Thursday, March 23, 2017

The Best Is Yet to Come, March 23, 2017

Forget the past;
look forward to the future,
for the best things are yet to come.

Happy Birthday to my brother Gary Shepard of Oak Harbor, Washington. Born in 1946, Gary is the first of the 6 children of Maida and Eugene Shepard. He was born and raised in San Diego and lived there until 2003 when he and his wife Cindy moved to Western Washington to be near our aging parents. Today Gary and Cindy live in Oak Harbor, Washington. He is one of the primary care givers for our mother Maida Shepard who lives in nearby Anacortes.

The first picture above was taken last week when I was in Washington visiting Mom and our family there. This particular photo was taken on the deck of Mom's house on Wildwood Lane, during a break in the spring rains we were having. Our mother Maida Shepard is on the left with three of her children: Gary, Barbara and me. Gary and Barbara are especially helpful in caring for mom at home these days.

Gary is the third of the 12 Grandchildren of our Grandparents Leroy and Nola Shannon Gower. Interestingly he is also the third of the 12 Grandchildren of our other Grandparents William and Bura Davis Shepard.

The second picture is an oldie, taken in San Diego in 1980, 27 years ago. It shows Gary on the left, his wife Cindy on the right, and his Grandmother Nola Shannon Gower in the middle. This picture was taken at Grandma Gower's home on Lynne Street in East San Diego. She was 77 years old at the time, just a few years older than Gary is now.

Best wishes to Gary for a very happy birthday!
- - -
Steve Shepard

Friday, March 17, 2017

Happy Saint Patrick's Day!, March 17, 2017

May you have the hindsight to know where you've been,
The foresight to know where you are going,
And the insight to know when you have gone too far.
~Old Irish Blessing

Happy Saint Patrick's Day Today! Best wishes to those of you of Irish descent, which includes most who are in our family tree. The Irishness of us Shepards and Gowers is one of the best things about us!

Happy Birthday to Kaylan! Birthday wishes go out this Sunday, March 19, to Kaylan Shepard who turns 18 this month! Her picture is on the right. With her auburn hair, green coat and beautiful smile, she looks very Irish and could be our family's poster person for Saint Patrick's Day! 

Kaylan is the daughter of my cousin Dane Shepard and his wife Cindy of Blanchard, Oklahoma. Born in California in 1999, Kaylan has spent most of her life in Oklahoma. She is the last of the 21 Great Grandchildren of William and Bura Davis Shepard.

Finetta Dearien Shannon. One of the most important family strains of Irish descendants in our family tree is the lineage belonging to my Grandmother Nola Shannon Gower (1903-2004). I have written about Grandma Gower's celtic ancestry numerous times in this blog, including herehere and here.

Grandma Gower's mother Finetta Dearien Shannon was a native Arkansan who experienced a difficult past that has been remembered through the years and is still remembered today because it was so troubling. In view of the conflict we have been having in our family these days, it might be helpful to take a detailed look at this part of our family history. 

My Great Grandmother Finetta Dearien Shannon (1861-1960) was born 156 years ago this week. She was the child of Augustus Marvin Dearien and Mr. Dearien's own step-daughter, a teenager named Roena Norton. Finetta's father Augustus Dearien compounded his grave error by causing the disappearance of his step-daughter Roena after she had given birth to his child. 

Sam Shannon and Finetta Dearien Shannon

We don't know exactly what became of Roena. Not long after Finetta was born, Roena simply disappeared, never to be heard from again. One family legend has it that her step-father caused her death in some famous local caves, probably the nearby Blanchard Springs Caverns. Another legend says that she was simply taken away never to return. In recent years I have tried to locate Roena in the genealogical records available to me from the mid 19th century, but to no avail. 

Roena's daughter Finetta was raised by her Grandmother Elizabeth Mitchell Dearien and her unscrupulous father Augustus Dearien. It was an unpleasant situation that caused a great amount of contention, heartache and conflict and was one of the most embarrassing domestic developments ever in our family. 

The US Census records for the period from 1830 to 1880 tell an interesting story about Finetta and her incestuous father Augustus Dearien.

