Friday, November 27, 2009

Shepard Family Update, November 27, 2009

Silent gratitude isn't much use to anyone.
—Gladys Browyn Stern

Hello Shepard family and friends,

Greetings from sunny San Diego on this day after Thanksgiving.

Back in "the golden days" of the Shepard family (the 1940s, 50s and 60s) all of Will and Bura Shepard's children and grandchildren lived in San Diego. Many of us have memories of when we all would gather for Thanksgiving dinner, often at the home of Elmer and Beryl Shepard on Osage Trail in the suburb of Winter Gardens. The first picture I am including today was taken in that very setting 49 years ago yesterday. (Select the picture to see a larger view.) It shows Will and Bura Shepard, their 4 children and their spouses, and 8 of their 9 grandchildren at the time (Beverly Russell is not seen and may have been taking the picture). Barbara Shepard (on the left in front) at 1 year old was the youngest family member.

I am grateful for every member of our larger family, in particular all of you who are on this emailing list, regardless of the particular part of our family you happen to belong to. In a special way I am thankful for Dane Shepard who sent out the last two weekly emails, while Cindy and I were away. We got home just in time for turkey day! (See some pictures of our latest trip.) I hope you were able to spend the holiday with your family and/or friends whether you live in Washington, Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri, North Carolina or anywhere else members of our larger family happen to reside.

Speaking of North Carolina, that is where fourth cousin Pamela Williams Martin lives. She loves family research and it is always a joy to compare notes with her. We share a GGGgrandfather, John Pouty Williams, who was Bura Davis Shepard's Ggrandfather. Pam wrote me recently to say, "I have some sad news. My oldest sister, Judy (Williams Franciscy), passed away Friday (Nov 13) after a long illness. She was the glue that held all of us children together. Judy will be greatly missed. Of all of the thousands of listings that I have made in my genealogy research, this one is by far the hardest to enter." Our prayers and best wishes are with Pam and her entire family in this time of loss.

Some happier news for this week: This Sunday is the birthday of Damian Ortiz of El Cajon, California AND his Grandmother Kim Clark, a San Diegan at heart who lives in Blue Springs, Missouri. Kim emailed me recently with the following.

My Yorkie puppies are 5 months old and I bet you can guess their names... Cali and Diego. I just wish I had half their energy. It's getting pretty cold here. We had about 1 inch of snow a week ago. It probably won't be long until we get more. You inspired me to look up for my dad's side and I'm finding that they all started in Arkansas and Oklahoma. I guess there is no escaping the Midwest from either side. It is really special to have a grandchild that was born on my birthday.

Damian is the 8th GGgrandchild of Will and Bura Shepard and has the honor of being their youngest descendant (for the next few months anyway!). His mother Desiree Ortiz emailed me recently and shared the following.

Here is a picture of Damian in his favorite outfit, a Charger Jersey and jeans. Damian will be three and he is such a joy! He is all boy, he loves to jump, climb, run and play all sports. He especially loves football. His birthday party will be Charger themed! :)  Damian is a fun and exciting kid. He takes me on daily adventures! We love him so much, and couldn't be any prouder to have a son like him.

My brother Darrell had planned to send out the family email this week, but due to some unexpected events, he asked to put it off until a future date. I am hopeful that we will hear from him in a family email sometime in the future. Best wishes to him and his family.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Shepard Family Update, November 20, 2009

(The following is the second of two blog entries by cousin Dane Shepard while I am out of town. Thanks so much to Dane for sharing these family thoughts!)

Dear Shepard Family and Friends,

Hello again from the southern region of the Great Plains. As we have been sharing, this is where both the Shepard and Davis families decided to migrate to, early in the last century just before and after Oklahoma became a state in 1907. By the way, according to, which lists the most common surnames in the U.S., the name "Davis" ranks seventh while "Shepard" comes in at 815.

This past November 11 was Veteran's Day.  Both sides of the family have members who once served in the armed forces. We are certainly grateful to them and all those who continue to protect our freedom. Recently I took my father, Elmer, to a local museum where they displayed some decor, clothing, and other items from dwellings of Adolf Hitler. Pictured below is Dad looking into a mirror once used by Hitler himself. Dad, now 91, served in the Army Air Corps in WWII. His brother, Eugene, was in both the Coast Guard and the Navy.  The next picture is of their younger cousin, Jack, son of John and Margie (Davis) Millikan who became a pilot in the Navy. Elmer took him for a plane ride when he was very young and it seemed to have made an impression.  In fact, sometime much later when Dad was working as an aircraft examiner at the North Island naval air facility in San Diego, a plane came taxiing up to where he was.  After the plane had parked, the cockpit canopy opened and he heard the pilot say, "Hello, Elmer."  It was Jack.


Now lets return to "Garden of Memory" for the second part of the Shepard Family Story that we began last week.  According to Margie, William and Bura were "Married June 2,1915 by Steve Shoemate, Sophia Community." Their picture below was taken sometime in the early 1960's, probably around Mother's Day as Bura is sporting a lovely corsage.

