The birthplace of Missouri’s only president welcomes guests
LAMAR, MO. – What kind of house is considered “credible” for the President of the United States to be born in? For the only U.S. President born in Missouri, it was a humble beginning.
Harry S. Truman, the 33rd President of the United States, was born in a small-frame home on a corner lot, 80-feet-by-150-feet in Lamar, Mo.
The house is 20-feet-by-28-feet and has six rooms. The home had no electricity, running water, closets or bathroom. President Truman was born in the downstairs southwest bedroom on May 8, 1884.
John and Martha Truman, his parents, purchased the home in 1882. It was only four years old. John Truman traded mules and farmed in the Lamar area.
The little house in Lamar, Mo., was purchased by the United Autoworkers of America and furnished the President’ birthplace 75 years after Truman’s place in history was secured. It is said John Truman planted an Austrian pine near the corner of the house and nailed a mule shoe above the door in memory of his son’s birth.
The home was purchased by the state in 1957 for $685, and dedicated as a historic site in 1959 at a ceremony attended by Truman himself. The site was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1969.
The Harry S. Truman Birthplace State Historic Site is now state-owned and maintained by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources. There is no admission to see the small, white home, which is set up to recreate the period from which the Truman family lived there. There are two monuments on site, a well and smokehouse are both original and were there when the Trumans on the property.
The site was closed for a period of time for renovations and repairs, but reopened in the summer of 2020.
While Barton County, Mo., claims Truman as its own, the family moved north to Harrisonville in Cass County, Mo., in 1886 when Harry was 11 months old.
On Dec. 28, 1890, the Truman family moved to Independence, Mo., where Harry started school. Because of eye problems requiring heavy glasses, he did not participate in sports but read everything the library offered. His first job was working in a drugstore, dusting bottles and washing windows for $3 a week. He was 11 years old. He finished high school in 1901.
Harry worked on the farm with his dad until John Truman died in 1915. When World War I Harry, a member of the Missouri National Guard, left the farm to serve overseas. He went as a captain of field artillery. He was liked and respected by his men, and took part in a number of major battles and campaigns. When he returned in 1919, he was discharged with the rank of major. Harry returned to the farm and a little over a month later, married his school day sweetheart, Miss Bess Wallace, on June 28, 1919.
Harry S. Truman was elected a judge of the county court (county commissioner) for the Eastern District in 1922. Later, he was elected presiding judge of the County Court of Jackson County, Mo. In 1934, he was elected to the U.S. Senate and was re-elected in 1940. Four years later, he became the vice president of the United States, after he was nominated for office by the Democratic Party in November 1944. His term in the role of vice president was shortlived, however.
When President Franklin D. Roosevelt died on April 12, 1945, Harry Truman became president. He was elected to office in 1948. During this time, President Truman had many burdensome decisions to make. He developed a policy and a sign which said, “The Buck Stops Here.” He took serious responsibility for his decisions.
Despite becoming President of the United States, he never forgot his roots. Since Harry S. Truman was born in Lamar, he chose to accept the Democratic Party’s nomination for vice president from a platform on the west side of the courthouse. On August 31, 1944, the largest crowd ever, some 10,000 people, came to watch the event.
After his presidency, he returned to Independence and maintained his office at the Truman Library, where both he and his wife are buried.
Harry S. Truman died December 26, 1972 at the age of 88.