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Margaret Weddle Oral History Interview



Oral History Interview with
Margaret Weddle

Longtime acquaintance of the Truman family in Grandview, Missouri; descendant of Grandview area pioneers; and member of Mary Jane Truman's Sunday School class.

Grandview, Missouri
May 15, 1981
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. [45]) 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 It may not be published in full except by permission of the Harry S. Truman Library.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 October, 1981
Harry S. Truman Library
Independence, Missouri


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


Oral History Interview with
Margaret Weddle


Grandview, Missouri
May 15, 1981
by Niel Johnson


JOHNSON: Mrs. Weddle, I'm going to start with my usual question; would you tell us when and where you were born and what your parents' names were?

WEDDLE: I was born down here on 135th Street where my sister, Jane Meador, now lives. That was February 14, 1905.

George Meador married my sister, and they lived there after the marriage.

JOHNSON: What were your parents' names?

WEDDLE: Alvis G. Shelton and Mary Shelton; she was a Clements.


JOHNSON: Your mother was a Clements. That makes you a cousin to Hannah Clements Montgomery, I believe.

WEDDLE: Yes, her father and my mother were brother and sister.

JOHNSON: And you live right next door to her I notice here.

WEDDLE: They own this house.

JOHNSON: Let's go back as far as we can with your recollections, or your memories. Of course, the thing that we are mainly interested in is any information, or anecdotes, stories, that you might know that concern the Trumans, particularly Harry S. Truman when he was a farmer and later on, when he was Judge in the county. When did you first meet Harry Truman, do you recall?

WEDDLE: I've known him all of my life, but the first I actually remember about him was after he came home from World War I.


JOHNSON: The first time you can recollect meeting him was after he came back from the war?

WEDDLE: I know I had seen him and been around him many times, but I don't recall any particular time.

JOHNSON: Before the war you had met him, probably uptown here?

WEDDLE: Or at church.

JOHNSON: Again, where was it that you were born?

WEDDLE: At what is now 907 135th Street. My father was born up on the top of the hill across the railroad tracks.

JOHNSON: From that location down there?


JOHNSON: Was that the family homestead?

WEDDLE: That was my grandfather's home.

JOHNSON: When did your grandfather first settle that


land, do you know?

WEDDLE: I'm not sure. I know that one of my grandfather's brothers had a land grant August 22, 1845, and I know they were here. The 1845 patent included the land where we're sitting, where this house is standing, right now.

JOHNSON: Oh, this part of Grandview that we're in right now.


JOHNSON: I do have a map, the 1877 map of the county, and it does show a Mary Shelton. Is that the land that you're referring to as purchased by your uncle?

WEDDLE: Let's see; what year did you say?

JOHNSON: This is 1877; it looks like 80 acres.

WEDDLE: That Mary Shelton was my great-grandmother.

JOHNSON: Okay, what were your grandparents' names?


WEDDLE: My grandparents were Green Shelton, and his wife was Anna; my great-grandfather Shelton was Joseph Shelton and his wife was Mary.

JOHNSON: I see, that's on your father's side. Now, on your mother's side?

WEDDLE: Well, my mother's side was Clements. Ambrose and Hannah Clements were my grandparents. My great-grandmother, my grandmother's mother, Scrivener, lived with them, but grandfather Scrivener died in Kentucky before they came here.

JOHNSON: Do you know where Ambrose was born or where he lived prior to the Civil War?

WEDDLE: He was born in Kentucky.

JOHNSON: Where did he settle, do you know, here in Grandview?

WEDDLE: When they first came to this area, they were in Kansas for awhile and then they came to Grandview.


JOHNSON: Do you know where that first home was located?

WEDDLE: Yes. You go out here off of High Grove and then you turn and go north a ways. You can see it from High Grove, but the house is down.

JOHNSON: About how far east of here would that be before you turn north?

WEDDLE: I'm not sure; a couple of miles or something like that.

JOHNSON: And then you turn north off of High Grove, and about how far north of High Grove?

WEDDLE: Oh, probably about a half-mile, between a quarter and a half a mile up there. I don't know whether that old Kurzwell house is still there or not; it was right across from it. The Kurzwells lived there.

JOHNSON: Have you heard the story about Martha Young as a child running off to visit Ambrose's baby?

WEDDLE: That was their first child. His name was


Brack -- Breckenridge Clements. She and one of her sisters ran off to see the new baby. The Youngs lived just up across the road and off of the road a ways then.

There was a log house there that Uncle Brack was born in, and then they built a newer house later. The house that Martha Young lived in set way back up off the road, oh, maybe a half a quarter or something like that.

JOHNSON: So, we're talking about a quarter of a mile?

WEDDLE: Something like that. On the other side of the road. On the west side.

JOHNSON: Do you know if that happened to be where they were living when the Red Legs came?. There's a story about the Red Legs coming in 1861 during the war and killing a lot of hogs.

WEDDLE: I don't remember that particular time. My grandfather was in the Army and he sent my grandmother and her three children, that she had at that time, back to Kentucky. They were in


Kentucky during the war.

JOHNSON: I'm trying to pin down just where the Youngs were living when the Red Legs came and killed a lot of their hogs and forced the Youngs to fix breakfast for them.

WEDDLE: Of course, because of Order Number 11, a lot of things happened.

JOHNSON: Which came a little bit later.

WEDDLE: A little later on, yes.