The 1830 US Census shows the family of 16 year old Augustus Dearien living in Virginia, in a household that reported owning 4 slaves. It may have been in that household that the teenager Augustus Dearien learned that some people were not to be valued, but were simply to serve the needs of the head of the household.

The 1860 US Census (taken 9 months before Finetta was born) lists Augustus and Elizabeth Dearien and their family living in Richwoods Township, Stone County, Arkansas. The child Roena J. is listed as being 20 years old (which may have been inaccurate). The Census was taken in September, 1860, just about the time Roena became pregnant with Finetta.

snippet from the 1870 U.S. Census

The 1870 US Census (a snippet from which is seen above) indicates that the Deariens were living in Sylamore Township in Stone County, Arkansas at the time. One of the children of this family is named "Mitchell Dearien" and was 8 years old, which would have been Finetta's age. This may be a reference to Finetta. The other family members are listed with their ages. Could it be the family gave 8 year old Finetta the name "Mitchell"? Mitchell was Finetta's Grandmother's maiden name, and was the last name given to Finetta in the 1880 Census, 10 years later (see next paragraph). 

snippet from the 1880 U.S. Census

The 1880 US Census (a snippet from which is seen above) shows the Deariens still living in Sylamore Township in Stone County, Arkansas. This listing only shows father Augustus M., mother Lucinda, and one child, 18 year old "Vinettie Mitchel." Vinettie is surely a reference to Finetta, whose grandmother's maiden name was Mitchell. The information given to the Census taker was that this 18 year old was not one of the children but was simply a "boarder." Finetta is not even afforded the privilege of being a member of the family!

It is a sordid and tragic story that comes together when looking at the history of Finetta and her incestuous father. It was a situation that made for conflict, unhappiness and embarrassment, much of which has continued through the years. But the good news is that the ill-born Finetta went on to make a good life for herself with husband Sam Shannon, in the very community where she was born and raised. The last of the 9 children born to Finetta and Sam was my grandmother Nola Shannon Gower. 

This historical survey in the last few posts of conflicts in our family has been interesting to say the least. Whether it helps in dealing with our present squabble remains to be seen. If nothing else it reminds us that we are all too human and susceptible to dissension. The fact of the matter is that conflicts sometime come our way, the important thing is how we choose to deal with them.
- - -
Steve Shepard

Friday, March 10, 2017

An Inheritance Dispute, March 11, 2017

In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.
~Albert Einstein

Birthday Wishes to Steve and Russ! Happy Birthday this coming Monday to my brother Russell Shepard and his son Steven Paul Shepard who were born on the same day of the year, March 13. Russ turns 55 and Steven turns 27 on Monday. Russ is originally from San Diego, while Steven Paul was born in Anacortes, Washington, which is where they both live today.

This first picture takes us back a few years. It was taken in the year 2000 and shows my brother Russ on the left next to his son Steven Paul at just 10 years old. On the right is Russ' father Eugene Shepard.

Happy Birthday Jerry! This coming Tuesday, March 14 is the birthday of Jerry Clark. Jerry and his wife Cathrina live in Lubbock, Texas. Jerry has been a part of our Shepard family ever since he and my sister Linda Shepard were married in 1970 when they were students at Lubbock Christian University. 

This second picture shows Jerry Clark with Linda on the left in August, 1970 when they were married. On the right is my wife Cindy and me. This picture was taken in San Diego in front of the Shepard family home on Armstrong Street.

An Inheritance Dispute. In my last post I made reference to a family dispute that occurred among our Shepard kinfolk some 140 years ago. Central to that particular crisis was my Great Grandfather William Elmer Shepard. It was that same William Elmer Shepard who is tied to another conflicted time in our family several decades later, a squabble that has some surprisingly similarities to the problems we are encountering today. 

When William Elmer died in Oklahoma in 1915 after almost 30 years of marriage, his wife Elvira Owens Shepard (1865-1931) was just 49 years old and still had a lot of living to do. After just 3 years of widowhood, she married Calvin Williams, a handsome young neighbor in their farming community of Logan, Oklahoma. Cal was 17 years younger than Elvira, and just 6 years older than Elvira's SON William Shepard. 

