Monday, December 26, 2011

Happy New Year, 2012!

One resolution I have made,
and try always to keep:
To rise above the little things.
~John Burroughs

Hello Family and Friends,

Greetings to you from San Diego on this last day of 2011!

Congratulations to Chenda Shepard whose birthday is tomorrow, New Year's Day! She and husband Nathan with their children Preslea and Logan live in Alameda, California. Chenda and family have been in San Diego all this past week enjoying this week after Christmas. The first picture shows Chenda and Nathan when they visited the Grand Canyon back in November.

Looking Ahead. With the new year 2012 beginning tomorrow I am thinking about several things related to family.

Babies! I think about the excitement already surrounding the new babies that will be born this year in our family. Chenda and Nathan are expecting a new baby this coming July to make 3 babies in 3 years. Jeremy and Desiree Ortiz (Kim Clark's son and daughter-in-law) of Blue Springs, Missouri are expecting twins this coming June. Are there any others expecting? Congratulations to those families.

Our favorite nonagenarian. At the other end of the spectrum, I think about the senior member of our family, Elmer Shepard of Norman, Oklahoma, who will turn 94 in May and who is in the sunset years of his life. I am grateful for his son Dane and family who are caring for him. The second picture shows Elmer and Dane in a recent picture.

Also as 2012 begins, I think about the fact that it has been four years since I began writing this genealogical blog. It was the last week of December, 2007 that I first began writing about our family. My original intent was to write for about 6 months, until the Family Reunion in the summer of 2008. But I soon discovered that there is much more to be said about this wonderful, crazy, diverse family of ours. And so the stories and pictures continue, and will for God only knows how long.

And finally, I think about 2012 being the 70th anniversary year of my Gower grandparent's move from Oklahoma to San Diego. They followed my Shepard grandparents by just 2 years in a move that was strikingly similar, not least of all because it was the final family move they made. I look forward to several opportunities to comment on this anniversary as we move through 2012. The third picture shows my grandparents, Leroy and Nola Shannon Gower, in 1971.

For now, may 2012 be a very prosperous and joyful year for each of you!
- - -

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

The Work of Christmas Begins, December 26, 2011

When the song of the angels is stilled,
When the star in the sky is gone,
When the kings and princes are home,
When the shepherds are back with their flock,
The work of Christmas begins.
~Howard Thurman

Hello Family and Friends,

Greetings to all of you on this day after Christmas from San Diego, where the stockings are no longer hung, the presents are all unwrapped and, in the words of Howard Thurman, "the work of Christmas begins."

Anniversary. Tomorrow Cindy and I will celebrate 43 years of marriage. It has been quite a ride, from that Friday evening in 1968 when we were married at the La Mesa Church of Christ, to the day Nathan was born in the spring of 1977, to our retirements just a few years ago, to the births of our grand kids, and all the many, many experiences in between.

The first picture was taken earlier this month and shows Cindy and me enjoying ourselves on the beach in Carlsbad, California. (Thanks to friend George Andrews for taking this picture.)

In 2008, on our 40th anniversary, we were just a family of 3: the two of us and our foot loose and fancy free son Nathan. In the 3 years since then our little family has evolved beyond our imagination, and there are now 6 stockings over the Christmas fireplace, and next Christmas we will make room for yet another!

The second picture I am including was taken Christmas day at Granny Harris's house on Burgundy Street in San Diego. It shows Cindy in the middle holding our grandson Logan. Next to her is her mother Paula Harris with me in front. On the left is our son Nathan holding daughter Preslea, and momma Chenda in front of them.

Birthday. Wednesday, December 28, is the birthday of my late aunt Pauline Shepard Russell, who was born 95 years ago this week in Beaver County, Oklahoma. She was the first child of William and Bura Davis Shepard and the first grandchild of James Brooks and Callie Davis. At 11 years old her family moved to Two Buttes, Colorado where a few years later she met Bill Russell. One week after her 18th birthday she and Bill were married in Colorado. In 1940, after their two children, Rex and Beverly, were born they moved with the rest of Pauline's family to San Diego, California where they lived the rest of their lives. Pauline died in 2000.

The third picture I am including was taken in a restaurant in San Diego about 1942, during World War II. It shows Pauline Shepard Russell and her husband Bill Russell on the right. On the far left is Pauline's brother Eugene Shepard in his Coast Guard uniform. A reliable source tell me that next to Pauline is Bill's sister Louella Russell with her husband, also in uniform.

Pauline and Bill Russell have two grandchildren alive today, Shannon Wilk who, with daughter Emma, lives in Atchison, Kansas; and Eric Russell, who with wife Ruthie, lives in Red Rock, Nevada.

What is the "work of Christmas" that Howard Thurman refers to in the lines at the top of this post? In the rest of his poem he tells us.

The work of Christmas begins:
to find the lost,
to heal the broken,
to feed the hungry,
to release the prisoner,
to rebuild the nations,
to bring peace among the people,
to make music in the heart.

- - -

Born On Christmas Day, December 19, 2011

Love came down at Christmas;
love all lovely, love divine.
~Christina Rosetti

Hello Family and Friends,

Greetings to all of you on this special week of Christmas! Nathan, Chenda, Preslea, Logan, Cindy and me -- together we wish you Happy Holidays and a very Merry Christmas!

On Christmas Day, 1888 my grand father William Shepard was born in Alton, Illinois. He was the one chosen by a Davis woman (Bura Davis) to be her husband, which forever connected the Davis family to us Shepards. Even later, their son Eugene Shepard was the one chosen by a Gower woman (Maida Gower) to be her husband, which forever connected the Gower family to us Shepards.

William Shepard's family left his hometown of Alton, Illinois in the early 1900s and settled in Beaver County, Oklahoma, where William met and then married Bura Davis in 1915. 13 years later, with three children in tow, they moved to Two Buttes, Colorado where their fourth child Thelma was born. In 1940 William and Bura and their family made a major move from Colorado to San Diego, California.
Thelma and William Shepard, about 1940
The picture of William that I am including today was taken around the time they made that move and may even have been taken in the mountains of California as they made their way into San Diego. This picture shows 4 year old Thelma Shepard, with her father, a spry 51 year old William Shepard.

