Wallace Paul Cowan (1903-1988) & Ellen Cecelia Barber (1908-1990)

Wallace Paul Cowan & Ellen Cecelia Barber Cowan are my grandparents, the parents of my mother Carol Ann Cowan Hopper.

ellen_childyoung_lady_-_7

Wallace Paul Cowan was born on January 25, 1903 in Arkansas. He is the son of Albert Gibson Cowan and Myrtle Bertie Hinson Cowan. You can read about Albert here and here, and Bertie here.

I’ve already posted a lot about my grandfather Paul. A poem, photos of filling stations he worked at, photos he took from the Springdale water tower, photos of Marshall Auto Parts where he worked, and information about Ma Terry’s Boarding House where he stayed.

Ellen Cecelia Barber was born on June 9, 1908 in Kansas City, Missouri. She is the daughter of James William Barber and Lula May Watrous. You can read about them here.

Paul and Ellen were married sometime after April 1930 because Ellen was enumerated living with her parents and Paul was enumerated living with his mother (though he was spending time in Kansas City at the time, living in a boarding house.) Their son was born in 1931 and their daughter Carol Ann Cowan was born in 1937.

(Photo: Paul, Ellen and their son.)

On the 1940 US Census, the family is living with Ellen’s parents at 1832 Lister in Kansas City, Missouri. Their children were born in that house.

(Photo: Paul, Ellen and their daughter Carol.)

They later lived in an apartment over the Marshall Auto Store that Paul managed in Kansas City, Missouri, before buying a house in Kansas City North.

(Photo: Paul, Ellen, and two of their grandchildren.)

After retiring from Marshall Auto Parts, Paul worked at Midland True Value Hardware at Antioch Shopping Center in Kansas City North. He was a hard working and very frugal man, and very quiet. He worked until shortly before he death.

Ellen worked as a bookkeeper for Paul when he was managing Marshall Auto Parts. She was primarily a homemaker, and was a great cook. I grew up living with Paul & Ellen, and my mom and brother, from age 5. I remember her making me bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwiches. Every Sunday was a big dinner with a pot roast. She was a worrier, loved to take care of people, and had a bit of a temper.

Paul died on February 2, 1988. You can see his Find A Grave memorial here. Ellen died exactly 2 years later, on February 2, 1990. You can see her Find A Grave memorial here.

Their children were a son, and a daughter (my mother):

HOPPER Carol Ann Pink Shirt

Carol Ann Cowan – Carol was born on December 21, 1937 in Kansas City, Missouri. She married Harley Darrell Hopper on April 21, 1964 in Jackson County, Missouri. They had two children, and I’m one of them. They divorced in 1976. She had worked in banks prior to her marriage, and worked for Gladstone, Missouri from the time of her divorce until her retirement. She was City Collector for many of those years. Carol died on October 11, 2010 in Kansas City, Missouri. Her 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.

Myrtle Bertie Hinson Cowan (1879-1971)

bertie_hinson_cowan_-_1-left  bertie_hinson_cowan_-_1-right

bertie_hinson_cowan_-_2-left  bertie_hinson_cowan_-_2-right

(Scrapbook pages created in Close To My Heart’s Studio J.)

This is the final installment of my series on the children of my great great grandparents Isaac Newton Hinson (1849-1925) and Louisa Cumi Harp Hinson (1852-1918). You can read about their family here.

My great grandmother Myrtle Bertie Hinson Cowan (1879-1971) is the 5th of 10 children. She was born August 13, 1879 in Whitener, Arkansas. She married Albert Gibson Cowan on March 16, 1902 in Washington County, Arkansas. My grandfather Wallace Paul Cowan was born January 25, 1903. The marriage ended in 1904 but I haven’t found divorce records. You can read about my experience figuring out what happened to Albert Gibson Cowan here.

Bertie, age 29, is found on the 1910 US Census living with her son Paul, age 7, in Springdale. They live with her parents Isaac and Cumi, her sister Clopie, her brother Lin and his wife Annie. She is working at home as a dressmaker. She is listed as married.

My grandfather never mentioned that his mother remarried, but in the Arkansas Marriage Index I found Bertie Cowan marrying Henry T. Troutt on April 7, 1912. I can’t find a divorce record for this marriage either, and I’m not 100% sure it’s her. But I am 90% sure since there is a Henry T Troutt buried in Bluff Cemetery, Springdale, with his wife Amanda who died in May 1911.

The 1920 US Census finds Bertie, age 33, and Paul, age 16, living with their father/grandfather Isaac in Springdale. Bertie is divorced and not working. Paul is a delivery boy for a grocery store.

The 1930 US Census finds Bertie, age 48, working as a saleslady at a variety store. Paul is 27 with no occupation listed. They were enumerated in the census on May 19, 1930 and Paul married Ellen Cecelia Barber in Platte County, Missouri later that same year. He spent time in Kansas City during 1929 and 1930, working various jobs, and living in what he referred to as Ma Terry’s Boarding House at 2512 Prospect.

