Thursday, July 28, 2011

James & Hannah Shepard: Welcome to Our Tree! July 28, 2011

Our greatest responsibility
is to be good ancestors.

~Jonas Salk

Hello Family and Friends,

Greetings to all of you from our home in warm and sunny San Diego. This last month Cindy and I have been away visiting some terrific places, but as we all know, there is no place like home!

More Re: Our Recent Genealogical Trek. I mentioned in my last post that I have recently found information about GGgrandmother Mary Sprague Shepard, the wife of Civil War Soldier William Shepard. I have also recently discovered William's parents. Their names were James and Hannah Shepard.

James was born in Kirkwood, Ohio in 1813, while Hannah (maiden name unknown) was born in Thornton, Yorkshire, England about 1816. They met in Belmont County, Ohio, and were married there about 1834. Sometime around 1840, with their two children William and Elizabeth, they moved to Wayne, Indiana, northwest of Indianapolis. They went on to have 4 other children, all born in Indiana: John (in 1841), James (1843), Jasper (1851) and Sarah (1853). After moving just a few miles south to Coal Creek, Indiana, their first born William married Mary Sprague in 1860.

Young William and Mary then moved across the state to Wabash where William got a farming job making some good money. The Civil War started the next year, which took the life of William, a story I told in my last post. The widow Mary and her son William Elmer then returned to Montgomery County where her family and her in-laws James and Hannah still lived.

Most of the historical records indicate that James was an Indiana farmer most of his life, although a few of them say he was also a "wagon maker". Sometime in the early 1870s, GGGgrandma Hannah died. After moving some 50 miles to Carroll County, Indiana, James married for a second time, to a woman named Lydia Caldwell, with whom he spent the last 13 years of his life.

On our recent genealogical trek to Indiana, Cindy and I visited the grave of James Shepard, who is buried with his second wife Lydia in Paint Creek Cemetery outside the small town of Camden, Indiana. They rest beneath a 5' tall monument (see first picture) in the old section of this well kept country graveyard 2.5 miles east of town, alongside a peaceful tributary of Deek Creek. Thanks to Linda Thompson, a genealogist in Wabash, Indiana for finding GGGgranddad James Shepard's final resting place. Don't be confused by the misspelling of the last name on James' headstone. In the 19th century, it was common for our Shepard ancestors to have their name misspelled.

Happy Birthday Barbara! Today is the birthday of my sister Barbara Shepard Mackey of Anacortes, Washington. The second picture shows Barbara with her husband John Mackey. They were married in May in Anacortes, Washington, where they now live. Barbara works for Safeway in Anacortes while John enjoys the retired life, especially riding his Harley and flying. When not occupied with family concerns they spend time sharing meals, playing cribbage, watching TV and reading the Bible. John's recent health concerns has required a lot of Barbara's attention, but thanks to her, he is on the mend.

Happy Birthday Jeff! Today is also the birthday of Jeff Clark of Blue Springs, Missouri. Jeff is the husband of Kim Boyd Clark, daughter of Terry and Thelma Shepard Boyd of Gallup, New Mexico.

Kim wrote me recently: "Jeff just had his 35 year anniversary with Hallmark cards. He will spend his birthday week with our family here, and going to St Louis to the Gateway Arch, Six Flags and the zoo. Then we'll go to Lamberts for his birthday dinner and spend the rest of the week at the lake boating and fishing. He loves entertaining the family."

The countdown to our Shepard Family Reunion in Anacortes, Washington on August 13 continues. It will take place two weeks from Saturday!
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Sunday, July 24, 2011

Civil War Widow, July 24, 2011

Those who came before us
will teach you.
They will teach you
from the wisdom
of former generations.
~Job 8.10

Hello Family and Friends,

Greetings to all of you from Alameda, California where Cindy and I are visiting with Nathan, Chenda and the kids. We are not yet back home in San Diego, but we are getting close.

