Ma Terry’s Boarding House – Selina Martin Terry (1873-1952)

My grandfather, Wallace Paul Cowan (1903-1988), moved from Springdale, Arkansas to Kansas City, Missouri in the late 1920s. This 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 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 but I can’t find a memorial on Find A Grave.

John Gillespie Cowan (1827-1915) & Elvira Hubbard Cowan (1829-1919)

John Gillespie Cowan was born August 29, 1827 in Tennessee. His parents are Robert Cowan and Elizabeth Colville. You can see Robert’s Find A Grave memorial here and Elizabeth’s here.

Elvira Hubbard Cowan was born July 21, 1829 in Tennessee. Her parents are Robert Hubbard and Elizabeth Whitlock.

On 1860 US Census, John & Elvira farmed in Osage, Arkansas. Isabel was 8, Emily was 6, Thomas was 4 and Robert was 1.

On the 1870 US Census, John 42 and Elviry was 41, and they were still farming in Osage, Arkansas. Isabel was 18, Emily was 16, Thomas was 14, Robert was 11, Elizabeth was 8, Martha was 4, William was 7 months old. Also in the house is Elvira’s sister Manerva Hubbard, age 24, housekeeper.

On the 1880 US Census, John is 52, Elvira is 50, Elizabeth E is 18, Martha A is 13 and William is 10. A laborer named Quinton Drewery, age 18, is also in the house.

On the 1900 US Census, John is 73 and Elvira is 71. Granddaughter Maude Hicks, age 9, lives with them. They are farming in Washington, Arkansas.

On the 1910 US Census, they are still in Washington, Arkansas. John is 82 and farming. Elvira is 81. Living with them is son Thomas B, age 54, a carpenter.

John died January 6, 1915 in Bent, Arkansas. His Find A Grave memorial is here. Elvira died July 11, 1918. Her Find A Grave memorial is here.

Their children:

Isabell Cowan – Bell was born April 2, 1852 in Arkansas. She married Alfred Deal Baggett, a farmer, in Benton County, Arkansas on November 28, 1878. She died October 31, 1879 giving birth to twins who also died. Her Find A Grave memorial is here.

Emma Josephine Cowan – Emma was born 1854 in Benton County, Arkansas. She married Dr. Dodson Christian, M.D. in 1872 and they had 4 children, two of which died in infancy, and one which was adopted. She died in June 1899 in Washington County, Arkansas. Her Find A Grave memorial is here.

Thomas B. Cowan – Read more about my great great grandfather here.

Robert Cowan –  Robert was born in May 1859 in Arkansas according to the 1900 US Census. He married Nannie A. Sharp on May 10, 1893 in Benton County, Arkansas. They had 4 children. By the 1910 US Census, Nannie is a widow, and she died in August 1944. I haven’t found a death record for Robert and I can’t find either of them on Find A Grave.

I’m confused about something. There’s a “sister” named Sallie Cowan living with Robert and Nannie in 1900, and living with widowed Nannie in 1910 noted as “sister-in-law.” I have identified the 7 children John and Elvira Cowan say they have on the 1900 census, and there is no Sallie. I found that Sallie married Haislip Alonzo McGaugh on November 3, 1921. (To further confuse the situation, he was previously married to Sallie Sharp, who I think is Nannie A Sharp’s sister. Sallie Sharp died April 27, 1921 and he made fast work of finding himself another Sallie, who had been living with his sister-in-law!) Sallie Lou Cowan McGaugh died December 21, 1943 in Benton County, Arkansas. Her Find A Grave memorial is here. Haislip Alonzo McGaugh and both of his Sallie’s are buried in Barron Cemetery in Bentonville, Arkansas. But how is Sallie Lou Cowan related to Robert Cowan?

Also interesting to note, there’s a Nannie A. Cowan buried in Washington County, Arkansas who was born the same year as Robert’s wife Nannie, and died the same year as Robert’s Nannie. But she is buried with Richard G. Cowan, I found their marriage record, and I find them together on the census.

Elizabeth Elvira Cowan – Elizabeth was born October 24, 1861 in Arkansas. She married James Monroe Hicks on December 23, 1886 in Benton County, Arkansas. They had 2 children, but one died as a toddler. Elizabeth died on January 5, 1896. Her Find A Grave memorial is here. On the 1900 US Census their daughter Maude Hicks, age 9, is living with Elizabeth’s parents.

Martha Anna Cowan – Anna was born 1867 in Benton County, Arkansas. She married Robert Bennett Reed on December 22, 1887 in Washington County, Arkansas. They had 4 children. Robert was a farmer and then became a mail carrier for the United States Postal Service and then was a farmer again, in Benton County, Arkansas. He died in 1922. She died October 31, 1956. Her Find A Grave memorial is here.

