Sunday, June 25, 2017

My Gower Grandfather, June 25, 2017

I have a lot of great memories,
but I can't imagine anything more exciting
than the life I live now.
~Rob Lowe

This month of June is the month of Father's Day, and brings to my mind a few important fellows in our family.

My Gower Grandfather. I am thinking first of all of my grandfather Leroy Ertin Gower (1899-1974), who was born in Timbo, Arkansas, 118 years ago today. Of my four grandparents, he died the youngest at age 75. He was a stern fellow who made a huge change in his life when he and his wife Nola moved from the little town of Okemah, Oklahoma to the city of San Diego, California in 1942. He was born and spent the first 25 years of his life in the hills of northern Arkansas, which was also the home of his wife Nola Shannon, and was where they were married in 1921.

Leroy M. "Babe" Gower and Daughter Vergie
He was named after his uncle Leroy Monroe "Babe" Gower who lived next door to his parents when Leroy was born, in the community of Sylamore, a few miles west of Mountain View, Arkansas. This first picture from about 1940, shows Leroy's namesake, his uncle Leroy "Babe" Gower, and Babe's special needs daughter Vergie Gower.

Leroy's oldest brother Alford Gower died at just 4 months old, 5 years before Leroy was born. The second child of the family, Leroy's older brother Lloyd W. Gower, died at just 18 years old in WWI when Leroy was just 15. Combine those experiences with the difficulty of making a living on the family farm in the early 20th century in Northern Arkansas, and you get an early life for Leroy that was hard and trying. It explains a lot about his stern demeanor, his serious approach to life and his simple lifestyle.

Leroy Ertin Gower
In the 1910 US Census, as a child of 10 years, Leroy was listed as a "farm laborer" and a "wage earner." He was also listed as "able to read and write," so it appears he had attended school for some (probably short) period of time in his early life. Even so, his life as a laborer and wage earner defined him from the time he was a boy. This second picture shows my grandfather Leroy Gower in work overalls (appropriately enough) probably in the 1930s.

When the family did move to California, Leroy came first in the summer of 1942, with son Hank and his young wife Starlene. Leroy had to come first to get work and be a wage earner before wife Nola and daughters Maida and Vicki could come to San Diego, which they did in December of that year.

The Gowers had been small time farmers in Stone County, Arkansas for several generations. Making the switch to life in Southern California was obviously a big change for them, a "sea change" in how they saw the world and approached life. Leroy and Nola did have their Baptist church connection which was one familiar thing for them during their transition to life in the city. There were some tough times as they settled into life in Southern California. A few years after they moved to San Diego their 15 year old daughter got pregnant, then became a teenage bride, an incident that created great strain on the family. But through it all they endured as Leroy and Nola made a good life for themselves on Lynne Street in what was then called East San Diego.

Leroy has a rich Gower heritage that stretches back nearly 4 centuries in North America. I have discovered that finding family links that reach into the early 19th century and occasionally into the 18th century is not difficult. My grandfather Gower's lineage, however, can be traced back to the early 17th century in Colonial America.

A key person in his lineage was Abell Gower (1640-1689), the first of our Gower ancestors to be born on American soil. Born in 1640 in the town of Henrico, Virginia near Richmond, he is the earliest American birth among all our known ancestors.

The year 1640 was 135 years prior to the Revolutionary War, long before the declaration of Independence and the creation of "The United States." In 1640 the total population of Colonial America was only 26,600. (1,500 times that number of people live today in California alone!)

He is described in The Encyclopedia of Virginia Biography (page 245) this way: "Gower, Abell was a justice of Henrico County, Virginia from 1679 till his death in 1689; sheriff in 1681, and a member of the house of burgesses in 1679. He married Jane, daughter of Edward Hatcher, of Henrico. He appears to have been a son of Abell Gower of Boulton, county Gloucester, England, esquire."

I am thankful for the life of my grandfather Leroy Gower and the rich and wonderful heritage we can claim because of him.

Joe Paul Harris (1950-2009). I am also thinking this month of my wife Cindy's brother Joe Paul Harris, who was born June 23, 1950. He spent his early life in San Diego before moving to Naknek, Alaska where he lived for about 20 years until he died in June, 2009. 

