Monday, February 19, 2018

75 Years of Cousins, February 19, 2018

Home is where love resides,
memories are made,
friends are always welcome,
and families are forever.

Today is the 75th birthday of my cousin Hershell Gower who lives in Bullhead City, California. Hershell is the first of the 12 Grandchildren of our Grandparents Leroy and Nola Shannon Gower. The 12 of us were all raised together in San Diego back in the 1940s, 50s and 60s.

Leroy and Nola had moved to San Diego during the Second World War in 1942 from the small town of Okemah, Oklahoma. Within a matter of months the grandchildren began arriving on the scene. Hershell, his brother Jimmie, my brother Gary and myself were the first four, born in the decade of the 1940s. Over the 20 year period from 1943-1962 the Gower children, Hendrix, Maida and Vicki, gave their parents a total of 12 Grandkids. Hershell was the initial Gower Grandchild, born in 1943 to Hendrix and Starlene Gower, while my brother Russell Shepard was the last one, born in 1962.

Leroy and Nola Gower and Family, 1968
All 12 of us kids frequented the Gower home on Lynn Street in East San Diego for family events, or for a weekend stay, or just to stop by and visit. Some of us even lived there for periods of time. It was a happy place where we all felt welcome and where familial love was in abundance. In that modest 2 bedroom home the Senior Gowers lived for almost 50 years. It still remains an important place for all us in our remembering of our Gower grandparents. From Grampa's cigarette smoke, to Grandma's Tommy Tarts and other culinary delights, it was a house of memories that will never leave us.

The first picture shows Leroy and Nola Gower in the front yard of their home on Lynne Street in San Diego in 1968. Pictured here are most of their family members, especially their first two Great Grandchildren, Kerri Shepard and Sean Gower -- both less than a year old -- sitting on Grandpa's lap.

Hershell, Hendrix and Nola Shannon Gower, 2003
It has been 75 years now since the start of that generation of those dozen Gower grandkids. Two of those 12 have passed away: my sister Linda Shepard (1950-1971), and my cousin Gloria Harrell Watson (1953-2016). Today the other 10 live scattered around from Western Washington to Southern California to Arizona to Tokyo, Japan. We cousins don't get to spend as much time with each other as we did back in our youth, but our connections remain the same, with an historical bond that will always be there.

The second picture I am including shows Hershell on the left with his father Hendrix Gower and his grandmother Nola Shannon Gower. This picture was taken in 2003 in Anacortes, Washington at the 100th birthday celebration of Nola Gower.

Happy Birthday and best wishes on this day of a milestone celebration to Hershell Gower, the senior member of those dozen cousins. I spoke with Hershell earlier today. He is doing well and enjoying life with his wife Shelly and their dogs "in the sticks", as he calls it, in Bullhead City, California.
- - -
Steve Shepard

Monday, February 12, 2018

Valentine's Day Approaches, February 12, 2018

We do not find the meaning of life
by ourselves alone -
we find it with another.
~Thomas Merton

Happy Valentine's Day! This is the week of Valentine's Day, which is on Wednesday. It is a day to celebrate and honor love, whether you are a senior, a child, or anywhere in between. It seems to me that this makes Valentine's Day the perfect time to celebrate family love.

For most of us it was, and is, those familial relationships that have meant the most to us throughout our lives. In families we first received unconditional love, we learned about love, and we discovered the importance of extending love to others. It was also in family relationships that it became clear to us that loving those closest to us was gratifying and the pillar upon which all love is based. On the other hand, in families we also learned that love can be challenging and even heartbreaking. So on this week of Valentine's Day we celebrate family love, not just warm fuzzy feeling we get with our family, but the realistic, tough kind of love as well. 

Eugene, Gary, Maida Shepard, 1946
"Show Me The Love" Award for 2018. For the last several years on Valentine's Day I have selected one person in our family who receives a "Show Me The Love" Award. It is a member of our family whose life exemplifies family love in an extraordinary way. The more I learn about the history of our family, the more I marvel at the people from who we are descended. In many instances they are people who sacrificed a lot for their kin. They are people who gave up much to better their station in life and that of their children.

You can look back in the archives of this blog to the last several Valentine's Day posts that have referred to individuals who won the "Show Me The Love" Award. They were mostly people who lived before our time, but what we learned about them shows they were clearly deserving of this Award. This year, however, I want to select a person for this Award who is still with us: my mother Maida Gower Shepard. 

