Monday, January 20, 2020

A Chickasaw Heritage, January 20, 2020

We did not think of the great open plains, the beautiful rolling hills and the winding streams with tangled growth, as 'wild'. To us it was home. Earth was beautiful and we were surrounded with the blessings of the Great Mystery~Chief Standing River

Today is Martin Luther King Day, an occasion to remember one of the greatest Americans. Celebrating MLK is also a reminder of what many call America's "Original Sin," the sin of Slavery. Hand in hand with the historical enslavement of millions of Africans was the treatment of Native Americans by our United States government. Today therefore is an unpleasant but important reminder of a dark chapter in our country's history, a chapter that is all too close to many in our family tree.

Last month I wrote the first of a few postings about my wife Cindy's Native American ancestry. The lineage of her and her mother Paula Hicks Harris (1923-2018) includes 6 generations of Chickasaw women, beginning with her GGG Grandmother Sha-thlock-kee Hawkins. It is a maternal lineage that stretches back 200 years on American soil. Her Chickasaw heritage actually goes back much farther than that but scant records are available for indigenous people whose home was this continent before our Europeans ancestors arrived. Here is a list of those 6 women and their spouses.
  • Cindy Harris Shepard (b. 1948), husband Steve Shepard (b. 1948)
  • Paula Hicks Harris (1923-2018), husband Sammie Joe Harris (1922-1999)
  • Rosa May Krause Hicks (1896-1940), husband Jenkins Arthur Hicks (1895-1967)
  • Frances Newberry Krause (1854-1915), husband Christian Krause Jr. (1846-1909)
  • Lucy Hawkins Newberry (1824-1907), husband Robert Newberry (1826-1886)
  • Sha-thlock-kee Hawkins (d. before 1897), husband (unknown) Hawkins
Frances Newberry Krause (1854-1915)
Cindy's Great Grandmother, about 1880
A Transitional Figure. Cindy's Great Grandmother Frances Newberry Krause (1854-1915) was a key person in this family line as a transitional figure. She was the first in this lineage to have been born in Oklahoma. Her parents were both from Mississippi where the Chickasaw nation was rooted until the 1830s when the Nation was forcibly relocated to Indian Territory in what is today Oklahoma. The account of that historic relocation along "The Trail of Tears," I will write about in an upcoming post.

As a young Native American woman in Southeast Oklahoma, Frances Newberry met and then married a 31 year old German immigrant named Christian Krause who was 8 years her senior. He had only been in Oklahoma a few years before they met and then married in the spring of 1877. Because of his marriage to Frances, Christian applied for and eventually became a citizen by intermarriage of the Chickasaw Nation. He went on to become a successful businessman who owned and operated a cotton gin on Indian Territory in what is today Bryan County, Oklahoma. Frances and husband Christian had an impressive family of 8 children who were all raised on Indian Territory in and around Bryan County. The Krause family, at the turn of the 20th century, included Frances' widowed mother, Lucy Hawkins Newberry, a full blooded Chickasaw.

The family of Cindy's Great Grandparents Christian and Frances Krause
Picture taken in early 1890's in Oklahoma
The Krause-Newberry Family. This family picture, from the early 1890s, shows Christian Krause (seated on the left), his wife Frances Newberry (seated in the middle), her mother Lucy Hawkins (seated on the right), and 6 of their 8 children. One of their daughters had died at 4 years old, several years before this picture was taken. Their youngest daughter, Rosa May Krause (Cindy's Grandmother) had not yet been born at the time of this picture, and may have actually been "on the way" when this picture was taken. Does it appears to you that mother Frances is with child? The other Krause children in this family picture are Martin, Lucy, Johnson and Lewis across the back, and young daughters Margaret and Lena in front.

The father of the family, Christian (who died in 1909), and his wife Frances (who died in 1915) are both buried in Yarbrough Cemetery alongside Lake Texoma, 19 miles southwest of Durant, Oklahoma.

Lucy Hawkins Newberry, Cindy's Great Great Grandmother, is the elderly lady on the right in the family picture above. She was the last person in Cindy's maternal lineage to have been born in Mississippi. She was born there in the Chickasaw Nation in 1824. She was just a young person when the Chickasaws made the arduous trek in the 1830s from Mississippi to Indian Territory in what eventually became the State of Oklahoma in 1907.

