Sunday, March 30, 2014

Family Keeps You Going, March 30, 2014

Trials keep you strong,
sorrow keeps you human,
failures keep you humble,
but family keeps you going.

Happy Birthday, Joan! Tomorrow is the birthday of my cousin Joan Shepard, mother of Havilah Wardle, daughter of Elmer and Beryl Shepard and granddaughter of William and Bura Davis Shepard. Joan was born and raised in the San Diego area but lives today in Davis, California. She is the third one in our family who was born in early 1954 and therefore is celebrating an important milestone birthday.

Joan: The years continue to bring blessings. The older I become the more I appreciate all our progenitors and our children--the love and gratitude flows both ways. I still have great health, which is probably a legacy from Bura and William. I remember Granddad Shepard climbing a large, old walnut tree to trim branches when he was in his 80's. We came home that day to find him over 30 feet in the air with a saw in his hand. That's a goal to consider!

A highlight of my year was visiting Havilah and Kevin in South Texas, their current home. It's a delight to be with them and sightsee.  I always learn exponentially when with them. They help me advance into the 21st century, this time with my Christmas gift, a Nook. I thoroughly enjoyed listening to podcasts with them and brought home some favorites for my tablet, "Stuff You Missed in History Class," for example. Being with them is a joy beyond compare no matter what we do. Blessings to everyone... Joan

The first picture (above) shows Joan while she was visiting in Texas last summer. The second picture (below) is an old family photo taken in 1975 in Mira Mesa, just north of San Diego, California at the home of my brother Gary and Jackie Shepard (pictured on the right). Joan is in the middle standing next to our grandparents Bura and William Shepard. Others pictured here are Darrell Shepard (standing to Joan's right), Barbara Shepard holding Kelly Shepard, Darren Boyd, Dane Shepard, Kerri Shepard, Jason Shepard and Kim Boyd. On the ground is Russ Shepard.

Woman of Note: Anna Pickens ShannonOn this last post of March, 2014 (National Women's History Month) I want to highlight one more woman in our family tree: Anna Pickens Shannon.

My GGG grandmother Anna Pickens was born in Abbeville, South Carolina on March 24, 1785 (229 years ago this month!). 
She was the great granddaughter of French-Irish immigrants William Henry Pickens and his wife Margaret Pike who came to America in 1722 from Limerick, Ireland.

Anna was the child of Andrew and Mary Gillespie Pickens and was born just 2 years after the American Revolution. It was not only a time of fighting the British, but also of dealing with warring American Indians. Her father Andrew Pickens served honorably in the Revolution, while her father's first cousin (also named Andrew Pickens) was a decorated General in the war. Anna Pickens' family has a prominent place in the history of South Carolina, not only because of Abbeville where many kinfolks settled, but also because of the namesake town of Pickens, 60 miles north of Abbeville.

Anna's grandmother was also named Anna Pickens, because her maternal grandfather was a first cousin of her father. This phenomenon of marrying relatives, though not too good for the long range health of the family tree, was fairly common at this particular time in American history.

As a young woman her family migrated a few hundred miles west to the area south of Nashville, Tennessee where she met her husband-to-be, David Shannon. They were married in 1808 and helped populate the American frontier by having a family of 9 children. Sometime after the children were born her family migrated southward to the area near Tupelo in northeastern Mississippi, where she lived the last years of her life. She and husband David are buried in Keyes Cemetery near Tupelo (see photo of Keyes Cemetery by Jonathan Phillips). 

Just as the American Revolution greatly affected Anna's early life, so the Civil War affected her later life. She outlived her son David Reid Shannon, who died in the War between the States as a young family man in Louisiana in 1864. One of Anna and David's grandchildren was my great grandfather Samuel Pickens Shannon (Nola Shannon Gower's father), who was named after his grandmother Anna Pickens Shannon.

You have to give it to Anna: she endured the aftermath of the American Revolution as a child, then moved as a youngster from South Carolina to Tennessee, where she married and bore 9 children on the American frontier, and finally relocated to Mississippi, where she was a Civil War Gold Star Mother for her last years. Even though her life was not too different from many frontier women, her sacrifices were great and her place of honor in our family tree is well deserved. She is remembered with gratitude on this Women's History Month.

- - -
Steve Shepard

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Happy 4th Birthday Preslea! March 26, 2014

Women's history is...
an indispensable heritage
from which we can draw 
pride, comfort, courage
and long-range vision.
~Jimmy Carter

Celebrating Women of Character, Commitment and Courage. This month I have been observing National Women's History Month, and have been telling in this blog about women of note in our family history who have been "women of character, commitment and courage." It has been a part of The National Women's History Project which has a fine website with lots of good information. 

