Now in our second century, Truman has a proud past and a promising future.
The Truman Historical Association is a nonprofit group collecting and preserving artifacts from Truman’s 100+ years of history. Association meetings are first Thursday each month at 7:00 PM. Meetings are held at the Museum (address below). Their annual meeting is held in May, and membership is $10.
The historical association operates the Truman Historical Museum, located at 109 West Ciro Street. Phone 507.776.7889. Scheduled hours are Monday, Wednesday, and Friday 1:00 – 4:00 PM in the winter, 1:00 – 5:00 PM in the summer. The museum will also open by appointment for tours and classroom visits. Donations are always appreciated and much needed to continue operation.
A chronological history of Truman is also available for your perusal. Below is Truman’s first 100 years in a narrative form or for a year-by-year review.
Truman is located on the north central edge of Martin County in Westford Township, Minnesota. The first settlement in the township was established in 1857 along Elm Creek. In 1862, many of the settlements in the area were burned during an Indian uprising, but many residents soon returned to rebuild their homes and farms.
With the building of the Jackson road from Winnebago to Jackson in 1865, more of the area was opened up for settlement. Two post offices were soon established in the area. One was located near a river ford, and was designated as the West Ford post office, hence the name Westford, after which the township was eventually named.
In 1873 and 1874, grasshoppers devastated area crops, causing many to abandon their farms and leave the area. By 1878, nearly three out of every four farms was vacant or abandoned.
In 1878, an east-west railroad was built crossing the county, and settlers once again flowed into the region, reclaiming the abandoned farms and planting new fields across the vast prairies. Another rush of settlement occurred with the opening of the north-south railroad in 1899.
Born of the Railroad
The city of Truman was born with the railroad. The farmers of Westford Township were prosperous, enjoying rich harvests as a result of the area’s fertile soil and mild climate. The nearest rail station, however, was a distant 12 to 18 miles away, a hard days travel for farmers with nothing but a horse team and wagon.
The railroad companies of the time were looking for more business, and the area of Westford seemed an ideal prospect. A rail line ran east-west through Fairmont, but the nearest north-south rail link to Minneapolis and St. Paul only ran as far as Madelia.
On January 16, 1899, the Watonwan Valley Railway Company was incorporated for the purpose of building a railroad from Madelia to Fairmont.
Survey work for the new railroad was completed during the winter of 1898-1899. On March 23, 1899, the Martin County Independent reported that a meeting was held at the Westford postmasters home to locate a site for mid-line depot.
Conflict arose between Antrim farmers, who wanted the depot located on the county line between Martin and Watonwan Counties, and farmers from Westford and Nashville, who wanted it located several miles to the south. Finally, a compromise was reached that placed the site of the new depot would be located on the south section of line 4 in Westford Township, extending north.
Final selection of the site was left up to the railroad company, which selected section 9, adjacent to section 4. Truman was named when the town was surveyed in the spring of 1899.
The actual derivation of the name Truman has been the subject of much controversy over the years.
According to Liva Haycraft Dodge, who wrote a short history of the town in the Fairmont Daily Sentinel, in 1937, the town was named after Truman Whited, one of the town’s original surveyors, and that Ciro Street, Truman’s main street, is actually Oric spelled backwards, and is also the name of one of the Truman’s surveyors.
Most writers and residents, however, believe that the town was named after Truman Clark, son of J. T. Clark, who was second vice-president of the Chicago-St.Paul-Minneapolis Omaha Railway at the time the town was surveyed.
Not everyone was pleased with the name selection. As Nondie Ploom, a reporter for the Martin County Sentinel wrote at the time, The name of the station in our town should have been Westford instead of Truman, as the township and post office already bear that name. However, the name Truman remained.
On April 20, 1899, the Martin County Independent reported that dirt has commenced to fly. The railroad has boarding tents and shanties scattered between (Fairmont) and Madelia.
A month later, bidding was held for lots in the newly surveyed town of Truman. Over 300 people attended, and they bought $10,000 worth of land in the original 20 plotted blocks. The highest price paid was $46.00 from Clark of Granada State Bank, a handsome sum of money in those days.
The ink was scarcely dry on the deeds when building began. Several men had already made plans for business establishments. All through the wet spring and summer wagons hauled loads of lumber from Madelia and Winnebago. The first building to be completed was a barn, where Bert Parks lived while he was building the Hinton Store.
By the middle of June, 1899, there were four commercial buildings underway: Richard Jones’ hardware store (24 by 80 feet), Hinton’s general merchandise store, a restaurant, and a hotel. Several residents were also underway including those of John Betts, Ed Calley, and Art Langman.
Throughout the summer, work continued on the railroad. The first trains came through during the third week of October, 1899. Soon there were two trains daily to and from Minneapolis and St. Paul, so that one could leave for Minneapolis on the morning train, shop or do business there, and return on the evening train.
The completion of the railroad eased the burdens of area farmers, who no longer had to haul their crops so many miles to the depot.
In order to provide complete service from Fairmont to Minneapolis, the Watonwan Valley Railway was affiliated with the Chicago, St. Paul, Minneapolis, and Omaha Railway. On December 14, 1899, the owners of the WVR sold their interest to the CSPMOR.
Four years later, the CSPMOR was acquired by the Chicago and Northwestern Railway. They owned the line for many years, until the tracks were removed in the early 1970’s and the line was abandoned.
In its early years Truman boomed. By February 1900 there were over 214 inhabitants. Businessmen came from all directions to establish their enterprises. On march 29, 1900, a special election was held to incorporate the town, with 65 voting to incorporate, and 10 opposing incorporation.
The newly incorporated town occupied a full squire mile, plus a strip of land 40 rods wide around section 9. Later, much of this land was returned to the township under the provisions of a Minnesota law.
The president of the first town council was F. Gleason. Council members included E. E. Fletcher, E. Noonan, and R. D. Parks. The first treasurer was N. T. True, and the first recorder (clerk) was R. G. Vandrey. D. Hadley and C. Cornell were Justices of the Peace, and H. Fuller and W. L. Hoover were town constables.
One of the first actions of the town Council was to give the town a touch of respectability by building permanent sidewalks. (Up until this time, planks scattered on the ground had served the purpose of keeping pedestrians out of the mud.)
