Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Stranger Than Fiction, October 16, 2019

It's no wonder that truth 
is stranger than fiction. 
Fiction has to make sense.
~Mark Twain

Vicki Gower Johnston in 1995 
with mother Nola Gower on left
and daughter Paula and 
granddaughter Heather on right
Happy Birthday to Vicki Gower Johnston. This Thursday is the birthday of my aunt Vicki Gower Johnston of Chandler, Arizona. Vicki is one of the senior members of our family. Born in 1933 in Okemah, Oklahoma, she was raised in San Diego. She was the first in our family to relocate to Northwest Washington when she and her husband Al Perry moved from Southern California to Oak Harbor in 1975 where she lived for 40 years. Four years ago she moved to Arizona where she lives near her daughter Paula Harrell Tuzzolino. Best wishes to aunt Vicki for a very happy birthday!

An Opportunity to Respond. At the end of each post on The Shepard's Crook, there is a "comments" option which offers you the opportunity to leave a message in response to what was written. Whenever comments are left, I read them and then, if appropriate, I publish them with the post. Comments can be left anonymously, but it's much more likely to be published if a name is attached. It's a way you can provide feedback. You can inform me of a correction to something I wrote. You can leave further information that I may not have about historical data. There are any number of ways you can provide important and valuable feedback. But like other open forums, comments must be helpful or instructive and must be respectful of others. You can respond with just about any message you like. But please, no political rants, rude remarks or any other inappropriate comments.

In December it will be 12 years since I began writing this blog as a way of sharing family history research. In those years people have left a wide variety of comments. Some of them have been simple and positive. Others have been helpful corrections. Many have been very informative. Some seem to have been from people whose first language was not English, and they were simply practicing their English. Some were from second or third cousins I never knew about, but are people with whom I now continue to correspond. And some comments were just plain bizarre.

A Sampling of the Comments. The following is a sampling of the comments I have received over the years. These are actual comments.

From snorkeler Monette Ortego, 11/26/12
I am looking for Kevin or Havilah Wardle. I googled their names and came across your blog. I think I found one of their wedding bands while snorkeling in Sharks Cove, Hawaii. Mahalo. (Re: a blog post from November 6, 2012) 
[Postscript: Amazingly, Kevin and Havilah did indeed get their wedding ring returned to them from the waters off the North Shore of Oahu as a result of this blog post comment.]

From distant cousin Mike Moran, 7/4/19: 
Thanks for this article - I was researching your ancestor Rachel Wells Wright who is also my 6th great-grandmother, on my father's mother's side. Yesterday would have been my father's 118th birthday ( The Quaker background of my family is all news to me. I've learned about my mother's Amish family but knew nothing about these early Quakers. Thanks for another piece of the puzzle.

From second cousin Cathy Harrison, 9/27/18
Julius Caesar Vessels
Cindy's GGGrandfather
Julius Caesar Vessels [Cindy's GGGrandfather] is my GG grandfather also. I know something of him but nothing of Julius Caesar and Narcissus. Thank you for what you've recorded. If you come across anything of a personal nature, I'm interested.

From an Anonymous Family Member, 10/08/19
I urge you to approve the comment, so all can see... Be honest and transparent... For someone who loves writing family blogs it really too bad you do not truly care about your family. I hope the entire extended family sees through these posts and can understand how dysfunctional our family really is. Praise God for Vicki's family! They have cared for her the way a family should, they got her the care she deserved in a timely manner. Maida would be SO proud! I pray you find comfort in the Lord and seek guidance in him to repair the broken relationships. 

From Shannon researcher D. Robert Smith, 7/15/19:
Actually, the Shannons descend from Scottish ancestors, that were part of the Scotland to Ulster Migration. The original name would have been Achennan in Scotland. Cuthbert Ashennan 1490-1548 is as far as we have gotten. His grandson John and his son John II, immigrated to Ireland probably before 1600. 

From desperate housewife Julian Kay, 7/4/19:
I want to tell you all that I was able to put an end to my divorce and restore my marriage. I don’t know what came over my husband. I had no other option than to seek the help of a spell caster. The spell worked like magic. My husband changed and started showing love instead of the divorce he was planning. Everything is in place for me now. I would gladly recommend the use of a spell to any one going through marriage problems. (gbojiespiritualtemple) 

From 2nd cousin Alice Shannon Traynor, 10/11/16:
Hello Steve, So glad I ran across your blog. Robert Columbus Shannon [brother of Nola Shannon Gower] was my grandfather. That would make us what, 2nd cousins? I do have one photo of Robert Columbus and his family. Send me your email address, and I will send you a copy. Love to hear from you.

