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H. H. Halvorson Oral History Interview

Oral History Interview with
H. H. Halvorson

Kansas City, Missouri, realtor and business associate of Harry S. Truman in the Community Savings and Loan Association, 1924-32

Kansas City, Missouri
July 21, 1967
by J. R. Fuchs

[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. [45]) within the transcript indicate the pagination in the original, hardcopy version of the oral history interview.

See also H. H. Halvorson Papers finding aid.

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 It may not be published in full except by permission of the Harry S. Truman Library.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 November 1967
Harry S. Truman Library
Independence, Missouri


[Top of the Page | Notices and Restrictions | Interview Transcript | List of Subjects Discussed]


Oral History Interview with
H. H. Halvorson


Kansas City, Missouri
July 21, 1967
by J. R. Fuchs


FUCHS: Mr. Halvorson, we have been talking about the gentlemen who were on the board of directors and also the officers of the Community Savings and Loan Association. I wonder if you would identify them by name and tell me who they were?

HALVORSON: There was Joseph Cartella, who was a salesman for Schenley and Company, liquor dealers.

FUCHS: Was Mr. Cartella acquainted with Mr. Truman to any extent?

HALVORSON: Oh, yes, I don't know how great an extent, but he was acquainted.

FUCHS: C. C. Daniel was a director.


HALVORSON: C. C. Daniel was a director and I think he was from Independence; and his daughter-in-law still has what is known as the Central Storage Company in the Central Industrial District, which is the oldest public service warehouse in Kansas City. And it came through the Newby Transfer Company, and the Clagett Company, and Clagett was from Independence, as I remember.

The next one was myself.

FUCHS: Just to get it in the record, what is your full name?

HALVORSON: My full name, H. H. Halvorson, is Halvor Hull Halvorson.

FUCHS: Hull is your middle name. Is that a family name?

HALVORSON: That's a family name. It's my mother's maiden name.

FUCHS: When and where were you born?

HALVORSON: I was born in Butte City, Montana.


FUCHS: What year was that?

HALVORSON: 1879, March 9.

FUCHS: When did you come to Kansas City?

HALVORSON: I came to Kansas City in 1904 from Denver.

FUCHS: And what was your first job here?

HALVORSON: I went to work for the Kansas City Power and Light Company. Mr. R. A. Richardson, President, was the man who hired me.

FUCHS: Where were you educated?

HALVORSON: Well, I graduated from Maritime College and then from there I went to General Electric in the laboratory?

FUCHS: Where was the Maritime College?

HALVORSON: It was in Boston, Massachusetts, the Boston Navy Yard.

FUCHS: Did you study engineering there?


HALVORSON: I learned engineering. Of course, engineering of that day was at a time when we were emerging from using steam engines for everything to the time when motors and electricity were coming along. I went to work for two years at the General Electric Company. You had to have some preliminary education to go there. My brother became associated with the General Electric Company through me; I had charge of the arc light testing, street lighting.

FUCHS: I see. Where were you in General Electric?

HALVORSON: In W. Lynn, Massachusetts.

FUCHS: Then you came back to Kansas City and went to work for the Power and Light?

HALVORSON: No. I went from there to Denver, and I worked for Mr. Henry L. Daugherty who then was receiver for the Denver Gas and Electric Company.

FUCHS: What year was that?

HALVORSON: That was about 1902. I came here in 1904.


FUCHS: What did you do for the Power and Light Company in Kansas City?

HALVORSON: Well, I became a contract agent for it and power solicitor and a general man in the commercial department.

FUCHS: How long were you with them?

HALVORSON: Well, I was, off and on, with them for a good many years. They changed management, and so forth, and once or twice I left for a time and then went back again. Now I managed a chandelier sales office, took care of a sign business and things like that.

FUCHS: What sign business?

HALVORSON: Federal Electric Signs.

FUCHS: When you left Power and Light you went into your own business?

HALVORSON: Well, I did a lot of work for the Power and Light Company in shutting down power plants


and putting in the steam heating system, the underground system. When I did that, why, eventually I got into the real estate business, because I could make a good deal more money out of the real estate business than I could as an employee of a utility.

