Sunday, May 29, 2016

Memorial Day Weekend, May 29, 2016

They hover as a cloud of witnesses above this Nation.
~Henry Ward Beecher

Happy Birthday today to my cousin Michael Harrell. Mike grew up in San Diego, but lives today with his wife Carole in a northern suburb of Indianapolis, Indiana. Mike is the older son of Vicki Gower Johnston of Chandler, Arizona and the brother of Paula, Gloria and David.

Paula, Gloria, Michael and David, early 1960s
This first picture is an oldie from the early 1960s and shows Michael with his three siblings. From left to right are Paula, Gloria, Michael and David. This is a classic family photo that you may have seen before, but I find wonderfully appealing. It is also quite appropriate since Gloria passed away earlier this spring.

Memorial Day is a time to remember people in our family tree who served their country well, and in some cases gave their life for the cause of freedom. Among our ancestors are individuals who have served in every conflict in which our county has engaged. Over the years that I have written this blog, I have mentioned numerous ancestors who served in various wars our nation has fought. Today I would like to highlight just a few. Some of them are people whose service you may never have heard about. Others you may be very familiar with.

Henry Warford (1741-1784), Revolutionary War. Here are his descendants, beginning with his daughter: Lydia Warford Williams (1782-1829) / John Pouty Williams (1806-1898) / Margaret Williams Spear (1845-1904) / Caroline Spear Davis (1865-1951) / Bura Davis Shepard (1896-1986) / Eugene Shepard (1921-2003) / Steve Shepard.

Because of the Warford family's military servicGeorge Washington, in 1776, deeded to them 100 acres of land in southern Pennsylvania that became a village later named Warfordsburg, an historic town that exists to this day. Read more about Henry Warford and his family here.

Benjamin Owens (1734-1808) Revolutionary War, and his Grandson Edmond Owens, Jr. (1795-1864) War of 1812. Here are their descendants, beginning with Benjamin's son: Edmond Owens, Sr.  (1762-1821) / Edmond Owens, Jr. (1795-1864) / Payton Owens (1826-1872) / Elvira Owens Shepard (1864-1931) / William Shepard (1888-1976) / Eugene Shepard (1921-2003) / Steve Shepard.

Edmond Owens, Jr. about 1850
This second picture is from the mid 19th century and shows war veteran Edmond Owens Jr. of Madison County, Illinois.

Benjamin Owens served under Frances Marion, “The Swamp Fox”, during the Revolutionary War, while his grandson Edmond Owens Jr. fought with Andrew Jackson in the famous Battle of New Orleans in January, 1815. These veterans were among the ancestors of my Great Grandmother Elvira Owens Shepard. Read more about them here.

John Williams Sr. (1782-1813), War of 1812. Here are John's descendants, starting with his son: John Pouty Williams (1806-1898) / Margaret Williams Spear (1845-1904) / Caroline Spear Davis (1865-1951) / Bura Davis Shepard (1896-1986) / Eugene Shepard (1921-2003) / Steve Shepard.

Another veteran of the War of 1812, John was from Kentucky, and died from wounds suffered during the war. He was the GG Grandfather of Bura Davis Shepard, my Grandmother. Read more about John Williams here.

Augustus Marvin Dearien (1814-1900), American Civil War. Here are his descendants, beginning with his daughter: Finetta Dearien Shannon (1861-1960) / Nola Shannon Gower (1903-2004) / Maida Gower Shepard (b. 1924) / Steve Shepard.

This soldier and the next one served in the Confederate Army during the Civil War. A.M. Dearien enlisted at the very tail end of the conflict, in 1865, when he was nearly 50. He served in the Arkansas Mounted Cavalry of Clardy's Battalion. Read more about A.M. Dearien here.

Jackson William Gower (1831-1902), Civil War. Here are his descendants, beginning with his son: Leroy Gower 1854-1909) / George William Gower (1873-1944) / Leroy Ertin Gower (1899-1974) / Maida Gower Shepard (b. 1924) / Steve Shepard.

This soldier served in the 27th Regiment of the Arkansas Infantry of the Confederate Army. He survived the conflict and lived into the 20th century. He died just 3 years after the birth of his Great Grandson Leroy Gower (my Grandfather). Read more about Jackson William Gower here.

Lloyd W. Gower (1896-1918), World War I. Unfortunately this Arkansas soldier died fighting in Europe as a young single man and had no children. He was a Great Grandson of the previously mentioned Jackson William Gower, and the older brother of my Grandfather Leroy Gower. Read more about Lloyd W. Gower here.

