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Elizabeth Virginia Wallace was born February 13, 1885 in Independence, Missouri. She was a pretty child, with curly blonde hair and blue eyes and was described as good humored and outgoing. She developed an interest in the outdoors and enjoyed ice skating, horseback riding, tennis, baseball and swimming.

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Portrait of Bess Wallace Truman, HSTR 2896
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Bess knew Harry Truman throughout grade and high school. They studied Latin together with Harry's cousins, Ethel and Nellie Noland, at their house across the street from the large Gates home. Although Harry and Bess were friends, there was a distinct class difference between them.

In 1910, Bess and Harry began their courtship. Their dates often consisted of visiting in the sitting room, going on picnics and fishing with family and friends.
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They were married on June 28, 1919, shortly after Harry returned from World War I. The newlyweds moved into the Gates home and Bess soon was busy hosting teas at home, participating in church activities and organizing a bridge club. She supported Harry in his haberdashery business in the early 1920s and later when he decided to go into politics.
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