Frances Newberry Krause and her mother Lucy Hawkins Newberry appear in the 1900 US Census. The 2020 U.S. Census is coming up this year with its own controversies about what questions should be asked of citizens. It is worth noting how different the Census process was a century ago. In that 1900 Census, apart from the regular questions, were a series of questions called "Special Inquiries Related to Indians." The Census taker asked people if they were living in a "Civilized" or in an "Aboriginal Home." Furthermore they asked couples whether or not they were living in polygamy, and if so, whether or not the two wives of the polygamous household were sisters. Thankfully we've come a long way in our Census taking in the last century.

Cindy's proud maternal lineage is an important part of our family's multi-faceted history. It reminds us once again how deeply rooted we are in American soil.
- - -
Steve Shepard
(he, him, his)

Thursday, January 16, 2020

A Continuing Journey, January 16, 2020

She comprehended the perversity of life, 
that in the struggle lies the joy.
~Maya Angelou

A Continuing Journey. It was four years ago this month that my 95 year old mother Maida Shepard of Anacortes, Washington, began showing signs of serious memory issues. These past four years have brought many challenges as we, her family, have sought to provide her with the best care possible as she approaches the century mark of her life. Thankfully Mom's physical and mental health has remained fairly stable in these last 4 years.

Barbara, Gary and Maida Shepard
November, 2019, Anacortes, Wa.
The journey has not been easy, and appears to be far from over. It has strained some family relationships, strengthened others, required significant medical care, been a costly enterprise, and has severely tested our mettle as a family. I think it is safe to say that we will never be the same after this, which is often the outcome when families encounter serious challenges of this sort. But through it all we have remained diligent. Mom's physical, emotional and spiritual well being in these final years continues to be of utmost importance to us. I know that many of you have experienced this same kind of thing within your own family life. So you understand very well what I am talking about.

Mom's primary care givers, her daughter Barbara and her son Gary, deserve our great thanks for all they do. They continue to go above and beyond the call of duty, sometimes at the cost of having to put aside their own needs. Living at a distance, I am especially appreciative of their hard work and careful dedication. They have stretched themselves in ways that show their great respect for family and their genuine love and dedication to our mother. They are a testimony to the exemplary upbringing our mother and father provided them, and the values our parents instilled in all their children.

As this new year of 2020 gets underway I want to express my deepest gratitude to all of you who are readers of The Shepard's Crook. Especially those of you who, from various places around the country have shared your support and well wishes for this particular family journey on which we remain. Your prayers, expressions of concern and good thoughts are appreciated very much. May this new year be a time for growth and happiness for each of us as we face the challenges of the future with grace and strength.
- - -
Steve Shepard
(he, him, his)

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Native American Heritage, December 19, 2019

Merry Christmas to All!

As Christmas approaches, it is time to wish all of you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. It has been a difficult time for our Shepard family with our mother's dementia in Anacortes, and the challenges that brings. Even so we celebrate the joy and happiness of Christmas and the meaning that it brings to our lives.

Merry Christmas from the San Diego Shepards!
Steve, Preslea (with Jasmine), Nathan, Cindy
William and Logan
Our Shepard family here in San Diego -- Nathan, Cindy and me, Preslea, William and Logan -- wishes all of you much happiness in the coming year.

Native American Heritage. 51 years ago this month when Cindy and I married, my knowledge of her Native American ancestry was limited. Over the years I have come to see how important her Chickasaw heritage has been to her, her mother Paula Harris who died last year, and her aunt Juanita Eeds who died this past summer. All three of them -- Cindy, Paula and Juanita -- identified throughout their lives as Native American as a result of a rich family background with deep roots in American soil. Their Chickasaw roots go back to a time before our European ancestors ever came to this continent and named it after the Italian explorer Amerigo Vespucci.