Maida Gower Shepard, at 93 years old, has lived in Anacortes, Washington for the past 40 years. She and her sister Vicki Gower Johnston of Chandler, Arizona are today the senior members of our family. Originally from Arkansas, mom moved with her family from Oklahoma to San Diego during World War II. There she met Eugene Shepard (1921-2003) and lived with him in San Diego for over 30 years. In San Diego they raised their 6 children. In 1978, their life changed dramatically when Eugene retired and they moved 1,500 miles to Skagit County, Washington.
Steve, Maida, Gary Shepard, 2018

The first picture (above) was taken in San Diego in 1946 and shows Mom with young husband Eugene and their first child Gary. The second picture shows Mom in the middle with me on the left and my brother Gary Shepard on the right. This picture was taken just last month at Mom's home on Wildwood Lane in Anacortes, Washington.

Mom has showed extraordinary love her whole life long. She learned that kind of extraordinary family love from her parents, especially her mother Nola Shannon Gower. Maida's home has been a place of welcome throughout her life, a place where she has shown how much family means to her. 

For the last 72 years Mom has had one or another child or grandchild living with her without a break. For over 7 decades her home had been a place of love and acceptance. Talk about loving dedication to her family! Even today, at 93, Mom has 4 family members living with her. Two years ago she was diagnosed with memory loss and is now in need of her family's assistance, rather than the other way around.

So with all the foregoing in mind, I suggest to you that Maida Shepard deserves the "Show Me The Love" Award for 2018. I cannot imagine another person more deserving.   

Paula Harrell Tuzzolino, 2015
Happy Birthday Paula. Last week on Feb 7 was the birthday of my cousin Paula Harrell Tuzzolino of Sun Lakes, Arizona. Paula is married to husband Frank, and together they are the primary caregivers for Paula's mother Vicki Gower Johnston. Best wishes for a very happy birthday to Paula!

This second picture shows Paula and was taken a few years ago in Oak Harbor, Washington at the home of her mom Vicki Gower Johnston.

Make it a happy Valentine's Day for the ones you love!
- - -
Steve Shepard

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Sadie, Cindy and Soldier William, January 30, 2018

When I get older losing my hair
Many years from now
Will you still be sending me a Valentine
Birthday greetings bottle of wine
~John Lennon

Hello and greetings to all of you from San Diego on this warm and sunny day in late January as we approach the midpoint of Winter later this week on Ground Hog Day.

Remembering Sadie Shepard Pruett (1892-1980). This week marks the anniversary of the birth of my Grandfather's sister Sadie J. Shepard. She was born and raised in Venice, Madison County, Illinois, but at 13 years old her family moved to Oklahoma. After finishing school she actually went into teaching for a while. But that career was cut short when a young fellow named Levy Pruett caught her eye. She married Levy in 1910 and settled into being a rancher's wife in rural Beaver County, Oklahoma. She and husband Levy raised three daughters, Alberta, Gayle, and Twila.

Levy and Sadie Pruett, Bura, Will and Thelma Shepard
This first picture shows Levy and Sadie Shepard Pruett with Bura and William Shepard (Sadie's brother). In front is the Shepard's youngest child Thelma at 6 years old. This picture was taken in the summer of 1942 in Beaver County, Oklahoma when the Shepards, who lived in San Diego at the time, had returned to Oklahoma for a summer visit.

From The History of Beaver County, Volume 1 (p. 439): "Levy Pruett was born in Weaubleau, Missouri in 1879. He came to Beaver County in 1905. He filed on a quarter of land south of the Elmwood Post Office. In 1910 he married Sadie Shepard who had been born in Illinois in 1892. She had come here in 1905 with her folks. Before her marriage, she taught three terms of school, and one term after they were married. They lived in a two room frame house, later building a new house. Levy and Sadie lived on their ranch till 1966. Due to poor health, both went to the Beaver Nursing Home to live. Levy passed away in 1968." Sadie lived in Beaver County until her death in 1980.