What I like about this picture is that it represents my grandad very well: dressed like a workingman, stern in demeanor, resolute in appearance, careful guardian of his youngest child, a no-nonsense kind of guy. What I also like about this picture is that it shows my grandad as I never knew him. I was born just 8 years later, but I do not remember him standing up so straight and appearing to be so slim and robust. He is carrying his 51 years well.

My grandad William learned how to be a man from his father, William Elmer Shepard, who did not have a happy upbringing himself. William Elmer never knew his father, who died in the Civil War. He was raised by a older step father who made life so unbearable that William Elmer ran away from home as a teen, never to return. (Read more about that here.) William Elmer's unhappy childhood was probably reflected in his son William's sometimes serious and humorless demeanor. It may also help to explain why William, as a young family man, was something of a wanderer like his father and was away from his family for extended periods of time.

His wanderings made for great storytelling later in life. I remember him telling us grand kids about carrying a sixshooter, riding a horse, and chasing after the renegade Indian Cochise in the dangerous badlands of the southwest, and other such stories. On the other hand his wanderings must have made life difficult for his family that was left at home.

William and Bura Shepard, Christmas Eve, 1973
In a recording from near the end of his life, grandad William talks with great fondness about his father William Elmer and the warm relation- ship they shared in the months leading up to William Elmer's death from cancer in 1915. William missed something in his early life by being raised by one who had been a fatherless war baby. But he was compensated by the influences of a mother, Elvira Owens, and a wife, Bura Davis, who both were from strong, healthy families. See picture of William and Bura Shepard on Christmas Eve, 1973.

As we near the 123rd anniversary of William's birthday I am grateful for the memory of my grandfather, and for the love of family he learned and shared with his children and grandchildren.

May your Christmas be filled with warm memories and happiness!
- - -

Saturday, December 03, 2011

"Thanks To All Willing To Share", December 12, 2011

OUR history begins before we are born.
We represent the hereditary influences of our race,
and our ancestors virtually live in us.
James Nasmyth

Hello Family and Friends,

Greetings to all of you wherever you may be, and however you may be surviving the December rush through Advent and Christmas.  Cindy and I find ourselves in Carlsbad, California vacationing this week with friends George and Diane. We are all of 30 miles from home!

I have written before about a family project to replace the headstones for two ancestors of ours, my GGGgrandfather Alexander Davis (1819-66) and his daughter Elizabeth (1843-67). They both reside beneath weathered and broken headstones in Spencer, Indiana. My second cousin Jerry Davis was the instigator of this project this past summer. He now tells me that we have raised the total amount needed from descendants of theirs. The headstone has been ordered and its creation is underway!

Jerry: I am getting anxious to get the stone in place and completed. I certainly appreciate all your assistance in helping to bring this to completion and that Alexander and Elizabeth will have a permanent grave marker. A BIG Thanks to all those who were willing to share with their contributions to see this completed.  We are blessed with such a loving and caring family.

Following is a list of relatives who were willing and able to contribute. Their names are in bold. Pictured are five of the donors: Jerry Davis, Stan Guy, Becky Davis, Gary Millikan and Thelma Boyd.

Descendants of Alexander Davis/ Charles Edward Davis/ John E. Davis:
  • Stanley Guy (Dallas, Texas) - grandson of John Davis  
  • Jon D. Guy (Arnett, Ok.) - grandson of John Davis
  • Milfred W. Davis (Amarillo, Texas) - son of John Davis
  • William P. "Bill' Davis (Alamogordo, N.M.) - grandson of John Davis   
  • Jerry D. Davis (Grand Prairie, Texas) - grandson of John Davis  
Descendants of Alexander Davis/Charles Edward Davis/James Brooks Davis:  
  • Jim and Nancy Bushong (Oologah, Ok.) - great grandson of J.B. Davis
  • Becky Davis (Bartlesville, Ok.) - granddaughter of J.B. Davis
  • Gary Millikan (Tulsa, Ok.)- grandson of J.B. Davis
  • Steve and Cindy Shepard (San Diego, Ca.) - great grandson of J.B. Davis  
  • Thelma Shepard Boyd (Gallup, N.M.) - granddaughter of J.B. Davis
  • Norma Lou Allen (Bolivar, Mo.) - granddaughter of J.B. Davis
  • Shirley Borgstadt (Springfield, Mo.) - granddaughter of J.B. Davis 
  • Carolyn Roberts (Bolivar, Mo.) - granddaughter of J.B. Davis
    Note: Norma Lou, Shirley and Carolyn's contribution is in memory of their mother Nona Davis Kilpatrick and sister Venita Kilpatrick Bridger.

Descendant of Alexander Davis/Charles Edward Davis/Thomas Davis:
  • Julie Coble Vandagriff (Bedford, Indiana) - great granddaughter of Tom Davis

Descendants of Alexander Davis/Samilda Dorcas Davis Medaris/Ada Medaris Johnson:  
  • Kellene Hardy (Richardson, Texas) - granddaughter of Ada Johnson
  • Jaydene Morrison (Nederland, Colorado) - granddaughter of Ada Johnson

Descendant of Alexander Davis/Salathiel George Davis/Harry Davis:  
  • Scott G. Davis (Oklahoma City) - grandson of Harry Davis
The donors above represent a unique cross section of descendants of Alexander and Jane Davis. Not a single person in this list knows every other person on the list, but we are all related nonetheless. And we are now united as family in a common cause. The bottom line though is that this project is a wonderful tribute to our Davis ancestors who lived through some great hardships and left a wonderful legacy for which we can be very grateful. Replacing their headstones not only witnesses to the impact they made, it also shows the high esteem in which we hold them.

And maybe it indicates, as James Nasmyth says in the quote above, that "our ancestors virtually live in us".
- - -

    Monday, November 28, 2011

    So This Is Christmas, December 5, 2011

    Every person is an omnibus
    in which their ancestors ride.
    ~Oliver Wendell Holmes

    Hello Family and Friends,

    Greetings to all of you from San Diego, as Thanksgiving passes into memory and the hectic push toward Christmas begins.