Without the merchants, however, there would be no Truman as we know it today. Two general stores were completed in Truman by the end of 1899, owned by W. A. Hinton and the Vandrey brothers of Madelia.
The Vandrey brothers had a store in Madelia, and decided to open another in Truman. They came to Truman in lumber wagons, and spent many nights sleeping in them, because there were no rooms available in the few buildings that had already been built. A third general store was later opened by D. Damon Company of Winnebago.
Hardware stores also flourished. Richard Jones, a country storekeeper, moved into town and built one in the summer of 1899. Edward Noonan of Madelia also built a hardware store, but soon sold it to August Ebert, who operated it for many years. A. A. Williams and Merril built and owned the third hardware store.
Williams first bought grain and sold farm implements. With the coming of the elevators, Williams switched to selling just hardware. Several years later, Jones sold out to Ebert and Williams, who split the merchandise.
One of the big unofficial holidays of the newly formed town was the annual Twine Day sponsored by Williams and Merril Hardware. At harvest time, all the farmers would come to town to pick up twine for the grain harvest.
There was a band, and plenty of strawberry pop for all the kids. Williams and Merril also took the opportunity to demonstrate the Majestic Range stove. One year they baked a three-tier walking cake. After being baked, it was wrapped in butcher paper, and a clean plank was laid across it. About six women stood on the cake, and then it was unwrapped and served with coffee to all who were present.
Hotels & Saloons
During the early years, Truman was host to two large hotels, the Pioneer Hotel, owned by M. H. Clemons, and the City Hotel and restaurant, owned by M. E. Wallace. Competition was fierce between them. In those days, a room cost a dollar a day. A third hotel was constructed in 1905. Known as the Truman Hotel, it was operated by Charles Eickhoff.
The first saloon was owned by Charley Becker. Charley’s first application to the county commissioners to pen a saloon was rejected, but he persisted and finally won approval. His success was short-lives, however, as a fire destroyed the saloon in July 1902. Charley was killed in this fire when he went back in to try and salvage something. It was Truman’s first fire.
Truman’s second saloon was the Sliding Mirror, owned by C. F. Cadman. A third saloon opened in 1905 in the new Truman Hotel.
Truman’s prosperity, born of the railroad, depended on the farmers for its sustenance. Within the first year, three elevators were erected: The Hubbard and Palmer (Harry Fuller, manager), Truman Elevator and Flour Exchange (Christensen and Henderson), and the Wolhueter Elevator Company of Fairmont.
In the spring of 1903, Sam Bursell, a farmer who lived three miles east of Truman, hauled a load of barley to Winnebago. He was paid 58 cents per bushel for it. The next day, he took a load out of the same bin on his farm and hauled it to Truman, where he was offered 50 cents per bushel. Sam refused to sell his barley at that price to any of the three Truman elevators, and threatened to haul it all to Winnebago. Finally, one of the elevators offered to pay him the Winnebago price.
Bursell told his friend, I. C. Gilman about the barley sale. Gilman suggested that they meet with other area farmers and start a farmers elevator company. Fifteen farmers met and organized a farmers elevator company, selling shares of stock in the proposed elevator for $15 per share. $2,100 was collected from 145 area farmers, and Truman Farmer’s Elevator Company was born.
The first board of directors was comprised of L. A. Smith, S. Bursell, J. Robinson, J. Miracle, M. Helvig, M. Olson, W. Ryder, and P. Sieg. Smith was elected as the first president, and Bursell as secretary-treasurer.
Because of the three elevators already in town, the railroad was initially reluctant to grant an easement on any railroad right-of-way, necessary for the construction of a new elevator. Persistence paid off, however, and the railroad finally leased the new company the land where the main elevator sits today.
A Minneapolis man was hired to construct the elevator for about $3,000. It was completed in time for the 1903 harvest. The new farmers co-op elevator was a success from the start. Soon the Farmers Elevator Company bought out the Wolhueter Company and expanded its operations.
Over the years, the Truman Farmers Elevator has grown and is today, with several operating divisions and enterprises, one of the largest commercial firms in Martin County.
The main livestock buyer in early Truman was L. A. Dodge, who shipped via the railroad. In 1929, trucks were introduced for hauling livestock, and Dodge’s son, S. E. Dodge, opened a large stockyard and sales pavilion north of town, away from the railroad. It still stands today, and is a buying station for the John Morrell Company. (Since this story was written, the sales barn has been torn down but the site remains a buying station.)
In 1900 a creamery was moved to Truman from Darin Pesta’s farm in Nashville Center. In 1929, area dairymen decided to form a co-op and purchased it.
The first bank in Truman was the Truman State Bank, with N. T. True as cashier. Two years later, in 1902, the Truman National Bank was started by A. L. Ward, a wealthy Fairmont businessman, with cashiers Jim Arms and Gus Seaberg.
Peoples State Bank was founded in 1916 by a group of eight investors. Three banks in a town of 752 were too many, and in 1920, the State Bank and the National Bank merged to form the Truman National Bank. In 1946, the National Bank and Peoples State Bank merged under the name of Peoples State Bank of Truman, as it continued to be known until 2003.
In 2003, Peoples State Bank merged with the Martin County National Bank. As a result of this merger, Profinium Financial established its’ headquarters in Truman and maintained a branch in Fairmont near the courthouse.
Over the years, many stores and businesses have come and gone. In the early years, some of the more notable or longer-lived included a clothing and shoe store run by Stockman and Julius Kaiser, druggists Dr. Donaldson and W. L. Hoover, barbers Clarence Cornell and A. C. Metzgar, jeweler Charles Cummer, Hecht Brothers Meat Market, Catlin and Wolf groceries, Ward Machine Company, harness shops owned by F. W. Altenberg, Leo Gieriet, Rudy Weinkauf, W. E. Teskey, and H. Vosberg, a livery barn operated by J. D. Herrick and son, blacksmiths Ike K. Scribner (who sold it to August Zenk) and Elmer E. Fletcher, and lumber yards run by Ruge Gleason, Weyerhauser Lumber, and Lam Lumber.
Dad Young was the early undertaker and furniture dealer for many years. He sold out to C. A. Baker, who in turn sold out to his son-in-law, E. E. Olson. Olson Furniture Company, as it is was known is now torn down. And the Olson Funeral Home is now under the operation today as the Zaharia Family Funeral and Cremation Service.