Civil War Section of Oak Hill Cemetery, Evansville, Indiana
William Elmer Shepard (1862-1915). This week also marks the beginning of a fateful month in the life of Sadie's father, William Elmer Shepard, born February 2, 1862 during the Civil War. This was also a fateful month for Sadie's Grandfather, William Shepard, who was a soldier in the Union Army's 41st Regiment. The soldier William was injured in a battle at Bowling Green, Kentucky in February, 1862 just days after his son William Elmer was born. Father William, almost certainly unaware of his son's birth, was sent to a military hospital in Evansville, Indiana. There, for 5 long months, he attempted to recover from his injuries. He finally succumbed to illness in the hospital on July 22, 1862 at just 27 years old. He lies buried today in the Civil War section of Evansville's Oak Hill Cemetery. Born 30 years later, Sadie never met her Shepard grandfather. We can only assume that through the family stories her father told her, Sadie knew of her Grandfather's sacrifice. It was an offering of his life that is honored and remembered to this day.

Will You Still Need Me, Will You Still Feed Me. Happy Birthday this Friday, February 2, to my brother's wife, Cindy Ann Shepard of Oak Harbor, Washington. I visited with Cindy this past week when I was in Washington to visit with my Mother Maida Gower Shepard and the rest of the family there. Cindy is doing very well and continues her work at Schenk Packing in nearby Mount Vernon where she has been employed for 15 years. She said she is pleased to be reaching this milestone birthday since few people in her entire family have reached this age.

This picture shows Cindy with Maida at Gary and Cindy's home in Oak Harbor this past Thanksgiving. Cindy is part of the invaluable team of family members who care for Maida. At 93 Mom continues to be tended to by her primary care givers and children, Gary and Barbara Shepard, and several other family members from Oak Harbor, and Anacortes, Washington where she lives. Best wishes and Happy Birthday to Cindy!
- - -
Steve Shepard

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Wintertime Anniversaries, January 18, 2018

Rejoice with your family in the beautiful land of life!
~Albert Einstein

Greetings to all of you today from beautiful San Diego!

Happy Anniversary to my cousin Kim Boyd Clark and her husband Jeff Clark who are celebrating 11 years of marriage today. Kim tells me that she and husband Jeff will be spending today celebrating in Palm Springs, California. They love retirement and enjoy the opportunity to spend more time with their grandkids. They also enjoy traveling in their RV and plan to spend half their time on the West Coast visiting family ands friends.

This first picture shows Kim (on the left in sunglasses) and Jeff (in the back on the right) with several family and friends. On the far right is Kim's mother Thelma Shepard Boyd. This picture was taken this past Monday at SeaWorld here in San Diego.

Happy Birthday Dane and Nathan! This Sunday, Jan 21, is the birthday of my cousin Dane Shepard of Blanchard, Oklahoma, and his son Nathan Shepard, a student at Florida College, who was also born on Jan 21.

The second picture I am including today shows Dane and Nathan Shepard on the right, with mother Cindy Shepard and sister Kaylan Shepard on the left. This picture was taken last summer.

12 Shepard Cousins. Kim Boyd Clark and Dane Shepard are two of 12 cousins who are the grandchildren of William and Bura Davis Shepard. Three of those 12 cousins have passed away: Rex, Beverly and my sister Linda. All 12 of us spent most, if not all, of our growing up years in San Diego during the middle years of the 20th century. That was a wonderful time of growth and togetherness for the Shepard family of William and Bura. Today we cousins are scattered around the U.S., from Washington to California to Oklahoma to Missouri.

In recent months I have shared in this blog about extensive findings related to our Shepard ancestors prior to the Civil War. One interesting conclusion I have drawn from those findings is how important Eastern Ohio was in the history of our family. In particular Belmont and Monroe Counties in Southeast Ohio. Both counties are situated along the Ohio River and are just south of the Cumberland Trail, a famous westward migratory route for frontier Americans in the early 19th century, a route that our Shepard, Davis, Spear and probably other ancestors used in moving westward.

I have known for a long time about the importance of Belmont County Ohio in the history of my Grandmother Bura Davis Shepard's family. More recently I discovered that the family of Callie Spear Davis (my Grandmother's mother), was also from that very same part of Ohio.

But only recently did I find out that our Shepard ancestors were also from Belmont County, Ohio as well. John Sheppard (1737-1827) settled with many family members in the township of Kirkwood, Belmont County, Ohio in the first decade of the 19th century. In 1843 some of these Sheppards migrated to Indiana. Later of course they migrated on to Oklahoma and eventually California.

My grandparents William Shepard and Bura Davis did not even meet until the early 20th century when their families lived in Oklahoma, where Will and Bura were married in 1915.  But as I came to find out, William's grandparents and Bura's grandparents (unknown to each other) had lived in close proximity 75-100 years earlier, in Ohio. For the first half of the 19th century, a large clan of our Sheppard ancestors lived in the area around Sewellsville, Ohio which was just 14 miles from Belmont, Ohio where some of our Davis ancestors were settled, and where Alexander Davis (1819-1866) was born. All of this is remarkable to me since, as far as we know, the Shepards and the Davises never met face to face until Oklahoma in 1913.