    Happy Birthday today to Patrick Shepard of Kirkland, Wa. Pat is the last of the four members of our particular clan who were born in 1990 and who therefore turn 21 this year. The others are Steven Paul Shepard, Courtney Boyd and Lyndsey Aquiningoc.

    Pat lives in Kirkland with his fiance Nicole Haw, not far from his parents Darrell and Mary Shepard. He and Nicole plan to be married and will be traveling to Cancun, Mexico with their immediate family in March to celebrate. Congratulations and best wishes to both of them!

    The first picture (above) shows Patrick on the right with Nicole next to him. On the left are his mom and dad Darrell and Mary. His siblings Christopher and Rachel are in the middle. This picture was taken this last summer at the Shepard family reunion in Anacortes, Washington. 

    To get us in the Christmas spirit I am including a picture that was taken 19 Christmases ago, also in Anacortes, Washington. It shows Patrick on the right at 2 years old, with his uncle Russ Shepard and his cousin Steven Paul Shepard.

    Oklahoma Update. I received word from my cousin Dane Shepard in Oklahoma that his father Elmer Shepard has moved. He had been living in an assisted living facility in Mustang, Oklahoma but just last week was moved to the Norman Veterans Center, Norman, Oklahoma. 

    Dane said that they "had a good hour long interview with the resident doctor who has had a lot of experience in managing Dad's kind of problems. I was impressed with his understanding of the medications being taken and his recommend- ations. I am confident Dad will be able to receive help here that he was unable to get in an assisted living setting. They are able to give medical treatment and have a nursing care unit as well. It is a very nice facility and I'm so thankful he is not far away."

    The third picture I am including was taken about 1941 and shows Elmer Shepard on the left in his early 20s, and Eugene Shepard on the right who was just about 20 years old (younger than his grandson Patrick in the first picture above!). Their sister (my aunt) Thelma Shepard Boyd wrote me recently to say that this picture was taken in San Diego and that the girl looks familiar and was probably just a friend of theirs.
    - - -

    Sunday, November 20, 2011

    "The Year Has Almost Gone", November 29, 2011

    Remember, remember always,
    that all of us, and you and I especially,
    are descended from immigrants and revolutionists.
    ~Franklin D. Roosevelt

    Hello Family and Friends,

    Greetings to all of you from Alameda, California where Cindy and I are visiting with our son Nathan and his family. We have had a busy but enjoyable few days splitting our Thanksgiving weekend between Northern and Southern California.

    Happy Birthday Kim and Damian. Today is the birthday of Kim Boyd Clark, and her grandson Damian Ortiz. The first photo shows Kim and Damian in a picture that was taken just a week ago in Missouri.

    Kim is one of the grandchildren of Will and Bura Davis Shepard. She and her husband Jeff Clark live in Blue Springs, Missouri. Damian is the son of Kim's older son Jeremy and his wife Desiree, who also live in Blue Springs.

    Kim: I can't believe the year has almost gone. It seems to go by faster and faster. A lot of changes this year and the best one is getting to see my grand kids every day and spoiling them. 

    We will be having another grandchild in June. We have a full house plus a new litter of puppies to keep all of us busy. I think everyone but me is looking forward to the snow and can't wait for it to arrive. 

    Damian is so ready to start kindergarten in August. He's full of energy, rarely gets tired and loves to dress up like Captain America, Spider-man or others. He has quite an imagination. We will have our birthday dinner at Red Lobster. Damian loves shrimp and wants to try lobster. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family! I wish we could all be together again.

    Caroline Spear Davis. Today is also the birthday of Kim's Ggrandmother Callie Spear Davis, who was born on this day in 1865. Born in Spencer, Indiana, she married James Brooks Davis, with whom she had 7 children, all born in Indiana. The entire family moved to Beaver County, Oklahoma in 1913.

    The second picture I am including today is one that became available to me just recently. It is one of the few pictures I have of Callie Davis and was taken later in her life when she lived in Beaver County, Oklahoma. The other family members in this picture were living in Two Buttes, Colorado, where they had moved from Oklahoma in 1928.

    In this picture are four generations of our family:
    • Callie Davis (seated) at 71, 
    • her first child Bura Davis Shepard (on the right) at 40, 
    • Callie's first granddaughter (Bura's first born) Pauline Shepard Russell at 20, 
    • and Callie's first Ggrandson (Pauline's first born) Rex Russell, who looks to be less than a year old.
    Rex was born in Two Buttes in the spring of 1936, so this picture must have been taken later that year or perhaps in early 1937. Rex passed away earlier this year at 75 in Red Rock, Nevada which is where his son Eric and wife Ruthie still live.
    - - -

    Thursday, November 17, 2011

    Grateful For Veteran Ancestors, November 22, 2011

    As we express our gratitude,
    we must never forget
    that the highest appreciation
    is not to utter words,
    but to live by them.
    ~John Kennedy

    Hello Family and Friends,

    Greetings to all of you on this week of Thanksgiving. I am grateful for all my family and ancestors who have served their country, including a number of you who are readers of this blog.

    I recently came across some information regarding one of our military veterans from generations past, my GGGgrandfather Edmond Owens Jr. (See first picture.) He was part of the Western Tennessee Militia in the War of 1812. The story is that he fought with Andrew Jackson ("Old Hickory") in the famous Battle of New Orleans in January, 1815. Edmond was part of a very diverse group of American soldiers who served together (Tennessee farmers, former Haitian slaves, frontiersmen, outlaws and pirates).

    As a youth, Edmond Owens had moved with his parents from his native North Carolina to Davidson County, Tennessee, where his father became a farmer. Edmond was still a teen when war broke out, yet again, against Great Britain. He was one of the first to enlist for the American cause, just like his Grandfather Benjamin Owens, who served under Frances Marion, “The Swamp Fox”, during the Revolutionary War.