I don't remember the particulars. I've heard them tell about it. My younger brother is in California, but he used to go up and visit my Uncle John Shelton. Uncle John was eleven years old when the Civil War started, and he remembered a lot of things about the war. But I couldn't remember them now. David would probably remember a lot more about what Uncle John told him than I do.

JOHNSON: Do you remember hearing stories about the


Youngs, or the Trumans, that we haven't mentioned so far?

WEDDLE: Not particularly.

JOHNSON: Did you know Martha Young rather well?

WEDDLE: Oh, yes, I knew her.

JOHNSON: When do you recall first meeting Mr. Truman's mother, Martha?

WEDDLE: Oh, ever since I can remember, because we went to the same church.

JOHNSON: That's the Grandview Baptist?


JOHNSON: Do you recall what the circumstances were when you first met Harry Truman; where and when and...

WEDDLE: No, because I've just known them ever since I can remember.


JOHNSON: You say after World War I you recall seeing him?

WEDDLE: Then I remember quite a little bit about him.

JOHNSON: So what was the occasion of the first time you remember seeing him?

WEDDLE: One thing I particularly have always remembered is the big town celebration they had right after they all got home from the service. It was a whole day affair, and I remember him very distinctly that day.

JOHNSON: Do you remember talking to him? Did you talk to him?

WEDDLE: I don’t think I talked to him that day; he was too busy.

JOHNSON: Were there quite a few veterans that were being honored at that ceremony?

WEDDLE: I expect there were some. I don’t remember who they were.


JOHNSON: Where was this?

WEDDLE: Right up here in town.

JOHNSON: On Main Street.

WEDDLE: On a vacant lot there.

JOHNSON: Did they have a parade with it?

WEDDLE: I can't remember that.

JOHNSON: But you remember Harry Truman was one of those that was being honored?

WEDDLE: Yes, he particularly, I think.

JOHNSON: After that, what do you recall among your first recollections of Harry Truman? What were some other circumstances, other events or occasions?

WEDDLE: Well, I don't remember just how long he way out here on the farm, but then he went to Independence. About the only time I would see him when he came out on weekends. He'd come out on


Sundays and spend the day with his mother and he'd come to church with Miss Mary.

JOHNSON: Do you recall when he married Bess Wallace? Do you remember anything about that?

WEDDLE: No, I never did meet her. My mother knew her, but I never did.

JOHNSON: Did you visit the Trumans at the farm then during the twenties and the thirties?

WEDDLE: Quite often I'd be down to Miss Mary's.

JOHNSON: When she was living in the farm house?

WEDDLE: When she and her mother were there. She was my Sunday School teacher a long time, and she was our young people's director. I was involved with her a great deal through the church.

JOHNSON: I see, so you and your sister started together in the first grade?

WEDDLE: Yes, and finished together.


JOHNSON: You mentioned visiting Mary Jane and her mother, Martha. Do you remember them ever talking about Harry; any comments that his mother or his sister made?

WEDDLE: Oh, Miss Mary talked quite often about him, but I don't recall anything especially.

JOHNSON: Do you remember his mother, or any comments that she made while he was Judge, or Senator or later as President, that haven't been recorded?

WEDDLE: I doubt it. I knew she said some things but I don't just offhand recall. She was pretty witty. I got a big kick out of Mrs. Truman; I thought a lot of her.

JOHNSON: I'm trying to get any quotations that I can, but I know it's hard to remember, of course, what was said.

WEDDLE: I remember one time I was out there and Miss Mary and a cousin of mine, Ellis Wyatt, were


going together some, and she said something or other about him, just in fun. I can't remember what it was, but I got a big bang out of it.

JOHNSON: They seemed to have good humor between them?


JOHNSON: They laughed about things and they'd tell jokes more or less?

WEDDLE: Well, I don't especially remember just telling jokes, but Mrs. Truman would just say things in a witty way.

JOHNSON: Did she keep a straight face, or did she kind of crack a smile when she said these things?

WEDDLE: Oh, sometimes she would and sometimes she wouldn't.

JOHNSON: Might leave you guessing sometimes as to how serious she was?

WEDDLE: I never took her too seriously. She was just all right as far as I was concerned.


JOHNSON: Did she ever talk about her attitude toward Yankees? Did she ever say anything that reflected on her experiences in the Civil War?

WEDDLE: Oh, yes, she did. I don't recall any one special thing.

JOHNSON: You say that Mr. Truman came out to visit his mother and sister on the farm during the twenties and thirties. Were you ever out there when he came to visit?

WEDDLE: No. No, I never was there. He would generally come on Sundays.

JOHNSON: So how would you see them then?

WEDDLE: He would come to church with Miss Mary; he'd come out there and come to church.

JOHNSON: You got a chance to talk to him then?

WEDDLE: No, not much more than to just speak to him.

JOHNSON: Which schools did you go to, and when did


you graduate?

WEDDLE: I went all twelve years here at Grandview; I graduated from high school in 1924.

JOHNSON: That was only three or four years after the high school had been established?

WEDDLE: Well, it was just two years in the regular high school building that we had. The first two years I was in high school we had classes in a little house in Grandview.

JOHNSON: What happened to that building, the old high school building?

WEDDLE: It was a house, and I think what's left of it is still there and it's been built onto. It's across the street from Regna Vanatta.

JOHNSON: How about the second building?

WEDDLE: It's just about a block from here; I think they call it a junior high now.


JOHNSON: Oh, is that the same building?

WEDDLE: That's the same one I went to. They had grade school and high school both