In my last post I referred to the wife of my GGgrandfather, Civil War soldier William Shepard. She is an ancestor that I have been seeking for many years and have recently found. She turned up in some 19th century Indiana wedding records. Originally from Montgomery County, Indiana, her maiden name was Mary Ellen Sprague. She married GGgrandad William in March of 1860 when she was barely 20 years old and he was 24. The next year he enlisted in the Union Army in Wabash, Indiana and went to war. He never returned.

Mary Ellen Sprague Shepard was widowed in July of 1862 when William died and left her with their son, 5 month old William Elmer. After her husband's death, she took young William, left Wabash and returned home to her family in Montgomery County.

It took 3 years, but the young widow Mary Shepard finally found a second husband for herself, and a father for young William, a man by the name of William Ragsdale. He was 49 and she was 25 when they married in 1865, so she not only found a husband but evidently a father figure as well.

As good a husband as he might have been for Mary, he was not such a good step father. Sometime in his teenage years -- or so the family story goes -- William Elmer had such a difficult time with Mr. Ragsdale that he ran away from home, never to be reunited again with his mother or other family in Indiana.

Mary Sprague Shepard Ragsdale went on to have other children -- one record indicates she had a total of 4, in addition to some children that Mr Ragsdale brought to their marriage. She and GGgrandpa only shared a few short years, but they must have been filled with as much great joy as painful heartbreak. She lived into the 20th century and died at 79, above average for her time. The first picture was taken last weekend when Cindy and I visited GGgrandma Mary's final resting place in Crown Hill Cemetery in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Happy Birthday, Shannon! Today is the birthday of one of William and Mary Shepard's GGGgrandchildren, Shannon Wilk of Atchison, Kansas. The second picture shows Shannon and her daughter Emma in a picture taken earlier this summer.
Shannon: "Last Saturday night we went to the carnival. Emma had a blast. I was a bit sick on Sunday... think it was the heat. It's been in the high 90's for the last week. And we have another month and a half to go! UGH! The humidity is just horrible! Work is the same... Emma is in daycare and she gets to go to the pool three days a week. Plus on field trips somewhere at least once a week. School starts the 12th of August. Crazy they start so early. Summer is not even done yet! But she is getting excited. Going school shopping this weekend. Hope all things are good for you. Take care. Smiles and Sunshine, ...Shannon and Emma."

Here is a lineage from Mary Sprague to Shannon and Emma Wilk.
  • Mary Ellen Sprague (1840-1919), who married William Shepard, and whose son was...
  • William Elmer Shepard (1862-1915), who married Elvira Owens, and whose son was...
  • William Shepard (1888-1876), who married Bura Davis, and whose daughter was...
  • Pauline Shepard (1916-2000) who married Willie D. Russell, and whose daughter was...
  • Beverly Russell (1939-1974), who married Phillip Wilk, and whose daughter is...
  • Shannon Wilk (b. 1973), whose daughter is...
  • Emma Beverly Jean Wilk (b. 2005).
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Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Strength In What Remains Behind, July 19, 2011

Though nothing can bring back the hour
Of splendor in the grass, of glory in the flower;
We will grieve not, rather find
Strength in what remains behind.
~William Wordsworth

Hello Family and Friends,

Greetings to all of you from Indiana, where Cindy have been on a genealogical journey that is nearing its end. Among the places we visited were Wabash, Indiana, the home of GGgrandfather William Shepard and birthplace of his son William Elmer Shepard; and Spencer, Indiana, the birthplace of my grandmother Bura Davis Shepard and home to many of our Davis kinfolk.

The first picture shows me and a Davis second cousin Ruth Fortner, who still lives in Spencer. She and Cindy and I spent an afternoon visiting some ancestral graves in the civil New Union Cemetery outside Spencer last Sunday.

