Saturday, May 26, 2012

One Smile To Give, May 26, 2012

If you have only one smile in you,
give it to the people you love.
~Maya Angelou

Hello Family and Friends,

This last week Cindy and I spent most of our time moving. As much as we have moved in recent years you would think that we would learn. You would think that we would settle down and be like normal people -- rooted in one home for 10 or 20 years so we can accumulate years and years worth of clutter in an attic or garage.

Our move here in San Diego was only 8 miles, from Mission Valley to San Carlos, yet it seems to have taken as much energy as a move of 800 miles. It causes me to wonder what it must have been like 70 years ago when my Gower grandparents chose to move over 1000 miles from a small town in Oklahoma to San Diego; or when my Shepard grandparents moved from the dusty plains of Southeast Colorado to San Diego. It was a real challenge for them to uproot their families and move to the west coast in a time of great uncertainty. In many ways their moves were much more difficult emotionally and physically than ours. But I am grateful to them for their courage and their foresight to relocate. For both families their moves proved to be positive and beneficial for decades.

Brandyn. Today, May 26, is the birthday of Brandyn Boyd of Santee, California, the son of Darren Boyd and Vicki Boyd. Brandyn is one of the 21 Ggrandchildren of Will and Bura Davis, and is the youngest of the 3 grandsons of Terry and Thelma Shepard Boyd. The first picture shows Brandyn and his sister Kori Boyd.

Ruth. Monday, May 28 is the birthday of Ruth Styer Russell who lives in Red Rock, Nevada with her husband Eric. Ruthie shared a birthday with her father-in-law Rex Russell who passed away last year. The second picture shows Ruthie with her husband Eric.

Michael. This coming Tuesday, May 29, is the birthday of my cousin Michael Harrell who lives in Mountain View, California with his wife Carole. Michael is the son of Vicki Johnston of Washington, and is the 9th of the 12 Grandchildren of Leroy and Nola Gower. The third picture shows Mike and his wife Carole.

Michael: Carole has some plans for my birthday but she won't share them with me. She is surprising me with something. In the mean time I have saved my pennies and will be buying myself an iPad for my birthday.  Additionally I have spent this year eating healthier and living a more active lifestyle. My goal has been to arrive at my coming birthday at the same weight and same level of fitness I was when I graduated from high school. I achieved that goal a couple of weeks ago and feel much better for it (albeit with some achy joints that will never be young again).

Things have been going very well for us. Our dog has become a local celebrity because on two separate occasions he has protected our friends from unsavory characters, the weather has been great giving us lots of outdoor time, all our debts (except the mortgage) are zeroed out, and I've been spending more time at home than on the road which has allowed me to put in some volunteer time in the local community. In other words, life is very good. I embrace my family and friends and smile, knowing that I must have done something good and they are my blessings.

Best wishes to Mike, Ruthie and Brandyn on their birthdays. 
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Saturday, May 19, 2012

The Most Valuable Heirlooms, May 19, 2012

Family stories make the most valuable heirlooms.

Hello Family and Friends,

Greetings to all of you wherever you may be, on this wonderful spring day in San Diego.

Nicole. Happy Birthday Nicole Shepard! Last week my nephew Patrick Shepard emailed me that his new bride Nicole Haw Shepard had a birthday May 11. Happy Birthday, Nicole, and welcome to our family! She and Patrick were married back in March.

Ashlyn. Today, May 19 is the 7th birthday of Ashlyn Ortiz, daughter of Jeremy and Desiree Ortiz of Blue Springs, Missouri. Ashlyn is an older sister of the twins Isaac and Dominic Ortiz who are the newest descendants of Will and Bura Shepard. The twins were born just last month. The latest word is that Mom Desiree and the little guys are doing much better.

The first picture shows Ashlyn Ortiz striking a pose in a picture that was taken last fall. Happy Birthday to Ashlyn!

Elmer. Tomorrow, May 20, is the birthday of Elmer Shepard who was the oldest member of the Will and Bura Davis Shepard clan when he passed away earlier this year in Oklahoma. Sunday he would have been 94 years old. His son Dane lives in New Castle, Oklahoma and his daughter Joan lives in Dixon, California.

Two weeks ago I posted a picture of Elmer that was taken in Colorado in the late 1930s, back in the days when he worked as a farm hand in Two Buttes, Colorado. Elmer's sister Thelma Shepard Boyd wrote me shortly thereafter to tell me that she remembered seeing that picture years ago, and that in it Elmer is holding a snake. Elmer's son Dane tells me that he thinks it is a fish in his dad's hand but he can't be positive.

I am including the picture again today for you to see it. Clearly it is Elmer on a horse, in work clothes. It appears that it may have been taken on the farm where he worked just outside of Two Buttes. Those were difficult days, and at the time he may have been the only gainfully employed person in his immediate family. If you look closely enough you can see a snake in his left hand, or at least something that looks like it might be a snake. Or is that a fish? What does it look like to you?