    When Edmond and his ragtag group of soldiers first arrived in New Orleans to fight with Andrew Jackson, they did not make a good impression. They wore woolen hunting shirts and dyed pantaloons, raccoon skin caps, and belts of untanned deerskin with hunting knives and tomahawks. They had long unkempt hair and were unshaven. (Sounds to me like they would be right at home in New Orleans today; but this was 200 years ago!)

    Regardless of their appearance they were good soldiers and they routed the British. One eye witness officer said, "the redcoats fell like blades of grass beneath the scythe." Their victory was a huge boost to the morale of the still young United States. Edmond and the other Tennessee Volunteers became legendary for their service to their county. After the war, Edmond Owens Jr. and his family left Tennessee and settled in Madison County, Illinois, where he received a land grant for his service with the West Tennessee Militia.
    Select this link to read more about the story of Edmond Owens and the battle of New Orleans. Thanks to 3rd cousin Roberta Owens Brooks for sharing this story from

    One of Edmond Owens' grandchildren was Elvira Owens, born in Illinois in 1864. (The second picture shows her headstone in the Sophia Cemetery in Beaver County, Oklahoma, where she lived her last years and where, as an older widow, she married Cal Williams. Cal didn't quite get the spelling of her first name correct!) 

    Perhaps it was war stories Elvira had heard about her veteran grandfather that attracted her to a young man she had met when she was a teen, a fellow by the name of William Elmer Shepard. He had his own compelling war story. His father had died in the Civil war when he was just an infant in Indiana. As a young man he became a wanderer and found himself in 1886 in Madison County, Illinois where he met and married Elvira. They gave their only son the name William Shepard, the name of his paternal grandfather who had died in the Civil War.

    To make a long story short, this William Shepard (my grandfather) moved to Beaver County, Oklahoma in the early 1900s, married Bura Davis, and with her had four children. Two of them, Elmer and Eugene Shepard (see picture), ended up serving their county in yet another war, World War II in the 1940s.

    In the foregoing rambling tale is mentioned just 5 of the many family members for whom I am grateful this Thanksgiving week, because of their military service. Others could be mentioned, but these 5 vets deserve special thanks: Benjamin Owens (1734-1808), Edmond Owens Jr. (1795-1864), William Shepard (1835-1862), Elmer Shepard (b. 1918), and Eugene Shepard (1921-2003).

    The following lineage begins with Revolutionary War Veteran Benjamin Owens and continues to our family's youngest member Logan Alexander Shepard.
    • Benjamin Owens (1734-1808) who married Elizabeth Owens, the parents of...
    • Edmond Owens, Sr.  (1762-1821), who married Sarah Rives, the parents of...
    • Edmond Owens, Jr. (1795-1864), who married Anna Phelps, the parents of...
    • Payton Owens (1826-1872), who married Mary Wheeler, the parents of...
    • Elvira Owens (1864-1931), who married William Elmer Shepard, the parents of...
    • William Shepard (1888-1976), who married Bura Davis, the parents of...
    • Eugene Shepard (1921-2003), who married Maida Gower, the parents of...
    • Steve Shepard (b. 1948), who married Cindy Harris, the parents of...
    • Nathan Shepard (b. 1977), who married Chenda Sou, the parents of...
    • Logan Shepard (b. 2011)
    - - -

    Tuesday, November 08, 2011

    Unexpected Treasures, November 15, 2011

    If your descent is from
    heroic sires,
    show in your life
    a remnant of their fires.
    -Nicholas Boileau

    Hello Family and Friends,

    A few weeks ago when Cindy and I were in Washington, we discovered some unexpected treasures. A couple of old family photo albums had turned up in the bottom drawer of an old cabinet, beneath some material that had not been moved in several years. The albums were nearly 70 years old, and contained pictures from the late 1930s and early 1940s, including photos of my parents Maida and Eugene before they were married, some before they had even met each other.

    The first picture I am including today from those old albums shows Maida Gower (on the right) with my aunt Starlene Bass Gower, wife of Maida's brother Hendrix. This picture was taken around 1940, when Maida's Gower family still lived in Oklahoma.

    Most of the pictures in the albums that were found are black and white, as you might expect. Color photography would not be popular until the 1960s. And cameras were not nearly as sophisticated as they became in later years, with automatic focus and light adjustment. Some of the pictures however, like this first one, are excellent quality.

    The late 1930s and early 1940s was a very unique time. There may never have been a time in the known history of our families when there was so much turmoil in our world and transition in our families. World War II was taking place, with all of the uncertainly it brought to our nation and to our families.

    During these years my father's Shepard family and my mother's Gower family moved to California. The second picture, taken in Two Buttes, Colorado in the late 1930s, shows school boy Eugene Shepard with family friend (and one time girl friend?) Violet Gibbs (who later married Rod Ramirez). The Gibbs family had moved to San Diego about 1939 and wrote back to Will and Bura in Colorado encouraging them to move out west and run a boarding home just as they were doing. So many new people, military and civilian, were moving to San Diego that housing was scarce, and boarding homes were doing a great business. So in 1940 Will and Bura packed up their family, moved to San Diego and ran a boarding home for several years as they got settled in California.

    In moving to San Diego, the Gowers and Shepards left behind small, depressed farming communities in Colorado and Oklahoma, as they embraced the bustling energetic city life in San Diego. They seemed to make the transition quite well, but there must have been some culture shock for Will and Bura Davis Shepard, and for Leroy and Nola Shannon Gower. The future was good for both families with employment opportunities resulting in a better quality of life.

    Besides all this, it was a time for Eugene, Elmer, Maida and others to choose life partners, decisions that would alter their lives forever. Within a few years of moving to California, all 5 single children of both families got married and began families of their own.

    Speaking of family treasures, I received an update recently from my cousin Dane regarding his father Elmer Shepard, who will be 94 next spring. He lives in Arbor House Assisted Living, in Mustang, Oklahoma not far from Dane and his family in Newcastle, Oklahoma. Elmer continues to have health concerns but is in a safe, comfortable place with good care. He was honored recently on Veteran's Day in a ceremony that was appreciated by the residents and their families.