William Hayden Cowan – William was born December 13, 1869 in Arkansas. He married Eva Jane Vaughn on August 3, 1893 in Washington County, Arkansas. They had 3 children. Eva died in 1913. William married Lizzie Martin by 1920 and had two stepchildren. He was a mail carrier in Lowell, Arkansas. His Find A Grave memorial is here.

Thomas B. Cowan (1855-?) & Martha Josephine Johnston (1855-1920)

I have no pictures of my great great grandparents Thomas B. Cowan and Martha Josephine Johnson Cowan, and I’m missing quite a bit of information about them.

Thomas B. Cowan was born in Arkansas in May 1855 according to the 1900 US Census. His parents are John Gillespie Cowan (1827-1915) and Elvira Hubbard Cowan (1829-1919.) You can see their Find A Grave memorials here.

Martha Josephine Johnston was born in Arkansas in June 1855 according to the 1900 US Census. Her parents are Samuel Houston Johnston and Margaret Hickman. See her father’s Find A Grave memorial here.

Thomas and Martha were married December 25, 1876 in Benton County, Arkansas. Thomas was 20 and Martha was 18.

On the 1880 US Census they are farming in Colville, Arkansas.  Thomas is 24, Martha is 21, their son Charles E is 2 and their son Henry is 9 months old.

On the 1900 US Census they are in Springdale. Thomas is 45 and a carpenter. Martha is 45. Son Albert G is 18 and a day laborer. Daughter Mary M is 14. They’ve had 5 children, 4 of whom are living.

On the 1910 US Census, Thomas is 54, divorced, and living with his parents John and Elvira Cowan in Washington, Arkansas. He works as a carpenter in the housing industry.

Martha married George Skeith in Washington County, Arkansas on April 20, 1907. George was a widower with three grown children. On the 1910 US Census, Martha J was 52 and George Skeith was 63 (born in Scotland, a stock dealer). They lived in McAlester, Oklahoma with Martha’s daughter May Cowan who is 24, and adopted daughter Edna Johnson who is 16. George died in 1913, and his will refers to his wife as Josie.

Martha married Isaac P. Brown on February 17, 1916 in Pittsburg, Oklahoma. Isaac was a widowed carpenter with three grown children. Martha died in 1920 and her Find A Grave memorial is here.

I can’t find Thomas in 1920, but his parents have both passed by then. In 1930 he is still in Washington, Arkansas. He is 76, living alone and is a carpenter in a repair shop. I lose track of him after this.

Their children:

Charles E. Cowan – He was born in Arkansas in 1878, I have no record of him after the 1880 US Census when he is 2 years old.

John Henry Cowan – He was born August 5, 1879 in Benton County, Arkansas. He married Cora A. Smith in Washington County, Arkansas on January 22, 1902. They had 6 children. They were in Fayetteville, Arkansas in 1910 and in Tulsa, Oklahoma by 1920. John worked as a manager at a telephone company is 1910, as a warehouse foreman for Nichols Transfer Company in 1920, and as a farmer in 1930. He died in 1938 and his Find A Grave memorial is here. Cora died in October 1976 and her Find A Grave memorial is here.

His younger brother Albert worked for telephone companies most of his life, and I wonder if John didn’t get him started in that line of work.

Albert Gibson Cowan – He is my great grandfather, and you can read about him here.

Charlotte May Cowan – (Pictured with her daughter.) May was born in September 1885 in Arkansas. In 1912 married Ruby J. Cambron, a plumber, and they had 2 children. Her Find A Grave memorial is here.

Update – Albert Gibson Cowan (1884-1963) is my Great Grandfather

Without a doubt, Albert Gibson Cowan (born in Arkansas in 1884 and died in Missouri in 1963) is my great grandfather!

In July I posted about my detective work here.

I requested Albert’s medical records from Nevada State Hospital after reading how to do so here. I sent the letter of request in late July, and received letter saying my request had been approved by the court in August, and received a copy of the records yesterday.

The Court Order states and I must keep the records confidential, so I can’t share the information. I thought I’d say what information is included in these records that confirm that this Albert is the right Albert.

First, there is a photo of 78 year old Albert upon admission to the hospital, and the resemblance is so strong it could be a picture of his son, my grandfather Wallace Paul Cowan.

Second, there are notes about him discussing his marital history, and it matches what I believed to be true.

Finally, the woman my grandmother Bertie thought was her ex-husband’s daughter was actually his caregiver, which was my theory.

I thought it was interesting that notes made about Albert’s personality and some general health issues are things that could have been written about his son too.

It’s good to know that my Cowan branch of the family tree is following the right path!

Filling Stations in Springdale Arkansas 1920s

My grandfather Wallace Paul Cowan (1903-1988) always loved cars, and worked at filling stations as a young man in Springdale, Arkansas. These are some of his photos. I’ve captioned them with what Paul wrote on the back of each.