Cindy's maternal lineage reveals a strong connection to her Native American ancestry. Here is a six generation lineage that summarizes that connection.
  1. Cindy Harris Shepard (b. 1948), husband Steve Shepard (b. 1948)
  2. Paula Hicks Harris (1923-2018), husband Sammie Joe Harris (1922-1999)
  3. Rosa May Krause Hicks (1896-1940), husband Jenkins Arthur Hicks (1895-1967)
  4. Frances Newberry Krause (1854-1915), husband Christian Krause Jr. (1846-1909)
  5. Lucy Hawkins Newberry (1824-1907), husband Robert Newberry (1826-1886)
  6. Sha-thlock-kee Hawkins (b. about 1800, d. before 1897), husband (unknown) Hawkins
It is traditional in the Chicksaw culture to place great importance on one's maternal ancestry. All 6 women listed above are Native Americans of the Chickasaw Tribe. Cindy and her mother Paula were born in the 20th century of course. Numbers 3 and 4 in the lineage above, Rosa Krause Hicks and her mother Frances Newberry Krause, were born into the Chickasaw Nation in Indian Territory in Oklahoma in the second half of the 19th century. The final two in the above lineage, numbers 5 and 6, are Lucy Hawkins Newberry and her mother Sha-thlock-kee Hawkins. They were born into the Chickasaw Nation in Mississippi in the early 19th century. Not much is known about their ancestors who lived on this continent before the 19th century, other than their history goes back hundreds of years before Europeans arrived.
Cindy's maternal Grandparents
Jenkins ("Jinks") Hicks and Rosa May Krause Hicks
Oklahoma, about 1920
Cindy's mother Paula Hicks Harris and her aunt Juanita Hicks Eeds were both originally from Oklahoma, and were members of the Chickasaw Nation. Their mother, Rosa May Krause (Cindy's grandmother), was born in 1896 in Indian Territory in what is today Southcentral Oklahoma. Rosa was the youngest of the six children of Christian Krause, Jr. and Frances Newberry Krause. 

Christian Krause (Cindy's Great Grandfather) was born in Baden, Germany but came to America as a teenager and settled with his family in Pennsylvania and then Wisconsin. He served in the American Civil War before moving south to Oklahoma about 1870. In 1877 this German immigrant, who had become a successful businessman on the Oklahoma frontier, married Frances Newberry, a full blooded Chickasaw. 

Cindy's grandmother, Rosa Krause Hicks, was therefore half Chickasaw, half German. She was raised in rural Oklahoma in the early years of the 20th century, near the town of Durant. At 18 she married a Texan named Jenkins Arthur Hicks, who was originally from Gainesville, Texas just across the state line from Oklahoma. Rosa and her husband "Jinks" Hicks, as he was called, traveled around Oklahoma and Texas in the 1920s and 1930s looking for work as they raised their 4 children. Among their offspring were two girls who would become Cindy's mother Paula, and her aunt Juanita. Both women proudly carried their Chickasaw heritage with them throughout their lives. 

I have more to share about our Chickasaw connection that I will share in upcoming posts. Others of you may also have Native American heritage. If so I would be glad to hear about it and share it in future posts.
- - -
Steve Shepard
(he, him, his)

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Happy Thanksgiving! Nov 28, 2019

Three Gems of Our Family

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you, wherever you may be! This is one of the very best times of the year. In some ways even better than Christmas. Here at Thanksgiving the stress of the holiday is less than it will be next month, while the joy and the gratitude abound.

Sisters Maida Gower Shepard and Vicki Gower Johnston
Anacortes, Washington, 1995
I am grateful at this time of the year for all my family. Even those with whom I don't always agree. I am especially grateful for the three senior most members of our family: my mother Maida Shepard, and my two aunts Thelma Shepard Boyd and Vicki Gower Johnston.

All three of them are gems within our larger family. They represent the generation that went before us. Theirs was a time of hard workers and bold dreamers. They lived through some of the darkest times of the 20th century, including the Great Depression and World War II. They are part of what Tom Brokaw famously called "the greatest generation."

My mother Maida Gower Shepard at 95 lives in her home of 40 years, with her daughter Barbara in Anacortes, Washington. My aunt Vicki Gower Johnston lives in a beautiful home/care facility near her daughter Paula in Chandler, Arizona.

2019 - Thelma Shepard Boyd (left) with daughter 
Kim Boyd Clark (right) and granddaughter Amanda Davis
And my aunt Thelma Shepard Boyd recently moved into her own independent living apartment in El Cajon, California, a few blocks from her grandchildren Jeremy and Desiree Ortiz who are very helpful to her. Thelma's daughter Kim and husband Jeff, motor home travelers, are in Virginia for a while with their newest grandchild Cooper and his parents Amanda and Justin.

