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Things to do in Independence

    Harry S. Truman NHS Harry S. Truman National Historic Site Farm Grandview, Missouri
    The Harry S. Truman National Historic Site was created to preserve both his family farm and his home, which is also called the Wallace House and located in Independence, Missouri, while the farm is located in Grandview, Missouri; and both of them are within the metropolitan area of Kansas City, Missouri, some fifteen miles apart. The Truman/Wallace house will be explained a little bit more in detail, down this page, so we'll concentrate on the magnificent farm located in Grandview, Missouri, that had been constructed by Harry's maternal grandmother, in 1894, the heart of a 5.25 acre site, which is all that is left of the family's former six hundred acre farm. Harry would work here from 1906 until 1917, and his mother attributed his excellent common sense with being awakened here as he worked. There are guided tours available during the summer months, although, a visitor's center is still lacking. It would become a National Historic Landmark during the 20th century, and contains a reconstructed farmhouse since the original burned down in 1893, a restored box wagon that had been used on the farm, numerous stone fence posts that had marked the original boundaries, the Grandview post office that would become a garage after Harry moved it to his farmstead to house his 1911 Stafford auto, as well as numerous other rebuilt and original structures. Once Harry retired from political life, he would sell off parts of the farm for the Truman Corner Shopping Center and other Kansas City developments.  Since not too many folks really knew much about the Trumans, an oral history project was started in 1983, that would concentrate on the personal information that is significant to the continued interpretation, furnishing and preservation of the lovely house that reflected what the Truman family partook in during their private moments. For almost the last quarter century, the program has been able to collect and preserve a lot of important information about Harry and his family, as well as their community ties in both Grandview and Independence. There have been over 121 taped interviews held thus far, with more than 190 hours of historical information, that have been documented from their former family members, friends and neighbors, while the Truman family lived in both locations. Those that took the time to leave oral history messages include friends, secret service agents, shopkeepers, neighbors, household staff, medical personnel, relatives and various other Truman contemporaries.

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    1859 Jail & Marshal's Office 1859 Jail & Marshal's Office Independence, Missouri
    The Jackson County Historical Society 1859 Jail, Marshal's home and museum is located in Independence, Missouri, which had been constructed in 1859, designed by A. B. Cross, and was a two story, federal limestone house and jail that fronts 217 North Main Street, with the jail located on the rear of the house, and are both the earliest surviving documented examples of Cross's work. The United States Congress had passed the Kansas-Nebraska Act in 1854 that had opened the new territory to settlement, as well as allowing popular sovereignty to decide the question as to whether or not they would join the Union as a slave state or free state. When the 12 new limestone jail cells were being opened, the region was in the midst of a terrible struggle, between the free state and pro-slavery groups, and was reaching a boiling point that would tear the new territory apart. That Kansas-Nebraska Act would create some of the most violent attacks and fighting that the region would ever see, as the abolitionists came pouring into the territory to help decide the state's position. The communities of both sides of the Missouri and Kansas lines would feel the sting of these horrendous attacks and bring about more violent fighting in the Battles of Lone Jack and Independence during 1862. The two battles would become victories for the Confederacy, although Missouri would still be part of the Union because of all the military troops located there, although the governor and legislators had voted to secede from the Union. In the Jackson County region, family would be pitted against family, neighbor against neighbor, with the women and children of the community arrested and filling the new county jail, that had become put under the jurisdiction of the Union provost marshal; who would become nicknamed "Little gods" for the tremendous power that they held over the community. As the new jail filled up, other structures in the area would be used to house the "criminals", although one did collapse and kill some young girls. Current historians believe this would be the main cause of the Lawrence, Kansas raid that would take place in 1863. That raid would become the catalyst for Order No. 11 that would leave most of the population of the county and surrounding counties with no place to go. As the enforcement of the order took place, it would result in many women and children walking the roads to Kentucky or Texas, with quite a few being killed, on both sides, so that many families would never return to Jackson County even after the war. Independence artist, George Caleb Bingham would manage to capture their horrible misery on canvas, as well as on a tablecloth that was painted. George would eventually create an engraving of his marvelous painting and then sign it to sell the numbered copies of "Martial Law". You can see one of the signed proofs at the museum, with other reproductions being offered for sale. Years after the war ended, the community would still feel the angry bitterness that still lingered over the land, and out of this mess, would ride the many famous outlaws, like the James and Younger gangs, who would use those feelings to hide from the law for over two decades. After Jesse James was murdered, Frank, his older brother, fearing likewise assassination, began negotiations with the governor so that he could surrender without being killed. Frank would then spend some six months in the new county jail, that was getting older very fast. A brick jail would be added to the rear of the limestone cells in 1907 to contain the chain gangs, that had been formed to construct roads, various county projects and sewers. These inmates would leave the jail at dawn and return at dusk, with one prisoner being held in the jail for a solid year after he had stolen a cow. It is quite a site to see and visit, with more documentation and records available for you to read and learn more about the historical times and stories that are related to the old jail.

