Thursday, December 31, 2015

"Days of Auld Lang Syne", December 31, 2015

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
and auld lang syne?
~Robert Burns

Best wishes to all of you for a wonderful new year! May 2016 bring much happiness, personal growth, and great joy.

Happy Anniversary Darrell and Mary. Happy 33rd Wedding Anniversary today, December 31, to my brother Darrell Shepard and his wife Mary Medina Shepard of Bothell, Washington. They were married in Abilene, Texas while students at Abilene Christian University. In the last third of a century their family has grown to a clan of 12 including three children and 4 grandchildren, all of whom live near them in the Seattle area. Happy Anniversary to Darrell and Mary, and best wishes for many more years to come!

This first picture shows Darrell and Mary with me on the right, in late 1983, just before they celebrated their first wedding anniversary. It was taken in Abilene, Texas where they were living at the time.

Remembering James and Callie Davis. Tomorrow is the wedding anniversary of my great grandparents James Brooks Davis and his wife Callie Spear Davis. They were married in Owen County, Indiana on New Year's Day, 120 years ago. Their decision to marry on the first day of the new year was understandable. A new year, a new marriage, a new beginning; it all fit together. For farming families it was also a slow time of the year work-wise. And if the weather was not too bad, family and friends from all around would be available to celebrate with them.

Their new year's day marriage so impressed their youngest daughter Marjorie Davis Millikan that she too decided to marry on that day. And not once, but twice! First in 1931 to John Millikan, the father of her children, and then 50 years later to Clyde Williams in 1981.

This second picture was taken in 1908, just a few months after their youngest child, Marjorie Davis, was born in Spencer, Indiana, and just a few years before the family moved to Beaver County, Oklahoma. This picture shows parents James and Callie Davis with baby Marjorie.

Happy Birthday Chenda! New Year's Day is also the birthday of our daughter-in-law Chenda Sou Shepard. She was born in Phnom Penh, Cambodia on the first day of 1980. She lives in San Diego with husband Nathan Shepard and their three children Preslea, Logan and William.

This third picture was taken just last week on Christmas Day in San Diego at the home of Cindy's mom Paula Harris. Chenda is on the left holding their youngest child William Shepard. Next to Chenda in the back are Logan with Nathan, Cindy, her mom Paula and me on the far right. In front are Cindy's aunt Juanita Eeds with Preslea in front of her.
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Steve Shepard

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Welcome the Future, Respect the Past, December 26, 2015

We must welcome the future;
soon it will be the past;
and we must respect the past,
remembering that it was once
all that was humanly possible.
~George Santayana

Happy Anniversary! Tomorrow, Sunday Dec 27, is Cindy's and my 47th wedding anniversary. We were married here in the San Diego area two days after Christmas in 1968 and were home for Christmas break from Abilene Christian at the time. Over those years our home has been in various places throughout California: San Diego, San Leandro, the San Fernando Valley, Los Alamitos, Palo Alto, and Dorrington.

This first picture was taken this past September when we were on vacation in Northern Ireland, a trip that was one of the highlights of 2015 for us. This particular picture was taken in Derry, Northern Ireland, a beautiful modern city, the port from which a number of our Irish ancestors sailed to America in the 19th century. Behind us in this picture are the ancient walls that surround the oldest portion of this city.

Remembering Pauline Shepard Russell (1916-2000). Monday, December 28, is the anniversary of the birth of my late aunt Pauline Shepard Russell, who was born 99 years ago in Beaver County, Oklahoma. Pauline was the oldest child of William Shepard and Bura Davis Shepard. She was the first child in their family to marry when she tied the knot with Bill Russell in 1935. They were the first to provide the Shepards with grandchildren when Rex and Beverly Russell were born to them in the late 1930s in Two Buttes, Colorado.

My aunt Pauline and her husband Bill Russell with their two children were part of the Shepard family migration to San Diego in the fall of 1940. Pauline lived the rest of her life in the San Diego area and is buried today in Greenwood Cemetery, alongside her husband Bill. The two of them have 3 direct descendants today: their granddaughter Shannon Wilk and her daughter Emma of Atchison, Kansas, and their grandson Eric Russell of Reno, Nevada.

This second picture was taken almost 25 years ago at a family reunion in Lake Wallawa, Oregon in the summer of 1991. Pauline in on the left with her husband Bill Russell. Next to them are my parents Eugene and Maida Shepard, and on the right are me and Cindy.

8 Years and Counting. It was 8 years ago on December 28 that I began this family genealogical blog. My very first family blog post on December 28, 2007 was a simple announcement about the Shepard/Gower family reunion that was coming up in the summer of 2008.