Paula Harris and Maida Shepard
Halloween, 2017
From Indian Pastor Diwakar, 11/30/17:
Hello Bro. Steve. I am a Pastor from Mumbai, India. I am blessed and privileged to get connected with you. Give my belated birthday greetings to your dear mother who is 93. To receive birthday greetings from Mumbai, India is unique. I have been in ministry for 38 years in Mumbai. We reach out to the poorest of poor with the love of Christ to bring healing on Happy Halloween!

From Anonymous, 5/8/16
I am working on my genealogy and googled [my 4X Great Grandmother] Mary Terry Buskirk and found your blog. My relatives said she was kidnapped from England and brought to America by a sea captain for marriage but she hid and married John Buskirk! They said her dad's name was George Terry and mom Elizabeth. 

From 3rd cousin Cherie Harris, 7/17/12
I reckon I've found me another cousin! I recently returned to working on my Williams line and found your site. My 2nd great-grandmother was Matilda Jane Williams Clearwater, youngest child of John and Lydia Warford Williams. I enjoy your writings very much.

From long lost neighbor Crystal Leeper, 7/12/08
I was looking for Lyndsey and Mandy and googled to find them [mentioned on your website]. I used to live down the street from them and was wondering if you knew how I could get in touch with either of them? :) Thanks!

From kissing cousins Chris and Amanda, 5/8/09
Wonderful slide show! So many great moms in this family :) 

From Inspector Clouseau (possibly an alias?), 6/13/13
Hmm, an interesting way to use a blog. Nice blog work. I came across your site while “blog surfing”. I frequently travel around looking for creative ways in which people express themselves. Thanks for sharing.

My Grandfather 
Leroy Ertin Gower, 1930s
From a Gower relative, 6/25/17
Thank you for posting this picture of [your grandfather] Leroy Gower from the 1930s. I showed it to my mom Georgia Gower Pfeil and she remembered her much older brother Lee who visited her family in Okemah when she was a girl. Mom's parents were George and Phoebe Root Gower.

From author Marjorie Eldred, 7/19/13
Thanks Steve, I have enjoyed the family pictures with cars. We have a favorite or two also: Mom and Dad Vaughn sitting on the running board of a very old car; our family the Vaughns standing in front of a 1940 chevy taken in 1952. These pics are included in my book, Seizing the Treasure: Nuggets of Vaughn-Kilpatricks ($16.95 on Amazon) or Seizing the Treasure: 101 Nuggets to Warm Your Heart.

These are just a few of the many insightful, interesting, amazing, unbelievable, and sometimes crazy comments that have been left in the comments section of The Shepard's Crook. You are welcome to give it a try sometime. But please, spell casting will be frowned upon. 😂
- - -
Steve Shepard

Tuesday, October 08, 2019

Old Drawer Discoveries, October 8, 2019

One of the advantages of being disorganized
is that one is always having surprising discoveries.
~ A.A. Milne

Newest family member, Fiona Ruth Shepard
with mom Jessica Bell
I was in Washington to visit my mom recently. As most of you know she is living with her daughter Barbara on Wildwood Lane in Anacortes where she has made her home for 41 years. Maida spent two months this past summer at the home of her oldest son Gary Shepard and his wife Cindy in Oak Harbor just a few miles away. It was a good change of scenery for her as she continues to deal with concerns of aging, especially memory issues. We are planning a special celebration for Maida's 95th birthday which will occur in just a few weeks on the weekend of her birthday November 1.  

Our Family is Growing. Congratulations to Maida's grandson Christopher Shepard and Jessica Bell of Seattle, Washington who recently gave birth to their second daughter, Fiona Ruth Shepard, on September 15. Best wishes to Fiona, her older sister Finley, and parents Chris and Jessica! Fiona is the newest grandchild of my brother Darrell and his wife Mary Shepard, and is the 15th Great Grandchild of my mother Maida Shepard. Visit Christopher or Jessica on Facebook to see more beautiful pictures of our newest family member.
Vicki Gower Johnston with me on the left 
and Frank and Paula Tuzzolino on the right.

My mother Maida and her sister Vicki Gower Johnson are the two senior members of our family. Between them they represent 181 years of family history from Arkansas to Oklahoma to San Diego to Washington state and now to Phoenix. We are honored to be able to celebrate these two whose lives have positively influenced so many of us. Today Vicki lives in Chandler, Arizona very near her daughter Paula Tuzzolino and Paula's husband Frank. Cindy and I had the pleasure of visiting with Vicki and her family last week when we were in Arizona. Vicki is doing quite well at 86 years old, continues to have a good sense of humor, and enjoyed herself as we went out to lunch. Four years ago this month, Vicki moved from Oak Harbor, Washington to Arizona where she continues to life in a very comfortable and roomy care facility in a beautiful neighborhood of the Phoenix suburb of Chandler.

