29 April 2009

National Archives Kansas City Opens in New Location

I receive this press release today from the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration’s Public Affairs Office.

Spring Prologue Magazine Highlights National Archives Move into Kansas City. New issue also features Harry S. Truman's 125th Birthday

Washington, D.C. . . . In May, the National Archives at Kansas City will open a new location in downtown Kansas City, MO, near historic Union Station. The new quarters and a special exhibit are described in the Spring 2009 issue of Prologue magazine, the official publication of the National Archives and Records Administration.

The new facility will be dedicated Memorial Day weekend, May 22-23, 2009. Highlights will include an official dedication with remarks by Acting Archivist of the United States Adrienne Thomas, an open house and history/genealogy fair, and a speech by Clifton Truman Daniel, former President Harry S. Truman's oldest grandson. Performances by the 312th Army band will precede and follow his remarks. Tours of the new facility and exhibits, It's Big! and The Kansas-Nebraska Act, will be available, along with family activities. For more information see

Harry S. Truman, whose standing among the public and historians has steadily risen since he left office several generations ago, is remembered on the 125th anniversary of his birth in this new issue of Prologue. Three articles written especially for the issue - including one by grandson Clifton Truman Daniel - explore Truman's devotion to history and his views of historians; his relationship with artist Thomas Hart Benton, who created the famous mural in the Harry S.
Truman Presidential Library and Museum in Independence, Missouri; and his role as a grandfather to daughter Margaret's four boys.

Samuel Rushay, supervisory archivist at the Truman Library, recounts in "Harry Truman's History Lessons" the former President's lifelong abiding interest in history and the lessons he drew from it. "Truman's view of historians went beyond indifference; it bordered on contempt," writes Rushay. "In 1950, he lectured a newspaperman . . . that 'real history consists of the life and actions of great men. . . Historians editorializing is in the same class as the modern irresponsible columnist.'"

Raymond Geselbracht, a longtime Prologue contributor from the Truman Library staff, recalls the initial frosty relationship between Truman and Benton. The bond between the two eventually warmed, Geselbracht writes, and "each time [Benton visited,] the two men sat together in Truman's office and shared some friendly conversation and a glass of bourbon."

Clifton Truman Daniel recalls Truman's post-presidential years as grandfather: "I was six years old before I discovered that my grandfather had been President of the United States. That's because my parents kept it from me. Up to that time, Grandpa Truman was just someone who came around from time to time and was either to be accorded a great deal of respect or avoided entirely."

Special activities at the Truman Library are planned for May 8 and 9.
For details, see http://www.trumanlibrary.org/images/May8_9events.pdf.

Copies of this issue of Prologue are for sale in the gift shops at the Truman Library at 500 West U.S. Highway 24 in Independence and at the National Archives at Kansas City at 400 West Pershing Rd. in Kansas City, MO. For subscription information go to

National Archives at Kansas City
One of 13 Regional Archives, the National Archives at Kansas City will hold Federal records from Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, along with select material from Minnesota and the Dakotas. Among its holdings are original records of the U.S. District Courts, U.S. Attorneys, Bureau of Prisons, Steamboat Inspection Service, Bureau of Indians Affairs, Corps of Engineers, U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, National Parks Service, and microfilm publications of many of the nation's most significant records.

Treasures of the National Archives at Kansas City include records relating to the milestone Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka decision, Wild West showman "Buffalo Bill" Cody, President Ulysses S. Grant, and Walt Disney which are among the 50,000 cubic feet of records in its holdings.

For more information about National Archives programs and exhibits, go
to www.archives.gov.

26 April 2009

My Dad

Yes, it's been a while since I posted to my blog. The reason is family. After a week in Intensive Care, my father died on April 23rd, 2009. My Mom died 15 months ago and now they are together. We tried telling her she couldn't have him yet and from the extreme ups and downs during the week in ICU she wasn't quite sure if we could still have him for a while.

William E. Stuart died peacefully while his daughters Sheila, Linda, and Paula along with other family and caregivers were on the way to see him. Just the day before the doctor had commented that Dad would probably pull through this. We were fortunate to have lots of short conversations while he was in ICU. His full obituary is in both the Minneapolis StarTribune and St. Paul Pioneer Press online. I must remember to go buy the papers today. I usually read them online and this is so great when I am out of town lecturing or researching.

From the time he was a teenager, Dad was involved with the auto industry in one way or another. He began long ago by pumping gas and once owned his own station at Cleveland and Ford Parkway in St. Paul.

Dad tried to enlist in WWII but was turned down twice due to his color blindness. Then he was drafted and accepted! Dad spent his Army Air Corps WWII years maintaining planes, as a Flight Engineer, and as a trainer for other countries including some Russians. He became very ill while serving and at one time was the only American in a British Naval Hospital and while there Jack Benny visited him personally. After serving in the Army Air Corps for three years in World War II he turned down a job to work in Iraq for the Arab American Oil Company as a flight engineer on their aircraft. He wanted to come home.

