At the time Harry Truman moved here to his grandmother’s property, the farm was one of the largest in the state of Missouri—about four times the average Missouri farm, in fact. Most farms in Missouri around 1910 were about 125 acres. The Young farm was 600 acres.
If you look across Blue Ridge Boulevard to the west—that’s away from the farm house—you can see two stone pillars on the far side of the parking lot across the street.
Those pillars were there when Harry Truman lived here and they mark the original entrance to the Young’s property.
The driveway came towards you, curved off to your left, and then pretty much followed the driveway you drove in on today. It’s hard to imagine how much land was here at the time Harry lived here, but you can get a little bit of an idea just by seeing that their front yard used to be at least twice as long as it is now. This was a lot of land and it was worth a lot of money.
It also required a lot of work to keep a farm that size going, especially in the days when farmers still had to use horses and mules rather than tractors or combines.
Harry’s grandmother appreciated the Trumans coming to help her run the farm, and when she died in 1911—three years after the Trumans had been living here helping her—she left them all the land and all her money. The Trumans should have been set, but unfortunately, other relatives tried to break the will. The resulting lawsuit lasted about three years. The Trumans got to keep the land, but had to pay the other relatives $9,500. The lawyers got $3,000.
Today, all that money—$12,500—would be worth over a quarter of a million dollars.
The resulting financial pinch caused the Trumans to have to mortgage the farm.
The mortgage meant that the Trumans, despite their best efforts and the fact that the farm made a ton of money, were never debt-free again for as long as they lived here. “We always owed the bank something,” Mr. Truman later wrote, “sometimes more, sometimes less—but we always owed the bank.”