Saturday, July 28, 2012

A Lot to Celebrate, July 28, 2012

To witness the birth of a child
is our best opportunity to experience
the meaning of the word miracle.
~Paul Carvel

Hello Family and Friends,

This just in... Congratulations to Nathan and Chenda Shepard on the birth of their 3rd child, William Quincy Shepard, born this morning just after 7 a.m. -- about 2 hours ago! See first picture of William at just a few minutes old at California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco. He is healthy as can be at 8 lbs, 14 oz and 21" long. Mom and baby are fine.

Others who are celebrating birthdays today are Jeff Clark and Barbara Shepard, two family members who live about as far apart from each other as any two members of our family.

Happy Birthday Jeff. Jeff is the first born among the two of them -- but only by one year. He and his wife Kim Boyd Clark live in Blue Springs, Missouri, the home of the famous Ortiz twins who were born back in April.

Kim: "It has been so hot here. Over 100 for weeks and the farmers crops are really dried up.  Jeff is such a good guy; he will be spending his birthday driving a U-haul back to Missouri. On his birthday we will be in Oklahoma City spending the weekend with Dane and Cindy. Jeff's birthday dinner will be with me, my mom and dad, and Dane and Cindy.  Jeff is really enjoying the new grandbabies. He is sure a big help with them." 

Thanks to Desiree Ortiz for sending me the recent picture of Jeff and one of her twins. She told me this twin is Isaac, but "I'm just not 100% sure, hehe!"

Missouri, by the way, is the new home of Kim's parents -- my aunt and uncle -- Thelma and Terry Boyd. As we speak, Terry and Thelma are in the process of moving to Independence, Missouri (next to Blue Springs), from Gallup, New Mexico, where they have lived for many years. Thelma: "This is so hard for me to do. I'm happy that we're going to be around family after 25 years of us being alone, but it is really hard to leave all my friends here. We will have our own apartment, 2.9 miles from Kim and Jeff, who have a house full with kids, grandkids and dogs."

Happy Birthday, Barbara. My sister Barbara, the other 50-something birthday person today in our family, lives in Anacortes, Washington. Born in San Diego, Barbara has lived in Anacortes most of her adult life. Her mother Maida Shepard and all her siblings, except me, also live in Western Washington.

Barbara: I know my birthday is just around the corner. I am happy with my life pretty much the way it is now. The last year as you know has not been an easy one for me but I feel it has made me stronger. Work is going well and it seems to get busier everyday. I have been with Safeway for over six years now. It is hard for me to believe that so much time has passed. I have made friends with a soldier who is fighting in Afghanistan. We correspond through email daily. I have made some new friends and have gone out on a couple of motorcycle rides and just done some sightseeing around the local area.

The third picture shows Barbara in a picture taken just last month at their church in Anacortes.
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Monday, July 23, 2012

Now and Then, July 23, 2012

It is time for those
who talk about family values
to start valuing families.
~John Kerry

Hello Family and Friends,

Greetings to all of you from Alameda, California where Cindy and I find ourselves, while the vigil continues and the anticipation builds.

Happy Birthday Shannon! Tomorrow is the birthday of thirty-something Shannon Wilk, daughter of the late Phil Wilk and Beverly Russell Wilk. Shannon is one of the Ggrandchildren of William and Bura Davis Shepard.

Shannon: We thought it was funny that we all had pink on the day of that picture. You just had to remember my birthday, didn't you!! I was trying to forget it!! Time is flying by and I can't catch up!! 

Emma lost her other top front tooth. She will be in second grade this year. We are good and just enjoying everyday as best we can. The weather here is so HOT!! 106 today. The grass is brown, the crops are all dried up and it doesn't look like the end is near. Thank goodness our wonderful neighbors let us come over and swim all the time. I hope all is well with you. As always, it's nice to hear from you. Take care.

The first picture shows Shannon with her daughter Emma, and Frank Bockach. Frank was the life partner of Shannon's father Phil Wilk for 28 years until Phil died back in 2007. Shannon, Emma and Frank live in Atchison, Kansas.

A Family Hero. In my last post I mentioned that at this time of the year our family remembers several persons whose deaths were especially difficult because they died so young.