Cal's family had come from Missouri around the turn of the 20th century and settled in Beaver County, Oklahoma and the county immediately to the south, Lipscomb County, Texas. Cal was a bit unusual. As a single man he farmed a parcel of land in Logan Township within Beaver County and made a good living for himself. He was a member of the South Flat Church of Christ in nearby Elmwood which was where he met the Shepard family, including Elvira. It was Cal's first marriage, when in 1918 at 37 years old he tied the knot with the widow Elvira, who was a 54 year old grandmother of 4 at the time.

Elvira spent the last 13 years of her life with Cal Williams. She died in 1931 at 66 years old when Cal was just 49. I have always found it a little odd that when Cal buried his wife Elvira he gave her a beautiful headstone, but he misspelled her first name, spelling it Alvira rather than Elvira. Click here to see a picture of her headstone. Interestingly, less than two years after Elvira's death, he married yet another older widow, Francis Pearl Huffman Phinney, and spent the rest of his life with her.

When it came time to settle Elvira's estate there was a question over who should inherit her property, her children William Shepard and Sadie Shepard Pruett who had lived on and worked the farm with their parents for many years, or Cal Williams, who had met and married her later in life. 

With this post is a picture, taken in Oklahoma in 1930, that shows what appears to be a happy Shepard and Davis family gathering, with the dapper Cal Williams on the far right, and his smiling wife Elvira Owens Shepard Williams the second from the left. Others pictured here include Elvira's son William Shepard, his wife Bura Davis Shepard, and other members of the Davis family.

Within a year or so of this picture being taken, Elvira died and the family splintered over the inheritance issue. It became a contentious and drawn out conflict, which was not settled until 1937, 6 years after Elvira's death, by the Oklahoma Supreme Court. They ended up ruling in favor of her second husband, the dapper Cal Williams. Clearly this did not settle well with her children William Shepard and Sadie Shepard Pruett who had initiated the lawsuit in the first place. (Click here for a website that details that historic case.) To them it must have appeared that Cal Williams took advantage of their older mother Elvira by marrying her simply to get her property.  

Some 50 years later, when my dad told me this story, it was still a matter than bothered him and caused him some consternation. It was yet one more family squabble that has been remembered for generations. It reminds us that conflict is nothing new in our family, even if the pain and disappointment seem to be novel and unique. Will we learn from our family's history or keep allowing family squabbles to take their toll? 

- - -
Steve Shepard

Friday, March 03, 2017

The Runaway, March 2, 2017

Peace is not absence of conflict,
it is the ability to handle conflict
by peaceful means.
~Ronald Reagan

Happy Birthday Kerri! Today is the birthday of Kerri Shepard Aquiningoc of Weatherford, Texas. Kerri is the oldest child of my brother Gary Shepard and Jackie Enderle Perry. Kerri was the first grandchild of my parents Eugene and Maida Shepard. I still remember what a joy it was for my parents when Kerri was born. She actually came into the world in Walled Lake, Michigan where her parents were living at the time. But within months they moved back to San Diego where Kerri was raised. Kerri has two daughters, Lyndsey and Mandi, and two grandchildren, Kambree and Karver. Best wishes to Kerri as she enters the last year of her 40s! 

Lyndsey and Kerri Aquiningoc
The first picture shows Kerri Aquiningoc with her older daughter Lyndsey.

We've been having an unsettling family squabble in the Northwestern part of the family these days. As a result I have been thinking about other times when there was conflict in our family. In my lifetime we have been, for the most part, free from the kind of conflict that is troubling us today. And for that we can be grateful. But looking at the larger historical picture of our family there have been some doozies over the years when it come to squabbles in our midst. 

The Runaway William Elmer. We have clear evidence of a serious family conflict that took place over a century ago, during the years following the Civil War. It was more painful and destructive of our Shepard family back then than what we are dealing with now. 