William Shepard in the Civil War. I mentioned in my last post that GGgrandfather William Shepard's Civil War service began when he enlisted in Wabash, Indiana, September, 1861. As part of the 2nd Indiana Cavalry he traveled to Indianapolis, then Louisville, then Bowling Green, Kentucky where they saw their first fight with the rebels. The 2nd Cavalry then went on to serve bravely in other places until 1865 when the war ended. William's service was cut short, however, with an injury sometime in the winter or spring of 1862. The historical record does not say exactly where or when he was injured. But since he was hospitalized in Evansville, he probably was injured at Bowling Green, Kentucky in February, 1862 when Union forces (including him) stormed that city and drove out the confederates. Evansville was the closest military hospital to Bowling Green. Had William been injured any later in the war he would have been taken to some other hospital.

In an Evansville Hospital. So he was hospitalized in Evansville, probably in February, 1862 and began his recovery from a serious arm injury. Back home in Wabash, also in February, 1862, his wife Mary Shepard gave birth to William's son and named him William Elmer Shepard. (More about his wife Mary Shepard in my next post.) I wonder: sometime that spring, when little William and she were able to travel, did she make the 265 mile journey from Wabash to Evansville to see her soldier-husband in the hospital and show him his new child? It would not have been an easy journey, and may not have even been attempted.

In any case it must have been a difficult and painful time of recovery for William. Infection and disease were rampant. Many more Civil War soldiers died in hospitals than died on the battlefield. William hung on as long as he could, but after 5 months in the hospital he succumbed to Typhoid Fever on July 22, 1862 and was buried in the historic Oak Hill Cemetery in Evansville.

At Oak Hill Cemetery. We visited his grave earlier today. (See the second picture of William's grave, and the third picture of a cemetery angel presiding over the graves.) It is in a beautiful section of the cemetery with hundreds of other Civil War graves, a solemn, well-kept place that holds memories of love and family, of pain and heartbreak that we will never know, but can only imagine. It was sobering to realize that William's remains still lay beneath that weathered, 149 year old headstone. But it was inspiring to ponder how something of his spirit resides in those of us descended from him. What part of his courage and bravery, his love of family and country, his longing for home, do we carry within us?

Happy Birthday Desiree. Earlier this month on July 6, Desiree Ortiz celebrated a birthday. She is the wife of Jeremy Ortiz and lives with her family in Blue Springs, Missouri. Birthday wishes to Desiree!
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Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Back to Better People, July 13, 2011

The art of tracing yourself
back to better people.
~author unknown
Hello Family and Friends,

Greetings to all of you from Nashville, Tennessee! Cindy and I have returned stateside, at least as far as Nashville, where we are attending the General Assembly of the Christian Church, a wonderful gathering of several thousand people from all across North America.

One of most scenic places we visited while in Italy last week was "The Cinque Terra", a beautiful coastal area on the Mediter- ranean. It is 5 small towns on a rocky seacoast, connected by a wonderfully photogenic trail, part of which we walked one day last week. The first picture shows the beginning of this beautiful, popular trail that winds along the side of the cliffs.

Select this link to see other pictures of our recent trip to Italy.

A Genealogical Trek. When our conference in Nashville concludes we will begin a genealogical trek here in America's heartland, and will retrace the footsteps of GGgrandfather William Shepard.

The 1860 U.S. Census records show him at age 24 living north of Indianapolis in the small town of Wabash, Indiana. Historical records also show that a year later, in September, 1861, as an expectant father, he joined the Union Army to fight in the Civil War.

William's 41st Regiment (2nd Indiana Cavalry), a unit of almost 2,000 men, was the first complete Civil War regiment to be formed in Indiana. William began his military service by going south with his unit from Wabash to Indianapolis, then in December, 1861 to Louisville, Kentucky. From there they engaged in their first skirmish with the enemy at Bowling Green, Kentucky. While there, his son William Elmer Shepard was born back in Indiana.
The second picture shows a plaque that resides in Bowling Green, Kentucky. In the 5th line of the text there is a reference to "Other Federals" who "came from the north". These "other federals" included William and his regiment, who we know engaged the rebels in February at this very location. (Thanks to Richard Edling for the use of this photo.)