It is an interesting and curious fact of our family history. If nothing else this is a reminder than our lives and our families and our history is really more interwoven that we ever thought.
- - -
Steve Shepard

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Fun With Family Names, January 10, 2018

Bee to the blossom, moth to the flame;
Each to his passion; what's in a name?
~Helen Hunt Jackson
Happy Birthday to my wife Cindy this past Sunday, January 7. Her birthday occurred in the midst of a time when our family is down with the flu. It is a bug that has hit our entire community very hard - neighborhood, school, church -- and our family has not escaped the ugly symptoms. Unfortunately most of her birthday was spent in bed. Fortunately we are on the mend. Happy Birthday to Cindy!
This first picture shows Cindy surrounded by me, grandsons William and Logan, and our dog Jasmine. This picture was taken a few weeks ago on Christmas Day in San Diego.

Happy Birthday today to Mary Shepard, wife of my brother Darrell Shepard. Originally from Chicago, Mary and her family live in Bothell, Washington near Seattle. Mary is the administrator of a senior care facility in nearby Everett, Washington. Besides working hard at her day job, Mary loves spending time with her four Grandchildren, who all live close by.

I have mentioned before in this blog how 2017 was a banner year for discovering new information about our Shepard ancestors before the mid-19th century. For many years the Civil War Soldier William Shepard (1835-1862) was the oldest Shepard ancestor I knew about. The soldier's younger son was William Elmer Shepard (1862-1915) and his grandson was William Shepard (1888-1876), my Grandfather.

As far as I know the Civil War Soldier William was the oldest Shepard ancestor that my father and even my grandfather ever knew about. Fortunately we have access to more historical data these days than ever before, hence the recent discovery of family information that was virtually lost to our parents and grandparents.

Fun With Family Names. We have always known that there were several William Shepards in our family history, a tradition that continues today with my Grandson, who was given the name William Shepard (b. 2012). But with the Shepard ancestry discoveries of 2017, I have found that the name William was a favorite of our Shepard family long before the Civil War. The 19th century soldier William Shepard (1835-1862) actually had an uncle whose name was also William Sheppard (1808-1884). (Before the Civil War the most common spelling of our family's name was Sheppard, with two p's.)  

The soldier William also had a first cousin with the same name, William Sheppard (1832-1905), who was also born in the Kirkwood Community of Belmont County, Ohio. These two cousins with the name William Sheppard lived in close proximity at birth and were born just 3 years apart. They were both born into the large and prosperous clan of Sheppards who settled in the Kirkwood Township of Belmont County, Ohio in the early 19th century.

Some other names of Sheppard folk in that clan are amazingly similar to names that we Shepards have given our children. Because of these naming similarities, one might think that we were well acquainted with these Ohio Sheppards from the early 19th century. But the fact is we have not known about them until recently.

The father of the aforementioned cousin William Sheppard was Nathan Cross Sheppard (1801-1856), which is interesting because today we have two Nathan Shepards in our family, one of them being our son Nathan William Shepard. The name Nathan Cross Sheppard is eerily similar to Nathan Ross Shepard, the name of the son of my cousins Dane and Cindy Shepard who live in Blanchard, Oklahoma.

There are other familiar names among the family members of my GGG Grand Uncle Nathan Cross Sheppard. Not only did Nathan and his wife Eliza Sheppard have a son named William Sheppard, they also had children named Rachel Sheppard (1843-1856), Mary Sheppard (1845-1905), and even a Findley Sheppard (1829-1899), all of which are names of Shepard family members today.

This second picture shows daughter and mother Rachel and Mary Shepard, two of those who have the same names as family members from two centuries ago. This particular picture was taken a few years ago at the home of Maida Shepard of Anacortes, Washington.

Yet another fun coincidence: The mother of this Ohio Sheppard family was Eliza Sheppard (1804-1894), whose maiden name was Clark, and was originally from Half Moon, New York. Whether she is related to either of the Clarks who find themselves among our kinfolk is unknown. I am referring of course to my late sister's husband Jerry Clark of Lubbock, Texas, and Kim Boyd Clark's husband Jeff Clark of Grain Valley, Missouri. Just when you thought we had plenty of Clarks in our family tree, it turns out we have yet another.

