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.
- - -
Steve Shepard


* * * * * * * * * * *

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)

* * * * * * * * * *

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.
- - -
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.
- - -
Steve Shepard

Friday, July 28, 2017

Special Birthdays, July 28, 2017

There are two great days in a person's life - 
the day we are born and the day we discover why.
~William Barclay

Today we celebrate three big birthdays in our family: Jeff Clark, Barbara Shepard and William Quincy Shepard.


Jeff Clark is the husband of my cousin Kim Boyd Clark. Kim and Jeff live in Grain Valley, Missouri with Kim's mom Thelma Boyd. Best wishes to Jeff for a very happy birthday!

This first picture shows Jeff yesterday at the Kansas City Zoo, where he was celebrating his birthday a day early. Also pictured are two of his grandsons Dominic and Isaac Ortiz.

My sister Barbara Shepard also has a birthday today and lives with our mom Maida Shepard in Anacortes, Washington. Barb is originally from San Diego and spent the first 19 years of her life there, but has lived in Western Washington since 1978. Special birthday wishes to Barbara!


She stays busy working for Safeway in Anacortes, where she has been employed for over 10 years. This second picture shows Barb with our brother Gary who together are the exceptional team that helps mom's with her daily care at her home on Wildwood Lane. 

This is also the birthday of our youngest grandson William Shepard, who turns 5 years old today. Born in San Francisco, William lives with his family in the San Carlos community of San Diego. He is part of a great tradition of people in our Shepard family with the name William, as either a first or a middle name. His father has the middle name William as did his Great Grandfather Eugene Shepard, while at least three other ancestors of his had the name William Shepard, dating back to the time of the Civil War.




The YouTube video above captures some moments from the last year in William's life. It is set to the music of Justin Timberlake and Anna Kendrick, singing True Colors. William's world is about to change big time because he will start Elementary school one month from today.
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Steve Shepard

Sunday, June 25, 2017

My Gower Grandfather, June 25, 2017

I have a lot of great memories,
but I can't imagine anything more exciting
than the life I live now.
~Rob Lowe

This month of June is the month of Father's Day, and brings to my mind a few important fellows in our family.

My Gower Grandfather. I am thinking first of all of my grandfather Leroy Ertin Gower (1899-1974), who was born in Timbo, Arkansas, 118 years ago today. Of my four grandparents, he died the youngest at age 75. He was a stern fellow who made a huge change in his life when he and his wife Nola moved from the little town of Okemah, Oklahoma to the city of San Diego, California in 1942. He was born and spent the first 25 years of his life in the hills of northern Arkansas, which was also the home of his wife Nola Shannon, and was where they were married in 1921.

Leroy M. "Babe" Gower and Daughter Vergie
He was named after his uncle Leroy Monroe "Babe" Gower who lived next door to his parents when Leroy was born, in the community of Sylamore, a few miles west of Mountain View, Arkansas. This first picture from about 1940, shows Leroy's namesake, his uncle Leroy "Babe" Gower, and Babe's special needs daughter Vergie Gower.

Leroy's oldest brother Alford Gower died at just 4 months old, 5 years before Leroy was born. The second child of the family, Leroy's older brother Lloyd W. Gower, died at just 18 years old in WWI when Leroy was just 15. Combine those experiences with the difficulty of making a living on the family farm in the early 20th century in Northern Arkansas, and you get an early life for Leroy that was hard and trying. It explains a lot about his stern demeanor, his serious approach to life and his simple lifestyle.

Leroy Ertin Gower
In the 1910 US Census, as a child of 10 years, Leroy was listed as a "farm laborer" and a "wage earner." He was also listed as "able to read and write," so it appears he had attended school for some (probably short) period of time in his early life. Even so, his life as a laborer and wage earner defined him from the time he was a boy. This second picture shows my grandfather Leroy Gower in work overalls (appropriately enough) probably in the 1930s.

When the family did move to California, Leroy came first in the summer of 1942, with son Hank and his young wife Starlene. Leroy had to come first to get work and be a wage earner before wife Nola and daughters Maida and Vicki could come to San Diego, which they did in December of that year.

