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
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
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
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
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
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. And of course, the
completion of the railroad also 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
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
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.
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
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’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
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
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 now known, and the Olson Funeral Home continue in
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.
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 &
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
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
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
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
firs 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
written by Chris Nelson-Jeffers.
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
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
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.
Graf donated land for a public school. The town’s census was
Truman State Bank was established with N. T. True as
R. O. Armstrong built a telephone exchange.
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.
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,
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
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
Gas lighting was installed on main street.
1904 - 9th grade was added to the public school.
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.
- The first 4-year high school was established.
1913 - Ed
Olson was the first and only graduate of the 4-year high
The first theater opened its doors with silent
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.
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.
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
The Truman Fire Department was reorganized with
The Truman City Band was organized with B. W.
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
Malherek and Christian opened a machine shop.
The road between Truman and Fairmont was graveled and
Vandrey Brothers had a going-out-of-business
Interstate Power Company took over providing
electricity to Truman.
1930 - In January, new talkies
(movies) attracted large crowds to town.
Manager of the Truman Flour and Mill, announced that
remodeling of the plant had been completed.
was elected president of the Truman Cooperative Creamery.
Dr. Vaughn installed the very latest model of the Victor
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
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.
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
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.
lost 3 good horses. They were poisoned eating moldy beet
The Harvest Festival included the celebration of
the paving of Ciro Street at a cost of $28,000.
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
Oscar Olson was re-elected president.
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
Truman horseshoers outpitched the
Avon Theatre opened for the first time.
Earl Wilkinson, Truman air pilot, scored at the Mankato Air
1936 – Another addition was built onto the public
The junior class presented a play based on the
immortal Samuel Clemons’ Huckleberry Finn at the Avon
Theatre. “Huck” was played by William Zehnder.
Emil Domier – Old and new time music Saturday, January 4th
and Whoopie John in February ~~Admission - $.25 at the Lorig
E. E. Olson buys out Fairmont Furniture.
Farmers Elevator buys out Home Oil Co.
hatchery – Roy Wiggins and Rare Johnson, proprietors.
Truman is the eighth team to join the Martin County Baseball
“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
Announcement: Graebe Haberdashery – Now open for
business. Complete line of men’s wearing apparel.
County Poor Farm discontinued.
Roosevelt begins second term.
Lorenz Vandrey’s to open
Parents urged to vaccinate to stop small
Graduates from Truman High School number 25.
Local school has record enrollment, 270 students.
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
23rd – 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
There was an organizational meeting to start Cub
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
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.
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
Dr. Kanning to build new office and
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
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
Leon Taylor purchases Parson’s Barber
Dr. C. G. Kelsey buys Hunte building.
cases in Truman: Barbara Laube and Ann Seldon.
resigns as superintendent of schools and Al Larson assumes
Annual Harvest Festival was cancelled
because of the polio epidemic.
Vic Franke’s open new
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
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
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
Forty-one new homes boosted revenue in
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
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
The new outside telephone plant cost
$19,000 and new telephone numbers were listed in the
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
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
1955 – The Truman branch of the Martin County
Library had a successful grand opening with over 200
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
The new Peoples State Bank, built by
Bosshart Construction, was dedicated.
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
A tornado destroyed buildings and killed
turkeys as it touched down on farms east of town.
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.
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.
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.
opens in Truman with Lloyd Julin as manager.
Property tax bills reach record high!
was built on the public school, including a gymnasium,
industrial arts, Vo Ag and the music department.
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.
resigns from Truman School music post.
scholarship to be awarded for the first time.
Russ Utermarck opens law practice in Truman.
Festival parade was largest, most elaborate parade ever held
Trinity Lutheran Church members approve a new
1965 – Jennings Implement closes after
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
Charlene Rucks crowned Truman’s first Junior Miss.
Sarge Firchau opened Sarge’s 66 Station.
School Christmas concert features 51 voice choir.
Nashville Baptist Church changes its name to Emmanuel
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
Bill Brown, Vikings star fullback, spoke at
Athletic Awards Banquet.
First All-school Reunion is a
Mel Carlson buys Marland Chevrolet.
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
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
1969 – In February, on one day there were 122
absentees at school due to the flu.
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.
question of whether sex education should be held in school.
Rickard Eckmanmn to operate barber shop formerly occupied by
1970 – The Lutheran Retirement Home was
dedicated on May 24th with 1500 in attendance.
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
She taught piano and organ to countless area
1972 – Minnie Senne’s Flower Shop discontinued
wedding and fresh flowers after being in business for 22
1973 – Dutch Elm disease was identified positively
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.
Hagedorn, area farmer, became the Second District
The Emmanuel Baptist Church
observed its 100th anniversary. Rev. J. Alan McShane was
appointed to St. Katherine’s, Truman, replacing Rev. John
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
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.
Dahlberg is new Lutheran Retirement Home Administrator.
St. Paul’s Lutheran Church to celebrate 75th year.
attorney Russ Utermarck dies in plane crash.
comes and goes in Truman.
Farmers buy abandoned railroad
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.
Rev. Daniel Preus installed as the 5th pastor of St. Paul’s
800 THS grads gathered for an all-school
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.
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
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
New medical clinic completed.
Mager and Linda Zehnder open new business, “The General
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.
elderly housing complex, Truman Manor, is being built
adjacent to the Lutheran Retirement Home.
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.
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
Sarge Firchau moves into Nickerson Service
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
City investigating public interest in cable TV
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
Doors closing at Peterson & Vogt,
Life came to a standstill when a
December 1st snowstorm dumped 10-20 inches, accompanied by
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
Ardyce Orr retires after 20 years at post office.
City plans for multi-million dollar wastewater treatment
David M. Jennings will run for governor; Gene
Hugoson files for Jennings’ state legislative seat.
School district has lowest mill rate in the county.
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.
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
1988 – The Hometown Bakery opened in downtown
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
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.
office moved to its new building in late November.
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, ½ 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
1996 – The LRH opens the special care wing on West
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.
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.
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
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
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.
City of Truman