Trails and Treasures Home Page Road Trips Searching for Fred Harvey, Fall 2006.htm
Lewis and Clark noted the location of an Osage Indian village on hills of about 160 to 180 feet to the south of the Missouri River on June 25, 1804. In 1827 traders set up a town with a landing on the river, and steamboats began arriving with goods bound for Santa Fe, moving the start of the Santa Fe trail west of its initial start point in Franklin. In the 1840s emigrants bound for Oregon began using Independence as their main outfitting point. But, like the towns to the east, Independence was soon eclipsed by Westport and then Kansas City as steamboats pushed further upriver.
But, unlike Franklin, Independence continued to prosper. Among those who managed to make their fortune in Independence was George Porterfield Gates, who went into the flour milling business with Peter and William Waggoner. In 1867, Gates purchased the property at 219 North Delaware Street, and in 1885 he remodeled and enlarged his home to reflect his success in business. At some point his daughter and her children moved back into the house with his widow. His one grand-daughter Elizabeth, known as Bess, was courted by a farm boy named Harry Truman, and after a nine-year courtship, Bess and Harry married and moved into the house with her mother and grandmother. Until their deaths in 1972 and 1982, Harry and Bess considered 219 North Delaware Street their home--even when they were living in the White House at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave, NW.
The Truman Library contains a replica of the Oval Office as it was during Truman's time as President and a number of excellent exhibits. The mural on the main wall of the entry foyer was painted by Thomas Hart Benton.
In addition to visiting the Truman home and library, I did the year-round volksmarch which passed by a number of picturesque homes and buildings.