Tuesday, December 06, 2011

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!
- - -

No comments: