Biography of Thomas Coleman Truman

Thomas Coleman Truman. Among those sterling citizens who have been prominent and influential in connection with the civic and business affairs of [p.1834] Montgomery County and who are today to be designated as representative pioneers of the county a place must consistently be given to Mr. Truman, who has maintained his home at Independence, the county seat, for more than forty years and who is now living in well earned retirement–a man who has been in the most significant sense the architect of his own fortunes, as he became dependent upon his own resources when but twelve years of age.

Thomas Coleman Truman was born at Parkersburg, Wood County, West Virginia, on the 21st of September, 1844, and is a son of Absalom and Serena (Dils) Truman, both likewise natives of West Virginia and both born in the year 1812, at which time that commonwealth was still a part of the Old Dominion State of Virginia. Absalom Truman was born in what is now Calhoun County, West Virginia, and his wife was born in Wood County. He was a son of Thomas Truman, who emigrated to America from England and who became a farmer in what is now Caldwell County, West Virginia, where his death occurred. Absalom Truman devoted his entire active life to agricultural pursuits and was a resident of Wood County, West Virginia, at the time of his death, in 1888, his wife having passed away in the preceding year and both having been members of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, the while he was found aligned as a staunch supporter of the principles of the democratic party. Of the children the eldest is Elizabeth, who resides at Independence, Kansas, and who is the widow of Henry Woodruff, her husband having been a prosperous farmer and merchant of Montgomery County; Thomas C., subject of this review, was the next child; Henry is a retired sand and coal merchant and resides at Moundsville, West Virginia; Elmira is the wife of Elihu Lanham and they reside at Parkersburg, West Virginia, as does also Francis Marion, who is the youngest of the children and who is there actively identified with the lumber business.

The early educational advantages of Thomas C. Truman were limited. He attended the common schools of his native state in an intermittent way and when but twelve years of age he began to shift for himself. About the close of the Civil war he became concerned with the lumber industry at Parkersburg, and in the spring of 1868, as a young man of twenty-three years, he came to Kansas and numbered himself among the pioneers of Wyandotte County, where he remained four years and where he was identified with farming and lumbering enterprise. He then removed to Montgomery County and took up a homestead claim of 160 acres, on which he lived until 1871, when he sold the property, after having reclaimed a considerable part of the land to cultivation and made various improvements on the property. After selling his farm Mr. Truman removed to Independence where he purchased a small brewery which had here been established. He sold this a short time later and thereafter he here conducted a prosperous wholesale and retail ice business until February, 1916, when he retired from active business. With the growth and civic expansion of Independence the ice business of Mr. Truman kept full pace, and eventually he controlled three ice plants, which turned out an adequate production of artificial ice and also made provision for cold storage. The last of these ice plants to be erected was the modern establishment built and equipped by the Cole Truman Ice & Cold Storage Company, and this plant, eligibly situated near the Missouri Pacific Railroad tracks, has a capacity of fifty tons of ice. With a desire to meet fully the ever increasing demands placed upon his ice business Mr. Truman effected, in 1904, the organization and incorporation of the Cole Truman Ice & Cold Storage Company, and of this he was the president and general manager until the time of his retirement from active business. He has made judicious investments in local real estate, and in addition to his own home, at 201 North Second Street, he is the owner of three other improved residence properties in the city, as well as a tract of valuable land along the river and just at the edge of the city.

Mr. Truman has not only found in Kansas ample opportunities for the winning of large and worthy material prosperity but has also shown himself a loyal and progressive citizen. He is a republican in politics and while he has had no political ambition his civic loyalty caused him to give most effective service as a member of the City Council of Independence, an office of which he was the incumbent for a period of fourteen years. He is affiliated with the local blue lodge and chapter, as well as St. Bernard Commandery, Knights Templar, of the time-honored Masonic fraternity, and has further extended his affiliation to Abdullah Temple, Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine, at Leavenworth. In his home city he holds membership also in the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, the Fraternal Order of Eagles, and is a charter member of the Independence Lodge of the Grand Army of the Republic.

Until this juncture has been withheld record concerning the gallant service given by Mr. Truman as a Union soldier in the Civil war. In 1861 he enlisted as a member of Company K, Second West Virginia Volunteer Infantry, and he continued in active service for a number of months after the definite close of the war, being finally mustered out and given an honorable discharge in 1866, his service after the final surrender of Generals Lee and Johnston having been on the plains of the West. He participated in the memorable Valley campaign in Virginia, under General Sheridan, and was in the brigade commanded by General Milroy. At New Creek, West Virginia, he was captured by the enemy, and after he had been confined for a time in historic old Libby Prison his exchange was effected and he rejoined his regiment.

At Parkersburg, West Virginia, in 1867, Mr. Truman wedded Miss Elizabeth A. Dewey, and she died at Independence, Kansas, in 1883, leaving no children. In 1886 was solemnized the marriage of Mr. Truman to Miss Columbia A. Burke, the marriage ceremony having been performed at Neodesha, Wilson County. Mrs. Truman’s parents, William and Sarah Burke, long maintained their home at Parkersburg, West Virginia, her father having been a carpenter by trade, but having eventually engaged in the dry-goods business. Mrs. Truman died April 29, 1915. Mr. and Mrs. Truman had no children of their own but their adopted son, H. H. (Crane) Truman, is now successfully engaged in business at Independence, where he has a factory for the bottling of carbonated beverages, commonly designated as “soft drinks.”

Connelley, William E. A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans. Chicago : Lewis, 1918. 5v. Biographies can be accessed from this page: Kansas and Kansans Biographies.

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