Since I am interested in genealogy and politics, I am often asked if we are really related to President Truman. Well, we are, but it is not a blood relationship and is somewhat distant. I will try to explain it here.
Most of those in my immediate family that have Noland roots relate back to my great grandfather, Barnet McMonigal Noland. Barnet’s father was Aaron M. Noland and Aaron’s father was Francis Marion Noland. Aaron had an older brother named Wesley Tilford Noland who had a son named Joseph Tilford Noland. Joseph married Margaret Ellen Truman whose brother was John A. Truman, President Harry S Truman’s father.
Thus Barnet’s cousin, Joseph, was President Truman’s uncle. And, Joseph would be my first cousin three times removed.
Joseph and Ella (as Margaret Ellen was known) Noland were very important in the life of Harry Truman. But for the fact that their home sat directly across the street from the home of George Gates, grandfather of Elizabeth (Bess) Wallace, Harry Truman may have never married Bess Wallace who he first met in Sunday School when he was very young.
According to David McCullough in his book, Truman, Harry spent his first and second grade years attending the Noland School on South Liberty in Independence, MO (McCullough, p. 44). This school was named after Hinton Noland who is no doubt related to my Noland ancestors as he came from Kentucky, but, so far, I have not established the exact link.
Harry's mother also enrolled Harry in Sunday school at the First Presbyterian Church on Lexington Street. "At the Presbyterian Sunday School Harry met a blond-haired, blue-eyed little girl named Elizabeth Wallace and decided she was the most entrancing creature he had ever seen. But it was five years before he dared say a word to her. The only girls with whom he felt at ease were his cousins Ethel and Nellie Noland, the daughters of his father's sister Ella and her husband, Joseph Noland." (McCullough, p. 46)
Harry Truman was born May 8, 1884, so these events occurred in the late 1880s and early 1890s. McCullough reports that "Harry once calculated that he had a grand total of thirty-nine cousins, but Ethel and Nellie were the favorites and they would remain so all of his life. Ethel in particular would understand him as almost no one else ever did...As a threesome they spent hours together after school and in the evenings usually at the Noland house on Maple Avenue." (McCullough, p. 49)
If you wish to see some pictures of the Noland and Truman homes, click here for a small gallery of some pictures I have taken. The Noland home is the one on North Delaware. I do not believe that the one on Maple still exists.
Joseph was about a generation older than Barnet and whether they even knew each other would be a question. When Barnet was a child, Joseph owned a farm one section diagonally from a farm Barnet's father owned, so one may have at least known of the other. Of course, both Barnet and Joseph died in the 1920s, so it is unlikely that they would have been involved in even the president's earliest political accomplishments. But, it is an interesting to think about these things. I am not aware of any other relationship between the two families, but both families came from Kentucky to Jackson County at about the same time.
There is a very interesting oral history by the president's cousin, Mary Ethel Noland, that has a lot of information about the connection between the Nolands and the Trumans. The history is in three segments, but the first contains the most interesting genealogy information. It is available on the Truman Library web site, so click the link and check it out. Actually, the entire web site is immensely interesting so check the whole thing out!!!
Someday, I hope to add more about Joseph to this site. He was an interesting man who as a fourteen year old boy ran away from home to fight for the Confederacy. Of course, the above link to the oral history can tell you a lot.