In the past 8 years in over 500 posts, I have made available over a thousand family pictures, have told countless stories about our family, and shared many posts regarding research I have done. Many of the stories I recounted from my own experience, while others I have uncovered through researching this big, diverse family of ours. Not only the Shepard, Gower, Davis, and Shannon branches, but other tributaries as well. Fortunately there are reliable online records that tell us of family that goes back several centuries in some instances, and more records are being made available online all the time.

I look forward to many more discoveries of ancestors that help us to understand who we really are and where we have come from. Thanks very much for the support of so many of you and for all who are readers of this blog. It has been a wonderfully rewarding experience for me and one that I hope to continue for many years. As always, I solicit your input into this effort in the form of new or old pictures as well as comments, celebrations, reflections, remembrances and any other contributions that would be appropriate to share in this venue. We are part of a great family that is worth remembering and celebrating!
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Steve Shepard

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

A Voice From the Past, December 23, 2015

They went into the house, 
and when they saw the child with his mother Mary, 
they knelt down and worshiped him. 
They brought out their gifts 
of gold, frankincense, and myrrh, 
and presented them to him.
~Matthew 2:11

Merry Christmas to all of you! May your holiday be filled with the joy of Christmas and the happiness of family.

On Christmas Day, 127 years ago, my Grandfather William Shepard was born in Alton, Illinois, across the Mississippi River from Saint Louis, Missouri. He was the first child of William Elmer Shepard and Elvira Owens.

This picture shows William Shepard on the far right next to his wife Bura Davis Shepard, and their 4 children Elmer, Thelma, Eugene and Pauline. This picture was taken in San Diego in 1975, the year before he died.  

I have included in this post an audio recording of my Grandfather William Shepard. You may recall that back in the spring, I shared with you a different recording of Granddad, one in which he told about his wedding to his wife Bura in 1915. That recording, as well as this one, was made in the 1970's when Granddad was well into his 80's. It was recorded by his son Elmer and daughter-in-law Beryl Swinney Shepard, with whom he and his wife Bura were living at the time. As I recall, Beryl was the one most interested in recording Granddad telling about his life and the stories he could recall. And Granddad was indeed quite the raconteur; he loved to tell stories about his life.

In this recording that is linked below, Granddad's story begins by him telling what it was like, at 16 years old (about 1905), when he moved to Beaver County, Oklahoma, which he calls "the wild and woolly west." He shares his regret at moving away from Illinois and his desire to return where he was raised.

Later in life William was a person who enjoyed venturing out and exploring new territory. This made it difficult at times for his family who found themselves without a husband and father for periods of time. He probably learned that adventurous spirit from his own father, who had left home in Indiana about 1880 as an older teenager and wandered on his own from Indiana to Illinois. That's where he met his wife Elvira Owens who became the mother of their two children.

You will also notice in this recording that when he was in his 80's Granddad was very hard of hearing. Beryl is clearly heard asking him questions, but he is oblivious to her. He was such a story-teller, however, that a little thing like deafness was not going to keep him from expressing himself and weaving his tales!

In this recording Granddad refers to a number of medical issues and the archaic ways they were dealt with in the early years of the 20th century. In particular he tells us about the death of his father William Elmer Shepard in 1915, and the death of his wife's father, James Brooks Davis, in 1928, both of whom died and are buried in Beaver County, Oklahoma. He gives some interesting, almost eerie, details of their deaths. How much is fact and how much is guesswork remains an open question. Even so, it makes for a fascinating recording as we hear this voice from the past.

For those of us who remember Granddad William Shepard it is worth it just to hear his familiar voice. For those of you who may never have known him, it is interesting and insightful to hear this voice from our family's history speak first hand about what life was like in the early years of the 20th century.
- - -
Steve Shepard

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Treasuring the Small Things, December 12, 2015

The one who treasures the small things in life 
has found the path to true happiness.
~Kim Clark's Motto

Advent and Christmas is a time with special meaning for children. When I saw this holiday picture I could not pass up the opportunity to share it here in The Shepard's Crook. 

Taken earlier this month, this picture shows Santa and the four grandchildren of my brother Darrell Shepard and his wife Mary of Bothell, Washington. From left to right in the picture are Kellan Shepard (parents Rachel and Brian), Finley Shepard (parents Christopher and Jessica), and brothers Logan and Mason Shepard.

Happy First Birthday to Mason Shepard! Mason, the little one on the far right in the picture above with Santa, celebrates his first birthday today! With his big brother Logan, they are the sons of Patrick and Nicole Shepard of Bothell, Washington. 

