Monday, December 11, 2017

Celebrating 75 Years, Dec 11, 2017


Your brothers, sisters, children, parents...
Make no mistake, your relationships
are the heaviest components in your life.
~Ryan Bingham

75 years ago this month my Grandmother Nola Shannon Gower, and my mother Maida Gower Shepard moved to San Diego from Okemah, Oklahoma. My Mom's young sister Vicki Gower Johnston was also a part of this female threesome who made the arduous bus trip from Oklahoma to Southern California. They came to be reunited with husband Leroy and son Hendrix and wife Starlene.

The journey was on two lane roads all the way, along what is today a bustling interstate highway. In the winter of 1942 it was slow going compared to recent times. At that time World War II was in full swing, with San Diego being a major player in "the war effort."
 
Nola and Leroy Gower, 1942
Grandpa Leroy Gower, with his son Hendrix and pregnant wife Starlene had come to San Diego the previous summer to get jobs and make enough money to send for the three girls they had left behind in Oklahoma. After several months "the men folk" scrimped and saved enough to send money home. Grandma Gower then made travel arrangements for her and her daughters Maida and Vicki to come to the West Coast in the most practical way: by Greyhound bus.

Traveling by bus was a very common way of getting around the country in those days. The accompanying image is a poster from 1942 which illustrates how common bus travel was and how it even contributed to the all encompassing effort to win World War II.

My mom remembers it being a very difficult 1,400 mile trip. The emotional part of separating from their father and other family was hard enough. It was also difficult leaving the area of the country that had been home to them, where they had been settled and felt comfortable, and to adjust to a place they had never even seen before. San Diego was a big city that must have stood in great contrast to the small country town of Okemah, Oklahoma. The physical part of the bus trip was difficult too: sitting hours on end, day and night, watching the desolate Southwest landscape pass by. Besides all that, onboard bathrooms did not come along until 1954!

It was a draining journey for many reasons for these three women. Mother Nola was just 39 years old, while daughters Maida and Vicki were just 18 and 9 years old. They traveled alone as they made their way to their new life in San Diego.


Starlene Bass Gower, Maida Gower, 1943
In the 75 years since that time the Gower family, which numbered just 6 in 1942, has grown and evolved and scattered tremendously. Before the decade of the 1940s was complete, both daughters were married and four Grandsons had been born to Leroy and Nola, myself being the fourth. In their first 20 years in San Diego all 12 Gower grandchildren had been born, and the family was enjoying the prosperous life of the post-war years in Southern California.

Leroy and Nola are gone now, of course, but their legacy remains. Their descendants, which number over 50 today, have scattered to Washington, Texas, Arizona, and even Tokyo, Japan. My immediate family and I are among the few descendants who still live here in San Diego. Great Grandsons Shawn and Lloyd Gower and their families are the only others who still live here in the San Diego area.

A lot has happened to the Gowers in those 75 years since Leroy and Nola's family came to San Diego from Oklahoma. But it all goes back to those watershed events of 1942, when the decisions were made to move west, and then the hard work of relocating took place. I am grateful to my grandparents for their foresight, and the challenge they accepted to pick up roots and relocate themselves in California. Their decision to move west set the course for our family which has had tremendous ramifications for each of us.
- - -
Steve Shepard

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

"Door Into the Past", Nov 29, 2017

Photographs open doors into the past,
but they also allow a look into the future.
~Sally Mann
 
It is always an unexpected pleasure when I connect online with people to whom I am related but have never met. And in many cases people I never even knew about. Recently I connected online with Vicki Gower Cragen who is a second cousin of mine on the Gower side of the family. Her grandfather Jackson Gower was the brother of my grandfather Leroy Gower. Vicki is a native Missourian and lives today with husband John near Hannibal, Missouri.

Vicki was gracious enough to sent me a picture of Serena Turner Gower, who Vicki and I share as a Great Grandmother. Serena (1876-1931) was the wife of our Great Grandfather George Gower. I was very pleased to hear from Vicki about Serena and to receive this picture. I know very little about Great Grandmother Serena and have never seen a picture of her, or her husband George for that matter. Of my eight Great Grandparents, I know less about Serena than any of them. So to receive a picture of little known Serena is a wonderful gift.

I do know that Serena and George Gower were both born in the area around Mountain View, Arkansas and were married there in 1893. In the 1920s they were among several Gower family members who migrated to Okemah, Oklahoma. Serena and husband George are both buried in Highland Cemetery in Okemah. My mother Maida Gower Shepard and I visited their graves a few years ago. At that time mom shared with me how she remembers Serena from her childhood in Okemah.

Many thanks to Vicki for sharing this picture. We don't know much about this particular picture. It is obvious very old from the grainy look of the image, and from the looks of the clap board siding on the house, and what appears to be a log cabin. Serena died in 1931, so it may be from the 1920s. Vicki says Serena and her sister Josephine Turner Vaughn are the two women in this picture. Josephine outlived her sister Serena by at least 10 years, so my guess is that Serena is the one on the right, sitting in the rocker. It is a wonderful thing just to have this image even if we can only ponder the details and guess at the many stories is contains.

Caroline Spear Davis. Speaking of Great Grandparents, today is the 152nd anniversary of the birth of my Great Grandmother Caroline Spear Davis (1865-1931), mother of my Grandmother Bura Davis Shepard. A native of Indiana, "Callie" (as she was known) married James Brooks Davis in 1896. In 1913 Callie and James and their 6 children, ranging in age from 2 to 16 years old, moved from their home in Spencer, Indiana to Beaver County, Oklahoma where they began a new life. It took a tremendous effort, and great courage, to move one's large family that distance in the early 20th century. We are indebted to her and husband James for their fortitude in forging a whole new life for their family.

This second picture shows Callie Spear Davis with her husband James and their 7 children. This picture was taken just a few years before this family migrated from Indiana to Oklahoma.

Happy Birthday Kim and Damian. Today also happens to be the birthday of my cousin Kim Boyd Clark of Grain Valley, Missouri who is also a great grandchild of Caroline Spear Davis. Furthermore it is also the birthday of Kim's oldest grandson Damian Ortiz of San Diego. Best wishes and happy birthday today to Kim and her grandson Damian!