FUCHS: I see. Well, then, about what year would you say you started to deal in real estate, which was mainly industrial real estate?

HALVORSON: Oh, some fifty years ago. I forget exactly the date.

FUCHS: You mean, around 1917?

HALVORSON: Somewhere along there, yes.

FUCHS: This James H. Clinton, another director?

HALVORSON: As I remember, he had a drugstore on the corner there, right across from the courthouse.

FUCHS: Yes. Mr. Truman worked for him at one time.

HALVORSON: I wouldn't be surprised. And Mr. Garman,


I understood he was a plumber; and Mr. Barr was a county judge. And Mr. Homer Rogers was at Sheffield Steel Corporation. And of course, Lou Holland is well known; and this man here [Murray] Colgan, was Truman's cousin. I think his mother was mentioned as a younger sister of Mr. Truman's mother.

FUCHS: I see. Were the directors paid anything for their services?

HALVORSON: Oh, no, I don't know that even their meetings would be called very important. After all, Mr. Truman was, you might say the boss, subject to, not to me, but more to Salisbury and Metzger. Adamson I just forgot. I think he was a salesman for someone.

FUCHS: Were you well acquainted with Mr. Truman's cousin:

HALVORSON: I never even met him, but he was Mr. Truman's cousin. Metzger, I don't remember what he did, but I knew Metzger. He had two aunts he lived with


out there on the square right next to the Bundschu Store, and I made a lease with Kroger Foods.

FUCHS: There is a letter in the file mentioning a Kresge lease about which you went to Chicago to consummate the deal.

HALVORSON: I leased a building right next to Bundschu on the north side. I think it was Kroger. Kresge, I never had any dealings with. Kresge's is the ten-cent store, you know. It was a Kroger store.

FUCHS: You don't recall dealing for a Kresge lease in Chicago?

HALVORSON: No, that wouldn't be my deal at all. Then, of course, there was Salisbury, and Miss Henthorn.

FUCHS: It was Henthorn at that time, later Kiekert.

HALVORSON: That's her name now.

FUCHS: Yes. This Robert F. Crawford, just who was he?

HALVORSON: Mr. Crawford was manager there for a large


implement house on Union Avenue between Liberty and Hickory Streets. And when they sold that business, he was such a fine, popular man that I just went to him and suggested that since he was too young a man (perhaps 60) to return, why didn't he go to work for that Building and Loan Association and build it up out of the Central Industrial District, because he knew everybody and was very well-liked. He was a high-class man, too high-class a man, really, to have settled on such a small thing, but he was more or less retired. And he had a son-in-law there named Logan, who was a coffee broker, and so he went and got him in the building. You will find in my letter to Crawford that Crawford was really the business manager of the office in the Central Industrial District.

FUCHS: But there seemed to be some sort of a feeling between you and Crawford about the office and the whole operation there. One of your letters indicates that there was some ill feeling between you and Crawford?


HALVORSON: No, there was no ill feeling between me and Crawford, Crawford said a little bit about heat once in a while or some repairs or something like that, but Mr. Crawford and I never had any ill feelings at all, no.

FUCHS: I see.

HALVORSON: It may have looked that way in his letters. He wrote me letters that were kind of sarcastic and so forth, but he had been used to being quite an executive in his own stead. I think Crawford would like to have been in with us on the Savings and Loan Association. That Savings and Loan Association had a great potential out of that big area down there, which had about 20,000 daytime population.

FUCHS: What about Arthur Metzger? What type of an individual was he?

HALVORSON: He was a financial promoter. He promoted the Scottish Rite Temple at Linwood and Paseo, and the Ararat Shrine building at 11th and Central



FUCHS: Was he capable?

HALVORSON: He was considered in Masonry quite capable, yes. He has a son named Jerome Metzger who is with Block [Metzger] and Company, and is president of the real estate board this year.

FUCHS: What did you think of him as a secretary for a savings and loan association?

HAVLORSON: Well, I would say that Salisbury seemed to keep that pretty well in hand. I don't remember that I had very much contact with Mr. Metzger. I had one real estate deal through his family connections. I lived right in this house at 630 W. 62nd Street, and it was a long ways for me to go out to Independence