When he [William] asked Dad for Bura in marriage, Dad told him, "You are getting the best spoke in the wheel." His temper was likely his hardest job to control, but Bura, so calm and sensible, was always there to smooth things out for him. I can almost still hear her say, "Now, Daddy."

Bura didn't even weigh 100 pounds but was a regular work horse. Mother said at four years old she was a great help to her, carrying the butter and things back and forth to the spring house. She said she couldn't have raised the rest of us without her.

Bura was a good cook in her mid teens. When the wheat was harvested and stacked, then it was threshing time. Sometimes there was a cook shack that fed the regular crew. Bura took the hot, hard, low paying job of feeding those hungry, hard working men. The shack was a very small house set on wagon runners and wheels so it could be moved along with the threshing crew of six to ten men. There was a little monkey stove in the corner, no cabinets, two board tables along each wall, and benches to sit on and be pushed under the tables when not in use. There was a door at the back and a side door toward the front. There were potatoes to be peeled, corn bread to be made, water to be carried and dishes to be washed. I wish I had asked her what her wages were for all this. I would guess three to four dollars a week.

She was thrifty and bought a beautiful wedding dress of pure China silk with lots of embroidery on the overskirt of it. I think it cost around $12.00 ordered from a catalog. It would cost hundreds of dollars now. Later when Pauline, Elmer, and Eugene were little, they had a herd of milk cows. Bura had an account with Sears and Montgomery Ward, and bought a cream separator, sewing machine, brass bed, folding chair and other things.

She was an excellent seamstress. She sewed for me, Mother, and Will's mother, besides her own family. After they moved to Colorado, she was also a nurse. She delivered a friend's baby boy. The good old doctor, that didn't make it in time, looked things over and said she did a good job.

Will and Bura were married on Dad's birthday. The Shepard family all loved her dearly. She left a lot of footprints on the sands of time. She was truly a virtuous woman--Proverbs 31.

What a touching tribute!  I'm pleased to have had the privilege of sharing it with you all.  Next week we look forward to hearing from my cousin, Darrell, from the beautiful state of Washington. This happens to be the present home of not only many of the Shepard clan, but also of Bud and Janet Davis.


Friday, November 13, 2009

Shepard Family Update, November 13, 2009

(The following is written by my cousin Dane Shepard who has agreed to be the guest poster for two weeks while I am out of the country and unable to access email or the internet. Thank so much to Dane for this gracious contribution to the family blog.)

Dear Shepard Family and Friends,

Greetings from central Oklahoma where the wind does come "sweepin' down the plain." This is Dane Shepard filling in for my cousin, Steve, while he and Cindy are enjoying a cruise. Steve has done a great job of keeping us informed and connected and I will try to continue with that effort in his absence.

It's interesting and sometimes a bit surprising where we end up in life.  For example, take Chenda Shepard who recently came from Cambodia to be a part of the family. I imagine it has been quite an adventure for her. (See her below trying out a Razor while at the reunion in July.) For myself, being a native Californian for 55 years, I never dreamed I would be living in Oklahoma where a good portion of our family history took place. My father, Elmer, has made a complete circle returning to Oklahoma where he was born via Colorado, California, and Texas. Of course, this is nothing new, even for our ancestors on both the Shepard and Davis sides. Today and next week we'll be taking a look at the early lives of a special couple and the changes that life brought them.

The information I am sharing is from a homemade booklet of ten pages entitled, "Garden of Memory." It contains some Shepard and Davis family pictures and the recollections of Margie Davis Millikan-Williams regarding the Davis family and a special tribute to her oldest sister, Bura, and husband, William Shepard. I found it among my dad's belongings and I'm grateful that Margie took the time to record her thoughts so we could share in what otherwise might have been lost and forgotten. No date appears on the booklet but it seems to have been written after William and, perhaps, Bura had passed on. Maybe some of you can provide some helpful details. I have taken the liberty of doing some editing for clarification and continuity.


The pictures above show Margie and Bura toward the end of their lives.  Bura was the oldest and Margie the youngest of the seven children of James Brooks and Caroline Davis. Both lived to the ages of 100 and 90 respectively.

Here is part one of "Garden of Memory: the Shepard Family":

Bura was only sixteen when the James Brooks Davis family moved to Oklahoma from Indiana. She left behind a young Christian man interested in her and I'm sure they must have missed one another. But Mother told Dad that she wouldn't leave a child behind so he got busy with a sale and preparations to go west. Oklahoma was a new state and it took hardy characters to remain there. The droughts, wind, and grasshoppers were something else.

The [William Elmer and Elvira] Shepard family had moved from East St. Louis where William had worked on the railroad. His run was from St. Louis to Kansas City. When he was in K.C. he felt so much better that he decided to go west to Oklahoma for his health. He could also get land cheaper there. They had two children, William and Sadie. Sadie worked at the Logan Post Office for a time and later married Levy Pruett, a rancher. They all seemed to enjoy the wide open spaces.