Further congratulations are offered to Kim and husband Jeff Clark who are retiring! This very week they have concluded their jobs and are taking to the road as their retirement begins. We wish them the very best is this new adventure in their lives.
- - -
Steve Shepard

Thursday, November 16, 2017

A Fantasy Road Trip, November 16, 2017

I am listening to a deeper way.
All my ancestors are behind me
but still they say,
you are the result
of the love of thousands.
~Linda Hogan

As a result of research I have done in recent months, we now know when and where our Shepard ancestors first arrived on American shores. And we know the stops they made in their journey across our country from the Atlantic to the Pacific. If one were so inclined, one could take a road trip across the U.S. retracing the route our Shepard ancestors took. Here are the particulars of that fantasy road trip retracing the seven steps our Shepard ancestors took to get across country in the 214 years from 1726 to 1940.

Shepard Migration from the East Coast to the West
Georgetown, Maryland. Our road trip would start at the port town of Georgetown, Maryland where 5X Great Grandfather John Sheppard III was born in 1737. His grandfather had arrived in Maryland from Barbados in 1726. Our trip would have to include Hagerstown, Maryland where John's son, James Cross Sheppard Sr. was born in 1775, the year before the U.S. came into being.

Kirkwood, Ohio. The second stop on our road trip would be in the Township of Kirkwood, Ohio where James Sheppard Sr. and his wife Hannah with 8 other family members settled in 1809 after making that 400 mile westward migration from Maryland. There in Belmont County we would visit Salem Cemetery in Hendrysburg where laid to rest are Hannah and James Sheppard Sr., parents of a large influential clan of ancestors who made a mark on that community that lasts to this day.

Montgomery County, Indiana. We would then travel another 350 miles westward into Montgomery County, Indiana where Hannah and James Cross Sheppard Jr. relocated from Ohio in 1840 with James' brother John Sheppard and 7 other family members. In Indiana we would visit James Cross Sheppard's grave in Paint Creek Cemetery outside the hamlet of Camden, Indiana. This road trip would be incomplete if we failed to honor the sacrifice of Civil War soldier William Shepard (1835-1862), the oldest son of James and Hannah. He is laid to rest in the Civil War section of Oak Hill Cemetery in Evansville, Indiana.

Madison County, Illinois. After leaving Indiana we would retrace the solo journey of soldier William Shepard's younger son William Elmer Shepard (1862-1915), and travel 235 miles to our fourth stop on this journey, Madison County, Illinois. That's where the young runaway William Elmer met and married local girl Elvira Owens. In the Mississippi River community of Alton, Illinois the two children of William Elmer and Elvira, William and Sadie, were born. On this stop we could visit the New Douglas Cemetery a few miles east, where several of Elvira Owens Shepard's family are buried.

South Flat Church in 1989

Beaver County, Oklahoma. Our fifth stop on this genealogical road trip would be 654 miles further southwest, in Beaver County, Oklahoma, where Elvira and William Elmer Shepard migrated in 1905 with their two teenage children William and Sadie. Two important places to visit during this stop would be the Sophia Cemetery where several family members are buried and, around the corner, the South Flat Church of Christ, spiritual home to many of our early 20th century ancestors. Beaver County is where William Shepard met and then married Bura Davis in 1915.

Two Buttes, Colorado. The sixth and next to last stop on this road trip would be the dusty little town of Two Buttes, Colorado, 160 miles northwest of Beaver County. That's where William and Bura Shepard decided to settle in 1928 with their first 3 children. In the 12 years they spent in Southeast Colorado a lot happened in their lives: 3 of their children finished High School, their 4th child was born, their oldest got married, and their first 2 grandchildren were born. On our road trip we would not need much time in Two Buttes (population 41); there is simply not much to see there.

San Diego, California. In 1940 our Shepard ancestors finally completed their westward journey when the 9 members of Will and Bura Shepard's family left Colorado and drove the last 1,200 miles to the shores of the Pacific. Some old Colorado friends named Gibbs told them about an opportunity to run a boarding house in San Diego, which was all it took to get them to California. Our road trip would include the boarding house at Albatross and Upas Streets, where the Shepards lived for the first few years of their new life in Southern California. Our journey would appropriately end with a visit to the resting place of a dozen family members in Greenwood Cemetery.

Bura Davis Shepard with daughter Pauline, early 1940s

It took 8 generations of Shepards, over 214 years, migrating a total of 3,000 miles to make their way from the Atlantic to the Pacific. It has been 77 years since Will and Bura completed the Shepard migration. They are both gone now but several of their descendants still live in San Diego to this day. In the last 77 years, most of their descendants have scattered up the Coast to Northern California and Washington, while others have migrated eastward to Missouri, Texas and Oklahoma. But for all of them our roots proudly include this two century migration from Maryland to California.

Bura Davis Shepard (1896-1986). An important person in the migration detailed above is my grandmother Bura Davis Shepard (1896-1986), whose birthday was last Wednesday, November 8. Born 121 years ago near Spencer, Indiana she moved in 1913 with her family to Beaver County, Oklahoma where she met and then married William Shepard, with whom she had 4 children. She and husband William made the major decision to move their family in 1940 from Colorado to the West Coast where they lived the rest of their lives. She was the spiritual and emotional head of our family during the latter part of the 20th century, a time of growth and prosperity.
- - -
Steve Shepard

Monday, October 30, 2017

Happy Halloween! October 30, 2017

Werewolves howl.
Phantoms prowl.
Halloween's upon us now.
~Richelle E. Goodrich


Russ and Pam
Happy Halloween! It was always a joy as a kid when we would get excited about Halloween in the few days before the holiday itself. In contrast I have noticed that in our neighborhood today Halloween has become something of a month long celebration.

At the end of September in our community here in San Diego where we live, there were houses near us that had ornate pumpkins and orange lights strung across their front yards -- a full month before Halloween. Have you noticed a similar thing where you live? We love our holidays!