In the early years, Truman was fortunate to have a good photographer. In those days, photography was a specialized occupation, with large heavy cameras and accessories. Photographers did their own developing and printing with materials and chemicals that were often temperamental. Still, they turned out beautiful and often timeless work.
Family portrait-taking was a big event, and regularly practiced. In those days, travel was arduous and difficult, and portraits often took the place of visits to distant relatives. An enterprising and competent photographer could easily make a comfortable living. G. E. Burnett was Truman’s first resident photographer. He was in business only a few months when he sold out to C. D. Caulkins and moved away. Caulkins, however, liked the town and stayed for many years.
Truman’s first doctor was Dr. A. F. Hunte. For the first few months he commuted to Truman on his bicycle from Granada several times a week – a distance of 13 miles, over roads that only barely existed! In 1900, Dr. Hunte moved to Truman, and practiced there until 1930.
Telephone & Post Office
R. D. Armstrong built Truman’s first telephone exchange in 1899. In 1909 there was a terrible blizzard which caused over $2,000 damage to the telephone lines. Most of the lines on the main street were down, and in replacing them, the poles were relocated to the alleys, which improved the appearance of the streets.
Truman’s first post office operated out of Hinton’s store, much like the contract post offices of today. Mail was brought in from the Westford Post Office and distributed.
In December 1899, the Westford post office was moved to Truman. George W. Sprague was Postmaster. Rural delivery was started in November 1900, and included 25 miles, 144 homes, and 648 persons. A carried received $500 a year at that time.
No small town is complete without its newspaper. Truman’s first newspaper was started in January 1900 by W. R. Estes of Madelia, who would send a reported once a week to Truman to gather the news. A. E. Brough was the editor of this paper which came out every Friday and cost $1.50 per year.
Apparently the Martin County Sentinel did not appreciate the new newspaper, and editorially attacked the new Truman Tribune.
The Martin County Independent came to defense of the Tribune, stating: It is to be regretted that the 23 year old Sentinel should make such a bitter attack on the just-born Truman Tribune. Calling names, imperging the honesty of others, is the worst side of journalism. We are of the belief that the attack was made in the absence of Editor Day by some of the young men of the office. The Independent looks for an apology for the language used by that paper to its young member of the fraternity.
Whether the apology was ever delivered is not known. Two months later the Tribune was sold to E. N. Disney. He edited the paper for a year and a half before selling to Lawrence Doolittle. In 1906, Doolittle sold the paper to Frank Whiteney who ran it for a number of years.
Since that time the paper has changed hands several times, but is still published once a week. Its most recent owners have included George Almen, Don & Martha (Almen) Peterson, and Vickie & Rick Greiner.
Five churches were organized in Truman before 1905. The first was the Methodist Episcopal with Rev. Hayes as minister. Next was the German Lutheran with Rev. Ahl as pastor. St. Paul’s Lutheran was organized under the direction of Rev. Roloff in the fall of 1899, but Rev. H. H. Heinemann served it for many years beginning in 1900.
A Baptist Church was also organized in 1900 under the leadership of Rev. Reeves who preached hell, fire, and brimstone. The Church of Christ was organized in about 1905. A dispute over baptism split the church, with part of the congregation leaving to form a new Church of Christ.
Truman’s first school was completed in December 1900. Before this, the lower grades were taught by Miss Lottie Betts in the Methodist Church. The upper grades attended a small country school taught by Mr. Schuyler C. Pew.
Mr. Pew later became the first principal of the Truman Schools. In 1901 all eight grades were moved into the new brick building in Truman. The new building contained four classrooms and office space, and was located on the present school site. The new school was under the supervision of Ethyle Webster. All eight grades were instructed, with two grades per classroom. The first school board consisted of six members: J. H. Atkinson, Dr. A. F. Hunte, A. E. Wilson, C. C. Donaldson, C. C. Poole, and I. Brownlee.
In 1912 a six-room addition was erected and a high school course included in the curriculum. In 1913, Edward Olson finished Truman’s 4 year high school program as its first graduate, and the only graduate for that year. The following year three graduates, Elizabeth Lewis, William Poole, and Dennis Spencer completed the four-year program.
By 1921 the school had grown to 243 pupils and 11 teachers. The next 19 years saw little growth, as in 1940 there were still only 11 teachers and 243 pupils. The original 1900 building was demolished in 1935 and a large high school wing added to the 1912 building.
Early in the 1950’s a statewide trend toward rural school consolidation made it necessary to add an elementary wing. This wing included six classrooms, a music room, and an elementary gymnasium. The cost for this addition was approximately $100,000. Local residents voted a $30,000 bond to help pay for construction of the new wing, with the balance paid for with state education department building funds.
In 1959, two new high school wings and an industrial arts building were added, with one wing including a new heating plant for the whole school, lunch kitchen, dining room, and storage space. The other two-story classroom wing included administrative offices, a commercial department, a visual aids room, library, teachers’ room, six classrooms, a three-room home economics department, two science classrooms, an art room, industrial arts facilities, and toilet facilities. The cost for this new facility was $796,000. Enrollment that year stood at nearly 725, with 35 faculty.
From the beginning, Truman provided many public conveniences to its residents. The water works system was built in 1903. It had a pressure system in which air and water were pumped into a huge pressure tank housed in a building. It was not until 1928 that the water tower was constructed, providing natural gravity flow pressure to the system.
Also in 1903, gas lighting was installed on main street. This was finally replaced in 1916 when electricity was brought to town by the Madelia Electric Company.
Three years later the Interstate Power Company took over supplying power to the town. However, their service was so undependable that in 1938 residents built their own power plant. The plant continues to serve today as a backup generator, with most power being purchased less expensively from the interstate power grid.
In the 1930’s, in the height of the depression, the city council decided to pave the main street. The $28,000 price tag was substantial for the times, but the project engineer said it was probably the most inexpensive job of paving done in Martin County.
Truman has long enjoyed a varied and diverse social life. A Democratic Club was organized early with I. C. Gilman, C. C. Poole, and N. T. True as officers. A Prohibition Club was organized by W. E. Cooper, Mrs. M. J. Young, and Mrs. Donaldson.
For those who enjoyed secret societies, there were four: The Truman Lodge I.O.O.F., the Sunrise Rebekah Lodge, the Truman Camp M.W.A., and the Truman Lodge M.B.A.