1945 picture of my aunt
Thelma Shepard Boyd of El Cajon, Ca.
Old Drawer Discoveries. Our family on Wildwood Lane in Anacortes was cleaning out some old drawers recently and found a couple of historical gems that are worth mentioning in this blog. The first is an old picture of my only remaining aunt on the Shepard side of my family, Thelma Shepard Boyd. It is a picture I do not ever remember seeing before. Thelma appears to be elementary school aged, which would mean the picture was taken in San Diego, not long after the Shepards moved from Southeast Colorado to California. With bows in her hair and an innocent smile, she looks for all the world as if she is dressed for the part of Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz. Thelma's daughter Kim Boyd Clark confirmed with her mom that this was indeed taken in San Diego in 1945 when Thelma was just 9 years old. Thelma lives today in an apartment in El Cajon, California near several members of her family.

The second recent "old drawer discovery" was a postcard written and mailed 61 years ago. The 2-cent postcard was mailed by my sister Linda Shepard (1950-1971) on July 11, 1958, just a month before she turned 8 years old. Our family was living in San Diego, but young Linda was visiting in the home of some Gower family members, Ollen and Imogene Self and their three daughters, of Fresno, California. Imogene Hutson Self (1921-2008) was a first cousin of my mother Maida Gower Shepard, and was originally from Mountain View, Arkansas, just like mom. Our California family made several memorable visits in the 1950s to the San Joaquin home of mom's cousin Imogene and her family. The postcard that 7 year old Linda wrote that summer of '58 said, "Dear Mother and all. I hope you will call me soon. I want to hear your voice again. When you send me the next letter, I hope you will give me some more money, because the other didn't last very long. Love Linda!" 

"Give me some more money... the other didn't last very long." It was the plaintiff cry of a young girl learning a difficult lesson about how easily money slips away. It's a lesson we all have had to learn. Some of us are still trying to learn it.

What discoveries await you in your old drawers?
- - -
Steve Shepard
(he, his, him)

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Minister Charity Wright Cook, September 13, 2019

A person travels the world over
in search of what they need, 
and returns home to find it.
~George Moore

In recent posts I have written about a cluster of 6 ministers in our family tree from the late 18th and early 19th centuries. The last in this cluster of 6 was Charity Wright Cook (1745-1822). She was born on the American frontier in a Quaker settlement Feb 13, 1745 near what is today Frederick, Maryland. She was the 7th child of two Quaker ministers, John Wright and Rachel Wells Wright, and the grandchild of Quaker minister James Wright. We are related to her through my GG Grandmother Malinda Wright Davis (1846-1920).

Charity was from a devout Quaker family where she learned about faith, the community of believers and the need to spread the good news to all the world. One has to admire her grandparents James and Mary Wright. How do you explain six members of their family becoming life long ministers? James was a minister, as were two of their children, and a daughter-in-law, plus two of their grandchildren. James and Mary obviously did an extraordinary job of creating a family atmosphere of love, devotion and fidelity to the cause of the faith. It was a family culture that bore great rewards. This cluster of 6 ministers from one family deserves celebrating today. They are part of the reason we are the family we have become all these years later.

Here's Charity's story: As a young child, her family moved to North Carolina to help settle a new Quaker community at Cane Creek, west of Chapel Hill. When 15 years old her family moved again to help settle yet another Quaker community in Bush River, Newberry County, South Carolina. There, at just 16 years old, she married Isaac Cook, with whom she shared 58 years of married life, and had 11 children.

Drawing of a Quaker woman preacher 
in 18th Century America. Nearly a third of all 
Quaker ministers were women at this time.
Charity was a very gifted, personable, and faithful individual. In the first 10 years of her married life she bore 5 of their 11 children, she became a leader in the local Quaker community, she learned how to read and write (not all children were taught to do so), and she was accepted into the ministry of the Quakers. During the Revolutionary War, Charity began her ministerial career as an itinerant preacher, visiting Quaker communities to encourage, support, inspire, sometimes challenge, and always build up the fellowship. Over the ensuing 44 years she made 25 religious journeys, being away from home for nearly 8 total years. Her husband Isaac Cook was the perfect stay at home dad, who supported her ministry, managed their family farm, and oversaw the care of their children during her many absences.