The accompanying picture shows Joe Paul at Christmas 2008 in San Diego, standing behind his mother Paula Harris, with his aunt Juanita Eeds on the left. His sister Cindy Shepard and nephew Nathan Shepard are on the right.

Kyle Sauvage. One other important June birthday to mention today: Kyle Sauvage, who will turn 12 years old tomorrow, June 26. Kyle is the younger son of James and Kelly Shepard Sauvage, and the grandson of Jackie Perry and my brother Gary Shepard. James lives with his parents and his brother Nate in Weatherford, Texas. 

This final picture, taken in March, shows Kyle Sauvage while at spring training in Arizona with a ball signed by San Diego Padres' Will Myers.
- - -
Steve Shepard

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

A Plethora of Williamses, June 14, 2017

Life yields only to be conqueror. 
Never accept what can be gained by giving in. 
~William the Conqueror

Mandi and daughter Kambree with cousin Kyle
Happy Birthday Kambree! Kambree Kay Bowman celebrates her 4th birthday today, June 14. Kambree is a 3X Great Grandchild of William and Bura Shepard. She is also a 3X Great Grandchild of Leroy and Nola Gower. Kambree and her mother Mandi Aquiningoc live in Weatherford, Texas.

Best Wishes to Emma and Shannon. Earler this month on June 6 Emma Wilk of Atchison, Kansas celebrated a birthday. She is the daughter of Shannon Wilk and the granddaughter of my late cousin Beverly Russell Wilk (1939-1974). Emma's Great Great Grandparents are William and Bura Shepard, early 20th century ancestors who were the first in our Shepard family to live in California. Best wishes to Emma and her mom Shannon as Emma turns 12!

Emma Wilk and "Pappa" Frank
Kambree and Emma are both descendants of a family line that includes my Grandmother Bura Davis's Grandmother Maggie Williams Spear (1845-1904), of Spencer, Indiana. We have had a plethora of people named William in our family over the years, most recently persons who have William as their first or middle name. 

As far back as I can get information there has never been a time when our family has been without at least one William in our family. My grandson William Quincy Shepard is the youngest of the fellows in our family today with that first name. But there have been others, many others, going all the way back to the pre-Civil War days, and probably long before that.

Maggie Williams Spear
A Plethora of Williamses. My Great Great Grandmother Maggie Williams Spear takes the name William to a whole different level in our family tree by connecting us to the surname Williams. She was born in Spencer, Indiana, the 9th and last child of Sally Richardson Williams (1801-1877) and John Pouty Williams (1806-1898). John Pouty was the 2nd of the 4 children of John Williams and Lydia Warford Williams, prominent citizens of Shelby County, Kentucky, 150 miles Southeast of Spencer, Indiana. 

I have written about our Williams ancestors in Kentucky in this blog several times, including here, and here.

John Pouty Williams had a Grandfather in Kentucky, named William Williams (1745-1801). This William Williams was the first in his family to settle in Kentucky, having migrated from Loudon County, Virginia, west of Washington, D.C. with his wife Elizabeth Averett (or Everett) just before the turn of the 19th century. William and Elizabeth were Quakers, having their marriage of September 6, 1769 recorded in the "Monthly Quaker Meeting Records, 1681-1935 of Loudon County", a snippet from which is included below.

1769 Wedding Record for William Williams & Elizabeth Everett
John Pouty Williams not only had a grandfather named William Williams, he also had a brother named William Williams (1804-?). John and wife Sally also named the 5th of their 9 children William H. Williams (1834-1904). In the midst of all these William Williamses, at least they had the good sense to add a distinguishing "H" to this William William's name. In an interesting historical twist, it became not so distinguishing when William H. Williams and his wife Sarah named one of their sons William H. Williams (1881-1939).