Birthday Wishes to Pam! Happy Birthday today to Pam Shepard of Anacortes, Washington whose birthday falls on the day before this great American holiday. Pam is the wife of my brother Russell Shepard, and mother of Linda and Steven. Pam and Russ live on Wildwood Lane in Anacortes with my mom Maida Shepard and are part of the family team who is caring for mom these days. Pam was born in Anacortes, Washington and has lived there her entire life. Best wishes to her for a happy almost-Halloween birthday!

Celebrating 93! On November 1, Wednesday of this week, and the day after Halloween, my mother Maida Gower Shepard will celebrate her 93rd birthday. Born in Mountain View, Arkansas in 1924, she is the second child of Leroy Gower and Nola Shannon Gower. Mom was raised in the small town of Okemah, Oklahoma during the 1920s and 1930s. In the early 1940s her family moved to San Diego, where she met and married another transplanted Okie, Eugene Shepard.

Mom and Dad lived in San Diego for 36 years during which time they raised their 6 children. In 1978 Dad retired and they moved to Anacortes. After 25 years there Dad passed away in the summer of 2003. Next April will mark 40 years that Mom has lived in her home on Wildwood Lane in Anacortes.

This second picture shows mom earlier this year, and was taken on a clear spring day in front of her long time home in Anacortes, Washington.


Paula Harris, Maida Shepard
At 93 she deserves the honor of being the senior member of our family. She is in fairly good health, but as a nonagenarian, she has various health concerns including some serious memory issues. But she continues to enjoy her home on Wildwood Lane, her family scattered hither and yon, and her church in Anacortes. Maida is proud to have 5 children, 9 grandchildren, 11 great grandchildren and 2 great great grandchildren, spread out over Washington, California and Texas.

This third picture shows Maida a couple of years ago when she was on a Hawaiian cruise with Cindy and me and Cindy's mom Paula Harris during Halloween.

Happy Birthday and best wishes to mom!  
- - -
Steve Shepard

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Our Roots In The Caribbean, October 25, 2017

 
Family traditions counter alienation and confusion.
They help us define who we are;
they provide something steady, reliable and safe
in a confusing world.
~Susan Lieberman

Happy Birthday Mandi! Today is the birthday of Mandi Aquiningoc, daughter of Kerri Shepard Aquiningoc and granddaughter of my brother Gary Shepard. Mandi and her daughter Kambree are part of our family who live in the area around Weatherford, Texas. Mandi was born 25 years ago here in San Diego but has lived most of her life in Texas.

Best wishes to Mandi for a wonderful 25th Birthday. This first picture shows Mandi with her daughter Kambree.

Two More John Sheppards. In my last post, I introduced you to the oldest Shepard ancestors I had found, John Sheppard III and his wife Mary Ann Hudson Sheppard, whose lives reached back into the early 18th century. Mary Ann and John were originally from Maryland and were among our earliest Shepard ancestors who began the movement westward across the U.S.

You may be asking, What about John Sheppard II and John Sheppard I? Since there was a John Sheppard III, there must have been a II and a I, right? Indeed there was. Let me introduce to you John II and John I, who can now be added to our family tree.

6X Great Grandfather John Sheppard II was born in 1713. He died in 1741 at just 28 years old, according to the information attached to the cemetery listing for his son John Sheppard III. John II was married to a woman named Ann, whose maiden name is unknown. John II's father, who was John Sheppard I, was born in 1670, at St Michaels Parish, Barbados, and died in 1738. The wife of John I was Ann Sheppard (maiden name unknown) who was born in 1680.
 
Our Roots in the Caribbean. The "Passenger and Immigration Lists Index, 1500s-1900s" shows that John Sheppard I arrived in Maryland on a ship from the Caribbean Island of Barbados in 1726. This is one of the few details we have on the lives of our Sheppard ancestors from the 18th century.

The Caribbean was a common place from which European immigrants came to America in the 18th century. The "Passenger and Immigration List" on which John Sheppard I is found includes those who sailed to America for political, religious or economic reasons, or those who were deported for "Vagrancy, Roguery, or Non-Conformity," or those who were sold for labor in the new world across the Atlantic.

We don't know which of those offenses caused our John Sheppard to be among those who arrived by ship in Maryland in 1726. It would be nice to think he came to the new world for religious reasons. That sounds so pious. But knowing us Shepards these days, our Sheppard forefather could have left Europe and sailed across the Atlantic because of "roguery" or "non-conformity" (God forbid!).

The First of our Shepard Ancestors. Whatever caused them to leave their homeland, probably in Europe, and come across the Atlantic, our Sheppard ancestors came to the Caribbean either for personal reasons, or they were deported, or they were indentured servants. It is very possible then that John Sheppard I worked hard enough to clear his name and make enough money in Barbados to get on a ship and immigrate to Maryland. There he, and whatever family he had with him, became the first of our Shepard ancestors to arrive in the New Colonies. They arrived in 1726, almost 300 years ago!

The British West Indies of the Caribbean were very productive for Britain in the 18th century. At that time they brought in more revenue for England than all the Colonies of the new world combined. There were thousands of slaves from Africa who were forced to work in the Caribbean, but there were also many Europeans who voluntarily or involuntarily arrived in the Caribbean to help in the sugar cane industry. For that reason the West Indies were very important on the world scene, and were a very popular avenue by which many black and white individuals eventually made their way to what would become America.

The life story of founding father Alexander Hamilton is getting lots of press these days because of the blockbuster stage play "Hamilton." He is an example of this very migration pattern. His ancestors were also white Europeans, just as our Sheppard ancestors were. Hamilton made it to America, just as John Sheppard did, in the 18th century. Hamilton also came to America via the Caribbean. In his case it was the island of St Croix, not far from Barbados, the island from which John Sheppard I came to America.

