Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Hello From Scotland! September 29, 2015

I am a Scot.
I do not need your approval.
Great things are in my immediate future.
Watch me do exactly what you said I could not.
~ Old Scottish saying

Greetings today from Edinburgh, Scotland where Cindy and I are continuing on vacation. The first picture was taken yesterday and shows Cindy and me in St George's Square here in Edinburgh. In the background is a statue of a Lion, which is a symbol of the country of Scotland, dating back to the time of Richard I, the Lion Heart.

Many of you know about the importance of Ireland in our family history, being the ancestral home of many of those in our family tree. But did you know that many of our Irish immigrant ancestors had parents or grandparents who were from Scotland?

Among our Scots-Irish ancestors is immigrant Thomas Shannon (1686-1737). His American descendant Dexal Shannon was the one who wrote the book "Shannon" which is the closest thing to a definitive history of that part of our family that we have. Thomas Shannon's grandfather John Shannon was originally from Scotland, born here in 1601. 

In another part of our family tree is Jane Alexander McNitt (1665-1691), who immigrated from Ireland to what is now America in 1678 as a wide-eyed 13 year old girl. Her grandfather Robert Alexander (1610-1704) was born in Stirling, Scotland, just 35 miles up the road from where we are today in Edinburgh.

These are only two of those in our family tree who trace their roots to Scotland, this interesting country where Cindy and I are visiting for the first time. 

Happy Birthday, Alexandria!
Today, September 29, is the birthday of Alexandria Cotten, of San Antonio, Texas, one of the direct descendants of the aforementioned Scots Irish ancestors Thomas Shannon and Jane Alexander McNitt. Lexi is the younger daughter of Heather and Sean Cotten, and another one of the GG Grandchildren of Leroy and Nola Shannon Gower.

This second picture shows Lexi with her mother Heather Robson Cotten. Lexi's grandmother is my cousin Paula Tuzzolino and her Great Grandmother is Vicki Gower Johnston of Oak Harbor, Washington.

Happy Birthday Cathrina! Today we celebrate another Texas birthday. It is the birthday of Cathrina Helms Clark
. She and husband Jerry Clark live today in Lubbock, Texas. On the right is a picture of Jerry and Cathrina with their dog while hiking in the mountains this past summer.

Happy Birthday Kellan! Happy Birthday this Thursday, October 1, to Kellan Christopher Shepard who will celebrate his first birthday! Best wishes to Kellan and his parents Rachel Shepard and Brian Miller, and his Grandparents Darrell and Mary Shepard, all of whom live in Bothell, Washington. 

This final picture, taken at our family reunion back in August, shows Kellan with mom and dad, Rachel and Brian. Kellan's Great Grandmother is my mom Maida Shepard of Anacortes, Washington.
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Steve Shepard

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Wee Descendants, September 22, 2015

Having somewhere to go is home.
Having someone to love is family.
Having both is a blessing.
~Irish Proverb

Hello to everyone from Northern Ireland where Cindy and I are traveling today and for the next couple of weeks. We are presently in the city of Londonderry, a major port of Northern Ireland.

This first picture shows Cindy and me in front of The Gregory Bed and Breakfast in Belfast, Northern Ireland, where we stayed until this morning when we came to Londonderry.

Between Londonderry and Belfast is the wee town of Antrim, where Cindy and I and our traveling companion Linda, spent Sunday afternoon just two days ago. Antrim was the ancestral home of William Gray who came to America as a young man in the late 1700s. 

William Gray and his American wife Polly had a granddaughter named Peggy Gray who married David Reid Shannon and settled in Louisiana. Confederate Soldier David died in 1864 in the American Civil War leaving Peggy Gray Shannon with 7 children. One of those children was Samuel Pickens Shannon, who later would move to Stone County, Arkansas, marry Finetta Dearien and become the father of my grandmother Nola Shannon Gower. (How's that for 200+ years of family history in a nutshell?)

I thought about GGGG Grandpa William Gray as we walked the country roads around Antrim and strolled through the little town that has grown up a bit over the last 245 years since he was born there. I marvel at the courage it must have taken for him to leave his home, sail a small crowded ship across the dangerous Atlantic, and settle in a whole new world. His new homeland was a place of opportunity that we, his descendants all these years later, are privileged to call home.

Two of the wee descendants of William and Polly Gray are birthday kids Karver Bearden and Tori Cotten.

Karver Ryan Bearden. Today, September 22, is the very first birthday of Karver Ryan Bearden, the baby boy of Colton Bearden and my grand niece Lyndsey Aquiningoc of Granbury, Texas. Karver's proud Grandmother is Kerri Shepard Aquiningoc. He is the Great Grandson of my brother Gary Shepard and one of the Great Great Grandchildren of my mom Maida Gower Shepard. 