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Local Restaurants in Independence

    The Hereford House
    Entrees served with house side dish & choice of house salad, Caesar salad, spring salad or cup of soup; Kansas City strip is 10 or 14oz.; Black & Blue Kansas City strip is 10oz. cut topped with cracked black pepper & blue cheese crumbles; the ribeye is well marbled; blackened ribeye is 16oz. cut seasoned with Cajun spices & topped with garlic butter; bone-in ribeye; whisky medallions is 3 tenderloin medallions, pan seared in whiskey cream sauce; top sirloin 12oz.; prime rib is center cut 6 or 9oz.; steak Dijon is 6oz. filet mignon served with famous pan seared crab cake, topped with béarnaise sauce & asparagus spears; t-bone is 22oz.; steak & lobster is 6oz. filet mignon & cold water lobster tail; steak & shrimp is 6oz. filet mignon & jumbo golden fried coconut shrimp.

    Ophelia's
    Entrees; braised lamb shank with crispy grits, collard greens & espresso red eye gravy; roasted half chicken with housemade root beer glaze, loaded baked potato risotto & glazed root veggies; pan seared salmon topped with lemon garlic crust & dill vin blanc, served over crispy sourdough bread dumpling; cedar planked ruby trout with saffron scenter New England oyster chowder; grilled sea bass with forest mushroom ragout, spiced apple cider vinaigrette & topped with wilted watercress; square burger is half pound burger, housemade pickles, baked apple ketchup & aged white cheddar on an egg bun & served with hand-cut fries; 16oz. pork t-bone caramel demi-glace & grilled apple; 9oz. filet au poivre with brandy peppercorn sauce; 14oz. veal chop fresh herb-rubbed with Madeira sauce; 12oz. dry aged KC strip with forest mushroom demi-glace; 16oz. horseradish crusted ribeye with port wine reduction; 8oz. hanger steak with garlic & ale hollandaise; 10oz. grilled marinated chicken with sherry rosemary au jus.

 

Whisky Medallions The Hereford House Independence, Missouri

 

 

 Pan Seared Salmon Ophelia's Independence, Missouri

 

 

 

 