    Thanks for the treasure that Elmer is to our family, and for all the Veteran's among us.
    - - -

    Remembering Bura Davis Shepard, November 8, 2011

    From our ancestors come our names;
    from our virtues come our honor.

    Hello Family and Friends, 

    Today is the 115th anniversary of the birth of my paternal grandmother Bura Emerald Davis Shepard, who was born November 8, 1896 in Spencer, Indiana. It was 25 years ago this fall that she died, just a few weeks short of her 90th birthday. For those of us who knew her, her positive legacy and her wonderful memory remains.

    She was the oldest of the 7 children of James Brooks and Caroline Spear Davis. Her siblings were Lawrence, Myra, Jesse, Winona, Esther and Marjorie. In 1913 at the age of 16 her family migrated to Beaver County, Oklahoma, following the lead of several other Davises who had made the same move from Indiana. Beaver County, and in particular the South Flat Church of Christ, seemed to be to her liking. Because after just two years in Oklahoma she married William Shepard. He was a young man with hoosier roots himself whom she had met at the South Flat Church. Their life together lasted 61 years and resulted in 4 children: Pauline, Elmer, Eugene (my father), and Thelma.

    Bura moved with her husband and family in 1928 to Two Buttes, Colorado and then in 1940 to San Diego, California where she and Will lived nearly all the rest of their days. 

    The first picture shows Bura in the middle surrounded by her family in a picture that was taken about 1943 in San Diego. On the back left are her son Elmer and her husband Will. On the right are her daughter Pauline and Pauline's husband Bill Russell. In front are Will and Bura's daughter Thelma, and Pauline and Bill's children Rex and Beverly Russell. The only member of Bura's immediate family not in this picture is her son Eugene Shepard, who was probably holding the camera.

    Will and Bura's descen- dants include 12 grand children, 21 Ggrand children, and 10 GGgrand children who today are scattered around the western half of the U.S. Bura is still remembered today for her small stature but strong character, her unwavering faith, and her love of family. 

    The second picture was taken in 1982, just a few years before her death, and shows Bura with son Eugene on the left and son Elmer on the right.

    I still have the Bible I received as a boy which came with family tree pages in the middle. I can still remember when my grandmother Bura helped me fill in the blanks of those pages some 50 years ago. As we sat at the dining room table, I wrote down unfamiliar names of people long dead, like her parents James Brooks Davis and Caroline Spear and her grandmother Margaret Williams. And I heard for the first time about far off places like Spencer, Indiana, as my journey into family history began.

    Not everything about our ancestors lives within us, but I am convinced that some of the best of Bura Davis is reflected in my life. I am sure many of you can say the same.
    - - -

    Saturday, November 05, 2011

    Thanks To A Fantastic Family, November 6, 2011

    We are linked by blood;
    and blood is simply
    memory without language.
    ~Joyce Carol Oates

    Hello Family and Friends,

    Greeting to all of you from San Diego, California where Cindy and I have returned after a trip to Anacortes, Washington to be with family to celebrate my mom's birthday.

    Happy Birthday tomorrow to Havilah Colgain Wardle of West Valley, Utah. She is a Ggrandchild of Will and Bura Davis Shepard and the granddaughter of Elmer Shepard, the senior member of our Shepard clan. The first picture shows Havilah with her husband Kevin.

    Havilah: "I've had an incredible year since my last birthday! Every year gets better and better, which makes me especially excited on my birthday to celebrate and be thankful for my life! Kevin and I celebrated our first wedding anniversary in January, and have been working together all year on our house and property. We doubled the size of our garden, upped the number of fruit trees in our yard to 19, added a crested duck to our family, and remodeled our kitchen. (I celebrated the removal of my tonsils in June by lying on the couch, drugged, watching Kevin knock out the wall between our kitchen and living room.) 

    My mom Joan and I took a trip to Oklahoma to visit Granddad, and Dane, Cindy and family earlier in the year. [See picture of Havilah with grandfather Elmer and mother Joan.] In August, I attended a fantastic wedding celebration for Art (my dad) and Valery Colgain. My dad is extremely happy and loving life with his lovely wife! This year was my 10 year high school reunion. My best friends from high school and I created a fabulous impromptu reunion in Chico, CA, and I got to visit Mom on the same trip. =) I just received my business license for Tiki Dogs Grooming Salon, which I run out of our house. I'm proud to say I have some very loyal customers! I continue to paint, write, and cook for fun. 

    As for my birthday celebration this year, Kevin took me to Topaz Mountain a few days ago to find my birthstone. Dad and Val are cooking dinner for us Saturday, and I've been told there may be a deep fried turkey. Can't wait! I've gotta say, these past 29 years have been fantastic, thanks to a fantastic family, and I look forward to the bright future I've been blessed with." 

    The following is a lineage for Havilah that includes her Davis ancestors.
    • George Davis (1799-1843), who married Rozilla Davis (1796-1880), the parents of...
    • Alexander Davis (1819-66), who married Jane Buskirk (1823-95), the parents of...
    • Charles Edward Davis (1849-1926), who married Malinda Elizabeth Wright (1846-1920), the parents of...
    • James Brooks Davis (1870-1928), who married Caroline Matilda Spear (1865-1951), the parents of...
    • Bura Emerald Davis (1896-1986), who married William Shepard (1888-1976), the parents of...
    • Elmer James Shepard (1918), who married Beryl Swinney (1923-94), the parents of...
    • Joan Elaine Shepard (1954), who married Art Colgain (1954), the parents of...
    • Havilah Treaest Colgain, who married Kevin Wardle.
    Also in the above lineage is Alexander Davis, the one for whom we are seeking to get a replacement headstone in Spencer, Indiana. Jerry Davis reports that we have received over $1000 in donations, enough to obtain the new headstone for Alexander and his daughter Elizabeth Davis. Thanks to all of you who have made a contribution to this effort! More details about this project will be forthcoming.
    - - -

    Monday, October 31, 2011

    Happy Halloween! October 31, 2011

    From ghosties and ghoulies
    and long-leggedy beasties
    and things that go bump in the night,
    deliver us, O Lord.
    ~Ancient Scottish Prayer

    Hello Family and Friends,

    Greetings to all of you from Anacortes, Washington where Cindy and I find ourselves in the midst of some family birthday celebrations on this scariest of days.