This second image is of one-year-old Mason in a picture taken about a week ago. Thanks to Nicole for sharing this picture and for the update below.

Nicole: Mason is doing great! Can't believe he is one year old already! He is a very happy boy! Just about walking; and taking 10-15 steps at a time. He is VERY busy and into everything! Keeps us hopping! He is so much fun though. We are having a big "winter ONEderland" themed birthday party for him this weekend (today!).  It's going to be fun!

The Birth of Calvin Drinks. Congratulations to my cousin Joan Shepard and her wife Dee Shannon of Dixon, California who on Thursday celebrated the birth of their first grandchild, Calvin Robert Drinks. Calvin is the first child of Ryan and Robyn Drinks of Chico, California. Best wishes to baby Calvin, his parents, and his whole family who are thrilled to welcome this first member of the next generation in their family. This picture shows Calvin being held by his proud daddy Ryan at just a few hours old.

In Memory of Duen Ouk (1942-2015). It is surprising how often our joys and sorrows, the births and deaths, the happiness and the tears, seem to go hand in hand. It is with sadness that I report the death of the mother of our daughter-in-law Chenda Sou Shepard. Chenda, who has been in the U.S. now for almost 7 years, lives with husband Nathan and their 3 children here in San Diego. Last week on December 4, her mom Duen Ouk passed away in the family home village of Kampong Speu, Cambodia, after a long illness. 

Chenda went to Cambodia just a few weeks ago to visit her family and spend time with her ailing mother. Chenda's father died just last year, so this is a double loss in a relatively short period of time. 

This picture from 2008 shows both Chenda's parents, Duen Ouk and Penh Sou, at their home in Kampong Speu. Native Cambodians, they spent almost 35 years together, through some incredibly difficult times, among which were the desperate years of the Khmer Rouge and "the killing fields". Their family legacy includes several sons and daughters, and numerous grandchildren in Cambodia, Australia, and the United States. Among their grandchildren are our grandchildren Preslea, Logan and William Shepard. Our prayers and best wishes go out to Chenda and her whole family.
- - -
Steve Shepard

Saturday, December 05, 2015

December Celebrations Begin, December 5, 2015

The flower that blooms in adversity
is the most rare and beautiful of all.
~the Emperor in "Mulan"

As December gets underway, two celebrations are in order to begin this special season, one highlights a present day young family, the other family members from a generation ago.

Happy Birthday to Patrick! Today, December 5, is the birthday of my nephew Patrick Joseph Shepard of Bothell, Wash- ington. Pat is the youngest child of my brother Darrell and his wife Mary Shepard. He was born in 1990 in Portland, Oregon, but lives today in Bothell with his wife Nicole and their young sons Logan and Mason. Pat is the Administrator of Rosewood Courte Memory Care, a health care facility in nearby Edmonds, Washington. 

This first picture shows Pat and Nicole at their home in Bothell. It was taken last summer at the family reunion that was held at their home. 

Hendrix Gower (1922-2004)This coming Tuesday is the anniversary of the birth of my uncle Hendrix (Hank) Gower, the oldest child of my grandparents Leroy and Nola Shannon Gower. He passed away in San Diego 11 years ago.

Hank and his older sister, my mother Maida Gower Shepard, were the last of our Gower family members to be born in Mountain View, Arkansas. Mountain View was where our Gower ancestors had been settled for several generations before my Gower grandparents began migrating westward, first to Oklahoma in the 1920s and then to San Diego, California in 1942. Hank and his late wife Starlene Bass Gower came to California as a young couple and gave birth to two sons here, Hershell and Jimmie Gower. They were both raised in San Diego but live today in Arizona along the Colorado River.

This second picture shows my uncle Hank on the far left. It is a family picture taken in Anacortes, Washington 27 years ago in the summer of 1988. 

From left to right are Hank, then his sister Vicki Gower Wilson, who in just a few months would celebrate her 55th birthday on October 18 by marrying Duke Johnston. In the picture next to Vicki is Hank's nephew Russ Shepard and wife Pam, then Hank's other sister Maida Shepard and husband Gene Shepard. On the right are Cindy and I and our son Nathan. 

Hank and his wife Aurora were visiting in Washington at the time from California, as was Cindy and I and Nathan. All the others were living in Washington at the time.

It is a happy bunch with smiles on all the faces. Aurora was the photographer who took the picture, and did her job well by saying or doing something that elicited smiles from everyone.
- - -
Steve Shepard