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    Second Battle of Independence October 1864 Battle of Westport Second Battle of Independence Missouri
    The Second Battle of Independence would only be a minor battle during the Civil War in October, 1864, taking place in the city, where some of the worst skirmishes happening in the present-day United Nations Peace Plaza, the Community of Christ church's temple, the Harry Truman railroad depot and the George Caleb Bingham's residence, the headquarters of the Church of Christ, the auditorium and Stone Church. The fight would become the deciding part of Confederate General Sterling Price's 1864 Missouri Campaign, and the Battle of Westport that occurred the next day would end his part in the war, as he would be defeated. The action would be the most significant battle in the war that involved Jackson County, since the Order No. 11 had been passed the previous year. The First Battle of Independence was fought in August of 1862, and that would end up with a victory for the southerners. During the fall of 1864, General Price's commanding officer, Lt. General Edmund Kirby Smith, ordered him to try to seize the Missouri region for the south, but since he couldn't attack his main objective, St. Louis, he decided to try Smith's backup plan for a westward raid through the region and into Kansas and then the Indian territory. They were desperately trying to keep Lincoln from being re-elected in 1864, by disrupting the supply lines and depots that held the supplies and munitions, although it would prove too big a task to accomplish. Price would defeat the Union troops at Lexington and Glasgow, heading to Kansas City and Fort Leavenworth, which was the headquarters of the Federal Department of Kansas, with his Army of Missouri, leading off with Brig. General Joseph Shelby's division, and Brig. General John S. Marmaduke following his troops and Brig. General James Fagan's division protecting the rear. The Union troops that would come up against the Confederates would be mainly made up of militia units and the XVI Corps of Maj. General Andrew J. Smith, who had been reinforced with Maj. General Alfred Pleasonton's cavalry division; that had been detached from the Department of Missouri's units led by William S. Rosencrans. Major General Samuel R. Curtis would be leading the newly formed Army of the Border, and would be the first to engage Price's troops; with Maj. General James G. Blunt's cavalry units, two infantry divisions detached from Smith's Corps led by Colonels Joseph J. Woods and David Moore, Maj General George W. Dietzler's Kansas Militia division and Pleasonton's cavalry which would total some 22,000 troops altogether. After the Union troops were beaten at Lexington, they would begin retreating west toward Independence under General Blunt, setting up camp behind some strong defensive positions that had been erected on the west bank of the Little Blue River, some five miles east of the city, digging in to await the main Confederate forces. Unfortunately, Blunt's commander, General Curtis, would order him to abandon the positions except for a little blocking force led by Colonel Thomas Moonlight, and head back to Independence. The Second Battle for Independence would be more of a connected engagement that occurred at the Little Blue, that lay in the easternmost boundaries of the city, on October 21, after Blunt was ordered to return to the position he had just left. When he got there, he found the bridge already destroyed as Moonlight had been instructed, since they had been attacked by Price's advance guard. The Confederates would begin arriving there and start fighting, with many witnesses telling listeners that the Union forces were well hidden behind rock walls and the attacking troops would have to fight for every single inch that they gained, which would eventually push the Union troops back, retreating west through the city of Independence towards Westport.  The rest of the battle story and the results from the continued fighting at Westport would give the Union a decisive victory and substantially end the presence of the Confederacy in the territory.

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    Truman HouseTruman House Independence, Missouri
    The Truman House is also known as the Wallace House, and sits in Independence, Missouri, where Harry would live with his new bride, Bess Wallace from June 1919 until his death in 1972. Bess's maternal grandfather, George Porterfield Gates, had constructed the house in a few years between 1867 until 1895, and her mother, Madge Gates Wallace, had asked the couple to come and live with her after her husband, David Willock Wallace had committed suicide in 1903. Bess's grandparents, George and Elizabeth Gates, would own the house when they moved in after David's death, since Harry had put all of his money into a men's clothing store called Truman & Jacobson that had opened in downtown Kansas City, which would help the couple with their financial situation. In 1922, the shop would be forced to close, but Harry and Bess would not be able to afford to move into another house, so they stayed there while Harry began paying off his debts. He would enter politics that year and soon move to Washington, DC, but when they came back to Missouri for visits, they would always stay at the house. In 1924, the Truman's only child, Mary Margaret, would be born, and Bess's two brothers would move into adjacent houses, and across the street, the president's favorite aunt and cousins lived. When Harry retired in 1953, he would use the office he had in the Wallace House, until his library opened in 1957. He would be one of the few presidents that had never owned a home while he was in office, living with family during the early years of his life; and then the Wallace House, rented apartments and various houses in Washington DC, Blair House that was the official state visitors residence and the White House. It wouldn't be until July 1953, when he had retired from office and Madge Gates had passed away in 1952, that Harry and Bess would buy the house; that is now part of the Harry S. Truman Historic District and a National Historic Landmark site.  The house is a fourteen room Victorian styled house that had originally been built by George Porterfield Gates in 1867, with him continuously adding more to the house until the 1890s, which meant that four generations of that family would occupy the house until it was donated to the government. One of the most significant features of the house is that the majority of furnishings are those that had been left by the families time there, including the very calendar that still hangs in the kitchen. Harry's old overcoat and hat are hung next to the back door that he would put on before heading out to his car for the short ride to his office. The library and museum is located less than a mile away, with more outstanding historical documents and materials that pertained to his tenure in the White House and many marvelous relics that he would receive as President and other articles that he had kept.