With these three John Sheppards and their wives (our family's founding Fathers and Mothers) we can now show our Shepard ancestry for 9 generations before me, going back to 1670. The following is a 13 generation lineage including my brother Gary, his granddaughter, birthday girl Mandi Aquiningoc, and her daughter Kambree one of our youngest Shepard descendants.
  • John Sheppard I (1670-1738) and wife Ann Sheppard (b. 1680-?))
  • John Sheppard II (1713-1741) and wife Ann Sheppard (dates unknown)
  • John Sheppard III (1737-1827) and wife Mary Ann Hudson (1755-1824)
  • James Cross Sheppard Sr. (1775-1843) and wife Hannah Gatchell (1781-1839)
  • James Cross Sheppard Jr. (1813-1887) and wife Hannah Sheppard (b. 1812)
  • William Shepard (1835-1862) and wife Mary Ellen Sprague (1840-1919)
  • William Elmer Shepard (1862-1915) and wife Elvira Owens (1865-1931)
  • William Shepard (1888-1976) and wife Bura Davis (1896-1986)
  • Eugene William Shepard (1921-2003) and wife Maida Gower (b. 1924)
  • Gary Shepard (b. 1946) and wife Cindy Dillon (b. 1954)
  • Kerri Shepard Aquiningoc (b. 1968) and husband Manuel Aquiningoc (1961-1992)
  • Mandi Aquiningoc (b. 1992)
  • Kambree Aquiningoc (b. 2013)
In upcoming posts: "A Fantasy Road Trip" or "Where the Bodies Are Buried." I will take a Shepard genealogical journey across America, briefly retracing our family's ancestral steps across American from the Atlantic to the Pacific.
- - -
Steve Shepard

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

More Sheppard Ancestors, October 18, 2017

Just as we reach back to our ancestors for our fundamental values,
so we reach ahead to our children and their children.
And we do so with a sense of sacredness in that reaching.
~Paul Tsongas

Vicki Johnston, Paula Tuzzolino
Today is the 84th birthday of my aunt Vicki Gower Johnston of Chandler, Arizona. Vicki and her sister Maida Gower Shepard are the two senior members of our family. Cindy and I were in Arizona a few weeks ago and had the opportunity to visit with Vicki and her primary care giver, daughter Paula, and Paula's husband Frank Tuzzolino. Vicki has lived in a care facility not far from Paula and Frank for two years now. She continues to have various health concerns but enjoyed our time together. Best wishes to Vicki for a very happy birthday!

The first picture I am including shows Vicki Johnston and her daughter Paula Tuzzolino.

Today is the 109th anniversary of the birth of my uncle Willie Davis (Bill) Russell who was born in 1908. He was married for 62 years to my aunt Pauline Shepard Russell. Among the descendants of Bill and Pauline Shepard Russell today are Shannon Wilk and her daughter Emma of Atchison, Kansas.

Emma and Shannon Wilk
This second picture I am including today was taken earlier this month and shows Shannon and Emma Wilk.

New Ancestors For Our Family Tree. The last few months have been surprisingly productive in my continuing search for our Shepard ancestors prior to the Civil War. The soldier William Shepard (1835-1862) has been a keystone ancestor in our family history for many years. But discovering his parents and ancestry has been difficult until the last few months. I have shared recently in this blog about the discovery of the soldier William Shepard's parents Hannah and James Cross Sheppard Jr.,  and then the discovery of William's grandparents Hannah and James Cross Sheppard Sr.

When James Cross Sheppard Sr. (1775-1843) and his wife Hannah Gatchell Shepard (1781-1839) migrated from Maryland and settled in Kirkwood, Belmont County, Ohio in 1809, they brought with them their first four children (they eventually had 13). What I did not know until recent weeks is that James' elderly parents, Mary Ann Hudson Sheppard and John Sheppard III, also migrated to Ohio from Maryland just a few years later. John and Mary Ann therefore have become the newest additions to our Shepard family tree.

Our Shepard ancestors before the Civil War generally spelled their last name "Sheppard" with two "P's." That is how it usually appears on their headstones which is why I am spelling their name that way. I say that even though it was not unusual for their last names to be spelled either Shepard or Shepherd.

5X Great Grandmother Mary Ann Hudson Sheppard was an Irish immigrant. She was born in 1755 in County Wexford, on the Southeastern Coast of Ireland. She came to America as a child from Ireland with her parents Joseph Hudson (1717-1807) and Elizabeth Dunn Hudson (1720-1789). The Hudsons raised Mary Ann and her siblings in South Eastern Pennsylvania which was just north of where the Sheppards lived in Cecil County, Maryland.

Mary Ann's husband John Sheppard III -- our 5X Great Grandfather -- was born in 1737 in the port city of Georgetown, in the North Eastern part of what was then the Maryland Colony. John married Mary Ann Hudson on October 8, 1777 in Cecil County, Maryland -- 240 years ago this month! They were probably married earlier than that, but Maryland did not require marriage licenses until 1777. In addition to their son James Cross Sheppard Sr., they also raised a number of other children (perhaps as many as 12), among whom were two daughters Elizabeth Sheppard Midkiff (1782-1873) and Lydia Sheppard Waddell (1795-1872). A rich resource for these ancestors of ours comes from the cemetery listing for John Sheppard III and his wife Mary Ann on FindaGrave.com. You can select this link for that listing.

Sewellsville Cemetery, Kirkwood, Ohio
So John Sheppard III and Mary Ann Hudson married and bore their children in Maryland but migrated to Belmont County, Ohio a few years after their son James and his family did. The community of Kirkwood in Belmont County is where John and Mary Ann spent the last years of their lives. Mary Ann died at 69 years old in 1824, while husband John died 3 years later at the ripe old age of 90, which was exceptional for the nineteenth century. Mary Ann and husband John are both buried in Sewellsville Cemetery in Kirkwood Township, Belmont County, Ohio.

Our ancestors John and Mary Ann were frontier Americans, hearty Christian folk. Look at the given names in this post: Mary and Joseph, James and John, Lydia, Elizabeth -- all significant characters from the New Testament. We know that 4X Great Grandmother Hannah Gatchell Sheppard (John and Mary's daughter-in-law) was from devout Quaker roots. John and Mary Ann may have been Quakers as well, but if not Quakers they were certainly fine Christian people.