A Woman of Strength and Fortitude. Charity was supported financially on her journeys by her own resources, her local faith community, as well as the larger Quaker fellowship. She was well received wherever she went. She crisscrossed the United States visiting every region where Quakers were established, which included every state in the Union at that time. Through the 1770s, 80s and 90s this inspired woman from the backcountry of the American frontier made a name for herself among Quakers everywhere. Charity clearly had an uncanny ability to relate to people in all walks of life. She hobnobbed with the Pennsylvania Quaker elite and rubbed shoulders with less sophisticated folks on the frontier. Her normal travel pattern was to have a female partner, plus two men appointed to chaperone them. On a few of her journeys she traveled with her sister, Quaker minister Susannah Wright Hollingsworth.

As the 18th century drew near to a close, Charity had 20 years experience in religious travels, and had become one of the best known itinerant preachers of her time. The hardships she encountered on her journeys are hard for us to appreciate: rough roads, severe weather, marauding Indians, slow arduous travel, the Revolutionary War, emotional struggles, longing for home, saddle soreness, separation from family and friends, illness and much more. But Charity was up to the task. She was not just a gifted minister, she was a woman of spiritual strength and physical stamina. She had an unwavering call from God that kept her on the move accomplishing great things as the years went by.

The USS Severn, the ship on which Charity Wright Cook 
sailed to England in December, 1797.
A Dream Journey. In October, 1797, her "dream journey" began when she sailed on the USS Severn from New York Harbor for Liverpool, England. For four eventful years she traveled across Europe, visiting Quaker communities throughout England, Germany and Ireland. She preached and visited and challenged and exhorted her fellow believers across the Atlantic. She spent many hours in people's homes providing pastoral care and spiritual guidance. Charity created a bond that lifted their spirits and nurtured her soul. It was a trip of a life time that took its toll on her. In Dublin, Ireland, November, 1799 she developed small pox which almost took her life. She was down for several weeks before getting back on the road. It was nonetheless the most rewarding and fulfilling experience of her life. She returned to the U.S. in December, 1801 and immediately made her way home to Bush River, South Carolina for a happy reunion with her husband and 11 children, from whom she had been separated for 5 years.

She arrived while the family was in worship. Her husband Isaac was on the preachers and elders bench on the men's side of the church. Charity crept in and sat on the preachers bench on the women's side of the church. When Isaac heard his wife praying, he suddenly recognized her voice. In an act that shattered protocol, he jumped up and ran to the women's side of the church. Right there in front of God and everybody he gave a big kiss to his wife whom he had not seen in several years. He received some stiff criticism from a few in attendance. But he would have none of it. It was a moment he had been anticipating for a long time, and nothing would stop him.

Pipe Smoking Women. Charity was a vibrant, outgoing person who loved life. Among her personal habits was smoking a pipe, which was not uncommon for women in early America. My GG Grandmother Margaret Williams Spear (1845-1904), who lived a century after Charity, was also known to be a pipe smoker. Among Quakers tobacco use was allowed, if done "privately and moderately." Charity, however was known to smoke her pipe in public which caused quite a stir among some.

A story is told about Charity having a dream one night. She dreamed she died and stood at the pearly gates ready to enter heaven. The gatekeeper looked in the Book of Life and said her name was not there. "But it must be there," she protested. The gatekeeper checked again. "You are not listed," he had to tell her. "Please," she insisted, "Check one more time. There must be some mistake." So he went back and checked one last time. He returned and said, "I found your name at last. I couldn't see it the other times I looked because it was obscured by all the tobacco smoke." As a result of this dream Charity gave up smoking her pipe.

Exodus to Western Ohio. After getting readjusted to life with her family, Charity spent another four years making religious visits, but closer to home in South Carolina. In 1805 Charity and Isaac and their family joined others in the mass migration that saw nearly all the Quakers leave Newberry and relocate on the Western frontier. As I mentioned in my last post, an apocalyptic preacher named Zachary Dicks proclaimed impending doom for the Quakers in South Carolina and was taken quite seriously. As a result Charity and Isaac Cook and their family were part of the 500 mile exodus to Western Ohio.

Caesar's Creek Friends Burial Ground in Ohio
where Charity Wright Cook is buried.
The last 17 years of Charity's life were spent as part of the Caesar's Creek Monthly Meeting, in Warren County, Ohio northeast of Cincinnati. Even there, late in life, she continued her work of traveling to visit and support Quaker communities in the larger region. She made her last religious journey at 75 years old. Her son Joseph was so concerned he insisted on accompanying her on this, her 25th and final trip. After 44 years in active ministry she finally retired ending a remarkable career. Two years later she died at Caesar's Creek, Ohio, a few days short of her 77th birthday, and is buried at Caesar's Creek Friends Burial Ground.