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    Boston Adams HouseBoston Adams House marker Independence, Missouri
    The Boston Adams House in Independence, Missouri would be the place that Confederate general Price would turn into his headquarters on the night of October 22, 1864, although his generals would strongly urge him to continue going farther south, but he would refuse to leave behind his 500 wagon train of booty that had been scavenged from the region. General Shelby's division was camped by the Forest Hill cemetery, while General Marmaduke's troops were camped at Byram's Ford and Fagan's divisions, on the west side of the river where the train tracks were as well. Benteen's Union troops would water and feed their horses just west of here on October 23, 1864. Price crossed the Big Blue River on October 22, taking over the Boston Adams house that had been located here back then, so he could plan his strategy for the battle that would take place the next day, Sunday, October 23, 19864; although he had enemy troops on two sides of his position; the Shelby Fagan troops deployed on a five mile front along the west bank of the Brush Creek from the state line to the Big Blue River area that faced the Army of the Border. Marmaduke's divisions were located on the west bank as well but closer to Byram's Ford and across from Pleasonton's divisions. The 600 wagons and 3000 head of cattle that Price was driving south towards the Little Santa Fe, but just east of the Big Blue. Cabell's brigade was guarding the wagon train, while Price worried about Pleasonton swinging south to attempt capturing his wagon train, so he decided to strike first and attacked the Union positions on October 23rd. While Price wrote out his orders a t the Adams house, instructing Cabell to move the wagon train down the Hickman Mills Road so that he would eventually be able to turn southwest towards the Little Santa Fe, he wanted Shelby and Fagan to attack at dawn, trying to defeat Curtis and the Army of the Border, while Marmaduke would try to keep Pleasonton from going across the Big Blue, with his troops camping for the night before going to join General Shelby by 55th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue.

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    The Albert G. Boone StoreThe Albert G. Boone Store Independence, Missouri
    The Albert G. Boone Store in Independence, Missouri has originally been constructed to be an outfitting store for the wagon trains that would pass this way, completed in 1850 by Indian traders William and George Ewing, who sold it to Albert Gallatin Boone in 1854 for $7000; and Boone would operate the store during the years 1854 to 1859. Boone had been born in Kentucky during 1806, a mountain man, trader and grandson of the famous frontiersman Daniel Boone. He would get a license to trade with the Shawnee, Kickapoo, Delaware and Kansa tribes, since he could speak Spanish, French and every one of the main dialects of the Indian languages that would later help him become an Indian agent and commissioner, and to negotiate with the Sioux after they destroyed Colonel George Custer at the Little Big Horn. The Wiedermann family would purchase the structure in 1904 and convert it into a grocery store, until 1947, when Randal Kelly, an immigrant from Ireland would lease the structure to open up Kelly's Westport Inn, eventually buying it in 1995. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is one of the oldest brick structures in the city, having become an important part of the western trade and migration route along the Santa Fe and Oregon Trails, that Westport had strategically grown up along.

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May 12, 2011