Bess Truman: Courtship and Marriage

Bess Wallace sits on porch of her Independence home, circa 1905.
Bess Wallace sits on north porch of her Independence home, circa 1905.

Truman Library

Harry Truman often visited his relatives, the Nolands, who lived across the street from the Gates family. One day in 1910, Aunt Ella Noland asked Harry to return a cake plate that Madge Wallace had sent over. Bess answered Harry’s knock at the door and it began their nine year courtship. Although Harry and Bess knew each other throughout school, their relationship had a slow beginning due to the difference in their social standing. Their dates often consisted of visiting in the upstairs sitting room or on the back porch of the Gates home. The couple went on picnics and fishing trips with friends and family.

In 1917, Truman joined the U.S. army and was sent to France to serve in World War I. Harry and Bess were married upon his return home, on June 28, 1919. Bess continued her involvement in the community, hosting teas at home and participating in church activities. She supported Harry in his haberdashery business in the early 1920s and when he decided to go into politics.


Last updated: April 10, 2015

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