President Jimmy Carter in 1980 first designated March as National Women's History Month. In his message to the nation at that time he said,

"From the first settlers who came to our shores, from the first American Indian families who befriended them, men and women have worked together to build this nation. Too often the women were unsung and sometimes their contributions went unnoticed. But the achievements, leadership, courage, strength and love of the women who built America was as vital as that of the men whose names we know so well. Women's history is women's right -- it is an indispensable heritage from which we can draw pride, comfort, courage and long-range vision."

The foregoing certainly is true when it comes to many women in our family history, whose stories have not been told and whose influence has not often been noticed. Hence my telling this month about particular women and their important place in our history. March is drawing to a close, so in my next post I will tell of one more woman of note in our family history and recount what we know of her story.

Happy Birthday, Preslea! 

Today is the birthday of someone who will one day be a woman of note in our family history, our granddaughter Preslea Maida Shepard. She and her siblings Logan and William, along with their parents Nathan and Chenda Shepard moved to San Diego last month and are now enjoying life in Southern California. The photo presentation above is offered in celebration of Preslea's 4th Birthday!

Happy Anniversary Patrick and Nicole! This Thursday, March 28, is the 2nd wedding anniversary of my nephew Patrick Shepard and his wife Nicole Haw Shepard who were married in 2013 in Cancun, Mexico and who live today in Bothell, Washington. Last summer in July they became the proud parents of their first son Logan Joseph Shepard. The picture on the right, taken this past December, shows Pat and Nicole and their son Logan.

Patrick tells me that "Logan keeps us very busy. Logan is doing much better since his last hospitalization last month. He is over that and doing very well! Nicole quit her job at Evergreen Hospital and is now a stay at home mom! :)"  Best wishes to Patrick and Nicole for a wonderful anniversary.
- - -
Steve Shepard

Saturday, March 22, 2014

The Life Journey of Lydia Warford, March 22, 2014

Rejoice with your family
in the beautiful land of life.
~Albert Einstein

Happy Birthday Gary! Tomorrow, March 23, 2014 is my brother Gary's birthday. Gary and his wife Cindy live in Oak Harbor, Washington. Like so many of us Shepards and Gowers, Gary was born and raised in San Diego and lived here for most of his life. 11 years ago now he retired from work with the County of San Diego and moved to Washington State.

The first picture, taken last December in San Diego, shows Gary with Cindy's daughter Michele McGauran. This was at the end of a week long cruise Gary took as a civilian family member aboard the USS Nimitz, the ship to which Chief Petty Officer Michele Gauran had been assigned. Gary told me that the experience of sailing on a military vessel from Hawaii to San Diego was a trip of life time.

Lydia Warford Williams. During this National Women's History month, I have been mentioning women of note in our family history. Another of the women who deserves mention is Lydia Warford Williams, who I have not mentioned in this blog for several years. Here's a lineage that shows how she is related to me: 

Lydia Warford Williams (1782-1829) 
John Pouty Williams (1806-1892) 
Margaret Williams Spear (1845-1904) 
Caroline Spear Davis (1865-1951) 
Bura Davis Shepard (1896-1986) 
Eugene Shepard (1921-2003) 
Steve Shepard (b. 1948)

From Pennsylvania To Kentucky. Lydia was born near the end of the Revolutionary War in Warfordsburg, Pennsylvania, a town named after her uncle Joseph Warford. The town -- which still exists today -- was started when Joseph was deeded 100 acres after his service in the Revolutionary War. Lydia was the youngest of the 9 children of Henry and Elizabeth (Vanhook) Warford. When she was just 2 years old Lydia's father died, perhaps as a result of his service in the Revolution. Lydia's mother then packed up her and her 8 siblings and moved to the wilds of Northern Kentucky and settled east of Louisville.

It was on the frontier in Kentucky that Lydia finished growing up and met John Williams. She married him in 1803 and bore to him 4 children. As fate would have it, another war -- the war of 1812 -- took the primary man in her life once again when Lydia's husband John died in 1813. Instead of being the child of a widow, this time Lydia became a widow herself at just 31 years old, with 4 young children, trying to make her way on the American frontier. Kentucky records show that Lydia received in her husband's estate 203 dollars and 19 3/4 cents, which in those days was enough to move on to the next phase of life for her and her children.

On To Indiana. For some reason -- supportive relatives, close friends? -- Lydia and her 4 kids packed up and moved further west to southern Indiana, which was not much more than Indian territory. Indiana did not become a state until 1816, and even then it did so despite the warring natives that made that region a dangerous place.