    Yesterday was the birthday of Pam Engan Shepard, who lives here in Anacortes. She is the wife of my brother Russell Shepard and the mother of Steven Paul Shepard and Linda Shepard. Happy Birthday, Pam!

    The first picture shows Pam on the right with her mother-in-law Maida Shepard. This picture was taken at the Shepard family reunion this past summer.

    Tomorrow is the birthday of my mother Maida Gower Shepard also of Anacortes. Yesterday all her children gathered at her home on Wildwood Lane and celebrated with her a few days early. She will turn a healthy and spry 87 years old tomorrow, November 1.

    Maida has lived in Anacortes, Washington for the last 33 years, ever since she and husband Eugene moved here from San Diego in 1978. She lived in San Diego for 36 years, ever since her family moved there in 1942 from Okemah, Oklahoma. San Diego is where she met and married Eugene Shepard, and where they raised their 6 children. She was born in Mountain View, Arkansas, but spent her childhood in Oklahoma.

    Maida has lived on Wildwood Lane since she and Eugene moved here back in 1978. She stays busy with her Church and is connected to all her family, especially son Russ and grandson Steven who live with her. She also loves to travel. Just today she told me, "Any mule train that comes along, I am ready to hop on it." It won't be on a mule train, but she will be leaving later this week to visit her son Darrell and family in Seattle. From there she will go on to visit her family in California, including her youngest  great grandchildren, Logan and Preslea Shepard.

    The second picture shows Maida with her oldest son Gary Shepard. This picture was taken at her birthday celebration yesterday. Happy Birthday to mom!

    Else- where around our family. The third picture I am including today shows two of Maida Shepard's other  great grand children. On the right are Nate and Kyle Sauvage of Weather- ford, Texas, with their father James, carving a pumpkin and getting ready for Halloween. This picture was taken by their mother Kelly Shepard Sauvage.

    Happy Halloween to everyone!
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    Tuesday, October 25, 2011

    Davis Descendants Now and Then, October 25, 2011

    It is a desirable thing
    to be well-descended,
    but the glory belongs
    to our ancestors.

    Hello Family and Friends,

    Greetings to all of you from San Diego where fall has finally decided to arrive with cool nights and overcast skies.

    Update on New Headstone Project. Second cousin Jerry Davis contacted me this past week and was excited to tell me that we are getting close to the total we need to purchase a new headstone for our ancestors Alexander and Elizabeth Davis. 12 different descendants of theirs have so far contributed toward the effort, leaving us only $164 short. Please let Jerry ( or me know if you can help us complete this project. We are hoping to raise the necessary amount soon.

    As I have mentioned before, the new headstone is to replace the broken and unreadable stones that now exist for Alexander Davis (1819-1866) and his daughter Elizabeth Davis Carter (1844-1867) in Spencer, Indiana. Elizabeth died the year after her father, at just 24 years old, and is buried next to him.

    Alexander and his wife Jane Buskirk Davis (who is buried in Helena, Oklahoma) were important pioneer ancestors of ours who migrated westward from Ohio to Indiana in the early 19th century and began a period of several generations when our family lived in the area around Spencer, Indiana. They are also the very first ones among our ancestors to belong to the Campbell/Stone religious movement (The Church of Christ, Christian Church, Disciples of Christ).

    Very few of our relatives still live in Spencer today, but it remains a special place in the history of our family. Especially important is the New Union Cemetery northwest of town, where Alexander and Elizabeth, and a number of other ancestors, are buried. Next to the cemetery is a grassy area where the old New Union Church of Christ stood for nearly 100 years until 1957. We are indebted to these folks for their pioneering spirit, their enduring faith and their love of family. Their legacy continues through us and is present in many ways in their descendants who remember them even today.

    Happy Birthday Mandi! One of their many descendants is Mandi Aquiningoc of Granbury, Texas. Tomorrow is Mandi's 19th birthday. She is also a descendant of Leroy and Nola (Shannon) Gower. For the first half of Mandi's life she lived in San Diego, where she was born in 1992. The last 10 years or so she has lived in Texas. The first picture shows Mandi (on the right) with her older sister Lyndsey and her cousin Kyle Sauvage. The picture below shows Mandy with her dog Bubbers.

    Mandi: "Hi uncle Steve, it's so good to hear from you:) I'm doing great! I finally got a job at panda express here in Granbury and its amazing. I love the job I love the people and I think I'm gonna fit right in:) My sister and I moved in with our grandparents in Granbury which was the best thing for us to do. Life's great uncle Steve, and I'm proud to say that! Hopefully me and my sister can make it out there sometime and visit with the rest of our family."

    Here is Mandi's lineage from Alexander and Jane Davis:
    • Alexander Davis (1819-66) who married Jane Buskirk (1823-95), the parents of...
    • Charles Davis (1849-1926) who married Melinda Wright (1846-1920), the parents of...
    • James Brooks Davis (1870-1928) who married Caroline Spear (1865-1951), the parents of...
    • Bura Davis (1896-1986) who married William Shepard (1888-1976), the parents of...
    • Eugene Shepard (1921-2003) who married Maida Gower (1924), the parents of...
    • Gary Shepard (1946) who married Jackie Enderle (1947), the parents of...
    • Kerri Shepard (1968) who married Manuel Aquiningoc (1961-1992), the parents of...
    • Mandi Aquiningoc (1992)
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    Tuesday, October 18, 2011

    Birthdays and New Birth, October 18, 2011

    God gave us our relatives; 
    thank God we can choose our friends.
    ~Ethel Watts Mumford

    Hello Family and Friends,

    Greeting to all of you wherever you may be, on this fine October day in San Diego.

