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

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Steve Shepard

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