From Bowling Green, William and his comrades in arms made their way in late February to Nashville, Tennessee, the city where Cindy and I find ourselves today. As part of the "Union Army of the Ohio", under the command of General Ulysses S. Grant, William assisted in the occupation of this city until early April, 1862. So it took him from early December, 1861 to February 25, 1862 to make the nearly 400 mile journey from Wabash to Nashville on foot during wartime, through the rain and the mud and the fear of enemy combat.

Tomorrow Cindy and I will make the opposite journey in a car in one short day's drive as we travel from Nashville, Tennessee northward to Wabash, Indiana. Obviously ours will be a very different journey under completely different circumstances. I doubt if we will encounter any rain or mud as we travel along hundreds of miles of Interstate Highway. And the closest thing to an enemy combatant will be the heat and the fatigue we may feel during the drive.

Even so, as we make the journey we will humbly remember the strength and courage of people like my Grandad's Grandfather William Shepard, whose service to our country still evokes our deepest gratitude. I will share more about William and his military service in my next post.

This Just In. I recently received two bits of news regarding family members and readers of this blog. The first is the good news that my nephew Patrick Shepard (son of Darrell and Mary) and his girl friend Nicole Haw, both of Bothell, Washington (see their picture), are now engaged to be married! The wedding will probably be sometime next spring, although the exact date has not yet been set. Congratulations to Patrick and Nicole!

I also received some sad news from 2nd cousin Jerry Davis of Granbury, Texas. His 23 year old grandson Jordan Parsons of Paola, Kansas, died tragically last Tuesday in a motorcycle accident. Our prayers and best wishes are with Jerry, his daughter and their entire family in this very difficult time of loss.
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August 13:
Family Reunion,
Anacortes, Washington

Monday, July 11, 2011

Scenes From A Roman Holiday, July 11, 2011

Below are some scenes from a recent trip to Italy that Cindy and I took with Jerry and Cathrina Clark.

This first picture shows Jerry and me in Rome with our hotel across the Tiber River in the background.

Here are Cindy and me with the ancient Roman Colosseum in the background.

Beautiful sculptures like the one below in the Piazza Navona are everywhere in the many piazzas (plazas) around Rome.

Here are the four of us on the Terrace above the Piazza de Popolo with
St Peter's Cathedral and Vatican City behind us.

The Pantheon (to all the Gods) is one of the most remarkably well preserved of all the ancients buildings in Rome.

Below are Jerry and Cathrina with the dome of St. Peter's cathedral in the background.

This is the incredible dome viewed from the inside of St Peter's Cathedral, the largest church in the world.

One of the many remarkable frescos in the Vatican museum.

After Rome we went to Florence. Below are Cathrina and Cindy with the main cathedral of Florence in the background.

Below is a portion of one of the many remarkable frescos on the inside of the dome of the main cathedral in Florence.

The beautiful Arno river as it flows through Florence.

Cindy shopping for a purse in one of the many open air markets in Florence.

Stunning artwork like this (The Baptism of Jesus) is everywhere in Florence.

We took a day trip to the historic town of Sienna. Here are Jerry and Cathrina taking a rest on the steps of Sienna's Cathedral.

Here are Cathrina and I enjoying the sights of Florence from one of the many bridges over the Arno river.

One of the scenic towns in "The Cinque Terra" on the western coast of Italy, where we visited one day.

Below are the four of us in front of the Leaning Tower of Pisa, the most famous structure in all Italy.

It was a memorable trip that we will never forget.

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Thursday, July 07, 2011

"Woven Into Our Ancestors", July 7, 2011

Not to know what happened
before we were born
is to remain perpetually a child.
What is the worth of a human life
unless it is woven into the life of our ancestors
by the records of history?
~Cicero (106-43 BCE)

Hello Family and Friends,

Greetings to all of you from Florence, Italy where our Roman Holiday is nearing its close.

