My great grandfather James William Barber was born in Kansas City, Missouri on September 6, 1884 to Joseph Barboro and Sarah Ann Clovis. (You can read all about them here.) His last name went through many changes over the years.
Since the 1890 US Census is lost to fire and I can’t find his family on the 1900 US Census, my first record of James is after his marriage on the 1910 US Census.
My great grandmother Lula May Watrous was born December 26, 1887 in Cass County, Iowa. Her parents Arthur Wardhardt Watrous and Caroline Deutsch. (Soon I’ll write about them.)
Photo: Lula & James Barber and their son James Jr.
Lula May first appears on the 1895 Iowa Census, in Pleasant, Iowa. She is 8. The 1890 US Census was lost to fire, and I can’t find the rest of her family on the 1900 US Census. Lula is found living in St. Joseph, Missouri with grandparents Andrew and Emma Watrous and three of their children. She is 12.
By the 1910 US Census James and Lula have been married 3 years. Their last name is recorded as Barbaro. James is 25 and an electrician, which remains his occupation until retirement. Lula is 23. They live in Kansas City, Missouri where they remain until death. Living with them is 1 year old Ellen and a boarder, 24 year old David Sargent, a photographer.
In 1918, James used the last name Barbero on his World War I draft registration card.
On the 1920 US Census their last name is recorded, again, as Barbero. James is 35, Lula is 33, their daughter Ellen is 11, and daughter Delores is 4.
By 1930 US Census their last name is recorded Barber. My mother told me that he had to change his name, because he struggled to get employment with an Italian last name. Barber sticks, and is the name the children use as adults. James is 45 and an electrical contractor. Lula is 42. Ellen is 21, Delores is 14, James is 3.
On the 1940 US Census James is 56. He doesn’t list an occupation so perhaps that was still a struggle even with the name change. Lula is 53 and a seamstress in garment factory. They have a full house. Daughter Ellen (age 30) is married to Wallace Cowan (age 37, salesman at auto store) and they have Wallace J (age 8) and Carol A (age 2, my mother). Also listed is Delores, age 24, who is married. She’s also enumerated with her husband and children on the same census, living a few blocks away. James Jr. is 13.
One fun thing about researching people who lived in Kansas City, Missouri – Ancestry.com has city directories so you can follow their moves from year to year. There are many years missing but here’s what I found for James and Lula:
1904 – 1200 Penn
1905 – 2008 Bales
1906 -3213 E 18th
1907 – 2307 Indiana
1908 – 574 Holmes
1913 – 1318 E 33
1915 & 1918 – 4837 E 18th
1931, 1933 – 1832 Lister (Their last name has become Barber.)
1957 Lula M (widow of James) machine operator Gernes Garment 2512 Monroe Ave
(Photo: This was taken around 1945. At the far right is my mother Carol Ann Cowan, then her father Wallace Paul Cowan, then her mother Ellen Cecelia Barber Cowan, and then her brother. The girl in the front is Delores Jeanne Darr, and behind her is probably her mother Delores Edna Barber Darr. To the girl’s left is her brother Dwight Dudley Darr, Jr. Between the children at the back of the table is Lula May Watrous Barber and James William Barber. James and Lula’s son James Jr. was serving in World War II at the time.)
James died December 26, 1951. His Find A Grave memorial is here. His obituary, published in East Side News on January 3, 1952, read:
JAMES WILLIAM BARBER DEAD
Heart Attack is Fatal to Retired East
Side Electrician December 26th – Was 68 Years Old
James William Barber, 2512 Monroe avenue, for many year a resident of the East Side, died at the Northeast Osteopathic hospital Wednesday morning, December 26th. He was stricken at his home the previous day, following the family’s Christmas dinner, and was removed to the hospital.
Mr. Barber was born in Kansas City and had spent his entire life here. He was a retired electrician. He is survived by his wife, Mrs. Lula M. Barber, of the home; a son, James W. Barber, Jr., Martin City; two daughters, Mrs. W. P. Cowan, 2304 1/2 Truman road, and Mrs. D. D. Darr, 7012 Prospect, and four sisters.
Funeral services were held at the Newcomer Chapel Friday, conducted by Rev. Edw. W. Potts, pastor of the Paseo Methodist church. Internment was made in Forest Hill cemetery.
Lula died November 19, 1960. Her Find A Grave memorial is here. (Her birth year is incorrect on her death certificate and grave.) Her obituary (where and when published is unknown) read:
Mrs. Lula May Barber
Mrs. Lula May Barber, 75, of 2512 Monroe, died last night at her home. She was born in Atlantic, Ia., and had lived here 55 years. She was the widow of James W. Barber. Mrs. Barber, a garment worker, was to retire Nov. 30. She leaves two daugthers, Mrs. Dwight D. Darr, 12211 East Sixty-seventh, Jackson County, and Mrs. W. P. Cowan, 2304 1/2 Truman Road; a son, James Barber Jr., 9400 Lewis; a sister, Miss Bernice Watrous, St. Louis; seven grandchildren and seven great grandchildren. Funeral services will be at 3:30 o’clock Monday at the Newcomer chapel, Brush Creek and the Paseo. Burial will be in Forest Hill cemetery.
There is a Kansas City Garment District Museum and hope to visit next time I’m in Kansas City to learn more about my great grandmother’s working conditions.
The children of James William Barber & Lula May Watrous:
Ellen Cecelia Barber – My grandmother Ellen was born June 9, 1908 in Kansas City, Missouri. She married Wallace Paul Cowan in Platte County, Missouri in 1930 and they had 2 children. She died February 2, 1990, which was two years to the day after her husband. Her Find A Grave memorial is here.
Delores Edna Barber – Delores was born in 1916 in Kansas City, Missouri. She married Dwight Dudley Darr (a florist) on September 8, 1934 in Jackson County, Missouri. They had two children. Dwight served in the Navy during World War II. Delores died May 18, 1966 and Dwight died October 2, 1988. They are buried in Forest Hill Cemetery in Kansas City, Missouri.
James Barber – Jim was born August 10, 1926 in Kansas City, Missouri. He married Billie Jean Raines on April 6, 1948 in Jackson County, Missouri. They moved to Colorado and had three children. Billie died May 30, 1985. Jim died December 14, 1988. His Find A Grave memorial is here.
(Photo: James Barber)