A History of Remarkable Ministers. This summer I have written about a total of 12 ministers I have identified in our family tree. Of all those ministers, Charity stands out as one of the most remarkable. Her dedication to the faith, her energy in serving, her stamina through many trials, her ability to balance career and family, her inspired and vibrant personality -- it all adds up to an amazing life well lived. We have a wonderful history of remarkable ministers in our family tree. They have contributed to the spiritual strength that our family exhibits even today.

Though Charity Wright Cook lived long ago, we have extensive information about her from several sources, including her biography written in 1981 by Quaker author Algie Newlin. Titled Charity Wright Cook: A Liberated Woman, it is a valuable source that I used extensively in writing this post.
- - -
Steve Shepard
(he, him, his)

Friday, September 06, 2019

More Ministers In Our Past, September 6, 2019

Well done, good and faithful servant.
Come and share your master’s joy!
Matthew 25.21

Juanita Eeds with Granddaughter 
Kristina Eeds Ferrero, 2009
Juanita Hicks Eeds (1921-2019). Early last month, I wrote about the 98th birthday celebration for Cindy's aunt Juanita Eeds. Cindy and granddaughter Preslea went to Oregon from San Diego to celebrate her birthday with her. It was a subdued but happy celebration and, as it turned out, a final goodbye as well. Just four days after her birthday, Neen passed away peacefully at the home of her son Keith Eeds in Bandon, Oregon, where she lived the last year of her life. Born in Oklahoma in 1921, she had more than her fair share of hardship, but she lived a good long life. About 70 of her years were spent in San Diego. A life- long member of the Church of Christ (Hillcrest, Allied Gardens, El Cajon Blvd), she will be missed. Her sister and life long companion Paula Harris preceded her in death by just a year. With Neen's passing we say goodbye to the oldest member of our family.

Yet More Ministers In Our History. In my last post I profiled two ministers in our family tree from the 18th century, James Wright and his daughter Martha Wright Mendenhall. They were two of the 6 members of one family, over three generations, who were Quaker ministers. Earlier this summer I wrote in some detail about another child of James and Mary Wright, who also became a Quaker minister, their oldest son John Wright. John and his wife Rachel Wells Wright served as Quaker ministers in Maryland and the Carolinas in the mid to late 1700s. The following is a profile of one more Quaker minister from the Wright family who deserves mention, a grandchild of James and Mary Wright.

Susannah Wright Hollingsworth (1755-1830). Susannah was born in Cane Creek, North Carolina in the spring of 1755, the 11th child of John and Rachel Wright. In 1772 at the tender age of 16 she married "Big Isaac" Hollingsworth and over the next 20 years had 10 children with him. Two of their children had the same name. How was that possible, you ask. Their first child they named John, but he died at just 9 years old in 1781. Their last child was born in 1792. They chose also to name him John, presumably in memory of his deceased younger brother, and in honor of Susannah's father John.

Susannah Hollingsworth along with Charity Cook, her older sister by 10 years, are often referred to together in historical records since they were both Quaker ministers from the same family. John Belton O'Neall wrote this in The Annals of Newberry (part first): "In the women's meeting, on the preacher's bench, under their immense white beavers, I recall the full round faces and forms of the sisters, Charity Cook and Susannah Hollingsworth. Both wives, both mothers of large families, still they felt it their duty to preach 'Jesus and him crucified.' The first, Charity Cook, was indeed a gifted woman. Her sister, Susannah Hollingsworth, was not so highly gifted. Young Friends used to affirm that when Aunt Suzey, as she was called, began to pray, they could always keep ahead of her by repeating the words she was about to say."

Susannah was a "recorded minister of the gospel," meaning she was authorized by the Church. She traveled widely in different states in the service of the gospel. In 1805 she and husband Isaac Hollingsworth, along with their children, were part of a mass migration of Quakers from their Colony in Newberry, South Carolina. In about 1800 an apocalyptic Quaker preacher named Zachary Dicks had come to South Carolina and warned all Quakers that they must leave the "slave state" of South Carolina. If not they would be slaughtered like numerous blacks had been in the recent "massacre of San Domingo." Dicks was quite convincing. Within just a few years the entire Quaker colony did indeed leave the state, never to return, according to one writer. Many of them settled in Miami County, Ohio north of Cincinnati, and became part of the Miami Monthly Meeting of Quakers.