These seven soldiers in our family's past are just a sampling of the many men and women among our ancestors recent and distant who served their county in military service. These memorable seven served their county well, and deserve our humble remembrance at this time. Each had their own unique story, the full details of which are unknown to us. Yet they are part of the rich tapestry that is our family history. We honor them though they lived before we were born. We appreciate their service and the sacrifice they made. Because of them and their heroic actions so long ago, we live today in freedom and abundance.
- - -
Steve Shepard

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Embedded On Our Hearts For Life, May 24, 2016

The past beats inside me like a second heart. 
~John Banville

My mom and dad, Maida Gower Shepard and Eugene Shepard, were married in San Diego on May 24, 1945. Today marks 71 years since they tied the knot all those long years ago. It was a very simple ceremony that took place on a weekday afternoon in a minister's parsonage behind the El Cajon Blvd Church. It was the beginning of a significant 58 year marriage, that ended when dad died in Washington 13 years ago. A growing family of several dozen members has resulted from that World War II love affair in Southern California.  

Maida and Eugene, 1946
The Gower family and Shepard family had only been in San Diego for a few years when Maida and Eugene said their vows. My mom's Gower family had moved to San Diego barely 2 years earlier from Oklahoma, in December, 1942. My dad's Shepard family had came to San Diego from Two Buttes, Colorado in September, 1940. These two families had a lot in common, but did not know each other until Maida and Eugene hooked up in 1944. Their wedding was the first marriage within either family since they became Californians.

In the Spring of 1945, when my mom and dad were married, one of the youngest family members was Maida's young sister Vicki. At the time "Melva", as she was known then, was an 11 year old school girl, attending Garfield Elementary in the Gowers' North Park neighborhood. As a pre-adolescent, she must have been thrilled when her 20 year old sister Maida fell in love with Navy man Eugene and then chose to marry him.

It was a time of heightened emotion on so many levels. These families were still just beginning their adjustment to life in the big city after their lives in small town America. The Second World War was winding down but not yet finished, with San Diego being critical to the war effort. Eugene and Maida had a long distance romance for most of their courtship and for the early months of their marriage. Vicki, Maida, Eugene and their parents and siblings were all experiencing tremendous transitions in their own ways.

Paula, me and Vicki
That 11 year old school girl -- now my aunt Vicki Johnston -- is today an octogenarian who lives in Chandler, Arizona, a suburb of Phoenix. I had the privilege of visiting her this past week in Arizona. Cindy and I had lunch with Vicki and her daughter Paula Tuzzolino who lives near her mother and is her primary caregiver. As we chatted I brought up with Vicki the subject of her sister's wedding 71 years ago. Her face immediately lit up as she recounted those happy moments of what seems like a lifetime ago. She had indeed been excited about all the events surrounding the relationship of sister Maida and soldier Eugene and then their marriage. Little sister even remembered spying mischievously on the newlyweds who lived for a time in the Gower home on Arizona Street around the corner from the church where they were married.

The years have a way of softening the thrill of young love and family joy. But there is no forgetting the happiness that comes from recalling events like this one from so long ago, events that have a way of embedding themselves on our hearts for life.

This second picture was taken last Friday in the home of Paula and her husband Frank Tuzzolino. It shows me sandwiched between daughter Paula Tuzzolino on the left and her mom Vicki Gower Johnston on the right. Thanks to Cindy for taking this picture.
- - -
Steve Shepard 

Sunday, May 15, 2016

To Love and Laugh and Give!, May 15, 2016

Another fresh new year is here...
Another year to live!
To banish worry, doubt, and fear,
to love and laugh and give!
~William Arthur Ward 

Again in this post, there are a number of birthdays to be remembered in our family. The middle of May is a time when an unusual number of births occurred. Happy Birthday to each one of these birthday celebrants.

Happy Birthday Logan! Today is the 5th birthday of our Grandson Logan A. Shepard. He is the middle child of Nathan and Chenda Shepard of San Diego. Logan was born in San Francisco and spent his first couple of years in the Bay Area but has lived in San Diego now since early 2014.

The slide show above celebrates Logan's 5th year and includes scenes primarily from the last 12 months, in places like San Diego, Western Washington, Sequoia and Joshua Tree National Parks.

