My grandfather, Wallace Paul Cowan (1903-1988), moved from Springdale, Arkansas to Kansas City, Missouri in the late 1920s. The first picture is dated 1928, and Paul was standing outside of what he called Ma Terry’s Boarding House at 2512 Prospect in Kansas City.
I found this location on the 1930 US Census, and the proprietor was Selina Terry, age 56. She was born in Arkansas, and was widowed. She rented the house. There are 3 boarders listed, but my grandfather isn’t one of them. (The census was taken just around the time my grandfather married my grandmother, so he’d probably just moved out.)
The boarders were Frank Stradal (age 44, divorced, working as a foreman at a candy factory), Dallas Pickett (age 55, widowed, working as a baker), and Bertha Huff (age 44, widowed, assisting with the boardinghouse.)
I have a notebook where my grandfather Paul kept notes of his earnings, his payments to Ma Terry, and even the girls he was dating during this time period. When I find it I will update this story.
Since Paul kept these photos of Ma Terry, I knew she was important to him, so I wanted to learn more about her. I researched her further on Ancestry.com. She is found under many names: Salina, Selina, Selinia, Slenia.
Arkansas Marriage Index shows Selina Martin and James Terry married on June 3, 1892 in Scott County.
On the 1900 US Census, Selina was in Arkansas with husband James, age 26, a Teamster working for the railroad. Selina was 27, had been married 7 years, and had given birth to 5 children, 3 of which were living. Lou was 7, Sadie was 2, and Lancie was 4 months.
On the 1910 US Census, Selina was in Oklahoma with husband James, age 36, a carpenter. Selina was 37. They had been married 18 years and she had given birth to 8 children, 3 of which were living. Sadie was 12, Leone was 7, Ethel was 6. They had one boarder, a 21 year old carpenter named Thomas Josie.
On the 1920 US Census, Selina was widowed and was running a boarding house in Kansas City (a different address from her 1930 boarding house). Two daughters lived with her along with four boarders. Boarders were Felix Mueller (age 24, single, working as a clerk at a tractor company), Harold Mueller (age 28, single, working as a machine helper at a tractor company), Peter Boyle (age 48, married, working as a stonemason) and appearing again, Frank Stradal (age 34, single, and working as a candy maker.)
I’ve already covered the 1930 US Census. On the 1940 US Census, Selina was living alone in Kansas City. A Missouri Death Certificate shows that Selina died November 28, 1952 in Kansas City, Missouri. She is buried at Mt. Washington Cemetery in Independence, Missouri, but I can’t find a memorial on Find A Grave.