Truman also boasted a good baseball team, which played regularly with neighboring towns. In 1902 the first band was formed with W. E. Wallace as director. It was called the Truman Concert Band and provided entertainment at many of Truman’s social functions. Other entertainment included turkey shoots and dances.
In 1902 the first plays came to Brownlee’s Opera House. One of the first productions was Old Maid’s Companion. The first theater opened its doors in 1913 with the showing of silent movies. Talking pictures were first shown at the Cozy Theatre in 1929.
The first child born in Truman was Florene Jones, daughter of Mrms. Richard Jones. The first automobile was a red two-seater with no top or windshield, and was owned by Harry Fuller. Residents described it as a one-lung Cadillac.
The second car, a Hudson, was owned by S. S. Rector and was called the Truman Lily. At that time almost anyone who owned an automobile became an agent. Soon almost anyone who wanted to elevate their social standing was buying a car.
The first automobile accident occurred on July 22, 193, when Tony Hoover raised so much dust that the car it passed (with H. G. G\Catlin and Rev. A. L. Hill and their families as passengers) ran into a ditch and turned over. (No one was hurt, but the car was totally wrecked.)
Prohibition was voted in Truman in 1911. Also in 1911, Herman Hanson, or Dad Hanson, as he was familiarly called, went into the ice business. He got himself a two-wheel car that would hold about four 100-pound ice blocks, and hauled it from house to house selling ice for people’s ice boxes.
Ice was cut out of Perch lake in the winter, and packed in sawdust in an ice house located in the back lot of the Hanson Saloon. Those who didn’t have ice boxes kept their milk and perishables in pails or large kettles suspended in wells or cisterns, or in cool cellars.
George Foster owned the first mechanical cooler or ice machine in town, and had the first soda fountain and ice cream parlor in his drug store.
His mechanical cooler had one major drawback, however. It functioned by compressing ammonia, and often the safety valve on the compressor would malfunction, releasing ammonia gas into the store. The store would have to be completely aired out, which was hard on business, especially if it happened on Saturday night when the ten booths in the store were usually filled with customers eating sundaes, malts, and sodas.
For most of the years that George Foster had the drug store, he also carried a full line of jewelry, and employed a watchmaker.
In the early days, the building now occupied by Olson Furniture was occupied by Ward Implement Company, and was managed by Hiram Jennings.
The second floor was a big hall, known as Ward’s Hall. In this hall a dance orchestra, Pearson’s Band, put on dances every Thursday night.
At midnight on those nights, everyone would go across the street to the hotel run by Dan Ross for coffee and pie or cake, and would then go back up to the Hall for more dancing until 2 a.m. The public dances in Ward’s Hall were like a big weekly party, as everybody was acquainted with everybody else, friends, relatives, and neighbors.
Truman today continues to change and adapt itself for the future. The railroad and many of Truman’ once-thriving businesses are gone, fallen victim to declining farm populations, migration to the cities, the automobile, superhighways, and regional shopping centers.
Yet, as always, Truman’s real wealth lies in the energy, tenacity, and vision of its residents. Born of the railroad and raised on the farms, Truman continues to reach toward the future as a community of caring, supportive neighbors, a rural survivor.
1857 – The first settlement in Westford Township was established along Elm Creek.
1862 – Many settlements were burned in an Indian uprising.
1865 – Jackson road was built from Winnebago to Jackson.
1873 and 1874 – Grasshoppers destroyed the crops.
1879 – Watonwan Valley Railroad Co. Was incorporated for the purpose of building a railroad from Madelia to Fairmont. School District #77 began in a farm home.
1880 – The School district was established. Lots were sold to a townsite company and Truman was laid out. A meeting was held at P. M. Loose’s in Westford for the purpose of locating a site for a depot on the railroad. A lot was purchased for $40 for the depot and the first train came through Truman later that year.
1899 – By the end of 1899, two general stores were completed; they were the W. A. Hinton store and Vandrey’s store. Dr. August Hunte from Granada rode his bike 14 miles several times a week before he moved to Truman as the first permanent physician; he stayed 30 years. He also saw the first train pull into town. The Westford Post Office was moved to Truman in December.
1900 – A special election was held for the purpose of incorporating a village; the vote was 65 in favor and 10 against it. Otto Graf donated land for a public school. The town’s census was 214. Truman State Bank was established with N. T. True as cashier. R. O. Armstrong built a telephone exchange. A rural delivery for mail was started in November which included 25 miles, 144 homes and 648 persons; a carrier received $500/year for his services. Truman’s newspaper was started in January by W. J. R. Estes of Madelia; it cost $1.50 per year.
1900 – 1905 – Churches, including the Methodist, the German Lutheran affiliated with the Ohio Synod, Baptist, St. Paul’s Lutheran, the church of Christ, were established.
1901 – Otto Graf donated land for a city park which bears his name. Three elevators were erected: The Hubbard and Palmer; Truman Elevator and Flour Exchange, and the Wolhueter Elevator Co. of Fairmont.
1902 – Charley Becker’s Saloon, the first in Truman, was destroyed by fire. Charles was killed in the fire when he tried to salvage some equipment. Truman National Bank was established by A. L. Ward, a wealthy Fairmont businessman, with Jim Arms and Gus Seaburg as cashiers. The first city band (named the Truman Concert Band) was organized with W. E. Wallace as director. One of the first plays came to Brownlee’s Opera House with the production of Old Maid’s Companion”.
1903 – A group of farmers were dissatisfied with the prices paid by the elevators and organized the Farmers Elevator Company and built an elevator for $3,000. A water works system was built. It had a pressure system where air and water were pumped into a huge tank housed in the building. Gas lighting was installed on main street.
1904 – 9th grade was added to the public school.
1906 – 10th grade was added to the public school.
1908 – A new four room brick school was built. During harvest Twine Day was established when the farmers came to town to pick up twine for the grain harvest. The Majestic Range Stove was also demonstrated on this day.
1909 – A terrific blizzard caused $2,000 damage to the telephone lines; new poles were erected in the alley instead of on the main street.
1912 – The first 4-year high school was established.
1913 – Ed Olson was the first and only graduate of the 4-year high school. The first theater opened its doors with silent movies.