The Gowers had been small time farmers in Stone County, Arkansas for several generations. Making the switch to life in Southern California was obviously a big change for them, a "sea change" in how they saw the world and approached life. Leroy and Nola did have their Baptist church connection which was one familiar thing for them during their transition to life in the city. There were some tough times as they settled into life in Southern California. A few years after they moved to San Diego their 15 year old daughter got pregnant, then became a teenage bride, an incident that created great strain on the family. But through it all they endured as Leroy and Nola made a good life for themselves on Lynne Street in what was then called East San Diego.

Leroy has a rich Gower heritage that stretches back nearly 4 centuries in North America. I have discovered that finding family links that reach into the early 19th century and occasionally into the 18th century is not difficult. My grandfather Gower's lineage, however, can be traced back to the early 17th century in Colonial America.

A key person in his lineage was Abell Gower (1640-1689), the first of our Gower ancestors to be born on American soil. Born in 1640 in the town of Henrico, Virginia near Richmond, he is the earliest American birth among all our known ancestors.

The year 1640 was 135 years prior to the Revolutionary War, long before the declaration of Independence and the creation of "The United States." In 1640 the total population of Colonial America was only 26,600. (1,500 times that number of people live today in California alone!)

He is described in The Encyclopedia of Virginia Biography (page 245) this way: "Gower, Abell was a justice of Henrico County, Virginia from 1679 till his death in 1689; sheriff in 1681, and a member of the house of burgesses in 1679. He married Jane, daughter of Edward Hatcher, of Henrico. He appears to have been a son of Abell Gower of Boulton, county Gloucester, England, esquire."

I am thankful for the life of my grandfather Leroy Gower and the rich and wonderful heritage we can claim because of him.

Joe Paul Harris (1950-2009). I am also thinking this month of my wife Cindy's brother Joe Paul Harris, who was born June 23, 1950. He spent his early life in San Diego before moving to Naknek, Alaska where he lived for about 20 years until he died in June, 2009. 

The accompanying picture shows Joe Paul at Christmas 2008 in San Diego, standing behind his mother Paula Harris, with his aunt Juanita Eeds on the left. His sister Cindy Shepard and nephew Nathan Shepard are on the right.

Kyle Sauvage. One other important June birthday to mention today: Kyle Sauvage, who will turn 12 years old tomorrow, June 26. Kyle is the younger son of James and Kelly Shepard Sauvage, and the grandson of Jackie Perry and my brother Gary Shepard. James lives with his parents and his brother Nate in Weatherford, Texas. 

This final picture, taken in March, shows Kyle Sauvage while at spring training in Arizona with a ball signed by San Diego Padres' Will Myers.
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Steve Shepard

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

A Plethora of Williamses, June 14, 2017

Life yields only to be conqueror. 
Never accept what can be gained by giving in. 
~William the Conqueror

Mandi and daughter Kambree with cousin Kyle
Happy Birthday Kambree! Kambree Kay Bowman celebrates her 4th birthday today, June 14. Kambree is a 3X Great Grandchild of William and Bura Shepard. She is also a 3X Great Grandchild of Leroy and Nola Gower. Kambree and her mother Mandi Aquiningoc live in Weatherford, Texas.

Best Wishes to Emma and Shannon. Earler this month on June 6 Emma Wilk of Atchison, Kansas celebrated a birthday. She is the daughter of Shannon Wilk and the granddaughter of my late cousin Beverly Russell Wilk (1939-1974). Emma's Great Great Grandparents are William and Bura Shepard, early 20th century ancestors who were the first in our Shepard family to live in California. Best wishes to Emma and her mom Shannon as Emma turns 12!

Emma Wilk and "Pappa" Frank
Kambree and Emma are both descendants of a family line that includes my Grandmother Bura Davis's Grandmother Maggie Williams Spear (1845-1904), of Spencer, Indiana. We have had a plethora of people named William in our family over the years, most recently persons who have William as their first or middle name. 

As far back as I can get information there has never been a time when our family has been without at least one William in our family. My grandson William Quincy Shepard is the youngest of the fellows in our family today with that first name. But there have been others, many others, going all the way back to the pre-Civil War days, and probably long before that.

Maggie Williams Spear
A Plethora of Williamses. My Great Great Grandmother Maggie Williams Spear takes the name William to a whole different level in our family tree by connecting us to the surname Williams. She was born in Spencer, Indiana, the 9th and last child of Sally Richardson Williams (1801-1877) and John Pouty Williams (1806-1898). John Pouty was the 2nd of the 4 children of John Williams and Lydia Warford Williams, prominent citizens of Shelby County, Kentucky, 150 miles Southeast of Spencer, Indiana. 