My beautiful picture

Bearcat Oil Station – 1924 – Business good




My beautiful picture







Filling Station, corner of Spring & Johnson. July 15, 1923

New: Bear Cat Oil Station, Bear State Oil Co. Products (Conoco later)

My beautiful picture


Paul Cowan & ’22 Dodge (Lindley Filling Station) 1924

I think that is Wallace Paul Cowan sitting in the car, and I probably have the paperwork from when he bought it. I’ll update if I find it.

COWAN Wallace Paul worked her Lemleys Filling Station


Lemley’s Filling Station – Paul worked here

Gasoline was under 25c a gallon, and attendants pumped the gas, checked the oil and cleaned the windshield.

View From the Water Tower in Springdale, Arkansas 1917/1921

My grandfather Wallace Paul Cowan (1903-1988) apparently climbed the water tower in Springdale, Arkansas . . . at least twice. I doubt the dates on the photos are correct, but I’m reporting what is written on the back in my grandfather’s handwriting. Here’s a picture of him from around this time:

My beautiful picture

Wallace Paul Cowan – around 1920

This photo is marked “Looking SW from top of city water tower. X location of station where I work. 1917 Springdale Ark.” I enhanced the X in photoshop.

My beautiful picture
I have photos of some gas stations in Springdale, but I’m saving them for another day.

This photo is marked “Looking S from tower. X real estate I own. 1917 Springdale Ark.” Maybe he marked the X (which I enhanced in photoshop) years later, because in 1917 he was only 14. I think the X probably marks the house on Frisco Street where his mother lived the 1940s and 1950s, which his mother signed over to him in 1950.

My beautiful picture

This photo isn’t dated: “Looking SE from tower.”

My beautiful picture

Finally, “Looking north, a scene from top of water tower in city park, Springdale Ark. 1921. Welch Grape Juice factory on left.”

My beautiful picture

I decided to Google search for pictures of Springdale from around this time, and I didn’t find much more than a postcard of the Welch’s Grape Juice factory and mention that it’s now Clements Processing. I can’t find where the water tower is or was in Springdale.

I did come across a Bright & Shiny Object (aka BSO, a genealogical distraction) – land records for Arkansas, including dozens for folks in my family tree: Washington County Arkansas Land Records 1834-1991. That will keep me busy for awhile, entering all those into my research log.

I’m going to work on these photos more, and try to figure out where exactly they were taken. If you information that could help me, I’d love to hear from you!

Update 8/29/2015 – Robert McClain commented below that the water tower was just to the right of the pin on this map.

Marshall Auto Store – 1940s and 1950s, Kansas City, Missouri

My grandfather Wallace Paul Cowan (1903-1988) loved cars. He had a long career as a salesperson and manager of Marshall Auto Store in Kansas City, Missouri.

I remember riding with Grandma to pick up Grandpa from work at Marshall Auto Store in the 1970s, and I think it was this Truman Road location. They had a Coke machine, and sometimes I’d be given a dime to get myself a soda. I’d grab the cold glass bottle with the sharply crimped metal cap and pull really hard. Once I’d wrestled the bottle from the machine, I’d use the opener attached to the side of the machine to pry the cap off. I’d savor that bottle of Coke the whole drive home.

I have wonderful photos from inside and outside of the stores, so I wanted to share them.

Marshall Auto Store – 1933 – 3914 Main Street, Kansas City, Missouri

My beautiful picture

My beautiful picture

In 1933 when these photos were taken, my grandfather had been married three years and had a 2 year old.  They were living 7 miles away with my grandmother’s family, because it was the Great Depression and the families needed to share expenses. They lived that way for over a decade.

It looks like Marshall Auto Store moved to a much bigger location. At least by 1944 they are located at an address 3 miles away.

Marshall Auto Store – 2300 E Truman Road, Kansas City, Missouri

My mom Carol Cowan Hopper (1937-2010) told me that the family lived above the store from the time she was a child through her teens, in a big apartment with spacious rooms.

She remembered her address was 2304 1/2 E Truman Road. Some of the photos are marked with the address “2300 E 15th Street” which is confusing. From Google Maps, I see that 2300 E 15th Street meets with Truman Road. But from “street view” I can see the building pictured below at 2300(ish) E Truman Road, about a mile away.

My beautiful picture

Frank Arnone, Red Myers, Dick Stintzi and Wallace Paul Cowan at Marshall Auto Store – undated

My mom remembered that Frank Arnone and his wife Angie owned a grocery store on the corner, where they did most of their shopping. They would run up a ticket and pay it weekly or monthly.

My beautiful picture


My beautiful picture


My beautiful picture


My mom remembered that during her high school years, her mother Ellen Barber Cowan (1908-1990) did the bookkeeping for the store.

My beautiful picture

From what I can remember, my grandfather left Marshall Auto in the late 1970s. He wasn’t happy about it, even though he was of retirement age, and I think it was due to the store closing.

Do you have a connection to Marshall Auto Store?  Do you have Frank Arnone, Red Myers, or Dick Stintzi in your family tree?