1916 – Electricity was brought to town by the Madelia Electric Company.
1918 – Mayor A. M. Hinton and councilmen H. Brownlee and B. J. Dallman met. 65 votes were cast in the March election. The Red Cross sale was a big success with $5,700 raised. The city council voted to obtain an apparatus to oil the dusty streets. Nine pupils graduated from THS. The first electricity was brought to farmers in the Truman vicinity. The TFE took over the International Harvester Co. School was closed for four weeks due to the flu epidemic.
1919 – Peoples State Bank got a new electric posting machine which took the place of posting by hand. A Chevrolet car sold for $735 at Truman Motors. The Truman Fire Department was reorganized with 30 members. The Truman City Band was organized with B. W. Butler, director. Edward E. Olson took over the Baker Furniture Store, which later was named Olson’s, a name it bore until 1998. American Legion Post #115 was organized. A Boy Scout troop was organized. The Cozy Theater reopened. Malherek and Christian opened a machine shop. The road between Truman and Fairmont was graveled and graded. Vandrey Brothers had a going-out-of-business sale. Interstate Power Company took over providing electricity to Truman.
1930 – In January, new talkies (movies) attracted large crowds to town. August Baarts, Manager of the Truman Flour and Mill, announced that remodeling of the plant had been completed. Willis Ryder was elected president of the Truman Cooperative Creamery. Dr. Vaughn installed the very latest model of the Victor X-ray machine. Preliminary figures of census show a population of 730, down 22 since 1920. Robert E. Jensen, buttermaker at Truman Cooperative Creamery, was national winner of the MN butter contest, over 284 entries. Governor Christianson will be speaker for graduation, May 29th. J. H. Wolf was elected president of the city council with 249/196 votes.
1931 – City fathers decided to pave Main Street. Ray Roberts leases local bakery. The N.Y. (Harlem) Globetrotters played a team in Truman. The basketball teams were composed of five of the outstanding stars in ball handling and shooting. The Truman Professional and Business Directory included entries of Dr. V. M. Vaughan, Dr. D. J. McCartan, E. E. Olson, Dr. J. N. Campbell, H. A. Edman, Drs. Louis and Rose Stern, Lloyd Parson, E. W. Sprague, Ted Heineman, and Truman Motel. FOR SALE – a good milk cow – Roy Clow, Truman H. A. Edman has been practicing law in Truman and will be acting Martin County attorney during the absence of C. E. Gaarenstrom. C. Henton opens a gas station located at the east end of town on Highway 15. Dr. E. F. Pirsig opens dental office in the Hunte building. In August, L. J. Hinton sold his interest in the Mertz Motor Company to his partners, Harvey E. Mertz and R. L. Steelsmith, they will continue the business under its present name.
1932 – The annual Commercial Club meeting elected G. T. Almen, president. Truman farmers and businessmen donated a car of oats for drought-stricken South Dakota farmers. Fay Spencer took 6th place in the Mankato checker tournament. Oscar Olson lost 3 good horses. They were poisoned eating moldy beet tops. The Harvest Festival included the celebration of the paving of Ciro Street at a cost of $28,000.
1933 – Back rooms of the National Bank Building were completely gutted by fire. It was also the dressmaking establishment of Miss Lydia Metz. April 21st, an Extra Edition headline stated Hinton Store Burns. Several people were injured in the explosion. $25,000 loss estimated for the first general store in town, erected in 1899. Truman Farmers Elevator voted unanimously to renew its corporate existence for 30 more years. Oscar Olson was re-elected president. Four Truman men who gave their lives in service to their country were honored in the official nomenclature of Camp Ripley Military Reservation. Those honored were Arthur Graf, Lee Oles, George Reader, and Fred Reis. Truman, Westford, and Nashville voted 188 to 78 to stay dry, not in accord with the wet wave sweeping the nation.
1934 – Three robberies of gas and oil at the B. C. Henton, E. Wilkinson, and J & V Service Stations. Truman horseshoers outpitched the Fairmonters. Avon Theatre opened for the first time. Earl Wilkinson, Truman air pilot, scored at the Mankato Air Show.
1936 – Another addition was built onto the public school. The junior class presented a play based on the immortal Samuel Clemons’ Huckleberry Finn at the Avon Theatre. Huck was played by William Zehnder. DANCES: Emil Domier – Old and new time music Saturday, January 4th and Whoopie John in February ~~Admission – $.25 at the Lorig Pavillion. E. E. Olson buys out Fairmont Furniture. Farmers Elevator buys out Home Oil Co. Truman gets hatchery – Roy Wiggins and Rare Johnson, proprietors. Truman is the eighth team to join the Martin County Baseball League. I will be back in Truman to practice veterinary medicine as soon as an office is available – Announcement by Dr. H. H. Kanning. Tornado sweeps Martin and Faribault counties. Rural schools demolished – $10,000 damage at Gay Paree Night Club at Hand’s Park – Hundreds of farm homes struck. Announcement: Graebe Haberdashery – Now open for business. Complete line of men’s wearing apparel.
1937 – County Poor Farm discontinued. President Franklin Roosevelt begins second term. Lorenz Vandrey’s to open General Store. Parents urged to vaccinate to stop small pox spread. Graduates from Truman High School number 25. Local school has record enrollment, 270 students.
1938 – Truman built its own power plant. Forster Drug Company holds official opening. Three hundred citizens attend mass meetings on municipal power plant – special election on May23rd – election results: 350 favor – 129 opposed. Huemoeller Hardware began erecting a new building on the lot between the post office and the Truman Tire Shop. The cost for completion will be about $5,000. R. G. Vandrey and Son, pioneer general store, started their Quitting Business Sale. There was an organizational meeting to start Cub Scouts. November 28th headline: What Are We To Do About Our School? When the bids were opened on November 21st for the erection of the proposed new school building, they were all too high. A school election of December 19th brought out 332 voters granting the school board permission to issue bonds for $15,000 so a new school could be built. Votes were 290 ayes and 42 nays.
1939 – The Legion rabbit hunt ended on January 3rd with a game bag of 191 jacks and 64 cottontails.
1940 – Poles were set in Nashville Township for the new REA line.
