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.


Wallace Paul Cowan was born on January 25, 1903 in Arkansas. He is the only child of the very brief marriage between Albert Gibson Cowan and Myrtle Bertie Hinson. You can read about Bertie & Albert here and about my attempts to make sure I was following the right Albert here.

Paul grew up living with his mother and grandparents in Springdale, Arkansas. I don’t believe he had much if any contact with his father throughout his life. In 1912, both of his parents remarried. His father remained married and had four more children, while his mother was only briefly married. Paul never met his siblings and may not have known about them. Paul started working at an early age, and is listed as doing grocery deliveries on the 1920 US Census when he was 16.

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. Ellen was the firstborn, and would later have a sister and brother. You can read about them here.


On the 1930 US Census, 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.)

Paul and Ellen were married June 23, 1930 in Platte City, Platte County, Missouri.

Their son was born in 1931 and their daughter Carol Ann Cowan was born in 1937.

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

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.

Ellen’s father died in 1951, and her mother died in 1960. Her sister died in 1966. Paul’s father died in 1963, and his mother informed him of this. Paul’s mother died in 1971.

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. Not long after, Ellen’s brother died, so despite being the oldest child in her family, she was the last living sibling. Ellen died exactly 2 years after her husband, 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.

Joseph (Guisseppe) Barboro (1841-1927) & Sarah Ann Clovis (1850-1931)

Finally I get to an ancestor who immigrated from another country, in this case Italy.

Italian Flay

My great great grandfather Joseph Barboro arrived in the United States as Guiseppe Sbarboro, noted as age 10 on the passenger list, on April 9, 1851. He traveled from Genoa, Italy on a ship named Arbace, and arrived in New York City. He traveled with parents B. and M. Susanna Sbarboro, ages 43 and 40, and sisters Maria age 8 and Catarina age 5 months. I have no further record of Maria or Catarina after that passenger list (pictured below.) The trip likely took 2-4 weeks, and there were 85 passengers on the boat.

SBARBORO Arrival 1851

Joseph and his parents report on future census that they were born in the Piedmont of Italy. That is a region at the top of the boot, bordering France and Switzerland. There was a revolution in Italy in 1848, and the area was in a period of unification by the time my family left. I found that the greatest concentration of the surname Sbarboro is actually in Liguria, which is just south of the Piedmont, on the coast. The capitol of Liguria is Genoa, the port city they sailed from.

I’m not sure what year Joseph Sbarboro was actually born because his birth year as noted on documents I have varies, and most years he gets older. It’s somewhere between 1834 (as noted on his death certificate) and 1841 (based on him being 10 when he arrived in the US in 1851.) I am using the year 1841 because it’s the earliest information I have and was likely provided by a parent. I’m using the month and date of April 27 from his death certificate. The informant on the death certificate was the grandson Joseph and Sarah raised, Dr. Frank E. Day, so he probably knew when Joseph celebrated his birthday.

By the 1860 US Census, Joseph and his parents were living in St. Louis, Missouri. Joseph was 22 and working as an engineer. (Likely he was a steamboat engineer, as there is a family story that he worked on the steamboats.) Susanna was 50. Now we know what the “B” stands for – his father is Bartholomew, age 54. They share a dwelling with George Humes (a shoemaker from Germany) and George Hawcroft (a tailor from England.)

In the 1864 St. Louis Directory, a Joseph Sbarboro is listed as a barkeeper on Washington Avenue, residing at 9th. I can’t be sure it’s our Joseph, but I don’t know of another in Missouri. (I found two James Barboros living in Missouri. One was Joseph’s son and my great grandfather, and the other was 40 years younger and living in St. Louis. I don’t know if the Barboros who stayed in St. Louis were related to our Barboros who left St. Louis.)

Joseph moved to Kansas City by 1866, when he was listed in the city directory having a fruit stand at the corner of 4th and Green, and residing at the same address.