These are just some of the many, many Williams that are in our family tree. There were (and ARE) numerous other Williams among the clan of these 19th century Williams ancestors of ours, and their descendants. We may even have roots that extend to the famous William the Conqueror (1028-1087), the first Norman King of England. But I am not ready to tackle that research! These Williams I have listed here are confusing enough. They clearly show that "William" has been -- and continues to be -- a favorite name of people in our family.
- - -
Steve Shepard

Friday, June 02, 2017

Celebrate Your Life, June 2, 2017

The more you praise and celebrate your life,
the more there is in life to celebrate.
~Oprah Winfrey


A Shepard Anniversary. Today is the 38th wedding anniversary of my brother Gary and his wife Cindy Ann Shepard of Oak Harbor, Washington. They were married June 2, 1979 in a small garden wedding in Los Alamitos, California. Only a handful of us were in attendance but it was a beautiful event. Those of us who were there remember it well. Happy Anniversary to Gary and Cindy!

Gary and Cindy lived in the San Diego area for most of their married life. They moved to Western Washington in 2003 to help care for our aging father Eugene Shepard who died in the summer of '03. Today they are an indispensable part of the small team of folks who are caring for our mother Maida Shepard. Gary has had his own health concerns in the last year but is doing better. Mom continues to need constant care but is doing quite well for 92 years old.

Another Shepard Anniversary. It was 102 years ago today that Gary's grandparents William and Bura Davis Shepard were married in Beaver County, Oklahoma. At the time they had known each other for less than 2 years. In the spring of 1913, the Davis family moved into the part of Beaver County where the Shepards lived. It was a sparsely populated farming community where potential marriage partners were in short supply. So when 26 year old William met 18 year old Bura, he knew she was someone special. They were married in 1915 on the 45th Birthday of Bura's father James Brooks Davis (1870-1928).

In 1975, the year before William Shepard died, he reminisced about his 1915 wedding day, and his bride, by saying this:

She was quite a Sunday School girl. I had just come into the church myself [the South Flat Church of Christ] in December [1914]. My dad had come in a little earlier than that. He was on his death bed with cancer and wanted to see me become a Christian before he died. So I did.

I had my first model T car. [To get married] we had to go to another sod house where the preacher lived. It was a real wet spring and water was standing everywhere. We didn't have highways. Just old roads. I didn't think we could make it by the regular road so we went on the higher country and ran into a lake and got stuck. We sat there in that car in the mud nearly all day. Finally an old gentleman who lived there pulled us out with his team of horses. It was about 3 or 4 o'clock. 


The preacher then tied the knot and we went home the way we should have when we went out to see him. He must have done a good job tying the knot because it is still tight.

Yet Another Anniversary. Yesterday was the 15th wedding anniversary of Will and Bura Shepard's Great Grandson Jeremy Ortiz and his wife Desiree of El Cajon, California. Best wishes to them for a very happy anniversary! The triptych above shows all three sets of anniversary celebrants: Will and Bura at the top, then Gary and Cindy, and then Jeremy and Desiree.

Congratulations to Graduates. I have mentioned numerous times in this blog my Grandfather William Shepard's sister, Sadie Shepard Pruett (1892-1980). I have been corresponding with one of Sadie's Granddaughters, Lisa Allred Parks of Forth Worth, Texas. Second cousin Lisa responded to my last post concerning this spring's graduates by sharing about two young folks in her part of our family.

Best wishes and kudos to Kenny Wheeler, the son of Lisa's sister Shawna Allred Wheeler. Kenny graduated from High School in Fort Worth just last week. Congratulations also to the daughter of Lisa's brother Steven Allred. Angela Allred Kornegay graduated from the University of Texas at Tyler with a Civil Engineering degree. We celebrate both of them on these fine achievements!

The diptych on the left shows graduate Kenny at the top with a friend, while the bottom section shows graduate Angela with her proud father Steven Allred.

One More Celebration. I recently heard from my cousin Michael Harrell, son of Vicki Gower Johnston of Arizona. Michael and his wife Carole live in Tokyo on a 3 year assignment for Mike's work. He was back in the U.S. last month and contacted me. He and Carole are doing well almost a year into their time in Japan. He reiterated his welcome to any family members who might be visiting Japan to be sure and let them know. If you would like Mike's contact info just let me know and I will gladly pass it on to you.

Mike had a birthday just a few days ago, on May 29. Happy Birthday to Mike and best wishes to him and Carole on their extended stay in Tokyo! To keep up with Mike and Carole, visit them on Facebook.
- - -
Steve Shepard

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Spring Celebrations, May 21, 2017

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
   and do not rely on your own insight.
In all your ways acknowledge him,
   and he will make straight your paths.
Proverbs 3.5-6

Hello family and friends!