    Today is the 14th birthday of Korilyn Boyd. She is the 20th of the 21 Ggrandchildren of Will and Bura Davis Shepard. Kori is the daughter of my cousin Darren and Vicki Boyd of San Diego, and the granddaughter of Terry and Thelma Shepard Boyd of Gallup, New Mexico.

    The first picture shows Korilyn (on the left) with a friend. Happy Birthday to Korilyn!

    Today is also the birthday of my aunt Vicki Gower Johnston. The daughter of Leroy and Nola Shannon Gower, she was born in Okemah, Oklahoma. Vicki lived in San Diego for many years before moving to Oak Harbor, Washington 35 years ago. She lives there today with her husband Duke Johnston. Vicki has four children, Paula Tuzzolino of Sun Lakes, Arizona, Gloria Watson of Knoxville, Tennessee, Michael Harrell of Mountain View, California and David Harrell of Oak Harbor.
    The second picture shows Vicki on the left with her sister Maida Gower Shepard on the right.

    Vicki has one grand daughter, Heather Cotton, who lives in San Antonio, Texas with her husband Sean.

    The good news in Vicki's family these days is that her grand daughter Heather recently gave birth to her and Sean's second child, and Vicki's second Great Grandchild. Alexandria Danielle Cotton was born just 3 weeks ago on September 29 in San Antonio, Texas. Heather's first child is 3 year old Victoria (named after her Great Grandmother). Congratulations to the happy parents, to grandmother Paula, and to Great Grandmother Vicki.

    The third picture shows newborn Alexandria Cotton ("Lexi") at one week old. Paula tells me that mother and baby are doing fine. Paula has been in San Antonio for the last month helping with the arrival of her new grandbaby. Congratulations to Heather and Sean and best wishes to their whole family on the birth of Lexi.
    - - -

    Tuesday, October 11, 2011

    Harried Guys and Wandering Women, October 11, 2011

    The family is the fundamental unit of society
    as well as the root of culture.
    It is a perpetual source of encouragement,
    assurance and emotional refueling.
    ~Marianne Neifert

    Hello Family and Friends,

    Greetings to all of you on this warm fall day in San Diego. Cindy and I are in the middle of a wonderful 10 day experience as full time grandparents, precipitated by the recovery of our daughter-in-law Chenda from her recent surgery. She is doing well and will soon return to her duties as full time mom and wife.

    Yesterday was such a beautiful day we went to the San Diego Zoo and enjoyed ourselves with Preslea and Logan and some friends and fellow grand parents and their young ones. The first picture was taken near the end of that memorable adventure. It shows a rather harried Logan and me on the left with a smiling and composed Cindy and Preslea on the right.

    Oklahoma Update. I received word just the other day from Dane Shepard of Newcastle, Oklahoma, updating me on the status of his father Elmer Shepard. (The picture below shows Elmer Shepard with his sister Pauline Shepard Russell. It was also taken here in San Diego, not far from where the first picture was taken, but 65 years ago, when the Will and Bura Davis Shepard family was living in San Diego.)

    Dane: Greetings and I hope you're enjoying the fall season. We are finally receiving some much needed rain after a dry and warm September. There's been no cool or cold weather so far.

    Regarding Elmer, he seems to be consistently calmer and a bit more active than last month. When I am with him, he has a good appetite, consuming his meal plus the ice cream I bring. He sleeps a lot but gets up on his own and sometimes falls. So far nothing serious has happened. His short term memory is indeed very short but he retains a lot of the past. He remembered a lot about Edwin Kilpatrick of recent family emails.

    He is in a memory care unit where many of the residents have Alzheimer related issues. He gets visits from wandering women who want to make his bed or do something to the room. One of the male residents, Neal, has given some comic relief to the situation. Last month, at the supper table, for some reason he mentioned that he would be glad when Christmas was over. I asked him how old he was and he said that he didn't remember as it was a long time ago (he is younger than Dad).

    As time slips by it is interesting (if not sobering) as to one's view of their role and family position. You see yourself gradually but surely taking the place of those who are going or who have gone ahead.  Having children at an older age has tempered that reality somewhat for me but I am quickly reminded being with Dad. Lord willing, the years ahead hold the promise of fulfillment and even more service and productivity. Indeed, "we walk by faith and not by sight." Most lovingly, Dane.

    Thanks to Dane for these words and best wishes to him and Elmer and their family.
    - - -

    Tuesday, October 04, 2011

    Because Two People Fell In Love, October 4, 2011

    all because
    two people
    fell in love.
    ~author unknown

    Hello Family and Friends,

    Greetings to all of you from Alameda, California, our home away from home. Cindy and I are enjoying ourselves with Nathan and Chenda and being grandparents of two little ones. Ostensibly we are here helping Chenda who had a nephrectomy just two weeks ago but is doing very well.

    I received word recently from my brother Gary's wife, Cindy Dillon Shepard, that her daughter Michele McGauran was promoted to Chief Petty Officer in the Navy just a couple of weeks ago. Gary and Cindy were present to witness the ceremony at Lemoore Naval Air Station in Lemoore, California where Michele is presently stationed. Below is a picture of Cindy's daughter Michele that was taken by the proud mom at the ceremony last month. Congratulations to Michele!

    Gary and Cindy live in Oak Harbor, Washington, which is, of course, a long way from Lemoore, California, but is just down the road a bit and across the bridge from Anacortes, Washington where our mother Maida Shepard lives. Below is Gary and Cindy in a picture that was taken this past summer at the Shepard family reunion in Anacortes. (Thanks to Jerry Clark for taking this picture.)

    Gary is the oldest of the 5 children of Maida Gower Shepard and the late Eugene Shepard. Below is a picture that was taken last fall and shows us 5 siblings. From right to left are Gary, me, Darrell, Barbara and Russell. Even though we were all born and raised in San Diego, I am the only one of the bunch who lives in California today. The others all live in Western Washington.