These are just some of the interesting name similarities that I have found in recent months between us in the 21st century and our early 19th century ancestors. We are two centuries removed from them, but the connections are stronger than we might think.
- - -
Steve Shepard

Monday, December 25, 2017

The Road Goes Ever On And On, December 25th, 2017

The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with weary feet,
Until it joins some larger way,
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say.
~J.R.R Tolkien

Merry Christmas to all of you from sunny San Diego! It is happy Christmas Day around our house with presents, food and the holiday spirit in abundance. As this year draws near to a close there are a number of worthy family celebrations that I am thinking about and pausing to remember. 
Granddad William Shepard (1888-1976). Today is the 129th anniversary of the birth of my Grandfather William Shepard. Born in 1888 in Alton, Illinois, he was the oldest person that I knew well. He was always generous in sharing stories of his life from his childhood along the Mississippi River and then his working and family years with wife Bura Davis Shepard in Oklahoma and Colorado. The last 36 years of his life were spent in San Diego where, 41 years ago this month, he died at 88 years old. He lived long enough to enjoy all 12 of his and Bura's grandchildren, and then the first 6 of their Great Grandchildren. In the midst of all the holiday celebrations I remember and celebrate Granddad's life.

This first picture shows my grandparents William and Bura Davis Shepard. This picture was taken in San Diego back in the 1970s, not long before Granddad passed away.

A 49th Anniversary. On Wednesday this week, Cindy and I will celebrate 49 years of marriage. We tied the knot just down the street from where we live now, at the La Mesa Church of Christ on Jackson Drive on a Friday night, two days after Christmas in 1968. We splurged and honeymooned in beautiful Orange County, California at the world famous Knotts Berry Farm (entry fee 25 cents). Cindy's father Joe Harris generously made the elaborate and expensive travel arrangements: he let me drive his almost new black Ford Fairlane Deluxe. We probably drove a total of 250 miles, with stops at The Torrey Pines Inn (oops, no room at the Inn) and the Laguna Beach Surf and Sand Hotel. After just a few days of honeymooning we returned to San Diego, packed up and went back to school at Abilene Christian University in Texas.

This second picture shows Cindy and me in a picture taken last month when visiting the San Diego Zoo.

Happy Anniversary Darrell and Mary! Speaking of Abilene Christian, 14 years later my brother Darrell was a student at that same school. He had met a student there who was from Chicago named Mary Medina. They were married in Abilene, also a few days after Christmas, but in 1982. On the last day of this year Darrell and Mary will celebrate 35 years of marriage. Congratulations and best wishes to both of them!

10 Years of "The Shepard's Crook." It was 10 years ago this week that I began writing The Shepard's Crook as a family blog. It has been a interesting and exciting venture for me, and one that I plan to continue. The story of our family is one that has no end. The discovery of details about our ancestors continue to be made with the promise of more revelations to come. Just this past year I have been able to add to our family tree family members who I never knew existed, and whose stories add immeasurably to our understanding of our family's history, and therefore to our understanding of ourselves.

I want to thank all of you who are readers of The Shepard's Crook, whether your last name is Shepard or Gower, or Davis or Shannon, of a host of other last names that make up this wonderful tapestry we call our family. Your support of this endeavor and your interest in this blog is greatly appreciated!

May the coming year, what Tolkien calls "the Road" that "goes ever on and on" be healthy, prosperous and full of wonderful surprises for all of you!
- - -
Steve Shepard

Monday, December 11, 2017

Celebrating 75 Years, Dec 11, 2017

Your brothers, sisters, children, parents...
Make no mistake, your relationships
are the heaviest components in your life.
~Ryan Bingham

75 years ago this month my Grandmother Nola Shannon Gower, and my mother Maida Gower Shepard moved to San Diego from Okemah, Oklahoma. My Mom's young sister Vicki Gower Johnston was also a part of this female threesome who made the arduous bus trip from Oklahoma to Southern California. They came to be reunited with husband Leroy and son Hendrix and wife Starlene.

The journey was on two lane roads all the way, along what is today a bustling interstate highway. In the winter of 1942 it was slow going compared to recent times. At that time World War II was in full swing, with San Diego being a major player in "the war effort."
Nola and Leroy Gower, 1942
Grandpa Leroy Gower, with his son Hendrix and pregnant wife Starlene had come to San Diego the previous summer to get jobs and make enough money to send for the three girls they had left behind in Oklahoma. After several months "the men folk" scrimped and saved enough to send money home. Grandma Gower then made travel arrangements for her and her daughters Maida and Vicki to come to the West Coast in the most practical way: by Greyhound bus.