As a young buck of 22 or 23 years old, Elmer is striking quite an impressive pose: on a healthy steed, confident in demeanor, dressed in the rugged garb of a working man. If you let your imagination go for just a minute, to also be holding a defeated creature gives him the appearance of a kind of conquering hero.

Okay, maybe I am overstating things a bit. Nevertheless it makes for a good family story, one that deserves to be told and retold. And maybe even embellished as the years go by! I think Grandad would like that.
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Tuesday, May 15, 2012

A GGGrand, A GGrand, and A Grand, May 15, 2012

To have a child is to decide forever
to have your heart go walking around
outside your body.
~Elizabeth Stone

Hello Family and Friends,

Greetings to all of you from Alameda, California, the home of our grandson Logan Alexander Shepard, whose first birthday is today! Logan is the son of Nathan and Chenda Shepard, the sister of Preslea, and the first grandson of Cindy and me. But he will not be the last. Logan's little brother is due to arrive this summer in July or August. And if you ask his mom Chenda, he can't come soon enough!

A GGGrand. Logan is the 11th of the 12 GGgrandchildren of Leroy and Nola Gower, and the 11th of the 13 GGgrandchildren of William and Bura Shepard. He also has the unique distinction of being the first GGgrandson of Will and Bura Shepard with the last name Shepard. But there will be others -- perhaps many others -- who will arrive in their time and will be able to pass on the Shepard name to future generations.

The following is a photo presentation to celebrate Logan's Birthday. (If the following does not play correctly, select this link.)

Another Alexander. Logan's middle name is the same as that of his 5th Great Grandfather Alexander Davis. I have not mentioned the name of Alexander Davis in this blog for a few months now. He is buried in Spencer, Indiana next to his daughter Elizabeth Davis Carter. Our larger family of Davises and Shepards collected funds last fall to get a new headstone for them. Their headstones were old and broken and badly in need of replacing. I just received a picture from cousin Jerry Davis showing that the new headstone is now in place.

If you happen to be anywhere near Spencer, Indiana this summer be sure and visit the New Union Cemetery which is home to the graves of many Davis ancestors, in particular the graves of Alexander and his daughter Elizabeth Davis Carter. The New Union Cemetery is easy to locate. It is 5 miles northwest of Spencer at the corner of Rattlesnake Rd and McKay Rd. (also marked as Shepard Patrick Rd.)

Two other descendants of Will and Bura Davis Shepard will celebrate birthdays in the next couple of days: Jason Shepard and Darren Boyd. Jason is also a Ggrandson of Leroy and Nola Shannon Gower.

A GGrand. This Friday, May 18 is the birthday of my nephew Jason Shepard.  He was born and raised in San Diego but lives these days in Fort Worth, Texas where he works for Pepsico. Jason is the son of my brother Gary Shepard of Washington and Jackie Perry of Texas. The second picture shows Jason with his nephews Kyle and Nate Sauvage, children of Kelly and James Sauvage of Weatherford, Texas.

A Grand. Happy Birthday tomorrow, May 16, to Darren Boyd of Santee, California. Darren is the son of Terry and Thelma Boyd and a grandchild of Will and Bura Davis Shepard. The 12 grandchildren of Will and Bura were born over a period of almost 30 years, between 1936 and 1964, with Darren being the final one. Darren is the father of Courtney, Brandyn and Kori.

Darren: "Hi Steve. Things are good. Very busy. Courtney moved out; just Brando and Kori left. Just being a dad and working. Hope everyone is awesome." See a picture of Darren with his 3 kids in a blog post from last week.
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Friday, May 11, 2012

Thank You Lord For Loving Mothers, May 11, 2012

The sweetest sounds to mortals given
Are heard in Mother, Home, and Heaven.
~William Goldsmith Brown

Hello Family and Friends,

Greetings to all of you on this weekend of Mother's Day, especially my mother Maida Shepard of Anacortes, Washington. Cindy and I are celebrating this special weekend in Northern California with our son Nathan and his wife Chenda, the mother of our grandchildren Preslea and Logan.

Today is the birthday of Cindy Saunders Shepard of Newcastle, Oklahoma, the wife of my cousin Dane Shepard. This Cindy is, of course, one of the THREE Cindy Shepards in our family, the others being the spouse of my brother Gary, and my own wife.

Dane: Cindy continues to be a band, bowling and camp mom along with church activities and helping out her mother and handicapped sister. I don't know what I would do without her. She is ready for a real getaway vacation as we haven't had one in three years. She keeps a watchful eye on weather reports and tracks storms for us. Thankfully, we've had no problems to report so far. I'm reminded of a verse from a hymn in honor of loving mothers:   

Thank you, Lord, for loving mothers, 
godly hearts and hands to serve; 
priced above the precious rubies, 
having virtues all observe.  

Children rise and call them blessed; 
husbands give them praises due.  
Who can tell of their adornment, 
inward beauty, pure and true?