My Mom and my Aunts represent a combined 264 years of our family's history! They are the present day anchors to our Shepard and Gower history. What a wealth of memories is contained in the lives and hearts of these 3! They experienced our family's movement from Arkansas to Oklahoma and Colorado, to California to Western Washington, and to Kansas, Arizona and elsewhere. And they continue to lead the way in our family lovingly and emotionally. Thanks be to God for the lives of Maida, Vicki and Thelma. They mean more to us than all the thanks we can give. But we thank them anyway, and want them to know they are loved, appreciated and honored during this season of Thanksgiving.
- - -
Steve Shepard

Friday, November 22, 2019

Importance of Extended Family, Nov 22, 2019

The trouble with most of us
is that we'd rather be ruined by praise
than saved by criticism.
~Norman Vincent Peale

I have been writing this family blog for 12 years now. I have enjoyed doing research into our family history and then sharing that information with all of you. It has been a journey that has included some remarkable historical discoveries. It has also given me a larger sense of what it means to be family. In addition it has been an opportunity to connect with relatives that I might never have known. Writing this blog has been a positive, satisfying experience. Thanks to those of you who are regular readers and who have been supportive of this endeavor.

Speaking of Extended Family:
A family gathering in San Diego, Easter, 2014
An Anonymous Troll. I should not have been surprised to discover recently that not everyone views this blog the same way. Recently a reader of The Shepard's Crook has reacted quite negatively. For the last month or so an anonymous "troll" -- as such a person is called online -- has left numerous negative remarks at the bottom of The Shepard's Cook in the comments section. They have been angry, critical comments, quite different from the dozens of other comments that have been posted over the years. Fortunately Blogger is set up so all comments are moderated. They do not get automatically posted. I have mentioned before that I invite readers to post comments at the end of the blog posts. But in order for them to be made available for all to see, they must be respectful, not hateful. Unfortunately the recent anonymous comments have been inappropriate. It is a surprising development that, as much as anything else, is one more sign of the angry times in which we live.

One of the most important life lessons I ever learned was shared with me by a colleague many years ago when we lived in the Bay Area. I have never forgotten it. He said "You can always learn more about yourself from those who criticize you than from those who compliment you." That is simply another way of expressing the truth in the Norman Vincent Peale quote at the top of this post. It is a life lesson that has served me well over the years.

Want To Be Added to The Mailing List? This is a good time for me to mention again that when I send out notices of new posts I am careful with the emailing list that I use. I do not send out notices with everyone's email available for all to see. Instead I "blind copy" everyone so that your email address is protected. It is simply one more way of being respectful of personal information. If you want to be added to the list of people to whom I send notifications of new posts, or if you want to removed from that list, just sent me an email and let me know.

Speaking of Extended Family:
A Reunion in Oklahoma, July, 2009
The Importance of Extended Family. A recent study by Sarah Woods of the University of Texas Southwest Medical Center made an interesting discovery about the effect of family life on physical health. It has long been known that the health of one's marital relationship can have a great affect on one's physical well being. But this recent study discovered something quite surprising. It found that the emotional climate of one's extended family has an even bigger effect on overall health, including the development or worsening of chronic conditions such as stroke and headaches. Here's the take-away from that: As you prepare for the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday next week, be grateful for your extended family. And don't underestimate the importance of their place in your well being. And your place in theirs.
- - -
Steve Shepard

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

That Great Mosaic, November 13, 2019

Bura Davis Shepard (1896-1986). Last Friday was the anniversary of the birth of my grandmother Bura Davis Shepard. She was one of the most influential people in our entire family. A woman small in stature, she was a spiritual giant in our Shepard family. She was the only person in our ancestral tree who was raised in Indiana, migrated to Beaver County, Oklahoma, and then settled with her family in San Diego where she lived the biggest part of her life. Her last few years were spent in Anacortes, Washington with her son Eugene Shepard and his family. She and husband William are buried today in San Diego's Greenwood Cemetery.