This second picture (above) which was taken recently, shows the happy birthday boy Karver.

Victoria CottenTomorrow is the 8th birthday of Victoria Cotten, the older daughter of Heather and Sean Cotten, and one of the GG Grandchildren of Leroy and Nola Shannon Gower. Tori and her family live in Austin, Texas. Her Grandmother is my cousin Paula Tuzzolino of Oak Harbor, Washington, and her Great Grandmother is Vicki Gower Johnston of Oak Harbor.

This third picture shows Tori with her dad Sean in a picture taken very recently.

Happy Birthday and best wishes to both these Irish descended young'ns and their families on these special occasions!
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Steve Shepard

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Summer Family Fun! September 16, 2015

Spare the rod and spoil the child – that is true.
But, beside the rod, keep an apple
to give him when he has done well.
~Martin Luther

Greeting to all of you from San Francisco where Cindy and I find ourselves today. Summer is drawing to a close! Vacations are almost over, schools have begun, and life for most of us has settled into a sense of normalcy that comes with the end of summer.

As I threatened several weeks ago I have put together a slideshow of various summer activities in the lives of our family members. It includes a whole host of summer events, from a family reunion to beach vacations, from memorable visits to scenic locations to kids activities and birthday celebrations. It includes children and seniors, Gowers and Shepards and all those related to them, as well as activities in various places around the country.

Thanks to those of you who emailed me pictures of your family's summer activities. Thanks also to those of you generous enough to make pictures of your summer activities available on Facebook. It clearly was a busy, enjoyable and event filled summer.

So here it is... this summer's capsulation of fun in our family far and near.

This slideshow should be easier to view than those I have included in the past. This one is viewable on any device you chose: desktop, mobile phone, or tablet. If you do have any problems seeing it I would appreciate it if you would let me know. Enjoy!
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Steve Shepard

Wednesday, September 09, 2015

A New Book, A Beautiful One! September 9, 2015

No, this is not the beginning
of a new chapter in my life;
this is the beginning of a new book!
Look, it is the first page!
And it is a beautiful one!
~ C. Joybell C.

Happy Birthday this coming Saturday, Sept 12, to my niece Kelly Shepard Sauvage. She, husband James, and sons Nate and Kyle live in Weatherford, Texas. She is the youngest child of my brother Gary Shepard and Jackie Perry. Born and raised in San Diego, Kelly has lived in Texas for nearly 15 years now.
Speaking of 15 years, last month James and Kelly celebrated 15 years of marriage. Congratu- lations on this special anniversary to the two of them, and best wishes to Kelly for a very happy birthday! This first picture shows James and Kelly when they were on a family vacation last month in Destin, Florida.

Kelly: Things are all good here. School started a couple weeks ago so it's been a little hectic. Nate is in his first year of junior high and Kyle is in his last year of elementary school. I'm still working at the high school and its been super busy. Kyle's baseball season is getting underway so it's about to get even more busy. Between my two boys and I always doing something, and James working out of town for two weeks at a time, we stay pretty busy. I love it though. Hope everyone is good on your end. Thanks for thinking of me and I hope you have a great birthday too.

67 and Counting. September 9 is the day I was born in 1948 here in San Diego. Today, my wife Cindy and I live in San Diego, where we were both raised, where we graduated High School, and where we were married. We lived in Northern California for many years until we retired 7 years ago and returned to our home town. We live not far from our son Nathan, his wife Chenda and their 3 children in the San Carlos Community of San Diego.

A Scholar's Career Begins.This second picture, taken earlier this summer at our home in San Diego, shows me with our oldest grandchild Preslea. The biggest news in our part of the family these days is that yesterday Preslea started school. It was her first day of Kindergarten!

Never-Before-Seen Picture. This being my birthday it seems appropriate to continue my summer theme of sharing never-before-seen pictures, but in this case with a picture that includes me. I have never shown the following picture before in this blog, for a number of reasons, not the least of which is the fact that I very little history with most of the people pictured here. 

I do know that it was taken just about 60 years ago, in the mid-1950s, in Fresno, California. And I do know that it includes me in the lower right (the little guy in the striped shirt, with his hands on his hips and a scowl on his face). It also includes three of the most influential male figures in my life at the time: my older brother Gary (barely visible behind me), my father Eugene Shepard (standing behind us with arms crossed) and my Grandfather Leroy Gower (to the right of my father, in glasses).

This picture was taken when we were visiting my mother's cousin Imogene Hutson Self and her husband Olen Self who are pictured on the left (Olen is in the back on the left, in the white shirt; Imogene is to the right of him and only partially visible.). My mom tells me that another cousin of hers in this picture is Pearl Hutson Pfost, the tall woman on the far left.