    Davis Headstone Project. I talked to my second cousin Jerry Davis of Grand Prairie, Texas recently about our campaign to raise money for a new headstone for our common ancestors Alexander and Elizabeth Davis. They reside in the old New Union Cemetery (I love that oxymoron!) in Spencer, Indiana. (Click here for the details.) Jerry tells me that we are well over half way toward our goal of raising $958 for the new headstone. He has spread the word beyond the readership of this blog to a number of other Davis descendants who are interested in participating. Some of you have also expressed an interest in contributing. 

    We are hoping to complete this project in the next few months. So if you would like to participate, please send a check to either Jerry (2637 Remington Drive, Grand Prairie, Texas 75052) or to me (918 Camino de la Reina #55, San Diego, Ca 92108). If you have any questions, Jerry or I would be glad to answer them.
    - - -

    Tuesday, September 27, 2011

    Leroy and Nola Gower's Anniversary, September 27, 2011

    In time of test,
    family is best.
    ~Burmese proverb

    Hello Family and Friends,

    It was 90 years ago today that my grandparents Leroy and Nola Shannon Gower were married in Mountain View, Arkansas. I mentioned in my last post that I do not ever remember them celebrating a wedding anniversary. I do know, however, that they had a special celebration on their 50th anniversary.

    It took place on September 27, 1971. A number of pictures were taken that day as the family gathered to honor them at the home of Eugene and Maida Gower Shepard on Armstrong Street in San Diego. The first picture is one of the pictures from that celebration. It shows a smiling Leroy and Nola with their anniversary cake in front of them. 

    The second picture (below) is also from that day in 1971 and shows Leroy and Nola on the right with their daughter Maida and her husband Eugene in the middle. In front of Eugene is their youngest son Russ; in front of Maida is Leroy and Nola's Ggranddaughter Kerri. On the left is Kerri's parents, my brother Gary with his first wife Jackie.

    Of the 40 descendants of Leroy and Nola, 21 have been born since 1971. Their youngest Ggrandchild at the time, Tim Gower, missed being born on their anniversary by just 11 days.

    Their anniversary September 27th was one of the first happy moments in our family's life after the tragic death just 2 months earlier of their oldest granddaughter, my 20 year old sister Linda. My other sister, 12 year old Barbara, was seriously injured in the same accident, requiring a lengthy recovery. It was a very stressful time for the whole family. 

    Just a few weeks before their anniversary, Cindy and I had moved from San Diego to Berkeley, California. I had just begun seminary, and Cindy had just begun her career with Wells Fargo Bank, which was why we were unable to attend their celebration. It was one of their last anniversary celebrations; Leroy died in December, 1974. I will always be grateful for these two who were such an important part of our family.

    Happy Birthday to Cathrina! Thursday, September 29, is the birthday of Cathrina Helms Clark, wife of Jerry Clark of Lubbock, Texas. The third picture shows Jerry and Cathrina in a picture taken this summer at the Italian ruins of Ostia Antica. Happy Birthday Cathrina!
    - - -

    Thursday, September 22, 2011

    Remembering A 90th Anniversary, September 22, 2011

    The more you celebrate your life.
    the more there is in life to celebrate.
    ~Oprah Winfrey

    Hello Family and Friends,

    This coming Tuesday, September 27, marks the 90th anniversary of the wedding of my late grandparents Leroy and Nola Shannon Gower. It is an occasion to remember and to honor these two whose lives had a great impact on those of us who are descendants of theirs.

    Leroy and Nola were both born in Mountain View, Arkansas at the turn of the 20th century - Leroy in 1899, and Nola in 1902. They were raised there in farming families of very modest means and then married in 1921, perhaps in the Baptist Church to which their families belonged. The first picture shows Leroy and Nola in a picture that may have been taken on their wedding day.

    Mountain View was where they bore their first two children, Hendrix and Maida. Maida remembers her folks saying that in 1925, on her first birthday, the four of them left Mountain View and began their 300 mile journey by wagon from Northern Arkansas to Okemah in Eastern Oklahoma.

    Oklahoma was where their third child Victoria (nee Melva) was born and where they lived for 17 years. In 1942 they followed the lead of many other Okies and moved to California. They settled in San Diego where Leroy and Hendrix found work with the Railway Express. San Diego is where Leroy and Nola spent almost all the rest of their lives, in their home on Lynne Street. San Diego is also where they are laid to rest in Greenwood Cemetery. The final few years of Nola's life (she lived to 102!) were spent in Western Washington where her daughters Maida Shepard and Vicki Johnston still live today.

    Their 3 children gave them 12 grand children: Hershell and Jimmie by Hendrix; Gary, me, Linda, Darrell, Barbara and Russ by Maida; and Paula, Gloria, Michael and David by Vicki. Their descendants today also include 14 Ggrandchildren and 11 GGgrandchildren. Of their 40 descendants, born in the last 90 years, just one of their children, Hendrix, and one of their grandchildren, Linda, have passed away. The rest are scattered around the U.S., mainly in Western Washington and California, but also Arizona and Tennessee.

    I honestly never remember my grandparents ever celebrating a wedding anniversary. They were of very humble and modest beginnings and were not given to celebrations like anniversaries. I was only 26 years old when my grandfather Leroy passed away in 1974 (30 years before Nola). So I did not have many occasions to be around them when their anniversaries occurred. I do know that their 50th anniversary in 1971 was a special occasion, at a very memorable time in our family's history. In my next post I will share some specifics of that event. 

    The second picture from 1962 was taken at the Gower home on Lynne Street in San Diego and shows Leroy and Nola Gower on the left. Maida and Eugene Shepard are on the right with their children Russell, Darrell and Barbara. On the left in front is Starlene Bass Gower, wife of Hendrix Gower.

    Cheryl Gower. I mentioned two weeks ago that Cheryl Gower, wife of Jimmie Gower of Fort Mojave, Arizona, had surgery. She wrote me recently to say that she is now home and recovering very well. Continuing best wishes to her!

    Headstone Replacement. We continue to receive donations in hopes of replacing the headstones for Alexander Davis (1819-66) and his daughter Elizabeth (1844-67), in Spencer, Indiana. Select this link for all the details. Please contact me by email or contact Jerry Davis if you are able to contribute. Thanks so much.
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