My Great Great Grandfather William Shepard died in the Civil War in 1862, leaving a grief stricken wife Mary Shepard, and two young sons, Frank and William Elmer, both in diapers. Just three years later the widow Mary married a widower living in Montgomery County, Indiana. Her second husband was William Ragsdale, who was 23 older than her, and already had 9 children. Into that family Mary brought her two young sons who were just 3 and 4 years old. In the ensuing years she gave birth to three more children by Mr. Ragsdale. Frank and William Elmer Shepard were raised in the household of this blended family, but when they became teens conflict arose. Before even reaching adulthood William Elmer ran away from home never to return. 

We don't know the details of the problems that lead to William Elmer breaking the family apart. We do know that it was a difficult time socially and economically in the rebuilding years following the Civil War. We also know that it was challenging family to begin with: 14 total children from two different marriages, spread out over 35 years. Frank and William Elmer were the only two of those 14 who were not fathered by Mr. Ragsdale and therefore did not have his name. The grieving widow Mary Shepard was alone with her two baby sons after her husband died. When she married Mr. Ragsdale she was suddenly the mother of 9 other children, and in the following years she was pregnant three more times. Imagine the stress of that blended family situation! It must have been incredibly intense and difficult for her.

Bura and William Shepard, William Elmer's son

The family story my father told me was that William Elmer could not get along with his step father and felt the need to leave and stay away for the rest of his life. It is interesting to note that the teen William Elmer also had his differences with his own brother Frank, who chose the spelling "Shepherd" for his last name, while William Elmer chose the spelling "Shepard", which we all have unquestioningly used ever since the young man William Elmer separated from his Indiana family.

Mary Shepard Ragsdale outlived her runaway son William Elmer Shepard, who died in Beaver County, Oklahoma in 1915 at just 53 years old. She died in 1919 at 79 years old, in Indianapolis, Indiana where she lived the last 20 years of her life. Tragically there is no evidence they ever reunited after their separation in about 1880.

Family squabbles can lead to great heartbreak that lasts for many years. The fact of the matter is that families have long memories. Serious conflict is remembered for generations because of how much pain it brings. Here I am, almost 140 years later, recalling a conflicted family incident from the 19th century! Memories of this painful incident have been passed down all these years. 

Will we ever learn?

- - -
Steve Shepard

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Happy Valentines Day! February 14, 2017

How did it happen that their lips came together?
How does it happen that birds sing, 
that snow melts, that the rose unfolds?
A kiss, and all was said.
~Victor Hugo

Happy Valentine's Day today! This is a day for wonderful celebrations of love when we lift up the joy of a simple kiss. This particular holiday could not be more appropriate for our Shepard family these days, because these are difficult times. I'm not talking about political drama. I am talking about life in our family in recent months.

The last year has been one of the most difficult years ever for us Shepards. All families go through periods of difficulty, times when things are tough, and when family relationships experience some strain. All of us can remember occasions when a particular family member was having a hard time, or when someone lost their job, or when a divorce occurred, or when some other stressful situation created strain on the entire family.

But this past year our family has been shaken like never before. My mom has developed some memory issues which have required some reordering of our family life, and it has been difficult as we have sought to adjust. It has led to some challenging conflicts within our ranks. For these reasons it seems appropriate to share the following video. We need this. It is about love and affection, which seem to be in short supply right now.

The video below includes some images you have seen before, but most of them are pictures you have probably never seen. The new pictures include a young couple in Texas, some youngsters smooching in Seattle, a grandmother in Oklahoma, lovers embracing in Paris, and much more. All these images show family members doing what they do best: loving one another. Thanks to all of you who made these pictures available and who had the joy of taking them!

As Time Goes By. Let this video be our reminder that Valentines Day holds the key to our future as a family. After all, choosing to love is our only hope. This YouTube video is set to the music of Queen Latifah and Rod Stewart, singing "As Time Goes By."


Show me the love. For the last couple of years I have given a "Show Me The Love" award on Valentine's Day to a member of our family from our past who exemplified love in their life. Yesterday was a day of remembrance for one of our family members who is no longer with us, my cousin Gloria Harrell Watson, who died 11 months ago. 
Gloria grew up in San Diego with the other 11 grandchildren of Leroy and Nola Gower. But she lived her adult life in Knoxville, Tennessee, where she died last March. 