William and Bura Davis Shepard
San Diego, 1960s
When I remember my grandmother Bura Davis Shepard I always think of her faithful devotion to the Church of Christ. Her father was James Davis and her mother was Callie Spear Davis. The Davises and the Spears were Church of Christ families who migrated to Indiana from Southeastern Ohio about the time of the Civil War. They were among the founders of the New Union Church just outside Spencer, Indiana. James and Callie brought their faith with them when they settled in Indiana. From her childhood my Grandmother Bura developed that same love and devotion to the Church. It was part of the DNA she inherited from both the Davises and the Spears, and that she passed on religiously (so to speak) to her descendants.

I have not found many details about the church life of the Spears and the Davises in Ohio. But I do know that Monroe County, Ohio where they lived in the early to mid 19th century was in the very region where the Restoration movement originated. The ancestral home of the Spears and Davises in Monroe County was just outside the County Seat of Woodsfield, where there is an historic Restoration Movement congregation that began in pre-Civil War days. Alexander Campbell himself preached at the dedication of the congregation in 1855. Because of grandmother Bura and her Davis and Spear kinfolk, we have a number of family members today who can trace our lineage in the Restoration Movement back for 6, 7, even 8 generations.

On this month of the 123rd anniversary of my grandmother's birth, I am grateful for her life and that of her husband William Shepard. Their love and dedication to their family and their faith is a treasured legacy that we hold dear.

Karl Wilk's High School Photo
Granite Hills High, 1987
Karl Frederickpaul Wilk (1969-1997). One of William and Bura's great grandchildren was Karl Frederickpaul Wilk. He was the son of my cousin Beverly Russell Wilk and her husband Phil Wilk. Had she lived, cousin Bev would have turned 80 years old in April of this year. Unfortunately she died at just 35 years old of an unexpected brain aneurism. When she died, she left her 39 year old husband with two youngsters: a 1 year old daughter, Shannon, and a 5 year old son, Karl. It was to Phil's great credit that he did such a good job of being a single parent for many years. He was assisted in raising his children by grandmother Bura Shepard who, after the death of granddad William, lived with Phil and his family for several years.

Last Tuesday would have been Karl's 50th birthday. His unfortunate death occurred 22 years old in San Diego. Substance abuse was his downfall, resulting in him taking his own life. He died here in San Diego way too young at just 27 years old, a handsome young man full of promise and hope. Like others in our family tree, his life is a cautionary tale, reminding us that life is fragile and the dangers are many. Karl's sister and niece, Shannon and Emma Wilk, live in Atchison, Kansas. Shannon shared with me recently some thoughts on the life of her brother Karl.

Emma and Shannon Wilk
Atchison, Kansas 2019
"I think of him often. I tell my daughter about him all the time. Little things, like his favorite music, movies he liked. My memories are full of the good times. Even the ones of him picking on me. He was my big brother, and I miss him terribly. He loved music, his friends and loved to make you laugh. Karl will always be on my mind. Never a day goes by that I don't think of him."

Karl and Shannon's grandparents were my aunt and uncle, Pauline Shepard Russell (1916-2000) and her husband Bill Russell (1908-1997). Uncle Bill died in the summer of 1997 at 88 years old, just three months before Karl took his own life.

We would like to think that all our family stories are positive ones. But they are not. We all know that's the way life is. Some family stories are not pleasant to recall, even though we can and do remember, and learn from, the parts of those stories that are positive and insightful. It reminds me once again that family research sometimes leaves one uneasy and discomforted. But it is all part of that great mosaic we call our family.
- - -
Steve Shepard

Friday, November 01, 2019

One Saint's Day, Nov 1, 2019

For millions of people today is All Saints Day. But for me and many others, this day of my mother's birthday can be rightly named “One Saints Day.” As the oldest member of our family my mom Maida Gower Shepard has been a beloved member of our clan for 95 years. She has always had the status of Sainthood in my book. 

Maida Gower Shepard on her 95th Birthday
with Barbara, Gary and Steve Shepard
Today her family honors her for being a generous, caring, spiritual force in our family. We gladly and joyfully celebrate her for being the glue that has held our family together for all these many years. And we do that remembering our Dad Eugene Shepard (1921-2003) who was her life partner for 58 wonderful years until his death 16 years ago. 

