his grandmother, Harriet Young, his sister, Mary Jane, wife Bess and daughter Margaret I’m talking about. And we cannot forget his two cousins, Nellie and Ethel Noland, who lived across the street from Bess on North Delaware.

Harry Truman was all about family, but he never bought a single stick of furniture in his entire life, not to mention ever buying a house, at least none that I’m aware of. The Summer White House (Truman home) at 219 N. Delaware was the home of Mrs. Truman’s grandparents.

Bess Wallace and her mother moved in with Grandma after the death of Bess’ father. Bess devoted her life from that time forward to taking care of her mother and grandmother. She did not marry Harry until she was about 35 years old.

Bess Wallace was the only girl for Harry ever since they first met in Sunday school at the First Presbyterian Church. He was 6 years old, and she was 5. Bess was an adorable tomboy from one of the most prominent families in town. Harry was the son of a debt-ridden farmer at Grandview. Once they grew up, Harry had to return to the farm and help his father in 1906. Times were tough and Grandview was a long way from North Delaware Street. It would take Harry many years and hundreds of love letters before he would convince Bess to marry him.

In one of those convincing love letters he said, “I’d make love to you so hard you’d either have to say yes or knock me in the head. Still, if I thought you cared a little I’d double my efforts to amount to something and maybe would succeed.”

The first time he proposed to her, she turned him down. But seven years later, following World War I, they were married. After Harry amounted to something and became president, his mother, Martha, took her first airplane ride for a visit to the White House in Washington. Stepping off the presidential plane, she was surprised by the large crowd assembled there to greet her and said that if she had known there would be such a fuss over her arrival, she would have just stayed home.

Harry’s grandmother, Harriet Young, was 88 when he returned to the farm in 1906, but she was as hale and hearty as a woman of 50, he said.

“She was a grand old lady, had helped make my grandfather a successful man,” Harry wrote. “She was a good Baptist, a strong sympathizer with the Confederate States of America and an Indian fighter in her own right. She has told me a great many stories of conditions in Jackson County in the 1840s. My grandfather, Solomon Young, was a freighter out West, running from Westport and Independence to Salt Lake City and San Francisco from 1844 to the late ’60s and my grandmother kept the 5,000-acre Jackson County farms going. She not only raised her own nine children, but she also raised a couple of nephews, numerous slave children and some neighborhood orphans. She had the most beautiful red hair I’ve ever seen, and a kindly, benevolent attitude to those she liked.”

Reference: “Truman’s Grandview Farm” by Jon Taylor.
In cooperation with The Examiner, Ted W. Stillwell is available to speak before any club, church, civic, senior or school groups.