You may be asking, What about John Sheppard II and John Sheppard I? Since there was a John Sheppard III, there must have been a II and a I, right? The details on the lives of those two are scant, but we do have some important information about them. I look forward to sharing about that in my next post.
- - -
Steve Shepard

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Their Legacy Remains, September 21, 2017

You can love them, forgive them,
want good things for them,
but still move on without them.
~Mandy Hale

It was in late September, 1921 that my grandparents Leroy Gower and Nola Shannon were married in Stone County, Arkansas. She was barely 18 years old and he was just 22 at the time. Leroy was the oldest child still living at home in the Gower family of Sylamore, Arkansas, a small farming community a few miles west of Mountain View, in Stone County. Nola was one of the last two children at home in the family of Sam and Fanny Shannon when she and Leroy decided to marry. The Shannons lived in Liberty, Arkansas just south a few miles from where the Gowers lived. 

Their first home together was not far from where their families lived in Stone County, Arkansas. The first year after they married their son Hendrix was born. Two years later their first daughter Maida was born. The very next year Leroy and Nola decided to take their two small children and move westward. They left Arkansas and never looked back. Their first stop was Oklahoma where they settled in the small town of Okemah for the next 17 years. In Oklahoma they had one more child, a daughter Vicki, completing their family of 3 children.

It was 75 years ago this summer that these Gowers moved to San Diego. They didn't all move at the same time. 42 year old Leroy came first to find work, make some money, and send for his wife and daughters. Their teenage son Hendrix (Hank), accompanied Leroy to Southern California in the summer of 1942, bringing along his pregnant, 19 year old wife Starlene. 

The first picture I am including with this post shows Leroy and Nola Gower with their daughters Maida and Melva (Vicki). I don't know for sure when or where this picture was taken, but it was probably taken in the early 1940s, perhaps in  San Diego about 1942 or 1943 soon after they first moved there. Their family also included their son Hendrix (Hank) and his wife Starlene who are not pictured here.

This picture may have been taken in December, 1942 soon after the family was reunited after their move to San Diego. In this picture Maida (left) looks like a High School girl which she was in 1942, and appears happy about her life at the time. Leroy looks glad to be reunited with his family, as does Vicki (front) who turned 9 in October, 1942. Grandma Gower (back) looks like she just finished a long bus ride or for some other reason is not happy about the transition to life in another state. 

Their first year in San Diego was very eventful for the Gowers. 
  • Leroy and Hank found work at Railway Express in downtown San Diego
  • They found a place to rent behind a house on Arizona Street in San Diego
  • Starlene struggled through her first pregnancy
  • Leroy and Nola's 21st anniversary, Sept. 29, found them separated by nearly 1,500 miles
  • Daughter Maida's 18th birthday in Nov was a time of anxious longing for her new home
  • Nola, Maida and Vicki, endured a miserable bus trip from Okemah to San Diego in Dec.
  • The Gower's first grandchild, Hershell, was born to Hank and Starlene in Feb, 1943
  • Maida graduated from San Diego High School in June, 1943



It was a whirlwind of a first year for these Gowers who were new residents of California. But they seemed to survive the transition from small town Oklahoma to city life in San Diego fairly well. Nola and Leroy lived the rest of their lives in San Diego, except for Nola's sunset years with family in Washington.

Southern California was good for them for the many years they lived here. They saw their family grow to include a large clan of grandchildren and great grandchildren and more. Many of their kinfolk have relocated over the years, but a dozen or so of us who are descendants of theirs still live in the San Diego area. This second picture shows 3 of Leroy and Nola's youngest descendants: my grandchildren Preslea, Logan and William. The original Gowers who settled in San Diego are now gone, but after 75 years in San Diego their legacy remains.
- - -
Steve Shepard

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

The Last Will and Testament of James Sheppard, Sr., September 12, 2017

Knowledge of our ancestors
shapes us and instills within us
values that give direction
and meaning to our lives.
~D. B. Neuenschwander

Birthday Wishes to Kelly Sauvage. Today is the birthday of my niece Kelly Shepard Sauvage, younger daughter of my brother Gary Shepard. Born and raised in San Diego, she and husband James Sauvage live today in Weatherford, Texas, with their sons Nate and Kyle.

In July, Kelly, Nate and Kyle visited some of their family in Anacortes, Washington. The first picture shows Kelly in the center with her father Gary at the top, her son Kyle on the right, son Nate bottom left, and Kelly's grandmother Maida Shepard on the bottom right. This picture was taken at Maida's home on Wildwood Lane in Anacortes. Best wishes to Kelly for a very happy birthday today!


The Last Will And Testament of James Sheppard, Sr. In the last couple of posts I have been sharing new stories about our Shepard ancestors from Indiana, Ohio, and Maryland. The most impressive and interesting historical family document I have recently encountered is the will of my 4X Great Grandfather James Cross Sheppard Sr. (His Great Grandson William Elmer Shepard (1862-1915) is the one who dropped one of the "p's" from his last name.)

James Sheppard (1775-1843) and his wife Hannah Gatchell (1781-1839) were married in Cecil County, Maryland in 1798. With the first 4 of their 13 children they migrated in 1809 to the frontier community of Kirkwood in Belmont County, Ohio. The timing must have been right for them to settle in Ohio, for over the following 30 years this Sheppard family made a very good life for themselves along the Cumberland Trail on the Eastern Ohio frontier. Historically we know that this was a prosperous time for Americans as our nation expanded westward. 

A Treasure Trove of Information. Much of what we know about the life, the children and the wealth of James and Hannah Sheppard, is contained in James' will, which was written in 1840 and can be found in the County Records of Belmont County, Ohio. A copy of the text of James Sheppard's will is found at the bottom of this post. It is a fascinating document, which not only gives monetary details but also refers to other items and descriptions of historical interest.

James' wife Hannah died in 1839, an event which must have left him pondering his own mortality and the future well being of their 13 children. They ranged in age from 39 years old (Nathan Sheppard) to just 11 years old (George Washington Sheppard). When he wrote his will, James was 65 years old and had recently married for a second time to a woman named Esther Reynolds. 

James lived only 3 more years after writing his will. But at 68 years old he lived far beyond the life expectancy for men in that time. Sadly, two of his youngest sons died the year after he did, Job at 20 years old, and Emanuel at just 17.