Incidentally, it was this fearful 500 mile migration of all these Quakers from South Carolina to Ohio that furthered the movement of the Wright family westward. From Western Ohio it was an easy 175 mile trek to Spencer, Indiana where some Wright family members settled in the early 19th century. Spencer, Indiana, of course, is where my Great Great Grandmother Malinda Wright met Charles Davis whom she married in 1869. 
West Branch Cemetery, Miami Co., Ohio where Susannah Wright 
Hollingsworth and husband "Big Isaac" Hollingsworth are buried.

Also from The Annals of Newberry (part second), this from John Chapman about his own grandmother Susannah Hollingsworth: Left a widow in 1809 at the age of 54, she lived among her children in Ohio the remainder of her life. She made religious visits after her husband's death, one of which was to Newberry, others to the East. Possessing an excellent memory, I heard her tell the fearful tales of the Revolution in Newberry district. Her piety, equanimity and kindness, particularly towards her grandchildren, were such that they loved her with the most ardent affection, believing that no grandmother could be better. One Sunday evening in July, 1830 she went on horseback to the residence of her son-in-law Robert Pearson. On the way she said to her young grandson: ’I am going to thy father's just to die.’  This was said with as much calmness of feeling as though she had said I'm going there to live. The next day she was taken ill. To her son Joel who visited her she said ‘I am going, but not as speedily as I could wish.’  Death came to her as a friend. Near the close of the week she died [on July 31, 1830] and was buried on the following Sunday in West Branch Cemetery, West Milton, Ohio. 

Susannah Wright Hollingsworth then becomes the 5th Quaker leader in this cluster of 18th century ministers in our family tree. All of them were respectable, faithful servants in the spread of the gospel. The final one of these 6 I will profile in my next post. This minister may be the most impressive one of all.
- - -
Steve Shepard
(he, him, his)

Friday, August 30, 2019

Outstanding 18th Century Ministers, August 30, 2019

When at our best, our family is a circle of strength, 
founded on faith, joined in love, kept by God.

In my last post I wrote about 6 ministers from the 20th century in our family tree. All 6 of them, including myself, are ministers of the Campbell-Stone Tradition, also known as The Restoration Movement. To find other ministers in our family history one has to search before the time of The Restoration Movement which began in the early 19th century. If you know of other ministers in our family history besides those I have mentioned I would like to hear from you.

This search to find full time ministers in our history brings to my mind the strong inclination in our family, over many generations, to be people of faith. This is true of many families with deep roots in American soil. Even though our culture is gradually becoming more secular and less religious, there is still great importance placed on faith-based lives among many within our extended family. 

This religious penchant can be traced back many generations. A number of our ancestors were 18th century Quaker ministers. This summer I have written here about a couple of them. Yet there are several others to be mentioned. First however it is important to note a couple of things about the Quakers. They were among the most influential religious groups in early America. In Pennsylvania during the time of the American Revolution some estimate that one in every 3 citizens was a Quaker. Their influence on the political, social and religious life of our country is remarkable. Among the important beliefs of the Quakers was their firm opposition to slavery, their support of Native Americans, their strict pacifism, and their belief in gender equality. Among the Quakers both women and men were equally allowed to be ministers, if they had the appropriate gifts and if they were called, "recorded," and certified by the appropriate church structures.

The following are brief profiles of some Quaker ancestors in our family tree who served as ministers.

James Wright Sr. (1671-1759). The earliest minister I have found in our family tree was my 7X Great Grandfather James Wright. We are related to James and his wife Mary through Malinda Wright Davis (1846-1920), the Grandmother of my Grandmother Bura Davis Shepard.   

Hopewell Monthly Meeting House and Cemetery
Winchester, Virginia
James and Mary Wright were originally from Chester County, in Southeast Pennsylvania. Incidentally, this is the very area where some Quaker ancestors on the Shepard side of the family originated. James Wright was a "distinguished minister of the Society of Friends who traveled widely in the exercise of his ministry," according to Quaker author Algie Newlin. In 1725 James and Mary  uprooted their family of 8 children and moved westward, to spread the Christian faith, and to provide ministerial leadership among the Quakers on the frontier. They helped found a new congregation on Monocacy Creek in the area around what is today Frederick, Maryland. Some years later they moved further into the American wilderness to help found another new congregation, the Hopewell Monthly Meeting, near what is today Winchester, Virginia.