I have written about our Williams ancestors in Kentucky in this blog several times, including here, and here.

John Pouty Williams had a Grandfather in Kentucky, named William Williams (1745-1801). This William Williams was the first in his family to settle in Kentucky, having migrated from Loudon County, Virginia, west of Washington, D.C. with his wife Elizabeth Averett (or Everett) just before the turn of the 19th century. William and Elizabeth were Quakers, having their marriage of September 6, 1769 recorded in the "Monthly Quaker Meeting Records, 1681-1935 of Loudon County", a snippet from which is included below.

1769 Wedding Record for William Williams & Elizabeth Everett
John Pouty Williams not only had a grandfather named William Williams, he also had a brother named William Williams (1804-?). John and wife Sally also named the 5th of their 9 children William H. Williams (1834-1904). In the midst of all these William Williamses, at least they had the good sense to add a distinguishing "H" to this William William's name. In an interesting historical twist, it became not so distinguishing when William H. Williams and his wife Sarah named one of their sons William H. Williams (1881-1939).

These are just some of the many, many Williams that are in our family tree. There were (and ARE) numerous other Williams among the clan of these 19th century Williams ancestors of ours, and their descendants. We may even have roots that extend to the famous William the Conqueror (1028-1087), the first Norman King of England. But I am not ready to tackle that research! These Williams I have listed here are confusing enough. They clearly show that "William" has been -- and continues to be -- a favorite name of people in our family.
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Steve Shepard

Friday, June 02, 2017

Celebrate Your Life, June 2, 2017

The more you praise and celebrate your life,
the more there is in life to celebrate.
~Oprah Winfrey


A Shepard Anniversary. Today is the 38th wedding anniversary of my brother Gary and his wife Cindy Ann Shepard of Oak Harbor, Washington. They were married June 2, 1979 in a small garden wedding in Los Alamitos, California. Only a handful of us were in attendance but it was a beautiful event. Those of us who were there remember it well. Happy Anniversary to Gary and Cindy!

Gary and Cindy lived in the San Diego area for most of their married life. They moved to Western Washington in 2003 to help care for our aging father Eugene Shepard who died in the summer of '03. Today they are an indispensable part of the small team of folks who are caring for our mother Maida Shepard. Gary has had his own health concerns in the last year but is doing better. Mom continues to need constant care but is doing quite well for 92 years old.

Another Shepard Anniversary. It was 102 years ago today that Gary's grandparents William and Bura Davis Shepard were married in Beaver County, Oklahoma. At the time they had known each other for less than 2 years. In the spring of 1913, the Davis family moved into the part of Beaver County where the Shepards lived. It was a sparsely populated farming community where potential marriage partners were in short supply. So when 26 year old William met 18 year old Bura, he knew she was someone special. They were married in 1915 on the 45th Birthday of Bura's father James Brooks Davis (1870-1928).

In 1975, the year before William Shepard died, he reminisced about his 1915 wedding day, and his bride, by saying this:

She was quite a Sunday School girl. I had just come into the church myself [the South Flat Church of Christ] in December [1914]. My dad had come in a little earlier than that. He was on his death bed with cancer and wanted to see me become a Christian before he died. So I did.

I had my first model T car. [To get married] we had to go to another sod house where the preacher lived. It was a real wet spring and water was standing everywhere. We didn't have highways. Just old roads. I didn't think we could make it by the regular road so we went on the higher country and ran into a lake and got stuck. We sat there in that car in the mud nearly all day. Finally an old gentleman who lived there pulled us out with his team of horses. It was about 3 or 4 o'clock. 


The preacher then tied the knot and we went home the way we should have when we went out to see him. He must have done a good job tying the knot because it is still tight.

Yet Another Anniversary. Yesterday was the 15th wedding anniversary of Will and Bura Shepard's Great Grandson Jeremy Ortiz and his wife Desiree of El Cajon, California. Best wishes to them for a very happy anniversary! The triptych above shows all three sets of anniversary celebrants: Will and Bura at the top, then Gary and Cindy, and then Jeremy and Desiree.

Congratulations to Graduates. I have mentioned numerous times in this blog my Grandfather William Shepard's sister, Sadie Shepard Pruett (1892-1980). I have been corresponding with one of Sadie's Granddaughters, Lisa Allred Parks of Forth Worth, Texas. Second cousin Lisa responded to my last post concerning this spring's graduates by sharing about two young folks in her part of our family.