In his will, James bequeathed to his heirs cash gifts that totaled $5,150. That may not seem like much today, but in 2017 dollars it would be roughly equivalent to $150,000! And that was just the cash disbursements. It did not include "the home farm," another farm of 153 acres, a 10 acre sawmill, and a few other personal items that were mentioned in the will.

Outstanding Citizens of Belmont County. From these few details we can see that James and Hannah were well off. Whatever the total value of their estate might have been, it was sizeable, probably several hundred thousand dollars (in 1840 dollars!). In those early years of the 19th century, James and Hannah and their 13 children did remarkably well for themselves as outstanding citizens of the Kirkwood Township of Belmont County, Ohio.

There is a Shephard Road located in the South Eastern part of Kirkwood Township today. Could that road have been named after the James and Hannah Sheppard family, who were prominent members of that community 200 years ago?

When thinking about the descendants of James and Hannah over the past two centuries, I doubt if any of them have done any better financially than those Sheppards in the pre-Civil War years in Eastern Ohio. Not in Indiana, where some Shepards settled and did quite well. Not in Illinois, not in Oklahoma, not in Colorado, and maybe not even in San Diego or elsewhere in recent years. This is not to diminish the accomplishments of any of James and Hannah's descendants. It is simply to say that Hannah and James Sheppard Sr. and their large family did remarkably well in building a very good life for themselves on the American frontier. We can consider it an honor to be counted among their descendants.

The picture above shows Salem Cemetery where James and Hannah and several members of their family are buried. It is located in the little town of Hendrysburg, which lies alongside I-70 in Kirkwood Township, Belmont County, in Eastern Ohio.
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Steve Shepard


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The Last Will and Testament of James Cross Sheppard, Sr.
Found in Book of Wills Volume G. page 410
1843, St. Clairsville, Belmont County, Ohio.


I, JAMES SHEPPARD, of the County of Belmont in the State of Ohio, do make and publish this my last will and testament in the manner and form following, that is to say;

FIRST, It is my will that my funeral expenses and all my just debts be fully paid.


SECOND, I give, devise and bequeath to my beloved wife ESTHER SHEPPARD, in lieu of her dower, the one-third part of the home farm on which we now reside, so long as she remains my widow, together with all the property she fetched with her at the time of our marriage, and also fifty dollars in money.

THIRD, I give and devise to my eldest son NATHAN SHEPPARD five hundred dollars.

FOURTH, I give and devise to my second son JOHN SHEPPARD one note of hand I hold on him the amount of which is three hundred dollars.

FIFTH, I give and devise to my third son WILLIAM SHEPPARD two notes of hand which I hold on him amounting to six hundred dollars.

SIXTH, I give and devise to my fourth son JAMES SHEPPARD one note of hand I hold on him the amount of which is two hundred and fifty dollars.

SEVENTH, I give and devise to my fifth son SAMUEL SHEPPARD one note of hand which I hold on him calling for two hundred dollars.

EIGHTH, I give and devise to my sixth son ISAAC SHEPPARD one note of hand which I hold on him calling for two hundred dollars.

NINTH, I give and devise to my seventh son AMOS SHEPPARD two notes of hand which I hold on him calling for one hundred and ninety nine dollars and ninety eight cents.

TENTH, I give and devise to my sons JOB and EMANUEL SHEPPARD the farm on which I now reside, it being the southeast quarter of Section twenth-three, Township nine, Range six and to their heirs and assigns forever, the same to be equally divided between them and it is also my will that each of them have four hundred dollars paid to them by my executors.

ELEVENTH, I give and devise to my son GEORGE SHEPPARD the farm I purchased of WILLIAM B. BEALL, situated in Belmont Co., Ohio containing about fifty-three acres, it being a part of the northwest quarter of Section number 15, Township nine, Range six and to his heirs and assigns forever. It is also my will that he shall have eight hundred dollars in money, the money to be put to interest until he shall arrive to the age of twenty-one years.

TWELFTH, I give and devise to my daughter Elizabeth Mumma, in addition to what she has already had of me, the sum of two hundred dollars in money and one double cover lid.

THIRTEENTH, I give and devise to my daughter MARY SHEPPARD, in addition to what she already had of me, the sum of two hundred and fifty dollars in money and one side saddle and double cover lid.

FOURTEENTH, I give and devise to my grandson ISSAC EVANS one hundred dollars, the money to be paid to his guardian by my executor and by him put to interest until my grandson comes to the age of twenty-one years.

FIFTEENTH, I give and devise to my granddaughter SALLY ANN EVANS one hundred dollars, to be paid by my executors to her guardian and by him put to interest until she comes of age.

SIXTEENTH, it is also my will and desire that my executors pay to the guardians of my three youngest sons, JOB, EMANUEL and GEORGE SHEPPARD, the sum of five hundred dollars, to be by them put to interest for the purpose of educating them, should it be wanting. Should it, or any part of it, remain unexpended, when my youngest son comes of age, the balance to be equally divided between all my children, share and share about.

SEVENTEENTH, I give and devise to my niece JULIA ANN SPEAR, the sum of one hundred dollars.

EIGHTEENTH, it is my will that in case my wife should prove to be in a family way at this time and should be delivered of a living child, then in that case the said child to draw an equal share with the rest of my children.

NINETEENTH, my will is that my executors sell that lot of land where my sawmill stands, purchased of ALEXANDER McKEEVER, containing about 10 acres more or less, also all of my personel property not otherwise disposed of in this, my will.

TWENTIETH, It is further my will that whatever may remain that has not been disposed of in this, my will, that it be equally divided between my 10 sons, share and share about.

AND LASTLY, I hereby constitute and appoint DAVID HARRIS and ROBERT A. DALLAS to be the executors for this my last will and testament, revoking and annulling, all former wills by me made, and satisfying and confirming this and no other to be my last will and testament.

IN TESTIMONY WHEREOF I have hereunto set my hand and seal this 4th day of May, 1840.