Later in life Mary and James Wright continued to be held in high esteem by the Friends in Philadelphia Yearly Meeting, the Quaker leadership in Pennsylvania. The Wrights had suffered so much hardship on the frontier during the French and Indian War, that they were almost destitute. As a result a significant financial gift was sent to them by the Quaker leadership back in Pennsylvania. It was a gift that reflected gratitude for the many years of ministerial service of James Wright and his wife Mary. In one historical record it is written that James, "an elder of the Hopewell Monthly Meeting, was a sober, industrious honest man, grave in manner, and solid and weighty in conversation. He departed this life May 15, 1759 in the 83rd year of his age. And we have reason to believe he is at rest with the Lord." (the National Genealogical Society Quarterly, Dec. 1982.)

James Wright then is the first of the 18th century ministers I have found in our Family Tree. Among all the accomplishments of his life and ministry, perhaps the most important was his family legacy of ministers. Five members of James and Mary's family, over three generations, also became ministers. The following is a profile of one of them. 

Martha Wright Mendenhall (1713-1794). James and Mary Wright's third child was Martha Wright who was "recorded" (the Quaker term for "certified") as a minister when she was 20 years old. Clearly even as a teen she showed that she had gifts for ministry. She was born in Pennsylvania but as a child moved with her family and settled in the Valley of the Monocacy (Frederick, Maryland today) where the Wrights were one of the founding families of the Quaker community there. Martha married John Mendenhall III when they were both just 18 years old. For over 60 years she was active in the ministry of the Quakers in Maryland and Virginia. She is buried today with her husband John in the Providence Quaker Cemetery, in Martinsburg, West Virginia. The following is part of a memorial found in the minutes of the Hopewell Monthly Meeting of the Quakers, September 25, 1797. 

Providence Quaker Cemetery
Martinsburg, West Virginia
"Concerning our esteemed friend Martha Mendenhall. She was called to the work of the Quaker ministry at age 19. Being diligent in the attendance of meetings, both for worship and discipline and humbly attentive to the pointings of truth in the exercise of her gift, she became an able minister of the gospel and sometimes visited the meetings of Friends in other parts of this continent. She was often enabled, in the decline of life, and even about a week before her departure, to communicate to the consolation of those present, her testimony being sound and edifying. She was a tender parent and a nursing mother in Israel. Being humble and meek in deportment, she was beloved by most who knew her. Her final illness was short, in which she several times expressed her desire to be unclothed of mortality and that she was satisfied she had not her day work to do. A few moments before her departure, she was heard to say, 'This is the happiest day I ever experienced; now Father, thou art come; I have been looking for thee all this day.' She then quietly departed this life, a minister for about 62 years, and was the next day interred in Friends' burying ground at Tuscarora."

A Nursing Mother in Israel. Did you notice in the above memorial that Martha was referred to as "a nursing mother in Israel"? That was a description I had never heard before. It was so interesting that I had to do some research into what it meant. "A nursing mother in Israel" is a reference to caring Quaker leaders, especially, but not exclusively, women ministers, and their unique gifts. It described their strong nurturing ability to do such things as help backsliders return to the fold, and to nourish, exhort, and build up the young in the faith.

James Wright and his daughter Martha Wright Mendenhall, then are two of the ministers I have found in our family tree from the 18th century. In my next post I will profile other ministers from this same Wright family, individuals whose lives and ministries we can celebrate.
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Steve Shepard
(he, him, his)

Friday, August 16, 2019

Ministers in Our Family Tree, August 16, 2019

As for me and my house
we will serve the Lord.
~Joshua 24.14

In recent months I have been researching and writing about the family of my 2X Great Grandmother Malinda Wright Davis (1846-1920) of Spencer, Indiana. Her 17th century Wright ancestors were Quakers, several of them Quaker ministers. What other ministers have we had in our family history? I was a minister for all of my working life, beginning with a student pastorate that began 50 years ago this month, while a student at Abilene Christian. The following are some other ministers of note in our family tree. In this post I will list those who gave themselves to full time Christian service in the 20th Century. In a future post I will look back to ministers from previous generations.

Edwin Kilpatrick, 1960s
Edwin Dale Kilpatrick (1932-1979). Edwin, a second cousin of my father Eugene Shepard, was born in Booker, Texas but came with his family as a child to California where he lived the rest of his life. He attended Abilene Christian University before serving Church of Christ congregations in Northern and Southern California. In the 1960s he was the minister of the Linda Vista Church of Christ in San Diego, where my family attended for many years. He was not only our minister, he and his wife Ruby and their children were close friends and neighbors in our Kearny Mesa neighborhood. Edwin also served churches in Marysville and in Sacramento, California where for several years he was also a family counselor. At just 46 years old he died in 1979 of cancer and is buried in Sacramento. I have written in this blog a number of times, including here and here, about Edwin and his impact on me and our family.