Lydia and her children appear in Washington County, Indiana, in the US census records of 1820. She was obviously a hearty and brave young widow to make a life for herself in the rugged hills of southern Indiana. We don't know how she made it through the next dozen or so years, we just know it must have been a struggle for this single mother. Sometime during these years Lydia and her children moved northward to Owen County and settled near Spencer, Indiana, which would become the birthtown of my great great grandmother Maggie Spear in 1845, my great grandmother Callie Davis in 1865, and my grandmother Bura Shepard in 1896.

The second picture shows Pleasant Hill Cemetery in the beautiful wooded hills outside Spencer, Indiana, the town where Lydia lived for a time with her children, and where our Williams, Spear and Davis ancestors settled for several generations. In this cemetery several of our ancestors are buried, including John Pouty Williams, the second son of Lydia Warford Williams, and the man who would become my GGG grandfather.

In 1826, after 13 years of widowhood, Lydia married a man named William Jones and settled with him in Putnam, Indiana, some 25 miles north of Spencer. Unfortunately her life as Mrs. Jones would only last 3 years. She died in 1829 at just 47 years old. But the final 3 years must have been a welcome relief from the many uncertainties, dangers and challenges of her life to that point.

A Life To Admire. What a life journey she lived! Born in Pennsylania during the Revolutionary War, fatherless at 2, and widowed at 31 with four children. During her life, she journeyed 700 miles westward on the American frontier, and finally spent her last 3 years in relative peace. It is hard to imagine the toll that takes on a person, and the personal resources required to endure all the struggles and the heartbreak she encountered. Lydia Warford Williams Jones lived a life that deserves our admiration and our gratitude. Hers was a life that, alongside many other ancestors, has made the people of our family what we are today.
- - -
Steve Shepard

Monday, March 17, 2014

Happiness is Being Irish! March 17, 2014

Family: we may not have it all together...
but together we have it all.
~old Irish saying

Kaylan Shepard. Happy 15th Birthday this coming Wednesday to Kaylan Shepard, daughter of Dane and Cindy Shepard of Newcastle, Oklahoma. Kaylan is the youngest of the 21 great grandchildren of William and Bura Davis Shepard. 

On this day of Saint Patrick, it is worth mentioning that her paternal grandparents were Elmer and Beryl Swinney Shepard, the latter having as Irish a name as you'll find anywhere in our family tree. Best wishes to Kaylan for a wonderful birthday!

Dane: "Kaylan is finishing up her freshman year in high school. She loves music, art, and bowling. In a state tournament, she placed 8th in the girl's scratch division. She keeps us young with her interests and activities. She will be getting her driver's permit in the fall at age 15.5 and I think she will do well! We are grateful for continuing health and being able to enjoy and help family and friends."

Since March is National Women's History Month, and since today is Saint Patrick's Day, it is only fitting that I mention one of the many Irish immigrants in our family tree. And we do have many. At last count, I have identified 30 different individuals (representing 8 different family units) who came across the Atlantic from Ireland to America. My 9th great grandmother Mary Maxwell, her husband and 6 children, were among them.

Mary Maxwell Alexander. What little we know of the life of Mary Maxwell Alexander tells a tale of courage, love and adventure. She was born in 1634 in the north of Ireland in the small town of Raphoe, in County Donegal. Mary was the only daughter of Scottish parents John Maxwell and Lucy Douglas, who were part of the immigration of folks from Scotland to Northern Ireland in the 17th century, many of whom eventually continued on to America.

Mary was a girl of just 16 when she married James Alexander, also from Raphoe. While still living in Ireland Mary and James had six children. When their youngest, Jane Alexander, was just 13, Mary and husband James decided to join the thousands of others Scots-Irish and immigrate to America. They boarded one of the many small sailing vessels, probably in nearby Derry, Ireland and set sail for America, an extended and dangerous journey.

They immigrated long before the massive immigrations of the 18th and 19th centuries. In the 17th century, when Mary and her family left their homeland, poverty as well as religious persecution of Protestants prompted many to make the journey to the new world. Many felt like they were on a religious pilgrimage when they traveled to America, much like the Israelites when they left Egypt for their "promised land." Since Mary and James were devout Presbyterians, this may have been their situation. Even so it took great courage and strength of spirit to uproot one's family and sail across the Atlantic.

The records of The Early Settlers to Maryland (1968), show that in 1678, Mary and her family arrived in Maryland, where they settled for the rest of Mary and James' lives. In Mary's case that was not very long, since she died just 2 years after arriving. Her death may have been a result of the transatlantic journey or the difficulty of adjusting to the new world. Mary is buried today in Cecil County, Maryland, northeast of Baltimore.