Yesterday as we sat in church, I said a prayer for the memory of my GGgrandfather, William Shepard (1835-1862). It was exactly 150 years ago yesterday that William, at 26 years old, died in Evansville, Indiana in the service of the Union Army during the Civil War. (See second picture of his grave, with the ghostly image of a white dove floating across the grass over the grave where he lay. I honestly did not notice anything unusual when I took this picture last summer.) 

When he died he left a 21 year old wife named Mary Sprague Shepard and a 5 month old baby named William Elmer Shepard. We remember and honor the soldier William for his willingness to serve and for the sacrifice of his life that was honorably made for his country.

He was one of over half a million Americans who died in the Civil War, but we owe it to him to remember his life nonetheless. Indeed, his life and sacrifice are given greater honor as he is remembered by us who are his descendants. He is only one of several members in our family tree who served during that conflict, yet William still stands out as one more family member who died way too young.

We don't know the full extent of the hardships faced by his young widow Mary Shepard and their infant son, but life must have been extremely difficult for them. There is no record that she ever received a widow's pension, but she did remarry a few years later, and had three more children by her second husband, and lived into the 20th century to the ripe old age of 79. Unfortunately the difficulty of being a widow with a child took its toll and she was estranged from her only Shepard son, William Elmer, for his entire adult life.

We look back with humility and gratitude at ancestors like William and Mary and their son William Elmer who made the most of their lives under trying circumstances. And we hope that something of their fortitude and resilience has been passed on to us who share their DNA. 
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Thursday, July 19, 2012

Remembering Manuel, July 19, 2012

American families have always shown remarkable resiliency.
This resilience is not measured by wealth, muscle or efficiency
but by creativity, unity, and hope.
~Ben Silliman

Hello Family and Friends,

Greetings to all of you from Northern California where Cindy and I continue our visit with Nathan and Chenda and await our next grandchild.

Genealogy is primarily about people who have died. And unfortunately, it is often about people who have died in an untimely manner. This time of the year we remember several family members whose deaths were unexpected and who died long before they should have.

Today would be the 51st birthday of Manuel Aqui- ningoc, the late husband of Kerri Shepard Aqui- ningoc. Manuel died in San Diego on July 2, 1992, 20 years ago this month, just a few weeks short of his 31st birthday. He left behind a 1 year old daughter and a wife 6 months pregnant. Today his wife Kerri and his daughters Lyndsey and Mandi live in Weatherford, Texas.

The first picture, taken in San Diego in 1990, shows Manuel and Kerri on the right with Kerri's Ggrandmother Nola Shannon Gower in the middle holding their daughter Lyndsey. On the left is Kerri's father Gary Shepard. Baby Lyndsey in Nola's lap was Manuel and Kerri's first child, Gary's first grandchild and Nola's first GGgrandchild.

Manuel's unfortunate death in 1992 continues to remind us that life is fragile. It also reminds us of the power of memory and longing for family members who have gone before and who continue to mean so much to us. Both Lyndsey and Mandi let me know they would not mind me sharing the following thoughts regarding their father Manuel.

Lyndsey: I miss my daddy more than anyone can imagine. I know he's doing nothing but looking down and protecting us just like he would be doing if he was here. R.I.P. Daddy. I love you more than anything in this world and I would do ANYTHING right now to be in your arms! But at least I can say you have left me with an amazing brother and sister and even though bro is hundreds and hundreds of miles away I know he is here for us WHENEVER AND HOWEVER! I have the BEST family ANYONE could EVER ask for! So I thank you mama and dad for bringing me into such a wonderful family! Y'all are what keeps me strong in this challenging life we live! I love everyone of you! XoXo :)

Mandi: I am doing great. Still have my job, it's going good. My dad is very much missed everyday and always on my mind. Every minute every hour of the day. But I just tell myself he's with me in my heart constantly. :) I hope everyone is doing good over there. Love and miss y'all tons! Talk to you soon, uncle Steve!

The second picture, taken earlier this month, shows Mandi and Lyndsey with their mother Kerri Shepard Aquiningoc.
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Friday, July 13, 2012

More About Our Owens Kin, July 13, 2012

When I was a kid
my parents moved a lot,
but I always found them.
~Rodney Dangerfield

Hello Family and Friends,

Greetings to all of you on Friday the 13th from Alameda, California where Cindy and I are lucky enough to be visiting our kids and grandkids. Chenda's next baby is not due for another two weeks, but you know how kids are these days. They seem to have minds of their own. "Due dates" seem to mean nothing to them. Baby #3 has his own agenda and may arrive sooner. Or later. But whenever he makes his appearance, you will be among the first to know!