Nathan and Kaylan
Congratulations to Kaylan Shepard on her graduation from Shepard High School this week. She plans to attend Florida College in Temple Terrace, Florida in the fall. The quote at the top of this post accompanied Kaylan's graduation notice. 

Her brother Nathan Shepard graduated from Florida College earlier this month. Best wishes to both Kaylan and Nathan, and the proud parents of both graduates, my cousin Dane Shepard and his wife Cindy of Blanchard, Oklahoma!

The first picture shows both graduates: Nathan Shepard with his sister Kaylan.

Are there others in our family who are graduating this spring? I would be glad to hear about you and share your graduation news with everyone. Best wishes to all of you!


Elmer James Shepard in the 1930s
Yesterday, May 20, was the 99th anniversary of the birth of my uncle Elmer Shepard (1918-2012), the late grandfather of Nathan and Kaylan. Elmer was the second child of William and Bura Davis Shepard and was a part of that family of 9 who moved from Southeast Colorado to San Diego in 1940. They began the Shepard presence here in Southern California that has continued now for 77 years.

Remembering Elmer brings to mind the fact that 99 years ago, my grandparents William and Bura Shepard were a young married couple with a one year old, Pauline, and now a second child, Elmer. They were making the most of their lives in the dusty rural farm land of Beaver County, Oklahoma. 


Jason Shepard with niece Lyndsey
The second picture shows Elmer Shepard as a young man, in his farming overalls, sitting on a horse. This picture was taken sometime in the 1930s probably on the farm where the family lived.

When Elmer was born, the Shepards had been in Oklahoma a little more than 10 years, while Bura and her Davis kinfolk had been in Oklahoma barely 4 years. They were relative newcomers to the state, having moved from Illinois and Indiana, respectively. Yet twenty-somethings William and Bura were doing their best with their young family and their high hopes to establish some roots in a difficult time.

Now, 99 years later, while some of Will and Bura's descendants still live in San Diego, others have returned to Oklahoma, the land of their roots, while still others have moved on to the Northwest, the Midwest, Texas and elsewhere.


Ashlyn Ortiz on left with her siblings
Two other members of our family, whose roots happen to be in San Diego, are to be celebrated. Among those having birthdays this past week are Jason Shepard of Fort Worth, Texas who turned 45 on Thursday. Jason, the son of my brother Gary Shepard and Jackie Perry, is pictured above with his niece Lyndsey Aquiningoc. This picture was taken last fall in Weatherford, Texas.

Also with a birthday this past week is Ashlyn Ortiz of El Cajon, California, who turned 12 on Friday. Ashlyn is the daughter of Jeremy and Desiree Ortiz and the grandchild of my cousin Kim Clark. The final picture, taken overlooking the Pacific Ocean, shows Ashlyn, on the left in the picture, with her siblings Dominic, Isaac, Damian and Ciara.
- - -
Steve Shepard

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Happy Mother's Day! May 13, 2017

Happy Mother's Day!

There is nothing more enjoyable in the life of a family than to wish our mothers a happy mother's day. I have found that the joy of doing that never grows old. As my mom approaches 93 years old, I find it as satisfying to wish her a Happy Mother's Day today, as I did when I was a child, some 60+ years ago.

So to my mom in Anacortes, Washington, I offer joyous greetings on this weekend of "her day". Being 1,500 mile away I won't be able to give her a hug, and she may not remember my call after the conversation is ended, but I am thinking of her with deep gratitude in my heart nonetheless, and with good memories too numerous to count.

My Mom has lived in Northwest Washington now for 39 years. One of the things she has always enjoyed about that part of the world are the beautiful tulips of Skagit County. The first picture I am including shows me and mom and her daughter Barbara last month when the three of us had the opportunity, on a beautiful bright and sunny day, to visit the nearby tulip fields.