Their youngest daughter Jane Alexander married into another Irish immigrant family in Maryland, the McKnitts, who eventually changed their name to McKnight. A daughter of that family line, Jane McKnight, married into the Shannon family, which four generations later resulted in the birth of my grandmother Nola Shannon Gower.

We do not know all the hardships and difficulties that Mary and her family encountered in their life's journey. We do know she lived in a difficult time, and had to make some courageous choices. But she and husband James did what was best for their family. They made the journey to America, and began a new life here that has resulted in a great family of descendants who can be proud of her as an ancestor. On this National Women's History month, she stands out for me as a woman who deserves our appreciation for being a person of courage, faith and hope.

The following is one line of descendancy, including 15 generations from Mary Maxwell's parents to my granddaughter Preslea Shepard. The third picture, taken last summer, shows Maida Gower Shepard and her great granddaughter Preslea Shepard, two of the people in the following lineage:
  • John Maxwell (1605-1677) - wife Lucy Douglas (1602-1699)
  • Mary Maxwell Alexander (1634-1680) - husband James Alexander (1634-1704)
  • Jane Alexander McKnitt (1665-1691) - husband John McKnitt (1660-1714)
  • John McKnitt (1687-1733) - wife Dorothy Wallace (1687-1747)
  • John McKnight (1715-1771) - wife Catrine McKnight (1720 - )
  • Robert McKnight (1732-1818) - wife Cathrine (1748-1805)
  • Jane McKnight Shannon (1759-1830) - husband David Shannon (1756-1823)
  • David McKnight Shannon (1790-1860) - wife Anna Pickens (1785-1867)
  • David Reid Shannon (1821-1864) - wife Peggy Gray (1829-1899)
  • Samuel Pickens Shannon (1858-1930) - wife Finetta Dearien (1861-1960)
  • Nola Shannon Gower (1903-2004) - husband Leroy Gower (1899-1974)
  • Maida Gower Shepard (b. 1924) - husband Eugene Shepard (1921-2003)
  • Steven Shepard (b. 1948) - wife Cindy Harris Shepard (b. 1948)
  • Nathan Shepard (b. 1977) - wife Chenda Sou Shepard (b. 1980)
  • Preslea Maida Shepard (b. 2010)
- - -
Steve Shepard

Monday, March 10, 2014

A Bittersweet Tale of Love and Loss, March 10, 2014

Breed is stronger than pasture.
~George Eliot

Russ and Steve. This coming Thursday, March 13, is the birthday of my youngest brother Russ Shepard of Anacortes, Washington. Russ was born and raised in San Diego but moved with his parents in 1978 to Western Washington where he has lived most of his life now. This Thursday, March 13 is also the birthday of Russ' son Steven Paul Shepard, also of Anacortes. Best wishes to both of them for a very happy birthday!

The first picture shows Steve and Russ in a picture taken yesterday in Anacortes, Washington. Thanks to my sister Barbara for this picture.

Happy Birthday Jerry. This Friday, March 14, is the birthday of my brother-by-another-mother Jerry Clark of Lubbock, Texas. Jerry has been a member of our Shepard clan ever since he married into our family back in 1970 in San Diego. At the time he and my sister Linda were students at Lubbock Christian University. The second picture shows Jerry and his wife Cathrina in a picturesque selfie taken last month in Las Vegas, Nevada. Best wishes and a very happy birthday to Jerry!

March is National Women's History month, an occasion to "recognize the victories, struggles and stories of the women who have made our country [and our family] what it is today." Here is the link to the website with all the details of National Women's History Month.

A Bittersweet Tale of Love and Loss. Tomorrow, March 11, is the wedding anniversary of my GG grandparents William Shepard and Mary Ellen Sprague Shepard who were married 154 years ago. On March 11, 1860 they tied the knot in Montgomery County, Indiana when she was 19 and he was 24 years old. 

This month, being National Women's History month, is the perfect time to highlight what we know about the life of my GG grandmother Mary Sprague Shepard and her place in our history. Soon after their marriage in 1860 Mary and William relocated 100 miles east, to a farming community south of the town of Wabash. In the spring of 1861 she became pregnant, but in the fall her husband William went off to fight in the Civil War. It would not be the last time the most important man in her life left home, never to return.

A few years ago Cindy and I were in Wabash, Indiana doing some family research. I spent one afternoon reading Wabash's weekly Newsletters for the time that Mary's husband William served in the Civil War. In every issue there were reports of the local soldiers who had died, stories of heartbroken mothers and wives, beautiful poems lamenting the horrible losses, tear jerking eulogies, and graphic descriptions of the various conflicts and number of casualties. Week after week, month after month, the headlines continued with unabated sadness, heartbreak and horror. It is hard for us today to imagine what it was like for Mary as the War dragged on interminably. In September, 1862, after William had died in July, his name finally appeared in the list of deaths in the Wabash Newsletter. 