Joseph married Sarah Ann Clovis in January of 1870. My great great grandmother was born October 24, 1850 in Pennsylvania. Her parents are John Clovis and Sarah Hustead. The family farmed in Coldbrook, Illinois at the time of the 1860 US Census. By the 1870 census the family had moved to Kansas. Her parents both died in Mulberry, Kansas. You can see her father’s Find A Grave memorial here and her mother’s Find A Grave memorial here.

In the 1870 Kansas City Directory Bartholomew Sbarboro was listed as a fruit dealer residing East Levee between Main and Walnut. Joseph is at the same address.

On the 1870 US Census, Barth was 69 and a huckster. Susanna was 64 and keeping house. Joseph was 31 and a laborer; his wife Sarah Ann was 19. There’s a 9 year old Mary F. and a 6 year old Amelia, both born in Missouri, living with the family. Relationships aren’t noted on this census, so I can only guess. I think Joseph was married shortly after the 1860 census, and Mary F. and Amelia are from that marriage. I have no further record of Mary F., but Amelia shows up later as Joseph’s daughter. I also have no further record of Bartolomeo and Susanna, so I don’t know when they died or where they are buried.

The Kansas City Directory listed Joseph Sbarboro as a laborer (1878) and fruit dealer (1879) living at 1524 Cherry. In 1880 he was listed running a fruit stand on Broadway between 2nd and 3rd.

On the 1880 US Census, Joseph was 43 and a huckster. Sarah was 31. Amelia was 15, Chilesta was 9, Celia was 7, Minnie was 4, Dallas was 3, Joseph H. was 3 months having been born in March. Ed Cranby, a saddler, boards with them. I have no further record of Dallas or Joseph H.

Below is a summary of the City Directory information I have for the next 20 years. If an occupation is listed, it’s carpenter unless otherwise indicated. Can you imagine moving this much, especially with a growing family? In 1880 they had 6 children. Two would die and five more would be born.

1881 – 304 Main
1882 – laborer, 110 E 18th Street
1883 – 1650 Washington
1884 – works at the Gas Company, 1325 Walnut
1885 – 520 Gillis
1886 – 521 1/2 Lydia
1887 – 553 Lydia
1888 – 724 E 3rd
1889 – 683 Gillis
1891 – 1007 E 5th
1892 & 1893 – 1318 E 5th
1894 – (Sarah is listed too, as a dressmaker), 912 Independence Avenue
1897 – 621 Holmes
1902 – 515 Troost
1903 – 1111 Pacific
1904 – 1200 Penn
1905- 2008 Bales
1906 – 3213 E 18th
1907 – 2307 Indiana

The 1890 US Census isn’t available, and I can’t find the family in the 1900 US Census, so we skip to the 1910 US Census. Joseph was 74 and a carpenter doing odd jobs. Sarah was 59. Daughter Evelyn was 18 and grandson Frank E. Shannon was 9. Sarah reported having given birth to 11 children, 8 of them still living. Joseph says his birthplace is Italy and his mother and father’s birthplace is France, but on previous census Joseph lists his parents’ birthplace as Italy, and they list their own birthplace as Italy. My cousin thinks that Susanna was French. They may have lived close to the changing border of France and Italy, which could allow for the differences.

BARBORO Joseph CLOVIS SarahThe city directory shows that by 1913 Joseph and Sarah are living at 4848 Montrose, where they remain until death.

On the 1920 US Census, Joseph was 82 and Sarah was 69. Grandson Frank E. Day, 19, works in the Registry Department of the Post Office.

This photograph of Joseph & Sarah (given to my by a cousin) was said to have been taken on Joseph’s 90th birthday, but if he was born in 1841 he was 86 years old when he died. They don’t look thrilled to be having their picture taken, but I’m so happy to have it!

Joseph died at home on December 23, 1927. In 1928, 1929, and 1930 Kansas City Directory, Sarah was listed as Joseph’s widow, living at 4848 Montrose.

On the 1930 US Census, Sarah was living in her home on Montrose with grandson Frank E. Day (a physician) and his wife Fannie (telephone operator). Sarah died at home on March 25, 1931.  Joseph and Sarah are buried Mount St. Mary’s Cemetery in Kansas City, Missouri.