It has been a rich and rewarding experience for Cindy and me, made even better by brother Jerry Clark and his wife Cathrina with whom we have shared this wonderful adventure.

The first picture shows the four of us in front of the most famous structure in all of Italy -- the leaning Tower of Pisa. Yesterday we took a day trip from Florence to the coast to see this amazing bell tower. Construction on it began in the 12th century but it was not completed for nearly 200 years. Not long after it was built it began to sink in the soft soil and started leaning. At a weight of about 15,000 tons, it is no wonder. Today they have managed to keep it to a 4 degree tilt.

Happy Birthday, Nate! Back on the American home-front: Today is the 9th birthday of Nathaniel James Sauvage of Weatherford, Texas. He is one of the first of our family to be born in the 21st century and represents all those young family members for whom the 20th century will always be simply "history."

The second picture shows Nate with his younger brother Kyle. Their parents James and Kelly (Shepard) Sauvage live in Weather- ford, Texas.

The quote at the top of this post from the ancient Roman Philosopher Cicero puts all our family history study in perspective, doesn't it? Even in the first century before Christ, genealogy was an interest of some good people!
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Friday, July 01, 2011

Roaming In Rome, July 1, 2011

And in a short while
the generations of living creatures
are changed and like runners
relay the torch of life.
~Roman poet Lucretius

Hello Family and Friends,

Greetings to all of you from Italy! Cindy and I find ourselves in Rome on this weekend of America's July 4th holiday. We are here with our travel partners Jerry and Cathrina Clark of Lubbock, Texas.

The first picture shows the four of us at the Rome Colosseum with the inner ruins of this marvel in the background.

Cathrina was actually born about 900 miles north of here in Dusseldorf, Germany, even though she has been in the U.S. most of her life.

I do not know of any Italian immigrants in our family's history. I say this even though Cindy's GGgrandfather was Julius Caesar. His full name was Julius Caesar Vedders, however, from 19th century Limestone, Alabama. Not the famous Roman dictator from the first century B.C.E.

The French Connection. I do know about an American ancestor who was originally from France, just west of here. His name was William Henry Pickens, and he was a 6th Ggrandfather of my mother Maida Gower Shepard.

William Pickens actually immigrated to the U.S. from Ireland, even though he was born in 1670 in La Rochelle, France, the child of Robert Pickens and Ester Jeanne Benoit Bonneau. William's family was part of the 17th century Protestant migration from France to Ireland. That is where he married his Irish bride Margaret Pike, with whom he had 8 Irish children.

William, Margaret and their kids crossed the Atlantic to settle in Bucks County, Pennsylvania around 1720. Over the following 3 centuries, William and Margaret's descendants migrated from Pennsylvania to South Carolina, then Tennessee, and then Mississippi, before moving on to Northern Arkansas, where my mother was born. Her part of the family then migrated to Oklahoma and then the west coast.

Below is the 340 year lineage from William Pickens to Nathaniel Sauvage (whose birthday is coming up next Thursday).
  • William Henry Pickens (1670-1735)
  • Israel Pickens (1693-1749)
  • Anna Pickens (1726-1775)
  • Mary Gillespie (1756-1789) 
  • Ann Pickens (1785-1867)
  • David Reid Shannon (1821-1864)
  • Samuel Pickens Shannon (1858-1930)
  • Nola Shannon Gower (1903-2004)
  • Maida Gower Shepard (b. 1924)
  • Gary Shepard (b. 1946)
  • Kelly Shepard Sauvage (b. 1977)
  • Nathaniel Sauvage (b. 2002)
David Shannon (6th in this lineage) was so taken by his mother's Pickens family name that he gave his child the middle name "Pickens". That child, Samuel Pickens Shannon, is pictured above in a photo from the early 20th century.

I am grateful for all these generations who, as Lucretius said, "like runners relay the torch of life."

Happy July 4th to all of you!
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