Back to Bertie. She is found in the 1940 US Census at age 56, living alone, with no occupation listed. She spent her last years in a nursing home in Springdale. I know from letters she wrote to Paul that Albert Cowan’s relatives visited and cared for her throughout her life. Tom Cowan served as a pallbearer at her funeral, but I don’t know where it fits into the family tree. Cora Cowan (married to brother-in-law John Henry Cowan) sent her dresses while she was living in the nursing home, and Mildred Cowan Stiles visited and wrote to Paul that she wasn’t happy with the conditions. I don’t think Paul visited much if at all, and I know that my great grandmother never met me. I was 3 when she died.

HINSON BertieBertie died September 1, 1971 in Springdale and is buried in Bluff Cemetery. I have a letter from Paul’s cousin Theda Baggett Collins imploring him to purchase a headstone for her grave, but I don’t think he did. I can’t find a memorial for her on Find A Grave.

 

 

Her child:

Wallace Paul Cowan – My grandfather Paul was born January 25, 1903 in Springdale, Arkansas. He married Ellen Cecelia Barber in 1930 and they had 2 children. He died February 2, 1988 and Ellen died February 2, 1990. His Find A Grave memorial is here. I’ve done other posts about Paul, including filling stations he worked at, photos he took from the water tower in Springdale, and Marshall Auto Store where he worked.

 

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!

Albert Gibson Cowan (1884-1963)

I grew up, from age 5, living with my grandfather Wallace Paul Cowan (1903-1988). He went by the name Paul, and was a quiet man. He didn’t share a lot, but it was clear he was bitter about his father. Until I found Paul’s photos and letters after my Mom’s death and started researching, all I knew was that Paul’s dad abandoned him and his mother, which meant that Paul had to go to work at a very young age to help support the family.

I found a piece of paper written in my grandfather’s hand:

Pauls Father

And I found one photo of Albert Gibson Cowan:

My beautiful picture

Front Left is Albert Gibson Cowan

and written on the back:

BackofAlbertGibsonCowanPhoto

Pratt Photo – Paris Texas
1907
AG Cowan, First Row Left
age: 28
Supt. of Telephone Co Lines & Switch Board Crew
& his 7 man crew. Names?

Here is a closeup from the photo of Albert next to a photo of Paul as a boy:

  

From letters between my grandfather and his mother (Myrtle Bertie Hinson, 1879-1971) I thought I’d found valuable information:

Bertie to Paul Letter October 28 1964SHORTENED

 

 

 

 

 

Dated October 28, 1964:
Now Paul we have real Beautiful weather. Now all I no about AG, he died at Neoshea MO at Hospital with cancer of stomac he was at Springfield Springfield Hospital for month so his girl and …

It seems my grandfather asked for more information because the topic is addressed again:

Bertie to Paul Letter March 23 1965  Bertie to Paul Letter Part 2 March 1964

Dated March 23, 1965:
Now about your Dad being dead he had a cancer of stomach. he was at the Neosho MO Hospital is all I no for Willie Pond told me and as for no I sent you his girl and husband name after I heard it so that I no.

I found this in with Paul’s letters, and I think this is Bertie’s writing, so perhaps this is what she’s referring to:

Albert's supposed daughter

Bertie was 85 when she wrote these letters. The person she was getting information from, Willie Reed Pond (1891-1987) was Albert’s cousin, daughter of Martha Anna Cowan.

I wanted to know what happened to Albert after he left the family. I pieced together quite a bit of the family tree using Paul’s photos with names and dates recorded on them, and other written records he left. Those were very helpful when combined with census information and other records I found online at ancestry.com or familysearch.org.

The first census Albert would have been recorded on isn’t available – most of the 1890 census was destroyed by fire. He is found in the 1900 census living in Springdale, Arkansas with his parents Thomas and Mary Cowan, and his sister Mary M. His age is recorded as 18, but I believe it was actually 16. (I know that he had an older brother, too, who was already out of the house.)

The next record I have of Albert is his marriage to Bertie. They were married on March 16, 1902 in Washington County, Arkansas, and the license says they were both 21. Actually Bertie was 22, and I believe Albert was was 11 days shy of 18.

BertieAlbertCowanMarriage

My grandfather was born January 25, 1903, and I believe Albert left before he was a year old. I haven’t found record of a divorce.

By the 1910 census, Bertie and Paul are living with her parents and a sister and brother in Springdale (and is marked as married) and Albert is boarding in a house in Comanche County, Oklahoma working as a telephone lineman.

In 1912 he married Izora Beatrice Shirley (1892-1943) in Custer, Oklahoma, and he is recorded as being 28, which agrees with the 1884 birth year.

AlbertIzoraMarriage

His World War I draft card shows him living in Roger Mills, Oklahoma and married to Izora. He is of medium height and medium build with blue eyes and dark hair. He works as a lineman for the telephone company.

US World War I Draft Registration Cards AlbertGibsonCOWAN

In 1920 Albert and Izora are living in Roger Mills, Oklahoma and have 2 children. Albert is listed as a manager in the telephone industry. In 1930 they’ve moved to Chilhowee, Missouri and have 3 children. Albert is listed as a lineman in the telephone industry and Izora is a dressmaker at home. He probably doesn’t know that his son Paul has moved to Kansas City, Missouri, just 70 miles away.