Traveling by bus was a very common way of getting around the country in those days. The accompanying image is a poster from 1942 which illustrates how common bus travel was and how it even contributed to the all encompassing effort to win World War II.

My mom remembers it being a very difficult 1,400 mile trip. The emotional part of separating from their father and other family was hard enough. It was also difficult leaving the area of the country that had been home to them, where they had been settled and felt comfortable, and to adjust to a place they had never even seen before. San Diego was a big city that must have stood in great contrast to the small country town of Okemah, Oklahoma. The physical part of the bus trip was difficult too: sitting hours on end, day and night, watching the desolate Southwest landscape pass by. Besides all that, onboard bathrooms did not come along until 1954!

It was a draining journey for many reasons for these three women. Mother Nola was just 39 years old, while daughters Maida and Vicki were just 18 and 9 years old. They traveled alone as they made their way to their new life in San Diego.

Starlene Bass Gower, Maida Gower, 1943
In the 75 years since that time the Gower family, which numbered just 6 in 1942, has grown and evolved and scattered tremendously. Before the decade of the 1940s was complete, both daughters were married and four Grandsons had been born to Leroy and Nola, myself being the fourth. In their first 20 years in San Diego all 12 Gower grandchildren had been born, and the family was enjoying the prosperous life of the post-war years in Southern California.

Leroy and Nola are gone now, of course, but their legacy remains. Their descendants, which number over 50 today, have scattered to Washington, Texas, Arizona, and even Tokyo, Japan. My immediate family and I are among the few descendants who still live here in San Diego. Great Grandsons Shawn and Lloyd Gower and their families are the only others who still live here in the San Diego area.

A lot has happened to the Gowers in those 75 years since Leroy and Nola's family came to San Diego from Oklahoma. But it all goes back to those watershed events of 1942, when the decisions were made to move west, and then the hard work of relocating took place. I am grateful to my grandparents for their foresight, and the challenge they accepted to pick up roots and relocate themselves in California. Their decision to move west set the course for our family which has had tremendous ramifications for each of us.
- - -
Steve Shepard

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

"Door Into the Past", Nov 29, 2017

Photographs open doors into the past,
but they also allow a look into the future.
~Sally Mann
It is always an unexpected pleasure when I connect online with people to whom I am related but have never met. And in many cases people I never even knew about. Recently I connected online with Vicki Gower Cragen who is a second cousin of mine on the Gower side of the family. Her grandfather Jackson Gower was the brother of my grandfather Leroy Gower. Vicki is a native Missourian and lives today with husband John near Hannibal, Missouri.

Vicki was gracious enough to sent me a picture of Serena Turner Gower, who Vicki and I share as a Great Grandmother. Serena (1876-1931) was the wife of our Great Grandfather George Gower. I was very pleased to hear from Vicki about Serena and to receive this picture. I know very little about Great Grandmother Serena and have never seen a picture of her, or her husband George for that matter. Of my eight Great Grandparents, I know less about Serena than any of them. So to receive a picture of little known Serena is a wonderful gift.

I do know that Serena and George Gower were both born in the area around Mountain View, Arkansas and were married there in 1893. In the 1920s they were among several Gower family members who migrated to Okemah, Oklahoma. Serena and husband George are both buried in Highland Cemetery in Okemah. My mother Maida Gower Shepard and I visited their graves a few years ago. At that time mom shared with me how she remembers Serena from her childhood in Okemah.

Many thanks to Vicki for sharing this picture. We don't know much about this particular picture. It is obvious very old from the grainy look of the image, and from the looks of the clap board siding on the house, and what appears to be a log cabin. Serena died in 1931, so it may be from the 1920s. Vicki says Serena and her sister Josephine Turner Vaughn are the two women in this picture. Josephine outlived her sister Serena by at least 10 years, so my guess is that Serena is the one on the right, sitting in the rocker. It is a wonderful thing just to have this image even if we can only ponder the details and guess at the many stories is contains.