First and foremost we celebrate Mom today for being a caring parent of her 6 children to whom she has been, and continues to be, an emotional and spiritual guide. She has had one or more of her children living with her for the last 73 years, ever since the day their first child Gary was born in 1946. Their kids have come and gone numerous times over all those years, but through it all mom and dad created a loving and generous home where all felt welcome. 

We also celebrate mom on her birthday today for being devoted to her whole family. Their home in Anacortes was the place her mother Nola Shannon Gower spent the last few years of her life until her death in 2004. And before that theirs was the home for Dad’s mother Bura Davis Shepard for the last years of her life until she passed away in 1986.

And of course we celebrate the fact that Mom has made it to the age of 95. That doesn’t happen by accident. You don't get to be 95 without taking good care of yourself and living a healthy, wholesome life. We don't know what God has in mind for the future of our dear mother, but we do know that by the grace of God she will be well cared for, in this life and into the next. For now we joyfully have her with us for yet another birthday, and we continue to cherish every day that we are blessed by her presence.
- - -
Steve Shepard

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Celebrating 95 Years, October 26, 2019

Celebrating Maida Gower Shepard at 95

Next Friday, November 1, my mother Maida Gower Shepard will turn 95 years old, which is quite a milestone. Her family plans to have a small, quiet celebration on her actual birthday, but then will have an open house at mom's Church on Saturday afternoon, November 2, to which all family and friends are invited. Assuming mom is up to it, the Open House will be an opportunity to visit with her and celebrate this special day.

Maida Gower Shepard with husband Eugene Shepard 
and his brother Elmer Shepard, San Diego, 1945 
She was born on All Saints Day in 1924 in Mountain View, Arkansas, the second child of Leroy and Nola Shannon Gower. She married Navy man Eugene Shepard (1921-2003) in San Diego in 1945 and spent 58 wonderful years with him, first in San Diego then in Anacortes, Washington. Their life together has resulted in 6 children, 9 grandchildren, 15 great grandchildren, and 2 great great grandchildren.

Not many things in life get to be 95, human or otherwise. Not airplanes, boats, animals, relationships, computers, furniture or any number of other items. Some things might be able to survive that long if well cared for, like cars, institutions, buildings and churches. But even if they make it to 95, it is somewhat extraordinary. Do you live in a house that is 95 years old? I never have. We do attend a local Church that is over 95 years old, but even that is cause for celebration.

Maida with daughter Barbara and son Russ
on Wildwood Lane, earlier this year.
Only 13% of American women, and only 7% of American men live to be 95. Being from the class of 1924, mom has been in good company. Others born that same year include President Jimmy Carter, President George H. W. Bush, Gloria Vanderbilt, Marlon Brando, Don Knotts, Dennis Weaver, Lauren Bacall, and Lee Iococca. Mom is from a family of people who tend to live long lives. Her mother Nola Shannon Gower (1903-2004) lived to be 101 years old. Nola actually lived so long her family tended to forget the year she was born. Some swore she was born in 1902. But the historical record is very clear that she was born in 1903. My mom's grandmother Finetta Dearien Shannon (1861-1960) lived just 3 months short of 100 years. Her aunt Peggy Shannon Hutson (1885-1981) lived to be 95.

Longevity is not a given, nor is it necessarily a birthright. Staying healthy makes a huge difference. Mom has lived a healthy lifestyle which has contributed to her being able to live 95 years. This despite the fact that for years she breathed the second hand smoke of her father Leroy Gower. He was a life long smoker who died of lung disease at 75.

Kambree and Mandi Aquiningoc
June 2019
Celebrating 95 years is always a two-sided affair. At that age, the years clearly have taken their toll on a person mentally and physically. Yet it is also a wonderful time of honoring, celebrating, and proudly affirming a dear family member whose life is very deserving of all the accolades she receives.

Birthday Wishes today to Mandi Aquiningoc! One of mom's Great Grandchildren is Mandi Aquiningoc of Weatherford, Texas whose 27th birthday is today. Mandi is the mother of 6 year old Kambree, who is one of mom's two great great grandchildren. Happy 27th Birthday to Mandi!
- - -
Steve Shepard

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. 😂
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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?
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Steve Shepard
(he, his, him)