Back in the late 1990s -- some 20 years ago -- when our Grandmother Nola Gower was in her 90s, she had knee replacement surgery. Gloria came to San Diego from Tennessee to be with Grandmother through her surgery. It was an act of love with which I was impressed. So this year the "Show Me The Love" award goes to Gloria, for her generosity of time and expense to travel all that way to be with Grandma Gower in her time of need. It was just one more act of kindness that led to her family's decision to bury Gloria in Greenwood Cemetery in San Diego alongside Grandma Gower.
- - -
Steve Shepard

Tuesday, February 07, 2017

"Family Life: Full of Ups and Downs", February 7, 2017

Family life is full of ups and downs,
success and failure
and all kinds of characters...
It's difficult to imagine
anything more nourishing to the soul.
~Thomas More

Happy Birthday Paula. Today is the birthday of my cousin Paula Harrell Tuzzolino. Paula is one of the 12 grandchildren of Leroy and Nola Shannon Gower. She and husband Frank Tuzzolino live in Sun Lakes, Arizona, a suburb of Phoenix. Paula and Frank live just a short ways from her mom Vicki Gower Johnston, who lives in a senior group home in Chandler, Arizona. Paula has spent much of her time this winter in Oak Harbor, Washington where she lived for many years. Best wishes to Paula for a very happy birthday! 

This first family picture was taken just 2 years ago and shows Paula and her sister Gloria Watson in Oak Harbor, Washington at the home of their mother Vicki and her late husband Duke Johnston. This picture is also an opportunity to remember Gloria who passed away just 11 months ago, and whose birthday would be next week, the day before Valentines Day.

Phillip Wilk: 1935-2007. I am also remembering Phil Wilk, who was born 82 years ago this week. He was the parent of two young children in 1974 when his wife, my cousin Beverly Russell Wilk, died unexpectedly in San Diego. It was a tragic death that rocked the Shepard, Russell and Wilk families. Originally from Leavenworth, Kansas, Phil lived over 35 years in San Diego but spent his last years in Atchison, Kansas, which is where his partner Frank, his daughter Shannon, and his granddaughter Emma still live today. Phil died in Kansas 10 years ago.

His daughter Shannon told me a few years ago: "Dad LOVED to cook. Watching the cooking shows, and trying new stuff out on us! That's where I got my love of cooking. I also remember many of his stories. Once his oldest sister Paula was getting ready to go out, when silk stockings were in fashion, the kind with the line down the back of the leg. Due to the silk shortage, she would draw a line down her legs, to look like she was wearing them. Dad  would wait till she got half way done, then jump out and scare her, and she would have to start all over again. He would always laugh when he told that one. He had one of those voices that just drew you in and you would listen, calming in a way."

This second family picture was taken in Valley Center (a suburb of San Diego) in 1983, at the home of long time family friends Rod and Violet Ramirez. In the middle in the red shirt is Phil with his children Karl and Shannon in front of him. On the left are Gary and Cindy Shepard, and Bill and Pauline Russell. Cindy and I and Nathan are on the right with my cousin Dane Shepard.

Valentine's Day Pictures, Anyone? Next week I will include a Family Photo presentation for Valentine's Day. Do you have pictures of family members kissing or hugging? I invite you to email them to me so that I can include them in the presentation.
- - -
Steve Shepard

Wednesday, February 01, 2017

Looking Toward Ground Hog Day, February 1, 2017

You are who you are - not your parents.
~Leslie Burke

William Elmer Shepard (1862-1915). Tomorrow, February 2, will mark the anniversary of the birth of my Great Grandfather William Elmer Shepard. William Elmer is one of the most compelling and fascinating persons in our Shepard family tree. He was born in 1862, the same year his father died in the Civil War. When a teenager he became estranged from his mother and step-father, and set out on his own. He is also the person whose only brother chose to spell his last name "Shepherd". 