In the most recent census available to us, 1940, Albert and Izora and their 3 children are living in Los Angeles, California. Izora’s brother also lives in the house. Albert’s occupation is troubleshooter for telephone company and he worked 12 hours the previous week and only 4 weeks in 1939. Izora is a Forewoman and worked 40 hours the previous week and 43 weeks of 1939. The Great Depression was just about over. This is the first census where Albert’s birth year is listed correctly.

It’s interesting to note that on the 1940 census, their oldest child, Albert Gibson Cowan Jr, age 24, has completed his 2nd year of college but isn’t currently attending school, and is working as a service station attendant. Their daughter Sonora, age 19, is said to be a senior in high school. Their daughter Marjorie is 17 and is said to be in 4th grade.

His 1942 World War II draft card solved a mystery for me.

US World War II Draft Registration CardsAlbertGibsonCOWAN

I had a lovely photo that was marked in my Grandfather’s handwriting as “Aunt May Cowan & daughter” but I couldn’t figure out who Aunt May was. His father had one sister, noted as Mary M in the 1900 census.

My beautiful picture

“Aunt May Cowan” – Charlotte May Cowan

Backof AuntMay photo

On the draft card, it asks him for “Name and address of person who will always know your address.” He answered “Mrs. R. J. Cambron (sister) Route 2 McAlester.” He also notes that his place of residence is 4492 W 16th Street in Los Angeles California, but that his mailing address was Route 2 North McAlester. I researched Mrs. R. J. Cambron in McAlester and found a marriage license for Mr. Ruby James Cambron and Miss May Cowan from May 1912. She was 26. “Mary M,” Albert’s sister from the 1900 census, would have been 26. Tracking her through 1940 on the census, she went by May but her tombstone says Charlotte May.

Izora died in Los Angeles in 1943. It appears that their children stayed in the area. It’s hard to track people without the census but I know that Albert Gibson Cowan Jr died in 2002 in California, Sonora died in 1973 in Washington, and Marjorie died in 1997 in California.

Despite the age inconsistencies, I think I have the right man. However, the information from the letters between Bertie and Paul don’t mesh with what I found regarding Albert’s death. Plus, he didn’t have a daughter who became Mrs. Clifford Johnson in Sparta, Missouri. In fact, I find that Clifford Johnson’s wife was Mable Alice Dobbs.

Missouri  puts death certificates online:(http://s1.sos.mo.gov/records/archives/archivesdb/deathcertificates/)
and I found a death certificate for Albert G. Cowan:

Albert Cowan Death Certificate

This shows that he died December 17, 1963 at the Missouri State Hospital in Nevada, Missouri, which was sometimes referred to as the Lunatic Asylum. He had been there for a year and half, and the cause of death is coronary occlusion. His occupation is listed as “retired telephone man” and his usual residence is in Springfield, Missouri. His parents are unknown, and his wife is Izora Beatrice Shirley (Dec.) He is buried in Ozark Cemetary, and Funeral Director was Adams-Monger.

I requested records from Adams Funeral Home in Ozark. I received a form filled out containing information for death certificate and obituary, which doesn’t indicate who provided the information. Listed are his 3 children, all in California. It’s noted that the funeral was a Masonic service. There’s also a letter from his niece, Virginia Saunders, in Oklahoma, who wants to put a stone on the grave. Virginia Cambron Saunders (1921-2006) is the baby in the picture above with her mother, Aunt May.

An obituary can be found at the Christian County Missouri Genealogy website:
“Cowan, Albert G. 27 Mar 1884 – 10 Dec 1963  CCR 19 Dec 1963
Albert G. Cowan, 80, of Ozark, died at 10:40 a.m. Tuesday in the state hospital at Nevada. He had lived in Ozark since 1937 and was a retired lineman. Survivors are two daughters, Mrs. Sonora Christman, Orange Calif., and Miss Margie Cowan, of Norco, Calif.; a son, Albert Cowan, Jr., North Hollywood, Calif.; and four grandchildren. Funeral services were at the Adams-Monger Chapel here at 2 p.m. today (Thursday), with Masonic rites at the graveside in Ozark Cemetery.”

There’s some misinformation there. He hadn’t lived in Ozark since 1937. He was in California on the 1940 census, on his 1942 World War II Draft Card, and his wife died there in 1943. Sonora Christman was actually Sonora Chrisman. Finally, his date of death was reported incorrectly.

I have theories about the discrepancies between what Bertie said in the letters to Paul and the records I have found. The birth and death years my grandfather wrote for his father don’t match with what I found. The birth year of 1881 is from the marriage certificate, which Paul had. I don’t know where the 1965 death year came from – the letters mentioning his death were written in 1964. Regarding the cause and place of death, I wonder if relatives shared a false story since he was in a mental hospital. The note regarding his daughter really threw me, but I have a theory that Mrs. Clifford Johnson was a caregiver for Albert. Maybe someone referred to her as “Albert’s girl” and Bertie thought they meant his daughter. Just a theory.

If you have any information about Albert Gibson Cowan, I’d love to talk to you.

September 2015: Check out the update here.