In the early 1900s, George Wallace and May Southern, Frank Wallace and Natalie Ott, and Bess Wallace and Harry Truman were three couples, all in their 20s, all in love, and all close friends. None of them knew it at the time, but they were destined to spend the rest of their lives together. Frank, George, and Bess were siblings, and after the three couples were married, all six were related to each other.
George Porterfield Gates, grandfather to Bess, Frank, and George, built the house known today as the Truman home. The three Wallace siblings had lived there with their mother and younger brother since shortly after their own father's death in 1903. Upon Frank's and George's marriages in 1915 and 1916, their grandfather subdivided the back 100 feet of his property into two 50-foot lots and gave them to his grandsons as wedding gifts.
The boys' constructed two craftsman-style bungalows, popular at the time, on these lots shortly afterwards. Frank Wallace was tall and dignified, a serious fellow who assumed responsibility for his widowed mother's business aff airs. His wife, Natalie, was the daughter of a banker and had traveled widely. When she was 20, Natalie was able to take a nine-month trip to Europe - something few Independence residents would have had the opportunity to do.
George Wallace was the handyman; if something needed fixing, they took it to George. His wife, May, eventually found herself the family spokesperson after her brother-in-law Harry became the President of the United States. One local reporter remembered, "She was wonderful, because I could always find out what was going on. I would find out some things that some other papers wouldn't."
The Wallace Homes are located at 601 & 605 West Truman Road behind the Truman Home. The homes are not open to the public but are utilized by park service staff. The homes continue to be preserved and illustrate an extended family that often drew upon each other for help and support.
Did You Know?
Farming is hard work and requires physical strength. Harry Truman wrote to Bess in 1912, “A two-hundred-pound hog can almost jerk the ribs loose from your backbone when you get him by the hind leg.”