As a young vagabond in the early 1880s, William Elmer settled in Madison County, Illinois, where he met and married Elvira Owens. With her he made his own family, happier than any family he ever had. They and their 2 children William and Sadie ended up moving to Oklahoma where they lived the rest of their lives. On this 155th anniversary of his birth we celebrate his life and honor his memory.

Sadie Shepard Pruett (1892-1980). Last Friday marked the 125th anniversary of the birth of Sadie Shepard Pruett, daughter of the aforementioned William Elmer Shepard. Sadie was the sister of my grandfather William Shepard.

Sadie and William were the only two children of William Elmer Shepard and Elvira Owens Shepard of Madison County, Illinois. William was born in 1888 in the Mississippi River town of Alton, Illinois, while Sadie was born January 27, 1892 when the family lived a few miles south of Alton in the town of Venice, also in Madison County.

When Sadie was barely a teenager, this small Shepard family of four moved from Illinois to Beaver County in the panhandle of Oklahoma. A few years later young Sadie, who lived in the small farming community of Sophia, met a neighbor who lived in nearby Elmwood, a fellow named Levy Pruett who was 10 years her senior. Sadie and Levy were married in the town of Beaver, Oklahoma on June 22, 1910 and spent 58 years together. 

The first image shows a copy of Levy and Sadie's wedding license from 1910. You can click on the image to get a larger view of it.

Sadie and Levy had three daughters, Alberta, Gayle and Twila, who gave them four grandchildren, Norman, Steven, Shawna and Lisa, and then an assortment of Great Grandchildren. Lisa Allred Parks is the granddaughter who contacted me online a few months ago and began a conversation that has connected me to Sadie's descendants like never before. Today Levy and Sadie's descendants live primarily in Oklahoma and North Texas.

Sadie and Levy lived and farmed in Beaver County for many years, although the 1910 US Census indicates that she was a public school teacher at the time she and Levy were married. They made their life in the Oklahoma panhandle, in contrast to Sadie's brother William Shepard who settled in California in 1940. Sadie and Levy did travel to California a number of times to visit brother William and his family.

The second image is one I have shared before in this blog. It shows Sadie and Levy Pruett while on a visit to California in 1946. This picture was taken when the family took a day trip across the border to Tijuana, Mexico. In the very middle of this image, in the black dress, is Sadie Shepard Pruett. In back row in the middle is her husband Levy Pruett. On either side of Levy and directly in front of him are 3 other members of the Pruett family visiting from Oklahoma: Glen Barker, Gayle Pruett Barker, and Alberta Pruett Getz. The others pictured here are members of the Russell and Shepard families who were living in San Diego.

Sadie died 2 days after her 88th birthday, in Oklahoma where she had lived for 75 years, ever since she had moved from Illinois as a school girl in about 1905. She and Levy rest alongside other family and friends in Sophia Cemetery, the longtime burial ground in Beaver County located in the community where they spent most of their lives.

Happy Birthday Cindy Shepard. Tomorrow (Ground Hog Day!) is the birthday of Cindy Ann Shepard, the wife of my brother Gary Shepard. Cindy and Gary live in Oak Harbor, Washington and are among the caregivers for our 92 year old mother Maida Shepard of nearby Anacortes, Washington. 

Last week I visited with the family in Washington and took this picture which shows my brother Gary and his wife Cindy on the right, and me and my wife Cindy on the left. Best wishes to Cindy for a very happy birthday!
- - -
Steve Shepard

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Some January Celebrations, January 18, 2017

Wake up! Wake up to the gift 
that life presents us, 
now and in every moment.  
Any day above ground is a glorious day, 
and we have that gift now. 
~Rabbi Bradley Artson

Happy Anniversary! Today, January 18, is the wedding anniversary of my cousin Kim Boyd Clark and her husband Jeff Clark who were married 10 years ago in La Jolla, California but who have lived in Missouri ever since. They live outside Blue Springs in the town of Grain Valley, Missouri with Kim's mom Thelma Boyd.

