Thursday, November 26, 2015

Thankful For Another Day, November 26, 2015

Thank you for the breath to say
Thank you for another day.

On this Thanksgiving Day, 2015, as I think about our family, I am grateful for many things. Here are a few at the top of my Thanksgiving list.

I give thanks for the newest and the oldest family members among us: Finley Grace Shepard and her Great Grandmother Maida Shepard. Finley is the infant daughter of my nephew Christopher Shepard and Jessica Bell of Seattle, Washington. Maida is the proud Great Grandmother of 11, with Finley, at just 6 weeks old, being the youngest of them all. Thank God for Finley and all the babies in our family and for the hope they give us for the future! This first picture shows Maida holding her Great Granddaughter Finley with Maida's birthday cake in the foreground. Maida turned 91 on the first day of this month.

I am also very grateful for my aunt Vicki Gower Johnston, Maida's sister, who is in failing health. It was difficult for her to say goodbye to her husband Duke Johnston who died after a long illness this past summer in Oak Harbor, Washington. 

Vicki had been a resident of Whidbey Island in Washington since the mid 1970s when she moved there from San Diego. This second picture was taken in the early years of Vicki's time in Washington and shows her with Cindy Shepard, wife of my brother Gary.

Vicki was the first of our extended family to move to Washington when she and then-husband Al Perry relocated there. A few years later my parents Maida and Gene Shepard retired and moved from San Diego to Northwest Washington. Today at least 21 members of our Shepard and Gower families live in that area, and it all started with Vicki's decision to move there about 40 years ago. Last month Vicki moved to Sun Lakes, Arizona to live in a care facility near her daughter Paula Tuzzolino.

Happy Birthday this Sunday to Kim Boyd Clark and her grandson Damian Ortiz!

Damian will celebrate his 9th birthday in El Cajon, California where he lives with his family. Damian is one of the great great Grandchildren of Will and Bura Shepard and the third of the five children of Desiree and Jeremy Ortiz. Damian's grandmother Kim, born 45 years before Damian, lives in Blue Springs, Missouri with husband Jeff Clark. This picture shows Kim and grandson Damian in a picture taken last summer in San Diego.

Kim: Winter is beginning to set in here. I love my job at the high school cafeteria. It gives me a lot of joy working with the High School kids and I also love my free time to go places and enjoy life. We will be spending a few weeks in San Diego for Christmas. Jeff and I sold our house and are planning on getting a motor home within the next year to travel and spoil our grandkids even more!

Mom Desiree: Damian is doing wonderful and will be celebrating his 9th birthday on Saturday with friends and family cosmic bowling and playing laser tag. He is thriving in school and played baseball last season and made the All-Star team. Besides Baseball Damien enjoys skateboarding and building with Legos. I just can't believe my first baby boy will be nine years old! Jeremy and I are very proud of Damian and all that he accomplishes. It makes us very proud parents and we love him so much.

May your Thanksgiving Day be a happy one, filled with family joy, good food, and gratitude for all you have.
- - -
Steve Shepard

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Footprints on the Sands of Time, November 18, 2015

The lives of great people remind us
that we can make our lives sublime 
and, departing, leave behind us 
footprints on the sands of time.
~Henry David Thoreau

Caroline Matilda Spear Davis (1865-1951). This month celebrates the 150th anniversary of the birth of my Great Grandmother Caroline Spear Davis who, with her husband James Brooks Davis, were the parents of 7 children, the oldest of whom was my grandmother Bura Davis Shepard. This first picture shows Bura Davis Shepard on the left in 1915, and her mother Caroline Spear Davis on the right in 1908.

Caroline (Callie) Spear Davis was born November 29, 1865, at the very end of the American Civil War and lived until 1951. Hers was a life that spanned an amazing period of time. Born in Owen County, Indiana where our Davis and Spear families had settled, she married James Brooks Davis there on New Year's Day, 1896. She, husband James, and their 7 children migrated from Indiana to Beaver County, Oklahoma in March, 1913, where they lived the rest of their lives.

Callie was the oldest of the 8 children of William and Maggie Spear, while her daughter Bura was the oldest of 7 children. I never knew my Great Grandmother Callie, but I did know well my Grandmother Bura Davis Shepard. What I have discovered about Callie in recent years helps to explain a lot about the kind of person Bura was. She obviously learned a lot about life from her mother Callie. They were both the oldest among their siblings. They both felt a great responsibility for the neediest members of their families. And they both helped carry the torch of faith and church in their family lives.

Callie Davis in the 1940 U.S. Census
Above is a snippet from the April, 1940 U.S. Census, the most recent Census for which we have information about Callie. (Click on the image to enlarge it.) These numbers are interesting: in November, 1940 (75 years ago) Callie celebrated her 75th birthday. At that time she had been a widow for 12 years, a resident of Oklahoma for 27 years, and would live yet another 11 years. In the fall of 1940, she must have still been missing her oldest daughter Bura who just two months earlier, with her husband William Shepard and their family, had moved to California and settled in San Diego.

The Census information above shows that in 1940 Callie was living with her brother Clayton Spear, who was 5 years younger than her. He was a special needs person who Callie had been taking care of, probably for most of his life. When Callie and family moved to Oklahoma in 1913, her brother Clayton came with them, evidently because there was no one else to care for him. This 1940 Census record shows that she was still taking care of him 27 years later. 

Another thing to note from this Census record is that the widow Callie and her needy brother Clayton were neighbors of her son Lawrence and his family, and her brother-in-law John Davis and his family. Just a couple of years after this time Callie and her family had to make the very difficult decision to institutionalize Clayton, who then died in 1944.

