Oral History Interview with
Ruby Jane Hall
A long-time friend and neighbor of the Truman family in Grandview, Missouri.
December 6, 1980
by Niel Johnson
[Notices and Restrictions | Interview Transcript | List of Subjects Discussed]
This is a transcript of a tape-recorded interview conducted for the Harry S. Truman Library. A draft of this transcript was edited by the interviewee but only minor emendations were made; therefore, the reader should remember that this is essentially a transcript of the spoken, rather than the written word.
Numbers appearing in square brackets (ex. ) within the transcript indicate the pagination in the original, hardcopy version of the oral history interview.
This oral history transcript may be read, quoted from, cited, and reproduced for purposes of research. It may not be published in full except by permission of the Harry S. Truman Library.
Opened May, 1983
Harry S. Truman Library
[Top of the Page | Notices and Restrictions | Interview Transcript | List of Subjects Discussed]
Oral History Interview with
Ruby Jane Hall
December 6, 1980
by Niel Johnson
JOHNSON: Miss Hall, I would like to start by asking you for a little bit of your own background. Could you tell me where and when you were born and your parents' names?
HALL: Yes, I was born on my father's farm, which is now Floral Hills Cemetery, and I was just three months old when we moved to Grandview. However, my father had a business here several years before that.
JOHNSON: And your parents' names were?
HALL: L. C. Hall and Martha Elizabeth Hall. They are both now deceased.
JOHNSON: When was it you were born?
HALL: November 8, 1908.
JOHNSON: Your family moved from the farm to Grandview in what year?
HALL: It would have been in 1909.
JOHNSON: I see. So you were born on the farm.
JOHNSON: And that farm was located where, in relation to the Truman farm in Grandview?
HALL: Well, the Truman farm was off of Grandview Road and Blue Ridge Extension and our farm was located at Gregory and Blue Ridge Extension.
JOHNSON: Your father's farm was how far away from the Truman farm?
HALL: I would say about five to eight miles.
JOHNSON: Five to eight miles, in which direction?
JOHNSON: Northeast. Is that toward Hickman Mills or beyond Hickman Mills?
HALL: It's on the other side of Hickman Mills; it's closer to Raytown. The address was Raytown.
JOHNSON: You moved into Grandview about the time that Harry Truman started farming, it appears. He moved out here in the spring of 1906 and you moved into Grandview just about that time.
HALL: Well, my father had his business here a couple of years or so before, but we moved here in 1909.
JOHNSON: So he was in business about the time that Harry Truman started farming over here.
JOHNSON: So they probably got acquainted rather early.
HALL: Very early.
JOHNSON: Do you recall your father saying anything
about when he first became acquainted with Harry Truman?
JOHNSON: Do you have any idea of how they came first to be acquainted, what the circumstances were that got them acquainted the first time, or the first few times?
HALL: I have no idea except my father being in business, and I would assume that through the business they became acquainted.
JOHNSON: What kind of business is it your father had here?
HALL: Milling, coal, sand, etc. He also had a string of threshing machines as well as the sawmills.
JOHNSON: What kind of mills?
HALL: Sawmills, feed mills, and coal and sand, and then the threshing business.
JOHNSON: He must have had several people working for
him too then.
HALL: Well, I had four brothers; however, they were young. He did have others working for him.
JOHNSON: So your four brothers worked with your father?
HALL: Off and on, yes.
JOHNSON: Plus hired help when necessary?
HALL: Yes. Took a lot of help manning those threshing machines.
JOHNSON: How about the sisters, you have...
HALL: I have four sisters.
JOHNSON: And how many of those are still living?
HALL: Just one.
JOHNSON: They were kept busy no doubt, too. Did the sisters have anything to do with the business in those days?
HALL: No; maybe my older sister could have helped with the bookwork, but that I really couldn't tell you.
JOHNSON: This is a point that we ought to bring up. Did your father have some business records?
HALL: Yes; I have some of the books. I guess it's books where people had purchased different items from him, and maybe didn't pay it all, and things like that. I have really never gone through them all, but I do have several books of them.