My mom Maida Gower Shepard is the eldest mom in our Shepard and Gower family. Not far behind is her sister, and my aunt, Vicki Gower Johnston of Chandler, Arizona. Another Mom from that generation in our families is Thelma Shepard Boyd of Grain Valley, Missouri. To those three moms in a special way I offer good wishes for health and happiness. But to all the moms in the circles of our families -- young or old, near or far --  may you have a delightful weekend filled with all the gratitude and well wishes that you so rightfully deserve!

Happy Birthday, Logan Alexander Shepard! Monday is the 6th Birthday of our grandson Logan Shepard, who lives here in San Diego with his dad Nathan and his siblings Preslea and William Shepard. The following YouTube video, set to the music of Justin Timberlake, celebrates this happy birthday for kindergartener Logan.

 


- - -
Steve Shepard

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Our Deep Spear Roots In Ohio, May 10, 2017

We are links between the ages,
containing past and present expectations,
sacred memories and future promise.
~Edward Sellner

Greetings to all of you from San Diego! With Mother's Day this weekend, special birthdays on the horizon, and much more, it is a special time in the life of our family.

I have known about our important Davis roots in Indiana for many years, but only recently have I come to appreciate the equally important roots of Callie Spear Davis' family in Indiana. I have written recently about discovering how those Spear ancestors also migrated to Indiana from Eastern Ohio about the same time the Davises did, around 1850.

Early 19th Century Ohio Roots. I have also known for some years that our Davis ancestors in Ohio prior to 1850 were connected to the Restoration Movement, a religious revival which gave birth to the Churches of Christ as well as the Disciples of Christ. What I had not known till recently is that Callie Spear Davis' family was equally connected to the Restoration Movement in Ohio in the early 19th century when that movement was in its infancy.

Part of what lead me to this was some genealogical data my grandmother Bura Davis Shepard had given me years ago, long before she died in 1986. I am grateful for the time I was able to spend with her, asking her for details of her ancestry, and for the wealth of information she provided me at that time. She also put me in touch with her nephew Ronald Davis (1931-1998), who was an impressive chronicler of our Davis/Spear family history.

One tidbit of information that Ronald shared with me concerned Andrew Spear (1806-1887), one of our Spear ancestors from Ohio who did NOT migrate to Indiana, as many of our other Spear ancestors did around 1850. Among those who DID migrate to Indiana were Andrew Spear's brothers Daniel, David, James, and Robert Spear.

Andrew Spear's father, James Spear (1768-1821) knew all about migration. He had come to America from County Armaugh, Ireland at about 20 years old, at the turn of the 19th century. Though he did not migrate to Indiana himself -- he only made it as far west as Ohio -- he may have encouraged his sons to venture on westward.

Church of Christ Cemetery, Ohio
Church of Christ Cemetery. Why his son Andrew Spear did not migrate to Indiana from Ohio, we may never know. Maybe he felt obligated to care for his family or tend to his farming. What we do know is that Andrew remained in Eastern Ohio for the rest of his life, and is buried there. Ronald Davis' family history says that Andrew Spear died in 1887 and is buried in Church of Christ Cemetery, Dalzell, Ohio.

That was the tidbit of information from Ronald Davis that caught my attention: Church of Christ Cemetery. Was this cemetery named after a Restoration Movement congregation of the 19th century? Does it indicate that some of our Spear ancestors were members there? It is hard to draw any firm conclusions at this point. 

A Distant Spear Relative. I recently corresponded with a distant Spear relative in Florida by the name of Bonnie Sprout. She, like me, is also a direct descendant of Irish immigrant James Spear and his wife Elizabeth McConnahaw Spear, whose son Andrew is buried in this Ohio cemetery. Bonnie gave me some details about the Church of Christ Cemetery. She said is located on the farm of some of her Sprout relatives from Lower Salem, Washington County, Ohio. She also connected me to the Find-A-Grave listing for the cemetery. That is where I found the two pictures of the cemetery included in this post. The first one shows a panoramic view of the cemetery while the second one shows the front of the church on the cemetery grounds, which has the name "Church of Christ" across it.

There is still much to be learned about the history of this Church and Cemetery which is tucked away in the rural hills of Eastern Ohio. But if nothing else this is one more indication that our family's deep Ohio roots -- in this case our Spear roots of 200 years ago -- are connected to the religious tradition with which many of us are affiliated.
- - -
Steve Shepard

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Important Memories, April 27, 2017

Families are made in the heart.
~C. Joybell C.