He had another job offer from Northwest Airlines for aircraft maintenance. The interview took place at University and Prior avenues in St. Paul. The pay was only $1.00 per hour which he felt was too low. He did not take that job and instead walked up the street to the Slawik's auto dealership at University and Fairview avenues and applied for a job. He knew the general manager, Carl Dokmo, from his gas station days. He began work there in 1945. His family is grateful because that is where he eventually met my mother, Patricia Hanley. They were married October 4, 1947 and nine months later I was born.

From 1945 on, he worked at auto dealerships. He ended that career with 32 years at Superior Ford in the Minneapolis suburb of Plymouth. He quit working at age 87 only because Ben Stroh sold the dealership. For many years he was in fleet sales and sold a lot of trucks, cars, and police cars to the state, and many counties, cities, and school districts. On Friday, April 24th my oldest granddaughter and I were on Highway 169 in Shakopee and she asked if the vehicle in the next lane was an old police car. It was a maroon car -- an old highway patrol car and I told her that most likely her Great Grandpa Bill had sold that car to the Patrol.

In the 1950s he owned a gas station and car dealership at 650 Grand Avenue in St. Paul. Ace Hardware now occupies the building. A couple years ago I took Dad to visit the place and he pointed out where everything had been in that building including the paint booth, offices, and where the specialty sports cars were shown. I remember going there many times and eating next door at Fran O'Connell's restaurant where I learned to love lobster. In later years the family always knew that wherever we went Dad would know someone. Even in other places beyond St. Paul. He could remember the names of neighbors from his growing up years at 2019 Princeton in St. Paul.

Growing up we had new cars around most of the time. I wish I still had that early Ford Mustang that I got to drive as a teenager. My husband and I bought our first Minnesota car from him in 1969 but it wasn't a Ford! In December 2006 I bought the only car that I ever bought alone and had my own name on the title. He guided me along the way at Superior Ford. He loved my Ford Escape and every time I picked him up he had nice words to say about the vehicle. I may keep it forever. The family definitely misses the discounts on cars and trucks.

He was a good dad -- we had snow horses in the yard at 1080 Bowdoin St. in St. Paul, ice skating rinks in the back yard, and volleyball in the summer. They built the house in 1950 and the early pictures just south of St. Paul's Ford Plant show lots of empty space around that house in Reserve Township. That was a great neighboorhood and Dad and I drove through there a few weeks ago and talked about the families that lived in each house. He was a Dad who worked long hours but did take time to play games with his three daughters on Sundays. His BBQ skills are legendary. Pan fries (potatoes), rotisserie chicken, hamburgers, steak -- he did them all well. He and Mom loved to travel, but never on an airplane. They were always taking off once their kids were out of the house.

He loved his grandchildren and great grandchildren. In his later years, he asked about each of them constantly. Dad was always checking up on how his sister Jean was doing and her children. He really missed his sister Dorothy who passed away in 1994. He kept up on what her children were doing and where they were living. His memory never really failed and we are so grateful for that. Sure, there were some things he would forget to do, but he was still amazing at 89.

He went through some serious health scares over the years and overcame alcohol and tobacco addiction. Through all this he never stopped living. He was too antsy to sit still for long. Sure, he had his faults, but we just have to keep the great memories alive.

September 7, 2009 would have been his 90th birthday. We were planning a party at my sister Linda's lake place and they had figured out a way to get Dad down to the lake and on to a pontoon. He was so looking forward to that and we will still have the party and tell Grandpa Bill stories. We will laugh a lot and probably shed a few tears as we will also do tomorrow, April 27th at his funeral.

11 April 2009

Minnesota History Fair, Minnesota Genealogical Society

Second Annual Family History Fair, April 18, 2009

Minnesota Genealogical Society
1185 Concord St. N.
South St. Paul
Free Parking in lots next to the building and on the street.

The second annual Minnesota History Fair will feature DNA Research, Ethnic Resources and Research Tools for beginning and advanced genealogists. The April 18 program is co-sponsored by MGS and its ethnic and national Branches and Affiliates. One program track will be devoted to DNA, with talks on family medical history, the use of DNA testing for genealogy, and privacy/legal issues in DNA testing. The six other sessions will include an introduction to the Immigration History Research Center, located in Minneapolis, two beginning genealogy talks, and three more-advanced talks. An MGS members' meeting as well as a Q&A session will be held during the lunch hour-see http://www.mngs.org/quarterly for more details.

Reminder: Pre-registrations must be received by April 13 and can be done online. After that date, registrations are at the door.