Jeff: 10 years ago, overlooking the ocean at La Jolla, she said "I do." We have faced many challenges over those years. I don't know where I would be now if you had said no. Each day is a blessing to have you as my wife and best friend. I can hardly wait to see what is in store for the rest of my life because of you. I love you more each day!

A few days ago Kim wrote me to say: We are in Branson, Missouri at our time-share this cold winter weather weekend, but we're having fun. We have a nice fireplace. It is hard to believe 10 years has passed so fast.

Best wishes to Kim and Jeff for a very happy anniversary!

Happy Birthday Dane and Nathan. This Saturday, January 21, is the birthday of another cousin of mine, Dane Shepard, who lives in Blanchard, Oklahoma with wife Cindy and daughter Kaylan Shepard. Saturday is also the birthday of their son Nathan Ross Shepard who is a student at Florida College.

Nathan: Hello cousin Steve! I would like to wish all the Shepard family a happy year! I hope to graduate with my BS in Business Administration this April. I will also be traveling to Austria this summer for a choral festival with my school. Many exciting opportunities are coming and I'm thankful for all the blessings I have and have to look forward too! Hope you are doing well! It's been quite a while since I've been to a family reunion. It would be nice to see everyone again.

This second picture shows Dane and Nathan (on the left) with Cindy and Kaylan. Best wishes to our Oklahoma Shepards as they celebrate Dane and Nathan's birthdays!

The Death of a Gentle Giant. This final picture shows one of the Giant Sequoias of Calaveras Big Trees State Park in Northern California, with three of our family members in front of it: Maida Shepard, Jane Clark Brock and Barbara Shepard. It was taken in 2004 when a group of women among us (The "Yayas") spent a week together at our home in the mountains of Northern California, located just a few miles from where this picture was taken.

Named the "Pioneer Cabin Tree", it was estimated to be over 1,200 years old when it toppled over early last week during a winter storm. It came down partially because it had been weakened in the 1880s when they thoughtlessly carved out a passage way through the middle of this gentle giant. At over a thousand years old, its demise is a tragic loss of historical proportions. But it puts in perspective our family's history which we do well to trace back maybe 200 years.
- - -
Steve Shepard

Saturday, January 07, 2017

A Picture Is Worth, January 7, 2017

Our ancestors dwell in the attics of our brains
as they do in the spiraling chains of knowledge
hidden in every cell of our bodies.
~Shirley Abbott

A Fascinating Picture. A few months ago I mentioned that I had recently begun an online conversation with a second cousin on the Shepard side of our family, Lisa Allred Parks. She lives in the Fort Worth area and is the Granddaughter of Sadie Shepard Pruett (1892-1980), the sister of my Grandfather William Shepard (1888-1976).

A few days ago Lisa was thoughtful enough to email me a copy of a picture that she found among her mother's photos. It is obviously an old picture, only 1 1/2 inch square, and shows two children, who Lisa thinks are her grandmother Sadie Shepard Pruett and Sadie's brother William Shepard.

The first picture I am including is a composite image which shows, in the middle, the picture of the children Lisa sent to me. On either side I have added an adult picture of Sadie (at 23 years old) and William (at about 30 years old). Comparing these images might help us decide whether the children shown here could indeed be the adults pictured on either side. What do you think?

As you might imagine I was fascinated by this picture, and excited about the possibility of it being a childhood picture of my Grandfather and his sister. As far as I know the oldest existing picture of my Grandfather is the wedding picture of him alongside his wife Bura Davis Shepard, taken in Oklahoma in June, 1915 when he was 26 years old. If this new image does indeed show Sadie and William as children, it would be something extraordinary.

Here's what we do know, or can deduce, about this small picture: It was found among the photos of Sadie Shepard Pruett, who was born in January, 1892 (125 years ago this month). William was born 3 years and 1 month earlier, in December, 1888. In this picture, the young girl looks to be just a few months old, while the little boy looks to be a few years older, so their ages would be about right. If it is Sadie and William, it would have been taken in 1892 in Madison County, Illinois, where both of them were born.