Three very memorable celebrations in our family occur this week.

Beverly Russell Wilk. Today, April 27, is the 78th anniversary of the birth of Beverly Russell Wilk, my cousin who died in 1974 of a brain aneurysm at just 35 years old. Born in Two Buttes, Colorado in 1939. Bev was just a year old when her family moved from Colorado to San Diego in 1940. Her parents Bill Russell and Pauline Shepard Russell, and her grandparents William Shepard and Bura Davis Shepard with their children, were the first members of our family to move to San Diego.

Ever since 1940 -- 77 years ago -- some descendants of Will and Bura Shepard have lived in San Diego. As best I can tell, that is longer than any place that our Shepard ancestors have lived.

Tomorrow, April 28, is the birthday of my father Eugene Shepard (1921-2003) and my grandmother Nola Shannon Gower (1903-2004).

The first picture I am including today shows my dad Gene Shepard with his niece Beverly Russell Wilk in the 1950s, alongside the El Cajon Blvd Church of Christ in San Diego, which was the family's church at the time.

Dad was born in 1921 in rural Logan in Beaver County, Oklahoma, the third of the four children of William Shepard and Bura Davis Shepard. Just before World War II he and his family moved to San Diego, where he lived the longest part of his life, nearly 40 years. In 1978 he and wife Maida retired to Anacortes, Washington where they made their home until his death in 2003.

Gene and his mother-in-law Nola Shannon Gower were born on the same day of the year, 18 years apart. Interestingly, the other birthday person this week, Beverly Russell Wilk, was born 18 years after my dad Eugene, almost to the day.

Nola Shannon Gower was born April 28, 1903, the last of the 9 children of Sam and Finetta Shannon. In 1925 she and husband Leroy Gower moved to Okemah, Oklahoma. Then in 1942 they moved with their three children to San Diego, just two years after the Shepards had also moved to San Diego from Oklahoma. It wasn't until the Shepards and the Gowers had settled in California that they met each other. That occurred in 1943 when my mom and dad, Maida Gower and Gene Shepard, met each other and were married in 1945.

The second picture was taken in 1962 at the Gower home on Lynne Street in East San Diego. From left to right are Leroy and Nola Gower, Maida (holding son Russell) and Eugene Shepard. In front is Starlene Gower next to Barbara and Darrell Shepard.

This week of the birthdays of these three -- Beverly Wilk, Gene Shepard, and Nola Gower -- is a time to celebrate three well loved and much respected people in our family tree. I am thankful for the life and family legacy of all three of them.

In a special way, I celebrate my father and my grandmother today in the very place they spent the last years of their lives. At the Shepard home on Wildwood Lane in Anacortes, Washington.
- - -
Steve Shepard

Monday, April 24, 2017

The Spencer Connection, April 24, 2017

The family --
that dear octopus
from whose tentacles
we never quite escape,
nor ever quite wish to.
~Dodie Smith

Greetings to all of you, family and friends! The Shepard's Crook is coming to you today from Anacortes, Washington where I happen to be this week while visiting family here. In particular I am catching up with my siblings Gary and Barbara, and my mom Maida Shepard, the senior member of our Shepard clan.

I received an email recently from my cousin Kim Boyd Clark who said that she and her husband Jeff visited Spencer, Indiana last weekend with her mother Thelma Shepard Boyd. They were there ostensibly to do some shopping, but they also chose to make it something of a genealogical trek. 

I am reminded of how important that little town is in the history of our family, in particular the Davis part of our family. My grandmother Bura Davis Shepard was born there in 1896 and lived there for the first 16 years of her life until her family moved to Beaver County, Oklahoma in 1913. Her Davis family had been settled in Indiana since about 1850 when her Great Grandparents Alexander and Jane Davis migrated from Monroe County, Ohio to Morgan County, Indiana.

Thelma Boyd, Kim Clark
When Kim, Jeff and Thelma visited Spencer recently, they went to the New Union Cemetery just outside Spencer. That Cemetery is next to the location where the New Union Church of Christ once stood, the home church for dozens of our Davis and Spear kinfolk in the second half of the 19th century. Indeed some of our kinfolk were members of that congregation until 1957 when the church finally closed its doors.