Best wishes and kudos to Kenny Wheeler, the son of Lisa's sister Shawna Allred Wheeler. Kenny graduated from High School in Fort Worth just last week. Congratulations also to the daughter of Lisa's brother Steven Allred. Angela Allred Kornegay graduated from the University of Texas at Tyler with a Civil Engineering degree. We celebrate both of them on these fine achievements!

The diptych on the left shows graduate Kenny at the top with a friend, while the bottom section shows graduate Angela with her proud father Steven Allred.

One More Celebration. I recently heard from my cousin Michael Harrell, son of Vicki Gower Johnston of Arizona. Michael and his wife Carole live in Tokyo on a 3 year assignment for Mike's work. He was back in the U.S. last month and contacted me. He and Carole are doing well almost a year into their time in Japan. He reiterated his welcome to any family members who might be visiting Japan to be sure and let them know. If you would like Mike's contact info just let me know and I will gladly pass it on to you.

Mike had a birthday just a few days ago, on May 29. Happy Birthday to Mike and best wishes to him and Carole on their extended stay in Tokyo! To keep up with Mike and Carole, visit them on Facebook.
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Steve Shepard

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Spring Celebrations, May 21, 2017

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
   and do not rely on your own insight.
In all your ways acknowledge him,
   and he will make straight your paths.
Proverbs 3.5-6

Hello family and friends!


Nathan and Kaylan
Congratulations to Kaylan Shepard on her graduation from Shepard High School this week. She plans to attend Florida College in Temple Terrace, Florida in the fall. The quote at the top of this post accompanied Kaylan's graduation notice. 

Her brother Nathan Shepard graduated from Florida College earlier this month. Best wishes to both Kaylan and Nathan, and the proud parents of both graduates, my cousin Dane Shepard and his wife Cindy of Blanchard, Oklahoma!

The first picture shows both graduates: Nathan Shepard with his sister Kaylan.

Are there others in our family who are graduating this spring? I would be glad to hear about you and share your graduation news with everyone. Best wishes to all of you!


Elmer James Shepard in the 1930s
Yesterday, May 20, was the 99th anniversary of the birth of my uncle Elmer Shepard (1918-2012), the late grandfather of Nathan and Kaylan. Elmer was the second child of William and Bura Davis Shepard and was a part of that family of 9 who moved from Southeast Colorado to San Diego in 1940. They began the Shepard presence here in Southern California that has continued now for 77 years.

Remembering Elmer brings to mind the fact that 99 years ago, my grandparents William and Bura Shepard were a young married couple with a one year old, Pauline, and now a second child, Elmer. They were making the most of their lives in the dusty rural farm land of Beaver County, Oklahoma. 


Jason Shepard with niece Lyndsey
The second picture shows Elmer Shepard as a young man, in his farming overalls, sitting on a horse. This picture was taken sometime in the 1930s probably on the farm where the family lived.

When Elmer was born, the Shepards had been in Oklahoma a little more than 10 years, while Bura and her Davis kinfolk had been in Oklahoma barely 4 years. They were relative newcomers to the state, having moved from Illinois and Indiana, respectively. Yet twenty-somethings William and Bura were doing their best with their young family and their high hopes to establish some roots in a difficult time.

Now, 99 years later, while some of Will and Bura's descendants still live in San Diego, others have returned to Oklahoma, the land of their roots, while still others have moved on to the Northwest, the Midwest, Texas and elsewhere.


Ashlyn Ortiz on left with her siblings
Two other members of our family, whose roots happen to be in San Diego, are to be celebrated. Among those having birthdays this past week are Jason Shepard of Fort Worth, Texas who turned 45 on Thursday. Jason, the son of my brother Gary Shepard and Jackie Perry, is pictured above with his niece Lyndsey Aquiningoc. This picture was taken last fall in Weatherford, Texas.

Also with a birthday this past week is Ashlyn Ortiz of El Cajon, California, who turned 12 on Friday. Ashlyn is the daughter of Jeremy and Desiree Ortiz and the grandchild of my cousin Kim Clark. The final picture, taken overlooking the Pacific Ocean, shows Ashlyn, on the left in the picture, with her siblings Dominic, Isaac, Damian and Ciara.
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Steve Shepard