Darren Boyd. Tomorrow is the birthday of my cousin Darren Boyd who was born in 1964. Darren lives with his family in Coronado, California. He is the son of Thelma Shepard Boyd and the youngest Grandchild of William and Bura Shepard.

The second picture shows Darren Boyd with his sister Kim Boyd Clark. This was taken last year when Kim and her family were visiting in San Diego.

Jason Shepard. This Wednesday, May 18 is the 44th birthday of my nephew Jason Shepard of Ft. Worth, Texas. Originally from San Diego, Jason is the son of my brother Gary Shepard of Oak Harbor, Washington and Jackie Perry of Granbury, Texas.

This picture shows Jason and his mom Jackie Perry. It was taken last year in Granbury, Texas.

Ashlyn Ortiz. Thursday of this week is the 11th birthday of Ashlyn Ortiz, the second child of Jeremy and Desiree Ortiz of San Diego. Her Grandmother is Kim Boyd Clark and Great Grandmother is Thelma Shepard Boyd.

This final picture shows Ashlyn with family members dad and mom Jeremy and Desiree, and her sister Ciara Ortiz.
- - -
Steve Shepard

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

A Bunch of Birthdays, May 11, 2016

There is still no cure for the common birthday. 
~John Glenn

Best wishes and happy birthday to several members of our family who are celebrating birthdays this week.  There is no other time during the entire year when more birthdays in our family are bunched together than in these next several days.

Cindy Saunders Shepard of Blanchard, Oklahoma was born on this day in 1956. She is the wife of my cousin Dane Shepard and the mother of Nathan Ross Shepard and Kaylan Shepard. Best wishes to Cindy on this very special birthday!

This first picture shows Cindy in 1999 with her and Dane's newborn daughter Kaylan. The teenager Kaylan posted this picture on Instagram last weekend on Mother's Day with the following comments, which are just as appropriate for her mom's birthday today as they were last weekend: 

"God has been so good to me. Sometimes, I wonder how I could ever be more blessed than to have a mother as strong, kind, godly, caring, and as special as you, mamma. Thank you for shining God's light in all you do, and thank you for the being my confidant and best friend. You truly are the best mother a girl could ask for. I love you, and happy Mother's Day."

Nicole Haw Shepard of Bothell, Washington was also born on this day, but in 1989. Nicole is the wife of my nephew Patrick Shepard and the mother of two of the youngest members of our family, Logan and Mason.

This second picture was taken last fall and shows Nicole with her older son Logan.

Saturday of this week also marks the birthday of three other people in our family.

Christopher Shepard. This Saturday, May 14, is the birthday of my nephew Christopher Shepard, the son of my brother Darrell Shepard and his wife Mary. He and Jessica Bell live in Seattle, Washington with their baby Finley Shepard. Happy 32nd Birthday to Chris and best wishes to him and Jessica and their baby Finley. 

This third picture was taken a few months ago in Seattle and shows Chris and Jessica with baby Finley.

Thelma Shepard Boyd. This Saturday also marks the birthday of my aunt Thelma Shepard Boyd who was born exactly 80 years ago in Two Buttes, Colorado. She lives today in Blue Springs, Missouri, not far from her daughter Kim Boyd Clark and other family. 

Thelma is the youngest and last remaining child of my Grandparents William and Bura Davis Shepard. Best wishes to Thelma for reaching this important milestone and for being such an important and respected part of our family.

Courtney Boyd Slaughter. And finally, this Saturday is also the birthday of Courtney Boyd Slaughter of San Diego, daughter of Darren Boyd. Courtney is one of the Grandchildren of Thelma Boyd and lives in San Diego with husband Cody Slaughter and their two daughters Carsyn and Camryn.

This final picture is a composite image and shows prim and proper Thelma on the left 60 some years ago, and her cool and casual Granddaughter Courtney Slaughter on the right in a recent picture. It is hard to imagine two images that accentuate any more the differences between life in the 1950's and life today. Their hair, their dress, their posture, their looks, and so much more shows how different life was in the mid 20th century from what it is today in the early 21st century. Yet they are granddaughter and grandmother, of the same family and ancestry, born on the same day of the year, 54 years apart. Happy birthday to both of them! 

Best wishes to all these folks: Cindy, Nicole, Christopher, Thelma and Courtney. May their birthdays all be happy!
- - -
Steve Shepard

Saturday, May 07, 2016

Happy Mother's Day!, May 8, 2016

Mother is the name for God
on the lips and hearts of little children.
~William Makepeace Thackeray

Tomorrow is Mother's Day, an occasion to honor all mothers in our family: young, old, those who have gone before us, and those many of us never even knew.