The first picture shows Thelma and Kim in the New Union Cemetery at the grave of Alexander Davis and his daughter Elizabeth Davis Carter. Six years ago several of you who are readers of this blog shared in an effort to replace the 144 year old headstones for Alexander and Elizabeth. The remnants of those headstones are on either side of Thelma and Kim. Select this link to read more about the new headstones.

This picture also shows that headstone that honors Alexander and Elizabeth Davis, who were among our first ancestors in Morgan County, Indiana and among the founding members of the New Union Church.

Many thanks to Thelma, Kim and Jeff for sharing this picture of their visit to Spencer and being a reminder of how important this little town is to the history of our family.

Bud Davis and sisters
Speaking of Davis kinfolk, I also heard recently from Bud Davis, a first cousin of my late father Gene Shepard. Bud's father Jesse Davis was the brother of my Grandmother Bura Davis. Bud recently posted on Facebook a picture of him and his 4 sisters. There was a fifth sister, Becky Davis, who passed away a few years ago.

Bud identified his sisters for me: Front row, left to right, are Jessie Bushong, Charlotte Taylor, and Nordeen Cochran.  Kathy Villanueva is in the back with Bud. All the sisters live in Bartlesville, Oklahoma except Nordeen who lives in Spearman, Texas.

Thanks so much to Bud for this picture. Select this link to view a wonderful Davis family video that Bud put together recently which includes a number of historic images.
- - -
Steve Shepard

Monday, April 10, 2017

Happy Sibling's Day! April 10, 2017

Siblings are the people we practice on,
the people who teach us about fairness
and cooperation and kindness and caring, 
quite often the hard way.
~Pamela Dugdale

Today is Sibling's Day. Sibling relationships are usually the longest relationships a person will have in their entire life, often longer than the relationship a person will share with either of their parents. My relationship with my older brother Gary has lasted the entire 68 years of my life. And when it is all said and done that relationship will probably be the longest lasting relationship of my life.


I am grateful for the siblings with whom I have shared life for all these many years. This first picture shows me and my 4 sibings in a photo from 1983. From left to right are Barbara, Russell, Darrell, me and Gary. This picture was taken in front of our parents' home on Wildwood Lane in Anacortes. 

With my mother's advancing age and growing health concerns, the past year has been more difficult that any other in the life of my siblings and me. The challenges have been many as we have made our way through the struggles that have resulted from our mother's advanced years and the need to care for her in the best way possible. It has drawn us together, but it has also tested our mettle as siblings. Through it all I remain humbly grateful for the brothers and sisters I have been blessed with.

Jerry Clark. I am also grateful today for Jerry Clark of Lubbock, Texas. For one short year long ago, he was married to my late sister Linda (1950-1971). But for 46 years now he has remained a brother in heart within our family. Last Saturday was the 11th anniversary of Jerry and his wife Cathrina Clark. Best wishes and "Happy Anniversary!" to both of them.

Rachel Shepard. Happy 30th Birthday this Friday to my niece Rachel Shepard of Bothell, Washington! Rachel is the daughter of my sibling #3, Darrell Shepard and his wife Mary. This second picture taken a few months ago, shows Rachel with her son Kellan.

A Fascinating Pair of Siblings. One of the most interesting pairs of siblings in our family was William Elmer Shepard (1862-1915) and his brother Frank J. Shepherd (1860-1950). They were the only children of our Great Great Grandparents William and Mary (Sprague) Shepherd. 

The father of these siblings, William Shepherd, died in the Civil War in 1862 when Frank was just 1 1/2 years old and the younger William was just 5 months old. Mary Shepherd, after just 3 years of widowhood, married a fellow by the name of William Ragsdale, in Montgomery County, Indiana where she had been raised. 

The only problem was the widower Ragsdale already had 9 children, which meant that suddenly brothers Frank and William had to share their mother with their 9 new step brothers and sisters. Their mother Mary then gave Mr. Ragsdale 3 more children, increasing the new blended family to a whopping 14 kids.

