Theresa "Trasey" Burns was born on 23 July 1864 in Kansas City, Jackson, Missouri, the fourth of five children born to Peter Dennis Burns and Mary Casey. She was christened at the Immaculate Conception Cathedral Parish in Kansas City on 31 July 1864. Peter Burns died sometime before 1870, and Theresa's mother remarried to a man named Louis Nero. The blended family is listed on the 1870 US census and the 1875 Kansas State census in Wyandotte County, Kansas.
When Theresa was about age 10 (around 1874), the family moved to Yankton County, Dakota Territory. (This would eventually be South Dakota, but the Dakotas would not become states for another 15 years.) Theresa married John Charles Slowey on 24 February 1886 at St. Kyran Catholic Church. By the time the 1900 census rolled around, the couple had 8 children. By the 1910 census, they added 4 more, but had lost two in infancy.
The couple purchased a farm shortly after they were married. The original farm was 189 acres, all on the north side of what is now Highway 46, in Mayfield Township. They later bought an additional 54 acres on the south side of the highway, in Walshtown Township, in about 1900. John was a grain farmer, and received help on his farm from son Clarence. Theresa was well known as a midwife and was much in demand at childbirth and also other sickness.
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