The first picture I am including shows Cindy with her family --  her two children Nathan and Kaylan, and her husband Dane -- in a picture that was taken just a few months ago. Happy Birthday and Happy Mother's Day to Cindy!

This coming Monday, May 14, is the birthday of three different descen- dants of Will and Bura Davis Shepard: their daughter Thelma Shepard Boyd, and two of their Ggrandchildren: Christopher Shepard, and Courtney Boyd.

Thelma, who lives today in Gallup, New Mexico is the last surviving child of Will and Bura Shepard, and the last surviving member of the family of 9 who migrated to San Diego back in 1940. I am especially grateful for Thelma who is my best source of first hand information on our Shepard family and its history. She and Terry are the parents of Darren Boyd and Kim Boyd Clark.

One of the grandchildren of Terry and Thelma Boyd is Courtney Boyd whose birthday -- just like her grandmother -- is this coming Monday. Courtney, who turns 22, lives in the San Diego suburb of Santee, California with her family. The second picture shows a blond and smiling Courtney on the left next to her sister Kori, her brother Brandyn, and her dad Darren.

Christopher Shepard, who turns 28 on Monday, is the son of Darrell and Mary Medina Shepard and lives in Kirkland, Washington. The third picture, taken in March, shows Chris with his girlfriend Jessica.

Best wishes to all these birthday folks and to all the mom's among us on Mother's Day!
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Saturday, May 05, 2012

Shepards in The 1940 Census, May 5, 2012

I don't care how poor a person is;
if they have family, they're rich.
~Dan Wilcox

Hello Family and Friends,

Greetings to all of you from San Diego on Cinco de Mayo! It's a holiday few people north of the border knew about in 1940 -- even in the border town of San Diego -- and that even fewer celebrated.

One of the most significant events for family researchers this spring is the release of the 1940 U.S. Census, with personal data on millions of Americans that has been kept confidential for 72 years.

As I sought to find out what the Census said about my Shepard and Gower grandparents, my first search was for my Shepard ancestors. (I will share what I find out about my Gower kinfolk in a future blog post.)

In April, 1940, when the Census was taken, I knew that my grandparents William Shepard and Bura Davis Shepard and their family lived in the small town of Two Buttes, Colorado.

Which was a stroke of luck. Later that year the Shepards moved from Colorado to San Diego. Finding them in the San Diego records would have been much more difficult than tracking them down in the little hamlet of Two Buttes.

When I brought up the records for Two Buttes, Colorado I found what I was looking for on the second sheet of names. There at the top of the list was William Shepard, 51 years old, with wife Bura (43), son Eugene W (18), and daughter Thelma Lee (3). (See first picture from about 1937 of teenager Eugene and his sister Thelma in Colorado.) The listing further showed that the Shepards were renting a home for only $6 per month. The record also showed that father William and son Eugene (one year out of High School) were unemployed, and that William had only worked a total of 3 weeks in the previous YEAR. 

How did the family survive? I wondered. But the biggest question I had at this point concerned Elmer, the oldest son of the family, who I thought lived with the family at this time. Did he live somewhere else in town? Had he left home for the military? I kept looking.

Three family listings later I found my uncle Willie D. Russell (31), and his wife Pauline (Shepard) Russell (23), with children Rex D. (3), and Beverly Jean (11/12 of a year old). (See second picture from 1940 of Rex and his sister Beverly Russell in Two Buttes.) Uncle Bill, the Census record showed, was working steadily for the Government at the time as a "tractor man" on road construction, having made $575 in the last year. They were renting their home for $7 per month (which puts an annual income of $575 in perspective).

I found only 4 pages of names for the entire town of Two Buttes, with 40 names on each page, but nowhere could I find the last Shepard family member at that time, Elmer. Then I discovered that the 4 page list I had been searching consisted only of those who lived IN town. There was another smaller list of families who lived OUTSIDE Two Buttes -- a 3 page list with 40 names per page. On the second page of that list I found Elmer. He was shown as a "hired hand" who lived on a farm with a family named Brown, consisting of an older widow with 5 grown children. Elmer had been with them for at least a year and was making $7 per week. (See third picture of Elmer from about 1940, taken in Colorado.)

So there they were in the Census records: all 9 members of our Shepard clan (Will, Bura, Elmer, Eugene, Thelma, Bill, Pauline, Rex and Beverly). Just 5 months after the Census was taken, all 9 left the dusty confines of South East Colorado, motored across 1,200 hot miles of barren deserts and rocky hills (that must have been an adventure in itself!) and settled in San Diego. And a whole new era in the life of the Shepard family began.

The 1940 Census records didn't show a lot of information, but enough to confirm that these were our people, and that their life was not easy in that particular region at that time. It also confirmed what I had already suspected: that financial concerns, and in particular employment opportunities, were a major factor in their wise decision to move to Southern California. 
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