I'd like to ask the readers of this blog: Do you have thoughts on whether or not this might be a picture of Sadie and William? Especially those of you who knew William and/or Sadie when they were alive. Do you have any thoughts or ideas about whether this might be them? I would appreciate hearing from you.

Happy Birthday Cindy! Today is the birthday of my wife Cindy Harris Shepard. Born in the San Joaquin Valley, as a baby she and her family moved to San Diego where she grew up, and where she and I met while in High School. Cindy is the mother of our son Nathan, and grandmother of his three children, Preslea, Logan and William Shepard. 

The second picture shows Cindy with our youngest grandchild William Shepard (the Great Great Grandchild of the William Shepard mentioned above).

Happy Birthday, Mary! This coming Tuesday, January 10 is the birthday of Mary Shepard, wife of my brother Darrell Shepard, of Bothell, Washington. Originally from Chicago, Mary and husband Darrell live today in the Seattle, Washington area. The biggest joy of their lives right now is their 4 young grandchildren, Logan, Mason, Kellan and Finley, the children of their kids Patrick, Rachel and Christopher. 

This third picture, taken last month, shows Mary with husband Darrell and their youngest grandchild Finley Shepard, daughter of Chris and Jessica.

Best wishes to Cindy and Mary for very happy birthdays! And thanks to cousin Lisa for that amazing picture of those children!
- - -
Steve Shepard

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Best Wishes for a New Year, December 27, 2016

Feliz Navidad
y felicidad
José Montserrate Feliciano García

This last week of 2016 includes a couple of anniversary celebrations worth remembering.

Our Wedding Anniversary. Today, December 27, is the wedding anniversary of Cindy and me. On this day 48 years ago we were married at the La Mesa Church of Christ, just a few miles down Jackson Drive from where we live today. My second cousin Edwin Kilpatrick was the minister, dear friends and family were the attendants, while Joe and Paula, and Gene and Maida were the proud parents, each of them just 40-something years old. Johnny Mathis provided the music (unfortunately not in person) and the ladies of the church provided the reception of punch and cookies and, of course, the wedding cake. 

A lot of rushing water has gone under the bridge of our family since that Friday night so long ago: a lot of joy, our share of sadness, celebrations of significant milestones, the arrival of one child and three grandchildren, years of labor-intensive careers, new relationships, amazing changes, surprising growth, and valuable challenges. They have all made the last 48 years very memorable. 

The first picture, taken at our Christmas Day gathering on Burgundy Street in San Diego, shows Cindy and me with our son Nathan, our three grandkids, Preslea, Logan and William, and Cindy's mom Paula Harris.

This evening, to celebrate our anniversary, we will share a quiet dinner together at a restaurant over looking beautiful San Diego Bay. Among other things we will raise a toast as we give thanks for so many of you, family and friends who have brought us to this point in our lives, and who have helped make the journey worthwhile.

Happy Anniversary Darrell and Mary. This coming Saturday, Dec 31 will be the 34th wedding anniversary of my brother Darrell Shepard and his wife Mary Medina Shepard. Darrell and Mary were college students at Abilene Christian University when they got married on the last day of 1982 in Abilene, Texas. Their life journey has taken them from the plains of West Texas to Montana, Oregon and now Washington State, where they live today. Their family includes 3 children, their partners, and 4 young grandchildren. Happy Anniversary and best wishes to Mary and Darrell! 

The second picture, taken Christmas Eve, shows Darrell and Mary with three of their grandchildren, Mason, Logan and Kellan. Darrell: "Thirty four years sure go by fast! Oh, and the grand kids are awesome."

Truth Is Stranger.  I went Christmas caroling with a group from our church just before Christmas. One of the places we wanted to go -- a care facility where one of our members lives -- told our leaders that we could come and sing, but just holiday music. We were to sing no songs that had any reference to Jesus Christ or to religious themes. There were people of other faiths in the facility. (I am not making this up!) It was enough to turn the brightest optimist into a cynic. Fortunately, we had plenty of other places to go and sing. And a good time was had by all.

May this coming weekend of New Years Day be a happy time of celebrating family and friends! Best wishes to all of you for a joyous and prosperous new year!
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Steve Shepard