Caroline Spear Davis. Speaking of Great Grandparents, today is the 152nd anniversary of the birth of my Great Grandmother Caroline Spear Davis (1865-1931), mother of my Grandmother Bura Davis Shepard. A native of Indiana, "Callie" (as she was known) married James Brooks Davis in 1896. In 1913 Callie and James and their 6 children, ranging in age from 2 to 16 years old, moved from their home in Spencer, Indiana to Beaver County, Oklahoma where they began a new life. It took a tremendous effort, and great courage, to move one's large family that distance in the early 20th century. We are indebted to her and husband James for their fortitude in forging a whole new life for their family.

This second picture shows Callie Spear Davis with her husband James and their 7 children. This picture was taken just a few years before this family migrated from Indiana to Oklahoma.

Happy Birthday Kim and Damian. Today also happens to be the birthday of my cousin Kim Boyd Clark of Grain Valley, Missouri who is also a great grandchild of Caroline Spear Davis. Furthermore it is also the birthday of Kim's oldest grandson Damian Ortiz of San Diego. Best wishes and happy birthday today to Kim and her grandson Damian!

Further congratulations are offered to Kim and husband Jeff Clark who are retiring! This very week they have concluded their jobs and are taking to the road as their retirement begins. We wish them the very best is this new adventure in their lives.
- - -
Steve Shepard

Thursday, November 16, 2017

A Fantasy Road Trip, November 16, 2017

I am listening to a deeper way.
All my ancestors are behind me
but still they say,
you are the result
of the love of thousands.
~Linda Hogan

As a result of research I have done in recent months, we now know when and where our Shepard ancestors first arrived on American shores. And we know the stops they made in their journey across our country from the Atlantic to the Pacific. If one were so inclined, one could take a road trip across the U.S. retracing the route our Shepard ancestors took. Here are the particulars of that fantasy road trip retracing the seven steps our Shepard ancestors took to get across country in the 214 years from 1726 to 1940.

Shepard Migration from the East Coast to the West
Georgetown, Maryland. Our road trip would start at the port town of Georgetown, Maryland where 5X Great Grandfather John Sheppard III was born in 1737. His grandfather had arrived in Maryland from Barbados in 1726. Our trip would have to include Hagerstown, Maryland where John's son, James Cross Sheppard Sr. was born in 1775, the year before the U.S. came into being.

Kirkwood, Ohio. The second stop on our road trip would be in the Township of Kirkwood, Ohio where James Sheppard Sr. and his wife Hannah with 8 other family members settled in 1809 after making that 400 mile westward migration from Maryland. There in Belmont County we would visit Salem Cemetery in Hendrysburg where laid to rest are Hannah and James Sheppard Sr., parents of a large influential clan of ancestors who made a mark on that community that lasts to this day.

Montgomery County, Indiana. We would then travel another 350 miles westward into Montgomery County, Indiana where Hannah and James Cross Sheppard Jr. relocated from Ohio in 1840 with James' brother John Sheppard and 7 other family members. In Indiana we would visit James Cross Sheppard's grave in Paint Creek Cemetery outside the hamlet of Camden, Indiana. This road trip would be incomplete if we failed to honor the sacrifice of Civil War soldier William Shepard (1835-1862), the oldest son of James and Hannah. He is laid to rest in the Civil War section of Oak Hill Cemetery in Evansville, Indiana.

Madison County, Illinois. After leaving Indiana we would retrace the solo journey of soldier William Shepard's younger son William Elmer Shepard (1862-1915), and travel 235 miles to our fourth stop on this journey, Madison County, Illinois. That's where the young runaway William Elmer met and married local girl Elvira Owens. In the Mississippi River community of Alton, Illinois the two children of William Elmer and Elvira, William and Sadie, were born. On this stop we could visit the New Douglas Cemetery a few miles east, where several of Elvira Owens Shepard's family are buried.

South Flat Church in 1989

Beaver County, Oklahoma. Our fifth stop on this genealogical road trip would be 654 miles further southwest, in Beaver County, Oklahoma, where Elvira and William Elmer Shepard migrated in 1905 with their two teenage children William and Sadie. Two important places to visit during this stop would be the Sophia Cemetery where several family members are buried and, around the corner, the South Flat Church of Christ, spiritual home to many of our early 20th century ancestors. Beaver County is where William Shepard met and then married Bura Davis in 1915.

