updated February 2019
James William Barber and Lula May Watrous were my great grandparents, the parents of my grandmother Ellen Cecelia Barber.
James William Barber was born in Kansas City, Missouri on September 6, 1884 to Joseph Sbarboro and Sarah Ann Clovis. James was the 7th of their 10 children, and their only son to live to adulthood. You can read all about them here. His last name went through changes over the years – Sbarboro, Barboro, Barber.
Lula May Watrous was born December 26, 1887 in Cass County, Iowa to Arthur Wardhardt Watrous and Caroline E. Deutsch. She was the oldest of their 4 children. Read more about them here.
Since the 1890 US Census was lost to fire and I can’t find James’ family on the 1900 US Census, my first record of James is after his marriage on the 1910 US Census.
Lula first appeared on the 1895 Iowa Census, in Pleasant, Iowa. Lula’s parents divorced soon after, and her father remarried in about 1896. He soon moved to Kansas City and Carrie moved to St. Joseph. I can’t find her parents on the 1900 US Census, but Lula lived in St. Joseph, Missouri with grandparents Andrew and Emma Watrous and three of their children. She was 12, and was listed as their daughter.
Lula’s mother Carrie died in around 1902.
James and Lula married June 10, 1907 in Wyandotte County, Kansas. James was 22 years old and Lula was 19 years old. Daughter Ellen was born in 1908.
By the 1910 US Census James and Lula had been married 3 years. Their last name was recorded as Barbaro. James was 25 and an electrician, which remained his occupation until retirement. Lula was 23. They lived in Kansas City, Missouri where they remained until their deaths. Daughter Ellen was 1 year old. A boarder, 24 year old David Sargent, a photographer, shared their home.
In 1915, daughter Delores was born.
In 1918, James used the last name Barbero on his World War I draft registration card.
On the 1920 US Census their last name was recorded again as Barbero. James was 35, Lula was 33, their daughter Ellen was 11, and daughter Delores was 4.
In 1925, son James was born. In 1927, James’ sister Minnie and his father Joseph died.
By 1930 US Census their last name was recorded Barber. My mother told me that he had to change his name because he struggled to get employment with an Italian last name. (As adults all the children used the name Barber). James was 45 and an electrical contractor. Lula was 42. Ellen was 21, Delores was 14, James was 3.
In 1931, James’ mother Sarah died. In 1932, Lula’s father died. In 1935, James’ sister Della died.
On the 1940 US Census James was 56. He didn’t list an occupation so perhaps that was still a struggle even with the name change. Lula was 53 and a seamstress in a garment factory. They had a full house. Daughter Ellen (age 30) was married to Wallace Cowan (age 37, salesman at auto store) and they had son Wallace (age 8) and daughter Carol (age 2, my mother). Also listed was Delores, age 24, who was married. She was also enumerated with her husband and children on the same census, living a few blocks away. James Jr. was 13.
In 1946, James’ sister Celestia died. In 1948, Lula’s brother Roy died.
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 had become Barber.)
1957 Lula M (widow of James) machine operator Gernes Garment 2512 Monroe Ave
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.
In 1955, Lula’s brother Floyd died.
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 July 24, 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. Her Find a Grave memorial is here.
James Barber Jr. – 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.