Harry S. Truman Presidential Library and Midwest Geneaology Center

Despite our scary evening, in the morning we decided to go to Independence, Mo and visit the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library and to check out the Midwest Genealogy Center. The weather was still gray but no storms predicted.


The Truman Library and Museum is a beautiful and imposing building made of Missouri stone. There is a modest fee – well worth the investment. 

The Museum highlights Harry’s young life, meeting Bess and his various careers, his political career and Presidency. There are good displays showing how the country changed over Truman’s Presidencies. Our President was a farmer, he was well acquainted with hard work – which made him a fine (if misunderstood) president. 

We all remember that President Truman ordered the atom bombing of Japan on the prodding of his Joint Chiefs of Staff. 

Not everyone may remember that when Truman ordered General Douglas MacArthur out of Japan, Truman may have averted World War III – a hydrogen bomb fueled wars that could have had devastating environmental and human consequences. 

You see, MacArthur wanted to go to war with China because of their incursions in Korea – then all one country. China and the Soviet Union (who possessed the H-Bomb) had signed an alliance agreement, if one were attacked the other would spring to its side with a vengeance. When the Joint Chiefs and President told him “No”, he went to the Republican leadership (in a letter) and made his case for war. Worse, MacArthur fried to feel-out whether the Republicans would support a bid for Presidency, should he run. By that time though, the General’s Army had suffered terribly at the hands of the Chinese, so many lives had been lost that his popularity was at an all time low.  General MacArthur’s letter was read aloud to Congress. That was effectively the end of his career.

I had to wonder what might have been had China and the Soviet Union been defeated – nothing to say that would or wouldn’t have happened. How would world politics have been affected? How would our lives have been different?

The information and chronology on Truman is vast because Bess saved all the letters he wrote, Truman kept a daily diary and took extensive notes at any meetings and of course, a President’s administration keeps every jot and tittle. I liked his referral to the White House as the big white jail! He couldn’t wait for his last term to end. 

This site made our “Highly Recommended” list.

We ate our picnic at tables outside the Library and made our way over to the Midwest Genealogy Center, intending to check it out. We ended up spending the next two hours there! 

Barb: My Mother’s maiden name is Clark. My grandfather, a great lover of history, used to claim a relationship to either George Rogers Clark, a Revolutionary War hero or his brother William Clark of the Lewis and Clark Corps of Discovery. Since we’d been checking out Lewis and Clark Trail sites along the way, the question again came up: Am I related to either of these illustrious Clark’s?

This genealogy library seemed to be a great place to investigate the claim. Long story short, after spending a total of about eight hours over 2 days on computer and database searches; looking at 1850 and 1860 census reports; archived deeds, wills and probate records; birth and death records; newspaper articles and checking every book about Clark found in their extensive collection, I can (alas Grandpa) say we are not related to either George Rogers or William Clark. 

I was able to trace back to my 3x great-Grandfather John E Clark born in Virginia in 1817. (Both of the other Clarks were born in Virginia as well.) Couldn’t easily get back any further working in that direction. So, I started looking at offspring of William and George Rogers. Dear Brother, Letters of William Clark to Johnathan Clark by James J Holmberg, 2002 was an invaluable source of footnoted information I could use to fluff out all the birth and death details. George never married and there is no record of any children. William had 2 wives and a total of 8 children; the first born in 1809 and the last in 1826. None of them were named John E, so mystery solved. I descend from a normal family of Clark who have no national claim to fame!   

Liz: Since I have an extensive genealogy file on my mother’s side, I delved further into my dad’s. By choosing to stay to the Wharton name – the male side – the time flew by with discoveries. I was able to find my grandfather’s parents, his father’s family and the next generation up. That’s five generations, including me. The place I got stuck was in Spotsylvania, VA (near Fredrecksburg) in 1812. I’ll have to visit churches and cemeteries on site to find more. At that time, census records were really only tax documents – how many white indentured & un-indentured males, how many of the same for females, how many slaves, how many cattle & horses and how much land. On the last census found, it listed my third great-grandfather’s estate with a net worth of 400 pounds – under the Crown, it was 1812 after all.

A fun, engaging and very productive time was had by all. 

At home I made smokey tempeh (the marinade is amazing), quinoa and salad. With no weather interruptions, we slept the night through sweetly.