Two Buttes, Colorado. The sixth and next to last stop on this road trip would be the dusty little town of Two Buttes, Colorado, 160 miles northwest of Beaver County. That's where William and Bura Shepard decided to settle in 1928 with their first 3 children. In the 12 years they spent in Southeast Colorado a lot happened in their lives: 3 of their children finished High School, their 4th child was born, their oldest got married, and their first 2 grandchildren were born. On our road trip we would not need much time in Two Buttes (population 41); there is simply not much to see there.

San Diego, California. In 1940 our Shepard ancestors finally completed their westward journey when the 9 members of Will and Bura Shepard's family left Colorado and drove the last 1,200 miles to the shores of the Pacific. Some old Colorado friends named Gibbs told them about an opportunity to run a boarding house in San Diego, which was all it took to get them to California. Our road trip would include the boarding house at Albatross and Upas Streets, where the Shepards lived for the first few years of their new life in Southern California. Our journey would appropriately end with a visit to the resting place of a dozen family members in Greenwood Cemetery.

Bura Davis Shepard with daughter Pauline, early 1940s

It took 8 generations of Shepards, over 214 years, migrating a total of 3,000 miles to make their way from the Atlantic to the Pacific. It has been 77 years since Will and Bura completed the Shepard migration. They are both gone now but several of their descendants still live in San Diego to this day. In the last 77 years, most of their descendants have scattered up the Coast to Northern California and Washington, while others have migrated eastward to Missouri, Texas and Oklahoma. But for all of them our roots proudly include this two century migration from Maryland to California.

Bura Davis Shepard (1896-1986). An important person in the migration detailed above is my grandmother Bura Davis Shepard (1896-1986), whose birthday was last Wednesday, November 8. Born 121 years ago near Spencer, Indiana she moved in 1913 with her family to Beaver County, Oklahoma where she met and then married William Shepard, with whom she had 4 children. She and husband William made the major decision to move their family in 1940 from Colorado to the West Coast where they lived the rest of their lives. She was the spiritual and emotional head of our family during the latter part of the 20th century, a time of growth and prosperity.
- - -
Steve Shepard

Monday, October 30, 2017

Happy Halloween! October 30, 2017

Werewolves howl.
Phantoms prowl.
Halloween's upon us now.
~Richelle E. Goodrich

Russ and Pam
Happy Halloween! It was always a joy as a kid when we would get excited about Halloween in the few days before the holiday itself. In contrast I have noticed that in our neighborhood today Halloween has become something of a month long celebration.

At the end of September in our community here in San Diego where we live, there were houses near us that had ornate pumpkins and orange lights strung across their front yards -- a full month before Halloween. Have you noticed a similar thing where you live? We love our holidays!

Birthday Wishes to Pam! Happy Birthday today to Pam Shepard of Anacortes, Washington whose birthday falls on the day before this great American holiday. Pam is the wife of my brother Russell Shepard, and mother of Linda and Steven. Pam and Russ live on Wildwood Lane in Anacortes with my mom Maida Shepard and are part of the family team who is caring for mom these days. Pam was born in Anacortes, Washington and has lived there her entire life. Best wishes to her for a happy almost-Halloween birthday!

Celebrating 93! On November 1, Wednesday of this week, and the day after Halloween, my mother Maida Gower Shepard will celebrate her 93rd birthday. Born in Mountain View, Arkansas in 1924, she is the second child of Leroy Gower and Nola Shannon Gower. Mom was raised in the small town of Okemah, Oklahoma during the 1920s and 1930s. In the early 1940s her family moved to San Diego, where she met and married another transplanted Okie, Eugene Shepard.

Mom and Dad lived in San Diego for 36 years during which time they raised their 6 children. In 1978 Dad retired and they moved to Anacortes. After 25 years there Dad passed away in the summer of 2003. Next April will mark 40 years that Mom has lived in her home on Wildwood Lane in Anacortes.

This second picture shows mom earlier this year, and was taken on a clear spring day in front of her long time home in Anacortes, Washington.

Paula Harris, Maida Shepard
At 93 she deserves the honor of being the senior member of our family. She is in fairly good health, but as a nonagenarian, she has various health concerns including some serious memory issues. But she continues to enjoy her home on Wildwood Lane, her family scattered hither and yon, and her church in Anacortes. Maida is proud to have 5 children, 9 grandchildren, 11 great grandchildren and 2 great great grandchildren, spread out over Washington, California and Texas.

This third picture shows Maida a couple of years ago when she was on a Hawaiian cruise with Cindy and me and Cindy's mom Paula Harris during Halloween.

Happy Birthday and best wishes to mom!  
- - -
Steve Shepard