Picking Up The Pieces. Like so many Civil War widows, Mary had to pick up the pieces of her life and somehow move on. There is no record she ever received a military pension, so she was on her own. She took her baby, named William after his father, and returned to her home in Montgomery County, Indiana. Within a few years she met an older widower named William Ragsdale and in 1865 became his wife. She also became the step-mother for his 9 children, the oldest of whom was only 2 years younger than Mary.

With William Ragsdale she had 3 more children, and over the years did her best to hold this big family together. The one casualty of this big blended family was her son William Elmer Shepard, the only child of her short lived marriage to William Shepard. The teenager William Elmer left the family in a huff about 1880 and never looked back.

As far as we know, Mary was never reunited with her son William Elmer. Instead she remained in Indiana as the faithful wife and mother of the large Ragsdale clan. She and her first husband William Shepard had less than two years together. She and second husband William Ragsdale had 22 years together. She then outlived him by 32 years and is buried today in Indianapolis, beneath a headstone where the only description of her is, appropriately enough, the word "Mother".

Endurance and Survival. We cannot imagine what it must have been like to be widowed at 22 with an infant, then suddenly become the step mother of 9 more children at age 25. And then suffer the disappearance of her first son when he was a teen, an experience not too different from the loss of her soldier husband some 18 years earlier. She endured it all and survived as best she could for the nearly 80 years that she lived.

Mary deserves to be celebrated on this National Women's History month. Hers is a life to be pondered, to be remembered, and to be honored. We can be thankful that each of us who are descendants of hers carry something of her spirit of resilience and fortitude within us.
- - -
Steve Shepard

Monday, March 03, 2014

Celebrating Eight Generations, March 3, 2014

Gray hair is God's graffiti.
~Bill Cosby

Happy Birthday today, March 3, to my niece Kerri Shepard Aquiningoc, who lives in Weatherford, Texas. Kerri was born in Michigan but was raised in San Diego and lived there until about 15 years ago when she moved to Texas. Kerri's 2 daughters Lyndsey and Mandi also live in Weatherford. Kerri is the first daughter of my brother Gary Shepard, and the first granddaughter of Maida Gower Shepard. 

Eight Generations. Last summer Kerri celebrated the birth of her first granddaughter Kambree Bowman. With the birth of Kambree we now have, for the very first time, pictures of 8 consecutive generations of members of our family, with Kerri being part of that lineage. Actually we have pictures that go back 8 generations to two of Kambree's GGGGG grandparents, Margaret Frances Williams Spear AND Charles Edward Davis. 

The pictures of this blog post show Kambree Bowman on the bottom right, with her mother Mandi Aquiningoc on the bottom left. Above them is Kambree's grandmother (birthday girl Kerri Aquiningoc) and her great grandfather Gary Shepard.

Above Gary is his father Eugene Shepard and his grandmother, Bura Davis Shepard. Above them is Bura's parents James Brooks and Callie Spear Davis, who are Kambree's GGGG grandparents. At the top is James Davis' father C. E. Davis (1849-1926), and Callie Davis' mother Margaret Spear Williams (1845-1904). The top two images each complete the 8 consecutive generations pictured here.

The uniqueness of these 8 consecutive generations of family members cannot be overestimated. Nowhere else in all my family photos can I find pictures that span that many consecutive generations. Photography has only been around for something less than 200 years. So 8 consecutive generations of photographs is a rarity for any family, anywhere. 

A few weeks ago I included in this blog a pictorial collection of 8 generations of family members via my grandfather William Shepard and his great grandfather Edmond Owens Jr. (1795-1864), but a picture of one of the generations was missing. We can also show through my Gower lineage, pictures of 8 generations going back to Leroy and Ellen Gower (my Grandpa Gower's grandparents). But again a photograph of one of those generations is missing.  

Part of the reason this pictorial spread of Kambree and her ancestors is so unique is the fact that, as best I can tell, she is the first and only GGGG grandchild of James Brooks Davis and Callie Spear Davis. Readers of this blog who are also descendants of James Brooks Davis and Callie Spear Davis may be able to correct me on this point. If you can, please email me with the information. Do you know if James Brooks and Callie Davis have any other GGGG grandchildren?

For now we celebrate the specialness of Kerri's granddaughter Kambree, and the uniqueness of these 8 generation picture spreads. Oh, and Happy Birthday to Kerri!
- - -
Steve Shepard