Oh, tell me not that they are dead
that airy army of invisible heroes.
They hover as a cloud of witnesses
above this Nation.
~Henry Ward Beecher, 1863
Today we celebrate Memorial Day and remember those who have died in the service of our country. I would like to mention in this blog post 4 people -- that I have found so far in our family tree -- who died fighting in our nation's wars. One in the war of 1812, two in the Civil War, and one in World War I. We owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to them as we honor them on this Memorial Day.
John Williams Sr. (1782-1813) was a 31 year old husband and father of 4 when he died, most likely in the War of 1812. Born in Virginia he had been in Kentucky just long enough to marry Lydia Warford and have 4 children with her when his life ended in the service of the nation. John left a modest estate that enabled his widow Lydia and her children to move to Spencer, Indiana where they
settled and where his GG Granddaughter Bura Davis (my Grandmother) was born.
David Reid Shannon (1821-1864), my GG Grandfather, was in his 40s living in Louisiana with his wife and 7 children when he was called to serve in the Confederate Army late in the war. After not hearing a word from him for a year, his wife Peggy finally got the news indirectly that David had died and was buried with other Civil War soldiers in Chalmette National Cemetery in New Orleans. His needy widow and 7 children were rescued by Peggy's father and brothers who moved them to Stone County, Arkansas. Select this link to visit his grave online.
William Shepard (1835-1862) of Wabash, Indiana was a young Union soldier of just 26 when he was injured at Bowling Green, Kentucky in what may have been the very first battle of his Indiana Regiment.
He languished in a hospital for 5 months before he died in July, 1862 in Evansville, Indiana, leaving a young wife and an infant son (my Great Grandfather). After a very difficult couple of years for the two of them, his widow remarried and settled into a new life. Select this link to visit his grave online.
Lloyd W. Gower (1896-1918) of Newnata, Arkansas, brother of my Grandfather Leroy Gower, was a single man of 22 when he was killed in 1918 in Cheppy, Lorraine, France during World War I. He is buried in Cooper Hill Cemetery near his home outside Mountain View, Arkansas (see picture of his grave) and is memorialized on a plaque in Mountain View's town square. Select this link to visit his grave online.
These four -- John, David, William and Lloyd -- are among that great "cloud of witnesses", in the words of Henry Ward Beecher, that hover above our nation. And not only our nation, but on this Memorial Day, in a special way, they also also hover over us, their descendants, their families, who owe them much more than we can ever repay.
That Was Then, This Is Now. Today, May 26 also happens to be the 21st birthday of Brandyn Boyd, grandson of Thelma Shepard Boyd of Blue Springs, Missouri. Brandyn, the son of Darren Boyd and Victoria Boyd, is a graduate of Santana High School in Santee and lives in San Diego.
He is one of the Great Grandchildren of William and Bura Davis Shepard.
This coming Wednesday, May 28 is the birthday of Ruthie Styer Russell of Red Rock, Nevada. She is the daughter-in-law of my late cousin Rex Russell, whose birthday was also on May 28. Rex was the first grandchild of William and Bura Shepard, and the son of Bill and Pauline Shepard Russell. The picture above shows Rex Russell and daughter-in-law Ruthie in a picture taken a few years ago in San Diego, with the bay and the Coronado Bridge in the background. Happy Birthday to Ruthie!
This coming Thursday, May 29, is the birthday of my cousin Michael Harrell, who lives with his wife Carole in Zionsville, Indiana. Mike is one of the grandchildren of Leroy and Nola Shannon Gower and the son of Vicki Gower Johnston of Oak Harbor, Washington.
Mike and Carole lived in California for many years but now live in Indiana and have settled right in to Hoosier life. They are shown here at an NFL playoff game earlier this year in Indianapolis wearing Andrew Luck jerseys. Best wishes to Mike for a very happy birthday.
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