(Signed) JAMES SHEPPARD (SEAL)

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Tuesday, August 29, 2017

More About Our Shepard Ancestors, August 29, 2017

History remembers only the celebrated,
genealogy remembers them all.
~Laurence Overmire

Happy Birthday Lyndsey! Today is the birthday of my niece Lyndsey Aquiningoc, one of the descendants of the Shepard ancestors mentioned in this post. Lyndsey lives in Granbury, Texas with her son Karver. She is the daughter of Kerri Shepard Aquiningoc and the Granddaughter of Jackie Perry and my brother Gary Shepard. Best wishes to Lyndsey for a very happy birthday! 

Her sister Mandi gave her a beautiful compliment earlier today in a Facebook post: "Happy birthday to my beautiful sister. Thank you so much for everything you've done, for being there for me, and for being such an amazing woman with such a great heart! I'm so blessed and thankful to have YOU as my sister. This is YOUR day so shine and take advantage."

More About Our Shepard Ancestors


I mentioned in my last post that I have found some ancestors on the Shepard side of our family from the early 19th century: Hannah and James Cross Sheppard Jr. In 1840 when these Sheppards migrated from Ohio to Montgomery Co., Indiana, they settled into a whole new environment, put down roots and began a new life for themselves and the family that had come with them. Coincidentally it was exactly 100 years later, in 1940, that the last migratory step across the country occurred for our Shepard family. 1940 was when my grandparents, William and Bura Shepard and their family of 9 moved from Baca County, Colorado to San Diego, California. That particular move covered just over 1,200 miles.

This first picture shows 8 of the 9 Shepard family members who migrated from Colorado to California in 1940: Bill and Pauline Shepard Russell, Eugene Shepard, Bura and William Shepard, and children Rex, Beverly and Thelma. Not pictured here but who also made the move was Elmer Shepard, who may have been taking this photo. This photo was taken in front of the boarding house on Albatross Street in San Diego, which Bura and William ran when they first moved to San Diego 77 years ago.

Moving a family 1,200 miles in 1940 was probably easier than moving a family 350 miles in 1840. Road conditions, modes of travel, speed of transportation, increases in population and other factors made a big difference in facilitating the movement of families across the U.S.

Hannah and James, Jr. and Sr. When Hannah and James Cross Sheppard Jr. left Ohio in about 1840 and migrated to Indiana they left behind their parents Hannah and James Cross Sheppard Sr. Interestingly the James Cross Sheppards of two generations in our family married women named Hannah. The following lineage shows 9 generations of our family going back to James Cross Shepard Sr. and his wife Hannah Gatchell.
  • James Cross Sheppard Sr. (1775-1843) who married Hannah Gatchell (1781-1839)
  • James Cross Sheppard Jr. (1813-1887) who married Hannah (last name unknown)
  • William Shepard (1835-1862) who married Mary Sprague (1840-1919)
  • William Elmer Shepard (1862-1915) who married Elvira Owens (1865-1931)
  • William Shepard (1888-1976) who married Bura Davis (1896-1986)
  • Eugene Shepard (1921-2003) who married Maida Gower (b. 1924)
  • Steve Shepard (b. 1948) who married Cindy Harris (b. 1948)
  • Nathan Shepard (b. 1977) who married Chenda Sou (1980)
  • William Quincy Shepard (b. 2012), Logan Shepard (b. 2011), Preslea Shepard (b. 2010) 
James Cross Sheppard Sr. and his wife Hannah were married in Cecil County, in Northeast Maryland in 1798. They bore their first four children in Maryland before deciding to move westward:
  1. Nathan Sheppard (b. 1801)
  2. Malinda Sheppard (b. 1803)
  3. John Sheppard (b. 1805)
  4. William Sheppard (b. 1808)
James Sr. appears in the book Made In Ohio: Furniture 1788-1988, published in 1984 by the Columbus Museum, in which he is said to have been a "cabinetmaker, carpenter, tanner, weaver and farmer." Those are all skills he would have put to good use on the Ohio frontier when he and Hannah and their first 4 children homesteaded in Ohio in 1809. After traveling some 400 miles from Maryland they settled in what became Kirkwood Township in Belmont County, Ohio. As homesteading settlers in Ohio, James and Hannah added 9 more children to their family: 
  1. Samuel Sheppard (b. 1812)
  2. Isaac Sheppard (b. 1812)
  3. James Sheppard Jr. (b. 1813)
  4. Amos Sheppard (b. 1817)
  5. Elizabeth Sheppard (b. 1821)
  6. Mary Sheppard (b. 1821)
  7. Job Sheppard  (b. 1824)
  8. Emanuel  Sheppard (b. 1827)
  9. George Washington Sheppard (b. 1829)
Among their Ohio born children was James Jr. who is the Sheppard son from which we are descended. James Sr. and Hannah remained in Kirkwood, Ohio until Hannah's death in 1839. James Sr. died just 4 years later, followed the very next year by the deaths of their two youngest sons Job and Emanuel Sheppard who were only 17 and 20 years old.

Included in this post is a picture of the gravestone marking the burials of James and Hannah and their youngest sons Job and Emanuel. It is located in Salem Cemetery in Kirkwood, Ohio. Why the four of them died in a period of just a few years is unknown. Disease epidemics took the lives of many 19th century American pioneers and that may have been the reason for these deaths. It is also curious that about this same time James and Hannah's sons James Jr. and John Sheppard decided to migrate from Ohio to Indiana with their families. Perhaps their mother's death in 1839 prompted them to move westward.

Mother Hannah Gatchell was an English immigrant whose parents were Nathan Gatchell and Elizabeth Anderson Gatchell, Quakers from the old Province of Maryland. Online at Findagrave.com at the burial listing for Hannah Gatchell Sheppard there is a story about her father Nathan Gatchell. As a Quaker he was not allowed to take up arms against the enemy, so he simply helped clean the guns of the colonists instead. But even that participation in the war was too much for his pacifist Quaker brethren and he was "disowned" by them.

I have said it before but it bears repeating: our forbearers like James and Hannah Sheppard deserve our eternal gratitude for having given us much more than their DNA. They paved the way for those of us who have come after them and have left us a great history to be discovered and appreciated.