In a post earlier this month, I referred to my Ggrandmother Elvira Owens Shepard, who was the mother of my grandad William Shepard. Elvira met and married William Elmer Shepard, and then bore their two children in Madison County, Illinois. In the early years of the 20th century William, Elvira and their kids moved to Beaver County, Oklahoma, where their son Will met and married Bura Davis. In 1928 Will and Bura then moved to Southeast Colorado and in 1940 they moved to California, settling in San Diego.

Other Owens Kin In California. That much of our family story I have told many times in this blog. What I did not know until just last week is that grandad Will Shepard was not the only Owens descendant to move to California in the early 20th century. Will had a number of first cousins on the Owens side of his family who also moved to California in search of a better life.

Two of Will's aunts and uncles were Mary Elizabeth and Elias Veach Owens (see first picture). Like William Elmer and Elvira, they migrated to Oklahoma around the turn of the century, and spent their last days there. They had a family of 11 children. Of these 11 first cousins of Will, 5 of them migrated to California as Will and Bura did. As far as I can tell, none of them settled in San Diego like Will and Bura. Instead many of them made their homes in the San Joaquin Valley, which in the early 20th century was a favorite settling location for countless families from Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Colorado.

Elias was just one of Elvira's 8 siblings. Between them all, Will had 34 Owens first cousins. In the records I have found, at least 9 of them migrated to California. (By the way, can you guess how many Shepard first cousins Will had? If you guessed "0" you would be correct. His father was an only child.)

Two California Cousins. Two of the Owens cousins of Will who migrated to California were a set of twins with the clever names of Ivy Pearl and Irvin Earl Owens. (See second picture of these twins, which looks to be from around 1915.)

Irvin Earl came to California first and married a California girl in 1917 and settled in Tipton in Tulare County. (The 1940 Census shows that Irvin owned and ran a garage in Tipton.) His twin Ivy Pearl came to California after 1930 with her husband and family and also settled in Tulare County where she spent the rest of her life.

Cousin Ivy Pearl died in 1971 and is buried in Tulare County's Tipton-Pixley Cemetery. Interestingly enough, her grave is just a mile or so from the route Cindy and I regularly take between Northern and Southern California. I look forward to stopping the next time we pass that way, and visit the final resting place of this first cousin twice removed that I never knew I had until last week.

I wonder if grandad William even knew these first cousins of his who came to California like him? I never heard him talk about any of his Owens kinfolk except his mother, either those who remained in Oklahoma or Illinois, or those who came to California.
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Friday, July 06, 2012

July Birthdays Everywhere, July 6, 2012

First we are children to our parents,
then parents to our children,
then parents to our parents,
then children to our children. 
~Milton Greenblatt

Hello Family and Friends,

After my last blog entry regarding celebrations on the week of July 4, Norma Lou Kilpatrick Allen of Bolivar, Missouri emailed me. Norma Lou is the niece of my grandmother Bura Davis Shepard.

I enjoyed reading about your week of July 4th. My husband and I have three children and were fortunate to welcome to this world our first born on the morning of July 4, 1951. She is now Beverly Scott Huppenthal. She is a small animal veterinarian living in Tempe, Arizona; her Gilbert Veterinary Hospital is in Gilbert, AZ.  She and her husband have two children; John who attends Arizona State, and Susan who attends Harding University. Just thought I would let you know of another of our extended family with a July 4th birthday.

Speaking of July births... Congratulations to Andrew and Susan Clark Cox of Lubbock, Texas. Susan reported on Facebook that she gave birth to her newest baby this past Monday, July 2. "Morgan June made a surprise entrance!!! We are so blessed!" Susan is the daughter of Jerry Clark and Jane Brock of Lubbock. The first picture shows father Andrew with new arrival Morgan June Cox. 

Today is the 30th birthday of Desiree Ortiz of Blue Springs, Missouri. Desiree is the wife of Jeremy Ortiz, a Ggrandson of Will and Bura Davis Shepard. Jeremy and Desiree have 5 children, the last two, twins Isaac and Dominic, were born April 23 and are now home from the hospital.