JOHNSON: There might be some bills for the Trumans in there do you think?
HALL: I doubt that.
JOHNSON: So the Trumans paid up on their bills?
JOHNSON: So your family is very well-acquainted with the Trumans it appears.
JOHNSON: When your family moved to town, where did you live?
HALL: We lived at High Grove Road and Eighth Street.
JOHNSON: Three blocks west of 1111 High Grove Road?
JOHNSON: The Truman farm was a rather sizeable farm, about 600 acres. Was that unusually large for those days, do you recall, or was it more or less typical?
HALL: I really don't know. I would say that most farmers in this area had a number of acres.
JOHNSON: Did you ever visit the Truman farm? Let's go way back. Before Harry Truman left the farm in 1917, did you ever have an occasion to visit the Trumans?
HALL: I'm sure so.
JOHNSON: You mean at the farm home?
JOHNSON: Do you have any idea when you first met the Trumans?
HALL: No, I really don't.
JOHNSON: Do you recall if Harry Truman was working out there, was farming the land, when you first visited the farm? Do you have any recollections?
HALL: I don't know.
JOHNSON: In other words, when you say you went out there, you were invited out there for meals? This would be what, the 1920s, do you think, or the thirties?
HALL: Probably even before the 1920s and thereafter.
JOHNSON: When Harry Truman came back home from the war he apparently spent a few weeks here at the farm.
JOHNSON: He got married and decided to live in Independence, and after that it would be occasional visits. Then they sold their farm implements and stock in 1919. Do you recall anything about the Truman farm sale back in 1919?
HALL: Not the sale.
JOHNSON: Do you know of anyone that might have gotten, or bought objects or items from that sale?
HALL: No, sir. There are not many people here in Grandview who were here at that time.
JOHNSON: You don't know of any objects or of anything that might have come off of the Truman farm? I'm thinking now of things that possibly could be used in a museum exhibit or display. Do you know of any objects that are directly related to the Truman farm, any old implements or anything?
HALL: At this point in time, no. I know my older brother and Harry were very close. Of course,
as I said before, they are all gone, but if Stanley had anything that Harry had given him, why, his two boys would have it. One of these days I'll see them, and if I can find out, I'll be glad to let you know.
JOHNSON: Maybe we should get the names of your brothers and sisters on the record. Would you give us the names of your brothers and your sisters?
HALL: Yes. Miss Ella Hall my oldest sister, Mrs. Lena Eeffer, Mr. Stanley Hall, Mr. Cecil Hall, Mr. William Hall, Mr. Hobart Hall, Mrs. Esther M. Grube, Mrs. Madge See. Esther is the only one that is alive today.
JOHNSON: Her husband's name is William C. Grube?
JOHNSON: What about Harry Truman's reputation as a farmer? What kind of a farmer was he according to the stories or any information that you have received?
HALL: I couldn't really give a good answer to that question except that I do know that he was on the farm. As far as his farming ability I know nothing about it.
JOHNSON: His mother claimed, you know, that he plowed the straightest furrow.
HALL: Well, I don't doubt that.
JOHNSON: And planted the straightest row of corn.
HALL: Well, if Grandma Truman said so, it's right.
JOHNSON: She also said he got his commonsense on the farm, he didn't get it in town. Do you think life on the farm has a way of teaching commonsense to a person?
HALL: I really think so. After all, when you're on the farm and if you're plowing or planting, you of course are paying attention to what you're doing. I think farming is very healthy for a person.
JOHNSON: Your father depended heavily on farmers for his business, didn't he?
JOHNSON: And he found them to be dependable customers?
HALL: Oh yes.
JOHNSON: You do have some knowledge of the Trumans doing business here especially, I suppose, with your father. I'm trying to get a sense of small-town life, as well as farm life, at the time the Trumans were on the farm. I suppose Saturday night was the big night for farm families to come into town?
HALL: Well, that is tradition, but I don't know that that ever really applied to Grandview. I think we were always too close to Kansas City to really be a typical farm community.
JOHNSON: So there may not have been the liveliness on Saturday night here that there would have been