These folks, like my parents and both sets of my grandparents, were transplanted Okies who came to California in the 1940s. The people pictured here are descended from my Great Grandparents, Samuel Pickens Shannon and his wife Finetta Dearien Shannon, of Mountain View, Arkansas. 
- - -
Steve Shepard

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Something of a Genealogical Quagmire, September 2, 2015

Children are the bridge to heaven.
~ancient Persian Proverb

New Birth. Congratulations to Chris and Amanda Clark Farrell on the birth of Easton Farrell, born August 20th in Frisco, Texas. Congratulations to the first time parents, and to grandparents Jerry Clark and Jane Clark Brock of Lubbock, Texas. It is a happy time for Chris and Amanda's entire family! 

This beautiful picture of Easton with his mom and dad was posted on Facebook recently (photo credit to Natalie Roberson). Many of you have seen it, but I include it here with best wishes to Chris and Amanda!

An Anniversary from LONG Ago. Today, September 2, 2015 is the wedding anniversary of my 6X Great Grandparents Matthew Gillespie and Lucy Pickens. This couple lived so long ago in our family history you may not even recognize their names. Here are some interesting notes about this young couple.

We are related to Lucy and Matthew through Grandmother Nola Shannon Gower, in particular her father Samuel Pickens Shannon. He was given the middle name Pickens because his grandmother's maiden name was Anna Pickens. Giving a child a middle name that is the last name of a Grandmother was not uncommon years ago, and even is done occasionally today.

Lucy Pickens and Matthew Gillespie were both born in Ireland at the turn of the 18th century. We even know that Matthew's birth town was Limerick, Ireland. But they did not marry, and may not have even known each other, until they came across the Atlantic, where their families settled just north of Philadelphia. 

Something of a Genealogical QuagmireIn the new world they were part of a large clan of Irish immigrants who tended to marry within the clan. Lucy and Matthew Gillespie's son, Matthew Gillespie Jr., married back into his mother's Pickens family (probably a cousin). Then their granddaughter, Mary Q. Gillespie, also married back into the Pickens family. So if you look at our family tree you see Pickenses all over the place because of the intermarrying. It is something of a genealogical quagmire, which may be a little easier to understand by looking at the lineage at the bottom of this post.

Young Matthew and Lucy married at just 22 and 20 years old. Immigration records show that Matthew arrived from Ireland in 1722 -- the same year they married -- so he was fresh off the boat when he married fellow immigrant Lucy. It is very possible that both their families came over together in the same ship. In a new land, beginning a new family, facing new challenges; it must have been a very exciting, if not bewildering time for Matthew and Lucy to start a new life together. 

They were married in Abington, Pennsylvania, in the Abington Presbyterian Church, a congregation near Philadelphia that still exists today (here's their website). They were one of the earliest marriages of this congregation, whose history dates from 1716. The following is an excerpt from the records of the Abington Church, of Matthew and Lucy's marriage on September 2, 1722. Their last names are spelled a little differently, but after nearly 300 years, a little little discrepancy is understandable!

Matthew and Lucy were only married 8 years when Matthew died at just 28 years old. Lucy then outlived him by over 30 years, living to be 60 years old, which was very old by 18th century standards. In the 8 years of their marriage they had 3 sons and a daughter, son Matthew Jr. being the one from whom we are descended. Two years after Matthew died, Lucy remarried a man named John Kerr, and lived the rest of her life with him.

Here then is an 11 generation lineage which shows how we are descended from 6X Great Grandparents Matthew and Lucy Gillespie, whose wedding, long, long ago, we remember today.

  • Matthew Gillespie (1700-1728) who married Lucy Pickens (1702-1762)
  • son Matthew Gillespie Jr. (1726-1793) who married Anna Pickens (1726-1775)
  • daughter Mary Q. Gillespie (1756-1789) who married Andrew Pickens (1753-1844)
  • daughter Anna Pickens (1785-1867) who married David McKnight Shannon (1790-1860)
  • son David Reid Shannon (1821-1864) who married Peggy Gray (1829-1899)
  • son Samuel Pickens Shannon (1858-1930) who married Finetta Dearien (1861-1960)
  • daughter Nola Shannon (1903-2004) who married Leroy Gower (1899-1974)
  • daughter Maida Gower (b. 1924) who married Eugene Shepard (1921-2003)
  • son Steve Shepard (b. 1948) who married Cindy Harris (b. 1948)
  • son Nathan Shepard (b. 1977) who married Chenda Sou (b. 1980)
  • daughter Preslea Maida Shepard (b. 2010)

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Steve Shepard