Desiree: I've been good, just really busy as you can imagine. I'm so glad to finally have my whole family home with me! The babies are doing so well and we are all getting use to their schedule -- after all, they are boss, lol! I will be 30 this Friday. I have my best friend Armand from San Diego as well as my brother Scott flying in this Thursday to celebrate with me and meet the boys! We will start the day by taking the boat and jet ski out to the lake for a few hours and then go to dinner. I haven't decided where I would like to go yet, so we will see. The year has just been flying by. I'm hoping that now that we are all together time will slow down for a minute and we can enjoy these little babies while they are still little because they grow to fast as you know!

Tomorrow is the 10th birthday of Nate Sauvage of Weatherford, Texas. Nate is the older brother of Kyle whose birthday we celebrated last week, and the son of James and Kelly Sauvage.

Kelly: Nate is having a good summer so far. He loves going to summer camp everyday and going on field trips. He is right there with me at every one of Kyle's baseball practices and games. Although I think he'd rather skip some of them. We are on vacation the week of July 4th and we have plans to hit a few local water parks...his favorite. He played basketball again this year which is his favorite sport. He had a 6 point game which was so exciting for him. He is definitely built for it. He's already almost as tall as me...I think he'll pass me by his next birthday. He is still the most loving boy I have ever met. He always wants to give everyone hugs and tell them he loves them. I am extremely blessed to have such loving, polite little boys!

Congratulations and best wishes to Norma Lou, Morgan June, Desiree, Nate and their families as they celebrate these early July births.
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Sunday, July 01, 2012

Happy Independence Day! July 1, 2012

Family is what grounds you.
~Angelina Jolie

Hello Family and Friends,

On this week of July 4, several family celebrations are in order.

Happy Birthday today to Becky Clark Cave who lives in Weatherford, Texas with her husband Matthew and their 3 children. She is the oldest daughter of Jerry Clark and Jane Brock of Lubbock, Texas.

Happy Anniversary. Today we also congratulate Sean and Heather Robson Cotton of San Antonio, Texas, who celebrate 12 years of marriage. Heather is a Granddaughter of my aunt Vicki Johnston and the daughter of my cousin Paula Tuzzolino of Oak Harbor, Washington. Heather is also one of the Ggrandchildren of Leroy and Nola Gower.

The first picture shows Heather with her husband Sean and their daughters Victoria and Alexandria.

A 147th Birthday. Today, July 1, was also the birthday of my Ggrandmother Elvira Owens Shepard. Elvira is our connection to our Owens roots of 19th century Madison County, Illinois. Her Owens kinfolk consisted of a strong family with healthy roots, that I have written about in this blog a number of times. Elvira's parents Payton and Mary Wheeler Owens, were early Illinois land owners who began the establishment of the Owens family in Madison County, a presence that continues there to this day. Elvira's Ggrandparents Edmund and Sarah Rives Owens were both originally from Virginia and were children on the very first July 4th celebration in 1776.

Coming from a strong family, it was ironic that in the early 1880s, as a young woman, Elvira met and fell in love with a vagabond from Indiana named William Elmer Shepard, who had no connection to his family. His father had died in the Civil War when he was an infant, and by the time he became a teenager, he was at such odds with his step family that he left his Indiana home and never looked back. For whatever reason he landed in Illinois, where he met Elvira. In 1886 they married and over the course of the next few years had two children, Sadie and William. (I would eventually become a grandchild of William.)

Elvira was born July 1, 1865, just 3 days before the first July 4th celebration after the Civil War. It was a time of new beginnings, following one of the darkest times in our nation's history. But it was an incredibly formative time for our country as well. Some would say July 4, 1865 represented an even more defining moment for our nation than July 4, 1776. The Civil War was a devastating experience, but it brought our nation to a much more complete and mature understanding of who we are. Our identity shifted dramatically from being a group of independent states to being a united people. Before 1865 people always said "the United States ARE..." (plural verb, emphasizing the states). After 1865, when people spoke of our county they said, "the United States IS..." (singular verb, emphasizing the union).

Elvira, her family of origin as well as her own family, were all a part of this "new" nation, after the Civil War, a nation that was continuing to evolve and become something that we still celebrate today. The second picture shows Elvira and two of her grandchildren, Elmer and Pauline Shepard. This picture was taken about 1919 in Beaver County, OK., where Elvira and her family migrated in the early 1900s and where she lived the rest of her life.
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