The following graphic is a snippet from the 1880 U.S. Census which lists siblings Frank and William Shepherd as step-sons in the household of William and Mary Ragsdale. It also lists 6 of the 12 step-siblings of Frank and William. 




Frank seemed to do pretty well growing up in this new living arrangement, but young William didn't. About 1880, when he was an older teen, he had had enough of his family -- his mother, his one biological brother, his 12 step siblings, his step-father, all of them -- and he left home in anger, never to see them again. We don't know what exactly caused him to leave. One family story has it that young William and his step father simply could not get along. So before they even reached adulthood, the brothers Frank and William were separated, at William's initiative, and were never reunited. 

Frank ended up settling in Marshall County in Northeast Indiana, where he became a long time US Mail Carrier, and died in 1950. William Elmer went to Illinois, where he married Elvira Owen and with her had two children, William (my Grandfather) and Sadie. In 1905, with his new family, William Elmer moved on to Beaver County, Oklahoma where he lived the rest of his life. He died in 1915 and is buried in Beaver County's Sophia Cemetery.

For some reason, as the years went by, Frank used the spelling "Shepherd" for his last name, while his brother William used the spelling "Shepard." Why would these two brothers -- children of the same parents, who grew up together -- choose different spellings for their last name?

It's a very curious question that may never be answered. The fact of the matter is that Shepard and Shepherd were commonly used variations of their last name. In the mid 19th century attention to correct spelling was simply not as common as it is today. The Civil War record of the father of Frank and William shows his last name as Shepard, but on the same form it lists Shepherd as a possible alternate. And remember this: from the time they were babies Frank and William were the only ones in their entire family who had the last name Shepard or Shepherd. Even their mother Mary used her second husband's last name Ragsdale for the rest of her life. 

The time came in each of the boys' life when they had to choose for themselves how they wanted to spell their last name. It is possible that young William Elmer, when he angrily left his family, deliberately chose the spelling "Shepard" as a way of distinguishing himself from his Indiana kinfolk, and in particular his brother Frank. What we know for sure is that Frank consistently used the spelling "Shepherd" for the rest of his life, while his brother William consistently used the spelling "Shepard". The latter is, of course, the way the last 6 generations have consistently spelled our last name, ever since 1880 when young William separated from his family in Indiana.

Frank and William's curious story is filled with adversity and sadness but also hope. They were a unique pair of siblings in our family and are worth remembering on this "Siblings Day 2017."
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Steve Shepard

Monday, April 03, 2017

The Day The Lord Created Hope, April 3, 2017

The day the Lord created hope
was probably the same day
he created Spring.
~Bernard Williams

Nathan Shepard's Birthday. Today, April 3, is the birthday of our son Nathan Shepard, who was born in San Diego on this day 40 years ago! He lives today in San Diego and works for Wells Fargo Bank. He is the father of Preslea, Logan and William. 





For Nate's birthday this year I decided to do something a little different photo-wise. Since daughter Preslea's birthday was just 8 days ago, the above YouTube photo presentation consists entirely of pictures of Nathan and Preslea, which span the last 7 years. Best wishes to Nathan for a very happy birthday!


Happy Birthday Ciara! Tomorrow, April 4 is the birthday of Ciara Ortiz. Ciara is the oldest of the 5 children of Jeremy and Desiree Ortiz of El Cajon, California. She is also the oldest grandchild of my cousin Kim Boyd Clark who lives with husband Jeff in Grain Valley, Missouri.

This second picture was taken several months ago and shows birthday girl Ciara Ortiz on the right with her younger sister Ashlyn. Best wishes for a very happy 15th birthday to Ciara and her entire family as they celebrate with her!

Birthday wishes to Jimmie Gower. April 4 is also the birthday of my cousin Jimmie Gower. I have not been in touch with Jimmie much in recent years but I did have a conversation with him not long ago. He and his wife Cheryl are doing well and still happily retired in Fort Mojave, Arizona on the Colorado River, not far from his older brother Hershell Gower who lives in nearby Bullhead City. Jim was born in San Diego in 1944 and was raised here. He is the second of the 12 grandchildren of Leroy and Nola Shannon Gower. Best wishes to Jim for a very happy birthday.
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Steve Shepard