Isaac Harmon Severn

Isaac Harmon Severn

Cannelton, Perry County, Indiana, USA
Death 28 Oct 1949 (aged 83)
Steele, Pemiscot County, Missouri, USA
Burial Pemiscot County, Missouri, USA
Memorial ID 81203469 · View Source
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Married Dec 25, 1887
Inscription on monument:
Please extend my deepest sympathy to the family and friends of uncle Harmon Severn of whose passing I learned with deep regret. He was my friend through thick and thin and I shall always hold him in deep remembrance.
Harry Truman, President of the United States


Truman Didn't Forget "Friend"
If we were to die tomorrow, do you think perhaps the next day our family would receive a message of condolence from the president of the USA? For most of us, the answer is no. But for the family of Isaac Harmon Severn of Steele, who died here in 1949, the answer was yes. His friend, Harry S. Truman was president of the United States and was told about Severn's death (probably by their mutual friend Judge Roy Harper but that is uncertain). So Harry sent a telegram to the family expressing his sorrow at the death of his friend and political ally and that message continues to attract attention at a local cemetery.
Truman and Severn had been good buddies, "big political friends," as some put it, and fellow Democrats, for some years. Severn, Harper, Max L. Kelley and others journeyed together to political rallies at such places as Springfield or Kansas City.
And so it was that when Harmon Severn died, HST reached out from Washington, D.C. to touch the grieving family. They appreciated that and decided to inscribe Truman's message on Severn's gravestone: "Please extend my deepest sympathy to the family and friends of Uncle Harmon Severn, of whose passing I learned with deep regret. He was my friend through thick and thin and I shall always hold him in grateful remembrance."
Harry never forgot a friend, it has been said, and he obviously never forgot "Uncle Harmon" - his friend in the deepest part of the Bootheel of the state that sent him to the Senate, a stepping stone to the White House.
Woodrow Davis, a grandson of Mr. Severn, remembers that the message from Truman was a telegram, so it would not have had a handwritten signature. However, the maker of the headstone was able to duplicate a signature from another source, and thus this attention-compelling stone.
The family also has in its possession a signed message from The White House in which Truman expressed his appreciation to Severn for the help given his Administration. The 1949 letter is typed with the machine common to that day (an old Royal or Underwood comes to mind) and bears what seems to be a genuine signature - not the machine-produced, mass-mailed greeting common to this era - never seen by the president or anyone who ever sees the president, in all probability.
The signature on the letter appears to be in real ink. The letter is on heavy linen-type paper, a heavy, almost card-like stock, folded.
Family members said Mr. Severn had received other messages from the president and they were addressed to Severn as "Honorable Democrat."
There are those who think Mr. Severn might have been responsible for the slogan,"Give-em Hell, Harry." Severn used to yell out that phrase when Harry Truman would jar down on a particularly telling point while addressing crowds in pre-election gatherings in Steele. It may be that others did the same and that the phrase did not originate in this community, but some think it did. They recall political speeches at Main and Walnut when Mr. Severn shouted out the slogan while punctuating the air with his walking cane.
Mr. Harmon Severn is buried in Frakes cemetery two miles northwest of Steele, on the banks of the old bayou, also known as the "Little Bayou." Mrs. Severn lies beside him. Isaac Harmon Severn was born in Cannelton, Ind., September 10, 1866 and died in Steele October 28, 1949. In 1887 he married Emma Frakes who was born in Cannelton in 1869 and died in Steele in 1896. Their son, Arnold Severn, is deceased, as is a daughter, Ruthie Davis (who was Mrs. Joe Davis, mother of Woodrow Davis, who supplied information for story; and the Severns had a daughter who survives. She is Golden (Mrs. Charlie) Smth of Steele.
The grave marker contains line "Citizens of this community since January 12, 1888," It is interesting to speculate that Severn came to this area before the turn of the century and a half-century later his support (and possible slogan) helped make president - old "Give-em Hell, Harry Truman.
The Steele Enterprise, Steele, Missouri
Friday, November 11, 1949

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  • Created by: classic
  • Added: 29 Nov 2011
  • Find a Grave Memorial 81203469
  • Find a Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Isaac Harmon Severn (10 Sep 1866–28 Oct 1949), Find a Grave Memorial no. 81203469, citing Frakes Cemetery, Pemiscot County, Missouri, USA ; Maintained by classic (contributor 46573875) .