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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