1941 – Mr. & Mrs. E. E. Olson held open house for the new funeral home in Fairmont. Truman Library to open at Light Plant building. Marlin Teske won national music contest in St. Paul, playing his saxophone. Governor Harold Stassen speaks at 10th Annual Harvest Festival. Dr. Kanning to build new office and veterinarian hospital.
1942 – Charles Beaubien became the new superintendent of the municipal light and power plant.
1943 – The village council leased land from John Peets for a dump grounds along the east bank of Perch Lake.
1944 – The first Truman basketball team to go to the regional tourney was coached by Bill Kramer who went on to become THS principal.
1945 – Art & Ruth Jones opened a new variety store in the Rare Johnson building across the street from the theater. A welcome home dinner for all WWII vets was prepared by the Legion/Auxiliary and served by WWI Legionnaires. Truman Gun Club sets grand opening of its new location west of town.
1946 – Donald Malherek opens dry cleaning plant in Truman. Red Jennings moves implement business to new building on Highway across from Stan & Mary’s. Peoples State Bank assumes deposit liabilities of the Truman National Bank and moves to that bank’s location. Leon Taylor purchases Parson’s Barber Shop. Dr. C. G. Kelsey buys Hunte building. Two polio cases in Truman: Barbara Laube and Ann Seldon. A.J. Cole resigns as superintendent of schools and Al Larson assumes the position. Annual Harvest Festival was cancelled because of the polio epidemic. Vic Franke’s open new Gamble Store. New owners, Mr. & Mrs. Bob Connolly, take over Modern Cafe.
1947 – Truman boys basketball team bows to Welcome 31-30 in tournament. Season ended with 13-4 record. Alvin Jones buys out Lou Van Brunt Trucking. Dr. C. G. Kelsey sells dental practice and office building to Dr. T. H. Miller of New Ulm. W. E. Kirsch sells Truman Flour and Feed to St. James party. Junior Chamber of Commerce organized and Myrvan Heinemann was elected president. School board votes to install lights at Truman’s athletic field. Local businessmen had pledged $1,141.00 towards the project. Orville Peterson to open electric shop in Truman. Olson Furniture holds grand opening of newly remodeled store.
1948 – Thirty-one persons gathered at the Ole Peterson home to organize Trinity Lutheran Church. Stan and Mary’s added a 13 X 16 ft. Addition to their tea room plus restrooms, cloak rooms, and a new gas station office. Waverly Mother’s Club celebrated its 10th anniversary.
1949 – Truman celebrated its 50th anniversary. The professional directory included: E. E. Olson, funeral director; Hubert L. Cave, lawyer; Dr. H. H. Kanning, veterinarian; Dr. C. F. Medlin, physician and surgeon, Dr. T. H. Miller, dentist; L. H. Rector, farm and city property insurance loans; and Dr. V. M. Vaughan, physician and surgeon and glasses fitted.
1950 – A new fire truck and street grader were added to the village equipment. Forty-one new homes boosted revenue in town. Dorothy Jorgenson, 17, returned from 4 months at U Hospital for treatment of paralyzing effects of polio. Tarring of city streets was still not accomplished because of failure to advertise for bids. After 17 years in grocery business, John & Laurin (Ban) Wolf sold their Super Valu Store to Paul Schulz of Glencoe. Bill Berzinsky, new Marshall Wells Store Owner, had grand opening sale ads in paper, offering pliers for 23 cents.
1951 – Community Memorial Building was dedicated with C. Fred Hanson, Douglas County attorney, speaker on February 19th. Jr. Chamber of Commerce was deactivated because the majority of potential members were being drafted. Two of the worst blizzards of the season hit in close succession and stranded students in town. The merger of all or part of 21 surrounding school districts to join with Truman to form one main district was set for May 8th.
1952 – Penny post card no longer existed – now it costs 2 cents. A $210,000 bond issue carried for school expansion. The new outside telephone plant cost $19,000 and new telephone numbers were listed in the Tribune.
1953 – Gov. C. Elmer Anderson visited the polio patients at Sheltering Arms Hospital in Minneapolis to kick off the March of Dimes campaign. He visited Curtis Kettner, 9, son of Fred and Paula Kettner of Truman. Dr. T. H. Miller sold his practice to Dr. J. M. Dobie to take a post at U of Iowa.
1954 – Municipal Light Plant undertakes $142,000 expansion program to meet new electrical current demands. The #2 well in village went dry and Walt Hoppe was seriously injured when chain fragment lodged in his neck while drilling for a new well in the southeast part of town. Dr. M. J. Heng opened chiropractic office in former Hub Cave home.
1955 – The Truman branch of the Martin County Library had a successful grand opening with over 200 visitors. B.J. Dallman and P. M. Hinton purchased a 50 foot frontage from Dr. Vaughan as a speculation site for the new Peoples State Bank building. Local doctors announced the arrival of the new polio vaccine. The city budget was set for $35,000. The new sanitary sewer proposal was brought before the council but was defeated in a special election by 290 to 263 votes.
1956 – Bert Seldon sold his drug store to Charles Dietz and Mr. Thro of Mankato. Alice Heinemann, 18 year telephone operator for the local system, announced her decision to move to Lakefield as Truman was going to a dial system. Light plant manager Jack Wiebersch resigned. Erhardt Grefe was named superintendent. The new Peoples State Bank, built by Bosshart Construction, was dedicated. Dale Riggle resigned as fire chief after 10 years as head; he was replaced by Russell Nickerson.
1957 – Legion voted to open bowling alley in basement of Memorial Building. Instead, a new building was erected just east of Clark’s Garage on Ciro. Creamery board voted to liquidate assets and discontinue operation. With the closing of country districts, the Truman school was overcrowded with an enrollment of 628 and a proposed bond issue for $1,135,000 was voted down, 485 to 368. Max Bosshart was elected mayor and Paul Schulz, councilman. The new school bond issue for $796,000 passed 551 to 229.
1958 – The Rialto Theater closed its doors. Rudy Graf, who had managed the theater for nine years, took over as night manager at the light plant. A tornado destroyed buildings and killed turkeys as it touched down on farms east of town. The swimming pool organization elected Jep Bosshart as president. A total of $10,000 had been raised through coffee parties, auctions, and pledges.
1959 – Truman’s new $796,000 school addition was dedicated. Policeman Francis Hughes was hired on a permanent basis at $325/month and 10 cents mile for his car. Earl Clemonson retired after 38 years as mail carrier. The new dial telephone change over occurred in August. New concrete elevators at Truman reached the 115 foot mark. Six new storage bins were poured.
