Am I related to Lana Turner on the Cowan side?

I haven’t done much genealogy lately, because I’ve gone back to college. I’m on fall break this week and conveniently a genealogy project has fallen into my lap.

My mom died 6 years ago today, and she was a big fan of all things Hollywood. She’d get a kick out of the possibility that she was related to Lana Turner.

HOPPER Carol Ann Pink Shirt

Carol Ann Cowan Hopper

lana_turner

Julia Jean “Lana” Turner

I received the following comment on one of my blog posts:

“Hello, I saw your post, and would like to ask you, are you related to “Henry Arthur Cowan”, whom was married to “Julia Ann (Cullum) Cowan, as Julia was my Great Grandmother, she was born march 24, 1885, and died in July 1904, at her age of (19) yrs. old, her death was due to complications with her “RH factor blood type, and her Pregnancy, her baby girl “Mildred Frances Cowan” was born on Feb. 12, 1904, she was 4 months old when her Mother died, they lived in Arkansas. I know we were also related to some people named “Reece”, “Minnie Reece”, (her married name), and she had a son, named Oran Reece, we were also related to some people named Hinson,”

First, I checked my tree. I knew there was a Mildred Cowan, because she was my grandfather’s cousin and I have an amazing (sad, and yet also hilarious) letter she wrote to him. But, unfortunately the commenter wasn’t referring to that Mildred Cowan. My Cowans were definitely in Arkansas (and as it turns out, in the same county) and my great grandmother Cowan’s maiden name was Hinson, so I thought it was possible that we intersected somehow.

Through a quick Google search I learned that Mildred Frances Cowan, born February 12, 1904, the daughter of Julia Ann Cullum Cowan, was the mother of the famous Lana Turner. Her father’s name, however, appears to have been William Arthur Cowan or Willis Arthur Cowan, not Henry Arthur Cowan as the commenter said. Through further Googling I discovered that Mildred Frances Cowan was the only child of both parents, since her father didn’t remarry. Mildred had only one child, Julia Jean Turner, who became known as Lana Turner. It appears that Lana had only one child too, Cheryl Crane, who is still living and has no children.

I found a tree online and followed it back from William/Willis Arthur Cowan to my 5x Great Grandparents William Cowan (1750-1809) and Jane Walker (1755-1806). It seems possible that Lana Turner descends from William and Jane’s son Samuel, while I descend from their son Robert.

Soon, maybe this week even, I will work on pushing my Cowan line back two more generations, documenting back to William Cowan and Jane Walker, and see if it all connects.

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.

James William Barber (1884-1951) & Lula May Watrous (1885-1960)

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:

(Photo: Ellen and Delores)

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.

BARBER James Jr (2)

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)

 

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

1944

My beautiful picture

1947

My beautiful picture

1951

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?