I am grateful for the life of my Great Grandmother Callie Spear Davis, for the difficult struggles she endured, for the values she instilled in her family, and for the wonderful family legacy that she has left behind. We honor her this month on the 150th anniversary of her birth.

A Response From Marjorie Eldred. After my last post regarding my grandmother Bura Davis Shepard, I received word from a shirt tail relation of hers, Margie Vaughn Eldred of Washington. Margie had two Kilpatrick uncles who married two Davis women who were sisters of Bura Davis. This sounds rather confusing but it simply refers to the fact that the Davises and the Kilpatricks intermarried back in Oklahoma in the early 20th century in ways that created friendships and relations that are still respected and remembered today.

This second picture illustrates the intermarrying of the Kilpatricks and the Davises. It shows James and Callie Davis in 1922 with 2 of their Kilpatrick grandchildren (Geneva and Bernard, in front of Callie). This picture also shows 3 of their Shepard grandchildren (Eugene on the left, Elmer in the middle, and Pauline in the back).

Here's Marjorie email:  

It was great to see the posts about the Davis branch of your Shepard family; of course it included aunts and uncles of mine also. There were ten siblings in the Samuel Allen Kilpatrick family so I'm sure descendants are scattered everywhere in these United States. Barney Kilpatrick was the brother that opened his home to Verlin, my oldest brother when the need arose. Norma Lou, Carolyn, and Shirley Kilpatrick became his substitute 'sisters.' 

Verlin told a story about what happened when he and the girls borrowed the family car to go fishing. They caught fish and stored them in the car while they roamed the vicinity, forgetting to reckon with the hot temperatures inside the locked car. As Verlin reported it, "Aunt Nona never did figure out how 'that smell' got inside the car, and no one volunteered any information."  My brother Verlin died in October of 2006. Marion, my mother, died in January that same year.

I'm working on a new book, a fiction full of the history of Vale, Oregon, the place where my Mom and Dad had their farm. All of my siblings and I grew up there. The book should be finished in the next few months. It will be titled Katie of Malheur Oregon Country. ...Marjorie (Vaughn Skelton) Eldred

- - -
Steve Shepard

Friday, November 06, 2015

A Faith That Lived In Grandmother, November 6, 2015

I am reminded of your sincere faith,
a faith that lived first in your grandmother.
~ The Apostle Paul

Bura Davis Shepard (1896-1986). This Sunday, November 8, is the anniversary of the birth of a person who has been gone for several decades now, but who was a dynamic force in our Shepard family for many years, my paternal grandmother Bura Davis Shepard. She was born 119 years ago this weekend outside Spencer, Indiana to Callie Spear Davis and her husband James Brooks Davis. She is the connection to our many Davis ancestors and relatives around the country, but especially in Oklahoma.

She was the standard bearer for our Shepard family's strong connection to the Church of Christ for nearly her entire life. She was part of a strong family tradition of Church of Christ people that can be traced to her Great Grandparents Alex and Jane Buskirk Davis who were from Eastern Ohio in the early years of the 19th century.

Her husband, my Granddad William Shepard, was also a long time member of the Church of Christ, but I always had the impression it was as a concession to her. Her commitment to the church was the dynamic force that moved through our family in a most powerful way.

Our Davis relatives today continue to be a source of kinship that has existed for generations. I was reunited recently with a long time family friend here in San Diego by the name of Richard Indermill. He is related by virtue of two of his uncles (Barney and William Kilpatrick), who married two of Bura Davis' sisters (Winona and Myra Davis). Even though these marriages occurred nearly 100 years ago, the bond that was created has importance even to this day.

I received word from my cousin Kim Boyd Clark recently that she discovered a relative in Missouri who she never even knew existed: Norma Lou Kilpatrick Allen of Springfield, Missouri, a long time reader of The Shepard's Crook. Turns out Norma Lou is a daughter of Barney Kilpatrick and Winona Davis Kilpatrick. Winona was the sister of Kim's Grandmother Bura Davis Shepard. (Winona is also the aunt of the aforementioned Richard Indermill.) Here is a picture that Kim sent me a few days ago, taken on the occasion of Kim and Norma Lou's happy meeting recently and the celebration of their kinship.

Many of us, Kim and myself included, can relate to the story of Timothy in the New Testament of the Bible. Timothy's life was influenced greatly by the faith of his grandmother. It was an impact that the Apostle Paul considered so important that he mentioned it in one of his letters that is now included among the books of the Bible. "I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that lived first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, lives in you." (2 Timothy 1.5)

Surely all my Shepard cousins echo my sentiments that Grandmother Bura was a remarkable woman whose positive impact on our lives is felt still. God bless her memory as we remember this anniversary of her birth and as we celebrate her positive influence in our lives.

Happy Birthday today to Havilah Colgain Wardle! She is one of the Great Grandchildren of Bura and William Shepard, and is the daughter of my cousin Joan Shepard of Dixon, California. Havilah is married to Kevin Wardle and lives in Salt Lake City, Utah. Happy 33rd birthday today to Havilah! 

Fall means many things to many people. To Havilah it means grape stomping, as can be seen in this picture of Havilah taken last month.

Happy Birthday, Shaun. This Sunday, November 8, is also the birthday of Shaun Gower, the older son of my cousin Hershell Gower. Sean is the first of the Great Grandchildren of Leroy and Nola Shannon Gower. Born in England while his father Hershell was in the service, Sean and his wife Tracy live today in Escondido, California. 

Along with his brother Lloyd Gower, Sean has lived in the San Diego area nearly his entire life, as long as almost any of our Gower family members. This final picture shows Sean and his wife Tracy on the occasion of their wedding this past summer in Del Mar, California.
- - -
Steve Shepard