1960 – More than 2000 attended the dedication of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church on Judy 24th. The voters of Lewisville and a part of Dist. #2481 are considering consolidating with Truman School, effective July 1, 1960. Grand Opening of Carrol’s Market. It moved to its present location in the remodeled creamery building.
1961 – Ebert Hardware closed ending a chapter in Truman business history that extended 50 years. Sold by Reuel Ebert to Bill Berzinksy. Norman Rucks left Bowl-A-Way to accept a position at Olson Furniture. Tip Top Cafe installed two new ovens to please taste buds of pizza lovers. Minnesota Attorney General Walter Mondale was guest speaker at Truman Farmers Elevator family party. Top paid teacher receiving $6,598.00 per year.
1962 – New business on Ciro Street, Bill Brummond will feature a complete line of livestock equipment and Walt Hoppe will have a complete line of fixtures and supplies for wells and pumps, water purification, filters, heat lamps, etc. Texaco station opens in Truman with Lloyd Julin as manager.
1963 – Property tax bills reach record high! Another addition was built on the public school, including a gymnasium, industrial arts, Vo Ag and the music department. On February 26th, Oscar Olson put down the presidential gavel at TFE. The company was 60 years old and for 43 years, Olson served as president.
1964 – Commercial Club exhumed two civic projects long since believed dead, the swimming pool and rest home. Jaycees and Mrs. Jaycees hold first anniversary banquet. Major triumph of their first year was Perch Lake Park project. Jaycees went on to receive Minnesota Outstanding First Year Chapter. Ray Simon resigns from Truman School music post. Maxie Bosshart scholarship to be awarded for the first time. Attorney Russ Utermarck opens law practice in Truman. Harvest Festival parade was largest, most elaborate parade ever held in Truman. Trinity Lutheran Church members approve a new church building.
1965 – Jennings Implement closes after 50 years. Lawrence Rossow and William Kramer were Truman High School’s first merit finalists. Viking end Paul Flatley speaks at athletic banquet. The site for the nursing home selected, building to begin in the spring of 1966. Charlene Rucks crowned Truman’s first Junior Miss. Sarge Firchau opened Sarge’s 66 Station. Truman High School Christmas concert features 51 voice choir. Nashville Baptist Church changes its name to Emmanuel Baptist.
1966 – Peoples State Bank celebrates 50th year and hits an all-time high of $4 million in deposits. Truman holds first Middle Seven Conference wrestling tournament. Bill Brown, Vikings star fullback, spoke at Athletic Awards Banquet. First All-school Reunion is a success. Mel Carlson buys Marland Chevrolet. Truman voters approved construction of a new municipal building, swimming pool and a park shelter. Ed Geistfeld sells Utilitas Dairy to Oak Grove Dairy.
1967 – Dr. V. W. Vaughan passes away suddenly. Municipal swimming pool opened ahead of schedule. TFE stockholders vote to build a new $200,000 elevator. Dave Jennings is appointed postmaster. Commercial Club and Jaycees were working on street signs for Truman. Truman Fire Department held open house at new civic building. Truman’s first foreign exchange student arrived from Denmark.
1968 – As of January 8th, 33 inches of snow fell which was nearly double the entire last year’s snowfall. After 17 years as custodian of Trinity Lutheran Church, Mary Olsen laid down her mop.
1969 – In February, on one day there were 122 absentees at school due to the flu. Neal Huemoeller reports the final OK is received from the state to begin work on Lutheran Retirement Home. Mr. & Mrs. Charles Krueger assume ownership of Truman Motel. PTA discusses question of whether sex education should be held in school. Rickard Eckmanmn to operate barber shop formerly occupied by Mr. Jaqua.
1970 – The Lutheran Retirement Home was dedicated on May 24th with 1500 in attendance. Lucille Vandrey retired from Peoples State Bank after 40 years in the banking business.
1971 – Fire at the Municipal Light Plant caused $10,000 damage. Postage stamps went from 6 cents to 8 cents. Lewisville school board voted to close their elementary school. April 1st, the first LRH Auxiliary newsletter was published. Bea Vandrey died; she and husband Lawrence operated Vandrey’s Market from 1937-1948. She taught piano and organ to countless area pupils.
1972 – Minnie Senne’s Flower Shop discontinued wedding and fresh flowers after being in business for 22 years.
1973 – Dutch Elm disease was identified positively in Truman. The last train passed through on August 2nd, ending a 74 year service to the community. For the first time in history, a Martin County farm near Ormsby brought more than $1,000 an acre. By working around the clock for 6 days and 5 nights, major construction of the TFE $850,000 grain terminal at Fairmont was completed with erection of four 135 foot silos.
1974 – The village of Truman officially became a city. Truman celebrated its Diamond Jubilee; Gene Mager was the unofficial spark plug. Thomas Hagedorn, area farmer, became the Second District Congressional Representative. The Emmanuel Baptist Church observed its 100th anniversary. Rev. J. Alan McShane was appointed to St. Katherine’s, Truman, replacing Rev. John Were. Superintendent Al Larson retired after 35 years and was replaced by Raymond Norsted.
1975 – TFE sells Fairmont terminal to Brenge Corporation. Rossow Radio and TV robbed of $1,500 in inventory. S. L. Hansen, local International Harvester dealer sells out to partner Ave Prust. William Kramer resigns as principal of schools effective end of school year. Dennis Rettke named new principal of schools. Computer classes will be offered for the first time next year at the high school. Rodney Dahlberg is new Lutheran Retirement Home Administrator. St. Paul’s Lutheran Church to celebrate 75th year. Local attorney Russ Utermarck dies in plane crash. Last train comes and goes in Truman. Farmers buy abandoned railroad bed.
1976 – Martha & Don Peterson celebrated 30 years as publishers of the Truman Tribune. Bids were accepted for construction of the William Booz Apartments, sponsored by Emmanuel Baptist Church.
1977 – The LRH dedicated Utermarck Park on June 12th to the memory of one of its board members who was killed in a plane accident.
1978 – Rev. Daniel Preus installed as the 5th pastor of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church. 800 THS grads gathered for an all-school reunion. Truman Senior Citizens program began with a Mr. Verbrugge from Windom helping set up the organization.
