Introduction To Allan Truax
My interest in Allan Lincoln Truax, the handsome fellow pictured atop this post, was triggered by an inscription, “A.L. Truax, Crosby, ND, Jan 3rd 1922,” written on the flyleaf of a used copy of A.E. Housman’s Last Poems given me as a gift (see Allan Truax, A.E. Housman, The Ex, and Me). I began tracking down information about A.L. Truax just because I wondered what kind of guy living in an isolated North Dakota town in the early 1900s would purchase an early printing of Housman’s poetry.
That guy, it turns out, was an extraordinarily accomplished individual.
Allan Truax’s job was in the railway mail service but his heart and mind were given over to his involvement with his community and church, his extensive travels, and his devoted pursuit of his intellectual interests, especially horticulture, literature, and family, local, and American history.
I’m posting this material about Allan Truax and his wife, Evelyn, not only because it is intrinsically interesting(at least to me) but also because it offers insights into an era and an environment that, while they are only a couple of generations and a few states removed from me, are so unlike my own experience. In many ways, the circumstances of Allan Truax’s life are as unimaginable to me as those of a Jules Verne character residing on another planet.
I’m also motivated to record this miniature biography by my conviction that Allan Truax – and Evelyn Truax – are special, stalwart individuals who deserve to have their story written and read.
Finally, I confess that I feel compelled to pursue this task in part because I have come to identify with Allan Truax, a state of affairs that is surely routine in this line of work and one that is not without its benefits.
All posts about Allan Truax can be found at Allan Truax.
Tracking Allan Truax
My admiration for the man notwithstanding, Allan Truax is a flawed character. He did not, for example, thoughtfully leave a well-organized diary of his childhood for future biographers. At this point at least, I know little about his life until he becomes an adult. And, while there is much more information about his later years, that data is not available in one place as a linearly arranged listing.
By pulling together material from a handful of sources, however, I have organized a compact time line, that, while it proves more useful than exciting, is a starting point for future posts.
October 24, 1871: Born to John Galbraith Truax and Louisa (Rouse) Truax in Mayville, Michigan1
1887-1891 [age 16-20]: Worked as a rural school teacher in Michigan
1892-1894 [age 21-23]: Served as Superintendent of Schools in Page, North Dakota2
1894-1895 [age 23-24]: Served as Superintendent of Schools in Hunter, North Dakota
1895 [age24]: Attended State Normal School (now Valley City State University) in Valley City, North Dakota
1895-1933 [age24-62]: Held position as railway mail clerk3
January 8, 1901 [age 30]: Married Evelyn Maude Baldwin
1902 [age 31]: Continued work as railway mail clerk while Evelyn Truax “proved up on a homestead near Portal,” North Dakota.
1908 [age 37]: Moved with Evelyn to Crosby, North Dakota where he lived the rest of his life
The locations where Allan Truax lived are shown on these maps.
The green marker below indicates Allan’s birthplace, Mayville MI;4 the orange marker represents Crosby ND. For other locations, see the 2nd map.
Note: Originally posted May 9, 2007 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of AllanShowalter.com
- Update: Well, now we’re not so certain about the place of birth. More about this in later posts. [↩]
- There is some ambiguity in the accounts of this period. According to an entry by Allan’s son, Richard Truax, entry in a history compilation called Divide County 1964, Allan and Evelyn Baldwin, who would become his wife, were described as having “taught school in Page, during 1893-1894.” The Who’s Who For North Dakota entry lists Allan’s job from 1892-1894 as Superintendent of Schools in Page, North Dakota. Those descriptions are not mutually exclusive. [↩]
- Again, an ambiguity exists regarding the beginning date of this job. The 1894-1933 dates were those found in the Who’s Who For North Dakota entry. According to the entry by Richard Truax in Divide County 1964, “Mr. Truax accepted a position as railway mail clerk on the train from St. Paul to Portal in 1902. [↩]
- Update: Again, now we’re not so certain about the place of birth. More about this in later posts. [↩]