My Visit with Brother Harry

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Bill Hosler, PM

Several months ago we had to visit Saint Louis for a business trip. We had a great time seeing the sites, visiting museums (and eating barbecue). On the way home I was asked where I would like to visit.

It was a hard decision. There are so many places we could have visited. I finally decided on a destination. I want to visit Brother Harry Truman in his hometown of Independence, Missouri.

The drive to Independence was fun. Missouri got to “show me” much of their state on that day. I regretted my health wasn’t better during that trip so we could have stopped in Fulton, Missouri and seen a museum dedicated to another one of my boyhood heroes, Brother Winston Churchill.

In 1946 Churchill visited the tiny little Westminster college in Fulton after being invited to speak there by the college’s president and Harry Truman. It was in this speech Churchill first used the term “Iron curtain” when referring to the Soviet Union and the other countries which made up the Eastern block. The college has a small museum dedicated to Churchill and that historic day. I would have also liked to have visited the graves of Ray and William Denslow.

After checking into our hotel (and eating more barbecue) the next morning we traveled west to the Harry S Truman Presidential library.

This was my second visit to the library. When I was in high school we visited the library on the way to Kansas City to attend the National FFA convention in 1982. At that time I was young and although I was a lover of history when I was 16, the trip, while interesting, didn’t have the impact on me at the time that it’s memory had on me as I learned about the man throughout my life, reading such books as "Truman" by David McCullough and "Brother Truman" by Allen Roberts.

The library has lots of wonderful exhibits. From his birth through his life and presidency all the way through his later years. We really enjoyed the many multimedia exhibits that I’m sure wasn’t there during the early eighties.

I was very excited to see they had an exhibition containing Brother Truman’s Masonic history and included such possessions as his Masonic apron (I know. I wondered why the apron wasn’t with Harry too. The exhibit didn’t say.) His Shrine fez and lots of photographs of the mans Masonic career were on display.

Once done touring his artifacts we went into the garden and paid our respects to the Past Grand Master of Missouri and the 33rd president of the United States and his wife, Bess. I was surprised that Truman’s daughter Margaret, is also now buried there along with her husband, Clifton Daniel.

After our visit (and even more barbecue), we decided to drive by Harry and Bess' home which is near the library. I wanted to tour the house but, much like in Fulton, my health wouldn’t allow it then. We were surprised how “normal” the house was. Just a common home for a common man who just happened to become president of the United States.

It’s interesting to note Harry was never the actual owner of the house. The white Victorian home was owned by his wife Bess' family, (Bess' father,  David W. Wallace was once Grand Commander of Knights Templar in Missouri).

Politically Harry and I couldn’t be more different. But I can admire a man who came from nothing and kept working until he became the most powerful man in the world. All the while, speaking his mind and standing by the principals he believed in. And doing so leaving us many powerful (and some very funny) stories to remember him by.

Now that I have read my friend and Brother (and most importantly fellow Hoosier) Steve Harrison’s book “Freemasonry Crosses the Mississippi”, I have realized there is so much more for the “Show me state” to show me!

Luckily Brother Harrison has just released a new book entitled Masonic Memoranda of Frederick L. Billon. Billon was a pioneer in Missouri in the 1800’s and kept a Masonic journal about what happened within the Craft in a time where much of the Fraternity’s history has been lost or destroyed. This should be an interesting read.

From Brother Mark Twain, Harry Truman to Frank Land and many other famous Masons, some world famous and others who are famous only to Masons that called Missouri home (including the first grand master of my mother Grand lodge, Alexander Buckner), I plan on visiting the state again! I hope you will consider visiting it too!


WB Bill Hosler was made a Master Mason in 2002 in Three Rivers Lodge #733 in Indiana. He served as Worshipful Master in 2007 and became a member of the internet committee for Indiana's Grand Lodge. Bill is currently a member of Roff Lodge No. 169 in Roff Oklahoma and Lebanon Lodge No. 837 in Frisco,Texas. Bill is also a member of the Valley of Fort Wayne Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite in Indiana. A typical active Freemason, Bill also served as the High Priest of Fort Wayne's Chapter of the York Rite No. 19 and was commander of of the Fort Wayne Commandery No. 4 of the Knight Templar. During all this he also served as the webmaster and magazine editor for the Mizpah Shrine in Fort Wayne Indiana.

1 comment:

  1. While I was doing some research at the Truman Library, Dr. Sam Rushay, Supervisory Archivist there, told me Brother Truman was buried wearing his Grand Master's apron, which would explain why the apron you saw was not with him.