Dad at first substituted as a mail carrier for Sam Whitlow on the LaKemp route. However, the Sophia Post Office was soon discontinued; the two horse hack and the motorcycle route went with it. Dad looked for other work and found it in a country store owned by Harve Miller. The nearest store was in LaKemp, a small community of 45 or 50. There was a bank and a Dr. Smith with his small office and medical wisdom. [According to Elmer Shepard, this was the doctor that delivered Pauline, his sister, but was to too late when his time came so his father, William, did the honors.]

In 1915 we moved a quarter mile east to an 80 acre plot that Dad had bought from Grandpa [Charles Davis]. Dad had bought the store from Harve Miller, and he and his brother, Zaley, built a new one on the property. Grandpa was getting old and retired from farming as his cataracts were causing failing eyesight. He sold the other half to Uncle John. Later, Uncle John and Aunt Vera retired to Booker,TX.

The Shepard farm was less than a mile east of us and it didn't take Will long to notice and admire Bura. His father was a good man but no one had taught him the way of salvation. By that time he was in very poor health. They took him to Amarillo, TX and he was diagnosed with stomach cancer. It was too late for any help. He died in late winter or early spring.

While Bura and Will were going together, Will had a chance to learn the way of salvation. (He was a deacon in the church for several years before he passed away.) A pioneer preacher by the name of Ballard taught and baptized many people at that time. Will and his father were two of them. This meant so much to his father in his last days and I'm sure to Will the rest of his life. He continued going to church services and helped on the new South Flat church building which was built in about 1917. Before that we met in the Happy Hollow School and before that in a sod school house.

That's all for now. We'll continue next week.

Gratefully yours,

Friday, November 06, 2009

Shepard Family Update November 6, 2009

One touch of nature 
makes the whole world kin.
(Troilus and Cressida) 

Hello Shepard Family and Friends,

Greetings to all of you wherever you may be on this first weekend of November. Cindy and I have just moved into a new home here in San Diego, not far from where our last residence was. Our email addresses and phone numbers remain the same, which is the most important thing, of course.

This Sunday is the 113th anniversary of the birthday of Bura (Davis) Shepard. She has been gone now for 23 years but her influence is still strongly felt by those of us who called her mother, grandmother, great grandmother, aunt, or simply friend. She and her husband Will and their descendants are the reason for this family blog. The picture on the right was taken in June, 1915 when she got married at 18 years old. The white of her dress speaks of the way that she was a plain, unassuming person who never called undo attention to herself. The unexpressive look on her face was not only typical of early 20th century photographs, it also speaks of the down to earth quality she gained from her Indiana roots. And the overall softness of the picture suggests her tender heart that characterized her throughout her life.

Happy Birthday TODAY to Havilah Colgain! She is the daughter of Joan Shepard, the granddaughter of Elmer Shepard, and one of the great granddaughters of Will and Bura Shepard. The second picture I am including today shows Havilah and her boyfriend Kevin Wardle, taken earlier this year. She emailed me recently with the following.

Greetings from Salt Lake City! I attend school at Salt Lake Community College and plan on getting my associates degree and then transfer to one of the universities in the Salt Lake Valley for my bachelors. I enjoy school immensely and am open to where my educational path leads me. After school I work for the Boys and Girls Club at a local elementary school and help with an after school program for inner city youth. It is a very rewarding job.

Kevin is extremely supportive of all I want to do. We continue to rock hound and spend time with family on our days off, which can be few and far between. Kevin works nights as an Echocardiographer (ultrasound of the heart) at the hospital. On our last adventure we traveled to the Henry's Mountain area of Utah, and found saginite, petrified wood, agate, and coprolite (dinosaur poo!).
Art Colgain, my dad, just had a birthday two weeks ago. We cooked dinner for him and had a great visit. He feels good most days, and has a really good attitude about life. We still have our crying times, but they grow fewer and farther between. He works on projects around the house he and Jill built, doing all the things Jill had on her wish list.  It's a real tribute to both of them to see what he has done in her memory. He has an incredibly strong spirit.
His focus is now Thanksgiving, which is quite the family tradition for the Colgains.  We refer to it as "The Holiday of Meats".  Baked turkey, smoked turkey, deep fried turkey, ham, ribs, brisket, sushi, various smoked fishes, and this year in Kevin's honor, a Tofurkey - or tofu turkey. Thanksgiving is truly amazing at his house, and there is an open invitation to everyone to join us. The more the merrier! So to all the family reading this: anytime you are in the Salt Lake area we'd be happy to show you around and feed you.
Joan Shepard, my amazing mother, and I have had many conversations about how feeding family has always been our family's way of expressing love.  Gram gave my dad her homemade bread recipe well over twenty years ago, and you can bet he will be serving her bread at Thanksgiving. It's a powerful reminder that there are beautiful, creative, life giving ways to connect people and families even after death, divorce, and tragedy. As you prepare Thanksgiving dinner this year, take a moment and contemplate the story behind the food. You may find out some amazing things about yourself and your family!
The next couple of weeks I have asked a couple of family members to send out the weekly email while Cindy and I will be out of town. Cousin Dane Shepard will be sending out a family email the next two Fridays, and then my brother Darrell Shepard will send out a family email the week after that. Thanks so much to both of them for their willingness to share their family thoughts with us. 
 - - -