Maida Gower Shepard. I start with my own mom, Maida Shepard for whom I am eternally grateful. At 91 years old, she is a bright and shining star in our family. She will celebrate Mother's Day this weekend with her family in Anacortes, Washington where she lives. 70 years ago this week she enjoyed her first Mother's Day here in San Diego with her husband Eugene and her first son Gary who was just a few weeks old at the time.

Mandi AquiningocThe youngest mom in our family is 23 year old Mandi Aquiningoc of Granbury, Texas. She is the proud mama of Kambree Kay Bowman, who is just a few weeks short of 3 years old.

This first picture is a composite of my mom Maida Shepard on the left and her Great Granddaughter Mandi Aquiningoc with her daughter Kambree on the right. Maida's picture was taken by her grandson Patrick when she was spending the day at his Care Facility earlier this week in Edmonds, Washington. Mandi and Kambree's image is from a picture taken earlier this year in Texas.

Thelma Shepard Boyd. One of the senior moms among us is Thelma Shepard Boyd of Blue Springs, Missouri. Originally from Two Buttes, Colorado she was among the first ones in our family to live in San Diego where she grew up. She is the youngest and last remaining child of my grandparents William and Bura Davis Shepard. She is the mother of 2, the Grandmother of 6, and the Great Grandmother of 7. The second picture shows my aunt Thelma with her late husband Terry Boyd, and their two children Kim and Darren. This particular picture is an old one, taken in 1973.

My aunt Thelma also receives special birthday wishes. Next Saturday she reaches that magic milestone of 80. One of her San Diego Granddaughters, Courtney Boyd, has a birthday the same day and will turn 26.

Mary Terry Buskirk. I want to share with you one other deserving mother in our family tree, who most of you probably do not know. But she is a mother of note among our ancestors. Her name is Mary Terry Buskirk. She was originally from Dover, England not far from London but migrated to the United States as a young girl and settled in Monroe County, Ohio. The details of her journey and the route she took to Ohio are unknown to us. We simply know that she and her family were living in Southeast Ohio when she was a teenager. At 14 or 15 years old, young Mary married a neighbor of hers who was at least 12 years her senior, a man by the name of John Foggin Burkirk. Between 1823 and 1843 Mary gave birth to 9 children. It is hard to imagine the difficulty of being not only a new young immigrant but also a young mother on the American frontier in the early 19th century.

She and John's first child was Jane Burkirk who later married a local Ohioan by the name of Alexander Davis. The two of them became the first of our Davis relatives to leave Ohio and settle near Spencer, Indiana about 1850. Indiana is where the Davises lived for several generations before moving on to Oklahoma after the turn of the 20th century and eventually on to California in the 1940s.

Here is Mary and John and some of their descendants:
  • Mary Terry Buskirk (1807-1886) and husband John Foggin Buskirk (1795-1873)
  • daughter Jane Burkirk Davis (1823-1895) and husband Alexander Davis (1819-1866)
  • son Charles Edward Davis (1848-1926) and wife Melinda Wright Davis (1847-1920)
  • son James Brooks Davis (1870-1928) and wife Caroline Spear Davis (1865-1951)
  • daughter Bura Davis Shepard (1896-1986) and husband William Shepard (1888-1976)
  • son Eugene Shepard (1921-2003) and wife Maida Gower Shepard (b. 1924)
  • son Steve Shepard (b. 1948) and wife Cindy Harris Shepard (b.1948)
Though a number of her children were part of America's westward movement, Mary Terry Buskirk lived out her days in Monroe County, Ohio. A number of the Terrys and Buskirks are buried in Rutter Cemetery which is down Sunfish Creek from the community of Adams where they lived. (See picture of Rutter Cemetery.) That cemetery is where I discovered a number of our Terry and Buskirk relatives last summer when Cindy and I visited there.

Though none of us ever knew Mary Terry Buskirk, we do know something of her life, and can be thankful for her being a hard working mother whose lot in life was difficult. From she and John we are descended and we gratefully acknowledge their hardships and remember her as a mother of note on this weekend of Mother's Day.

In the midst of all the Mother's Day Celebrations around our family this Sunday, best wishes to all the moms!
- - -
Steve Shepard