There is much more to share about these new found family members. For next time: the fascinating will of James Cross Sheppard Sr.
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Steve Shepard

Friday, August 18, 2017

Our Shepard History; An Update, August 18, 2017

The pursuit of origins
is a way of rescuing territory
from death and oblivion. 
~Amin Maalouf

Two Linda Shepards. August is the month of two Linda Shepard birthdays. Wednesday of this past week was the 24th birthday of Linda Mae Dawn Shepard of Anacortes, Washington. She is the daughter of my brother Russ and his wife Pam Shepard. Best wishes to Linda! This coming Monday, Aug 21, is the anniversary of the birth of my sister Linda Shepard, who was born in San Diego in 1950. She died in a car accident in 1971, just weeks before her 21st birthday. The younger Linda Shepard was named after my late sister Linda.


This first picture is a composite image of my niece Linda Shepard in 2016 with her mom Pam on the left, and my sister Linda Shepard in 1970 with husband Jerry Clark on the right.Though 46 years apart, the two Lindas are remarkably similar in appearance.

Adding to the Shepard Family Tree. It is not often that I have an important breakthrough in family research. But I have made one in the last few weeks. For many years I was aware of the Civil War soldier William Shepard in our family tree. He was the Grandfather of my Grandfather William Shepard (1888-1976). I have known that the soldier William Shepard was born in 1835 in Belmont County, Ohio, that he served in the Union Army during the Civil War, and that he died in a military hospital in July, 1862 after being wounded in the war.

But of his parents and ancestry I have known almost nothing, until recently. I did have an interesting lead on his parents a couple of years ago. And actually wrote about them in this blog. Recently however I have uncovered more data that makes it clear that I was indeed on the right track at that time. James Cross Shepherd II and his wife Hannah were the parents of the Civil War soldier William Shepard, and are my GGG Grandparents.

Our family name was spelled a variety of ways in the 19th century. Especially in the pre-Civil War years, our kinfolk had their last name spelled Shepard, Shepherd, Shephard, Sheperd, Sheppard, Shepheard, and even Sheepheard. In many instances the spelling seemed to depend simply on the whim of the County Official or Census taker.

Hannah and James Cross Shepherd II. My GGG Grandfather James Cross Shepard II was born in 1813 in Kirkwood, Belmont County, Ohio. His father, James Cross Shepherd I, was from Maryland and migrated with his family into Ohio. The first child of Hannah and James Cross Shepherd was born in Belmont County, Ohio in 1835. He was William Shepard, the one from whom we Shepards are descended. After their second child, Elizabeth, was born in 1838, this small family of 4 decided to migrate to Indiana. But as with many families they did not undertake such an adventure alone. James' brother John, his wife Elizabeth and their children, which may have numbered 6, also made the trek.

This second picture is purportedly John Shepard (1805-1886) one of the two Shepard brothers who migrated to Indiana.

So in 1839 or 1840, this young John and James Shepard clan of perhaps a dozen family members, made their way westward, probably along the historic Cumberland Road, which today is Interstate 70. It was a direct westward route of 350 miles from their home in Kirkwood, Ohio to Montgomery County, Indiana, northwest of Indianapolis. Today you can drive that route on the Interstate in just 7 hours or so, but it would have taken them at least a week, perhaps much longer, in horse drawn carriages on rough dusty roads.

First Stop, Montgomery County. They settled first in the area around Browns Valley, in Montgomery County, Indiana. That is where brothers James and John Shepherd appear in the 1840 U.S. Census as heads of neighboring households. This same 1840 U.S. Census shows that, in the Kirkwood, Ohio community they had come from, James and John left behind several Shepherd family members: their parents Hannah and James C. Shepherd I, and what appear to be 5 siblings or cousins of James and John: Amos, Isaac, Samuel, another John and another William Shepherd. Each of these siblings or cousins are listed in the Census as being heads of households with their own children and/or spouses. James and John Shepherd led a family group of a dozen or so who moved to Indiana, but it was an even larger Shepherd clan that remained in Kirkwood, Ohio.

These new Indiana immigrants must have had their struggles in those early years of the 1840s. In the 1850 U.S. Census, James and Hannah Shepherd and family are shown living west of Lafayette, Indiana, some 35 miles north of where they had first settled. By this time James and Hannah had added two more children to the mix. In addition to our ancestor William Shepard and his sister Elizabeth, children James and John (named after their father and uncle) have come along. Two more children, Jasper and Sarah, would eventually complete James and Hannah's brood of 6.

During these middle years of the 19th century the families of James and Hannah, and John and Elizabeth settled into farming life in Indiana. As far as I can tell, James and Hannah's son William (our GG Grandfather) was the only member of the clan to lose his life in the Civil War, although there are indications other family members served as well.

A Growing Clan of Indiana Shepards. My Great Grandfather William Elmer Shepard (1862-1915) left Indiana for Illinois in 1880 and then, with his wife Elvira Owens and their children, eventually settled in Beaver County, Oklahoma. When he left Indiana he separated forever from his Hoosier kinfolk. And he left quite a number of family members behind. Besides his mother, the widow Mary Sprague Shepard, and his brother Frank Shepherd, he left his Grandparents James Cross and Hannah Shepherd, and a growing clan of other Shepherds living in Montgomery and Tippecanoe Counties.


Sugar Grove Cemetery, southwest of Lafayette in Tippecanoe County, is an historic cemetery in the very area where James and Hannah Shepherd lived and raised their family. This country cemetery is the final resting place for a number of our kinfolk. There are 21 graves with persons named Shepherd or Shepard, almost all of them dating from the 19th century. It is one more indication that there was a sizable number of Shepard family members living in Tippecanoe and Montgomery Counties in the 1800s and even into the 20th century.

Foremost among those Shepards who settled in western Indiana was my GGG Grandparents Hannah and James Cross Shepherd II, pioneers for whom we can be very grateful. Their sacrifices were many but they helped pave the way for the rest of us who were yet to come. They were an important part of our Shepard family movement westward -- from coast to coast -- across the United States.
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Steve Shepard