Below is a list of their children to the best of my knowledge. Note that they were born when their parents’ last name changed back and forth from Sbarboro to Barboro, and since I don’t know what they considered their maiden names to be, and don’t have birth records, I’m using the last name on record at the time they reached adulthood – Barboro. The only boy who lived to adulthood, James, definitely used the last name Barber so that is how I refer to him.

Mary F. Barboro – The only record I have of her is the 1870 US Census stating she was 9 years old, born 1861 in Missouri. Her mother is unknown.

Amelia Barboro – According to the 1880 US Census, Amelia was born in 1865 in Missouri, and her mother is unknown. She appears in the Kansas City Directory living with the family in 1886, 1887, 1888 and 1889. In 1886 and 1889 she’s noted to be working as a packer at C C & C Company. I have no record for her after that.

Celestia M. Barboro – Celestia was born December 4, 1870 in Kansas City, Missouri. She married John Joseph Hennessey on December 25, 1897 in Clay County, Missouri. They had no children. She died January 30, 1946 in Kansas City, Missouri. Her Find A Grave memorial is here.

Cecelia Barboro – Cecelia was born in 1873 in Missouri. She married Robert Frederick Reed and they lived in Denver, Colorado where her husband became Chief of Police. They had a son. I don’t know when she died but it was after the 1930 US Census.

Minnie M Barboro – Minnie was born May 20, 1875 in Missouri. She married David James Harvey and they remained in Kansas City, Missouri. Her husband was a newsboy (1900), dealer of second hand goods (1910), and proprietor of billiard hall (1920). They had one daughter, who died in 1916 at age 22 of tuberculosis. Minnie’s Find A Grave memorial is here.

Dallas Barboro – The only record I have of him is the 1880 US Census stating he was 3 years old, born 1877 in Missouri.

Joseph H Barboro – The only record I have of him is on the 1880 US Census. He is 3 months old, born in March 1880 in Missouri.

Viola Marie Barboro – Viola was born August 14, 1882 in Kansas City, Missouri. She had a child prior to her marriage, who was raised by her parents. (That son, Frank Eugene Day, became a doctor and was Chief of Staff at Northeast Osteopathic Hospital in Kansas City.) Viola married Frank Stewart Day. They had 2 children. Viola died August 6, 1961 in Independence, Missouri. Her Find A Grave memorial is here.

James William Barber – James is my great grandfather, and you can read more about him here.

Della Barboro – Della was born in Missouri on January 31, 1886. In the 1907 Kansas City Directory she’s living with the family and working as a seamstress. She married Harry E. Merrill (stair builder, cabinet maker) and they had two children. She died February 8, 1935 in Kansas City, Missouri. Her Find A Grave memorial is here.

Agnes Mary Barboro – Agnes was born July 21, 1888 in Missouri. She married John Alva Brock (cattle salesman) and they had two children. John died in 1927. Agnes married Alec Ratkay (butcher) on July 14, 1934 in Clay County, Missouri. She died in 1967 in Kansas City, Missouri. Her Find A Grave memorial is here.

Evelyn Cladis Barboro – She was born May 23, 1894 in Kansas City, Missouri. She married William Davenport Rogers (baker) in Jackson County, Missouri on June 9, 1913 and they had 5 children. They lived in Blue Springs, Missouri in 1930 and 1940 according to the US Census. She died in April 6, 1978 in Dade County, Florida.

James William Barber (1884-1951) & Lula May Watrous (1887-1960)

updated February 2019

Lula May Watrous, James Barber Jr., James William Barber

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, 1885 in Cass County, Iowa to Arthur Wardwell Watrous and Carrie Elizabeth 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

About 1945. At the far right is my mother Carol Ann Cowan, then her father Wallace Paul Cowan, then her mother Ellen Cecelia Barber, and then her brother. The girl in the front is Delores Jeanne Darr, and behind her is probably her mother Delores Edna Barber. 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 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:

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 & Delores Edna Barber

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.

BARBER James Jr (2)

James Barber, Jr.

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.