Clyde Williams (1903-1993). Another minister in our family tree was my Great Aunt Marjorie Davis Milligan's late-in-life husband Clyde Williams. Originally from Kansas, he served in WWI. According to the History of Beaver County (1970), his first sermon was preached at the South Flat Church of Christ in Beaver County, Oklahoma in 1917. He then engaged in full time ministry for over 40 years in 18 states.

William Morton Davis (3rd from left) about 1925 
with his brothers Zaly, Ben, James and Thomas. 
Second from right is his father C.E. Davis.
William Morton Davis (1877-1969). Among the best known ministers in our family tree was my 2nd Great Uncle William Morton Davis from Spencer, Indiana, who was married to Clara Gates. After attending Christian College in Kimberlin Heights, Tennessee, he served as a Church of Christ minister in Helena, Oklahoma, Belle Plaine, Kansas, and numerous locations in Texas, including the Owenwood Church of Christ in Dallas. I remember my grandmother Bura Davis Shepard, a niece and contemporary of Morton Davis, speaking proudly and with great respect about her "Uncle Mort." He was a staff writer for the church periodical The Firm Foundation, and had an article on the front page of that paper for almost 50 years. He was one of the best known preachers and writers in the Church of Christ during the first half of the 20th Century. Here is a link to The Restoration Movement website and an article with more details about the life and ministry of William Morton Davis.

Frank Wheeler with wife Lucy Davis
and daughter Amy Ruth, 1923
Francis Lafayette Wheeler (1900-1924). Frank Wheeler was another minister in our family tree with one of the most fascinating life stories. Like his uncle William Morton Davis, Frank was from Owen County, Indiana. He was orphaned in 1903 at just 3 years old. He was sent to Spencer, Indiana to live with the Brown family who were members of the New Union Church of Christ. He was baptized there at age 14 and began preaching at 16. When he was 22 Frank joined our family when he married a teenage girl in the congregation named Lucy Davis (whose father Thomas Davis is the one on the far right in the picture above). As an impressive, up-and-coming young Church of Christ preacher in his early 20s, Frank made quite a name for himself in Owen County, Indiana and beyond.

But then tragedy struck. In 1924 he was the regular preacher of the Church of Christ in Linton, Indiana when he developed Typhoid Fever and tragically died within just a couple of weeks. Young Lucy Davis Wheeler suddenly became a 20 year old widow with two young children: 2 year old daughter Amy Ruth and 2 month old son Lloyd. Lucy was so heartbroken that she never remarried. She died in 1990 just a few miles from where she was born in Owen County, Indiana. She is buried in the New Union Cemetery outside the town of Spencer, next to her young husband Frank who preceded her in death by 66 years. God only knows what an accomplished and influential minister Frank might have been had he not died at such a young age.

The picture above, taken in 1923, shows the handsome, dapper young preacher Frank Wheeler looking confident and full of promise. Well dressed and well coiffed, he even has a pen in his pocket to jot down notes for his next sermon. One can easily imagine this striking young man standing in a pulpit proclaiming the good news and impressing church folk young and old with the power of the gospel. Behind Frank is his 20 year old wife Lucy Davis Wheeler. In his lap is their first born Amy Ruth Wheeler. 

Lloyd Wheeler
Lloyd E. Wheeler (1924-1992). What about Frank and Lucy's second child, their baby boy, who was just two months old when Frank died? Young Lloyd Wheeler and his older sister Ruth were raised by their widowed mother Lucy in the rural home of their Grandparents Tom and Alice Davis near Spencer, Indiana. After graduating High School in Owen County, Indiana, Lloyd went on to attend Harding University, Searcy, Arkansas in the mid 1940s. He made his friends and family back home in Indiana at the New Union Church of Christ very proud. He became what his promising but ill fated father never could become because of his untimely death in 1924. Lloyd E. Wheeler served as a Church of Christ preacher for 50 years in Nebraska, California, Illinois, Louisiana, Utah, Arkansas, Missouri and Minnesota. The last 21 years of his ministry were spent at the Roseville Church of Christ in St Paul Minnesota. He died of a heart attack Oct. 5, 1992 while attending a High School reunion in his hometown of Spencer, Indiana. Here is a link to The Restoration Movement website with more about Lloyd Wheeler.

These are just a few of the full time ministers that we have had in the history of our family. Do you know of others? In my next post I will look back even further in our history to ministers whose lives we remember and celebrate.
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Steve Shepard