1979 – Ground breaking ceremonies were held on Mary 20th for a $160,000 addition at St. Paul’s Lutheran School for two additional classrooms, a meeting room, two bathrooms, a library and a kitchenette. Dr. Herb Kanning took down his shingle after practicing veterinary medicine for 42 years. Plans were being made for the 50th anniversary of the TFE John Deere department.
1980 – Truman’s oldest resident, August Schultz, dies at age of 102. Wes Jahnz advances to state wrestling tournament. Truman Trojans town baseball team begins their first year of play. Benny Zenk closes blacksmith shop that has been in Truman for 75 years. Steven Breitbarth is ordained into ministry. Jeff Olson opens law office in Truman. Chip Atkinson purchases Rossow Radio and TV.
1981 – On March 19th, Alfred Cole died; he has served as superintendent of schools from 1939-1946.
1982 – Dennis Hovey becomes sole owners of Big A Auto Parts. Truman’s own David M. Jennings elected house minority leader. Vic & Lilah Franke sell out hardware store. New medical clinic completed. Barb Mager and Linda Zehnder open new business, The General Store. Mel Carlson and Jack Jacobsen purchase the Big A Auto Parts store. Truman Bluejay football team wins Class C Champion ship at Prep Bowl I at the Metrodome. Truman elderly housing complex, Truman Manor, is being built adjacent to the Lutheran Retirement Home. Peoples State Bank purchases former office of Dr. Lester, and turns it into their insurance agency.
1983 – Dave Jennings retires as mayor and Joyce Malherek retires from post office after 25 years. Ardyce Orr becomes new postmaster. Monte Rohman hired as Truman’s new city clerk. Brad & Brian Nickerson begin construction on Nick’s Body Shop on Highway 15. Nickerson Service closes its doors after 47 years in business. Sarge Firchau moves into Nickerson Service building. Chiropractor Tom Schutter moves to Truman. Winnie Mart begins remodeling of former Sarge’s 66 Station. Don & Elaine Berhow sell Snack Shack to Gerry Henning. Paul Schulz sells Super Valu Store to John Meng after 33 years in business. After 50 years, THS football has built a record of 178-80-20. Kerwin Armitage opens the doors of Truman TV. City investigating public interest in cable TV for Truman.
1984 – Bob Grefe named superintendent of Truman Public Utilities. Truman firemen battle fire at Mike Kuehl home for 9 hours in -80 degree wind chill. Williams’ Standard Station robbed of $700. Lyle & Mary Larsen purchase Family Drive-In. Arlyn Peterson opens American Family Insurance office. 1985 pool renovation dedicated in memory of Erhardt Grefe for his many years of community service. Doors closing at Peterson & Vogt, implement dealers. Life came to a standstill when a December 1st snowstorm dumped 10-20 inches, accompanied by high winds.
1986 – Garbage rates increase from $5 to $6.50 a month. Packers Trading opens commodity office in Vic Franke building. Walt Krumwiede retires after 30 years at Peoples State Bank. Leimer Construction receives national award from Ceco Corp. For most unique building of 1985. Ardyce Orr retires after 20 years at post office. City plans for multi-million dollar wastewater treatment plant. David M. Jennings will run for governor; Gene Hugoson files for Jennings’ state legislative seat. School district has lowest mill rate in the county. Rare Norman Rockwell print is discovered at Truman Tribune. Peoples State Bank’s Shop at Home promotion earns national coverage on CBS evening news with Dan Rather.
1987 – Three blocks of streets were reconstructed this summer; they had been torn up to install a new interceptor sewer line. The Community Building had a new face lift done to the interior.
1988 – The Hometown Bakery opened in downtown Truman. An open house was held for the newly completed wastewater treatment plant, a million dollar project.
1989 – Graf Park was now open for picnics in the newly built shelter.
1990 – An old building in Truman torn down; Seldon’s Drug and Meat Locker. They are to be replaced with a park in the business area. A study made on school consolidation of Truman and Madelia; it was decided not to consolidate, although the two shared a football program. Old landmark that housed Truman Bakery burned on December 29th with $60,000 damage.
1991 – The All-Class Truman High School reunion was held with a large turnout. Post office moved to its new building in late November. Grand opening of the TFE Cenex Convenience Store November 12-14th.
1992 – Two day auction to disperse Raymond Peets’ estate, which included valuable collectibles of tractors, steam engines, and antiques.
1993 – Electric scoreboard presented to Truman School district in memory of former graduate, Brett Graham. Upton Ford broke ground along Highway 15 for its new building.
1994 – Several residents took time off May 10th to observe solar eclipse and capture it on film.
1995 – The City of Truman received $150,000 from the Dr. & Mrs. Victor Vaughan Estate, Ω to be used for park and recreational items. On May 7th, the LRH celebrated its 25th anniversary with 800 in attendance. THS set new dress code, not allowing caps, hats, or sunglasses to be worn in classrooms; no pop allowed in class.
1996 – The LRH opens the special care wing on West Ciro.
1997 – Police officers Reggie Worlds and Lee Williams assisted motorists stranded along Highway 15 during a winter storm on Christmas Eve. Approximately 15 persons spent the night at the fire station until their stranded vehicles could be dug out the following morning.
1998 – Truman participates in the 8th annual Make A Difference Day. Megan Lenz is chosen as Truman/Lewisville Area Junior Miss. Morgan & Jan Tennyson donate a former clothing store to the Truman Historical Association for a museum. Work begins on refurbishing Evergreen Road wing and lounge at the LRH in the Centennial theme: Proud Past, Promising Future.
1999 – The cost to mail a first class letter goes to 33 cents. Truman prepares for its biggest of all birthday parties, its Centennial celebration to be held on July 22-25th; it will include an All-School Reunion for Truman High School. Jesse Ventura is inaugurated Governor of Minnesota, appoints former Trumanite David M. Jennings to position as Commissioner of Commerce. Truman High School wrestling squad sends three members to the State wrestling tournament: Senior-Philip Schwans, Junior-Aaron Stickler, and Freshman-Adam Leiferman. Truman will bid farewell to a landmark in 1999 as a new water tower will be built to allow for greater water capacity. A 300,000 gallon water tower will be located on the eastern edge of Truman.