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

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Happy Mother's Day! May 13, 2017

Happy Mother's Day!

There is nothing more enjoyable in the life of a family than to wish our mothers a happy mother's day. I have found that the joy of doing that never grows old. As my mom approaches 93 years old, I find it as satisfying to wish her a Happy Mother's Day today, as I did when I was a child, some 60+ years ago.

So to my mom in Anacortes, Washington, I offer joyous greetings on this weekend of "her day". Being 1,500 mile away I won't be able to give her a hug, and she may not remember my call after the conversation is ended, but I am thinking of her with deep gratitude in my heart nonetheless, and with good memories too numerous to count.

My Mom has lived in Northwest Washington now for 39 years. One of the things she has always enjoyed about that part of the world are the beautiful tulips of Skagit County. The first picture I am including shows me and mom and her daughter Barbara last month when the three of us had the opportunity, on a beautiful bright and sunny day, to visit the nearby tulip fields.

My mom Maida Gower Shepard is the eldest mom in our Shepard and Gower family. Not far behind is her sister, and my aunt, Vicki Gower Johnston of Chandler, Arizona. Another Mom from that generation in our families is Thelma Shepard Boyd of Grain Valley, Missouri. To those three moms in a special way I offer good wishes for health and happiness. But to all the moms in the circles of our families -- young or old, near or far --  may you have a delightful weekend filled with all the gratitude and well wishes that you so rightfully deserve!

Happy Birthday, Logan Alexander Shepard! Monday is the 6th Birthday of our grandson Logan Shepard, who lives here in San Diego with his dad Nathan and his siblings Preslea and William Shepard. The following YouTube video, set to the music of Justin Timberlake, celebrates this happy birthday for kindergartener Logan.


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Steve Shepard

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Our Deep Spear Roots In Ohio, May 10, 2017

We are links between the ages,
containing past and present expectations,
sacred memories and future promise.
~Edward Sellner

Greetings to all of you from San Diego! With Mother's Day this weekend, special birthdays on the horizon, and much more, it is a special time in the life of our family.

I have known about our important Davis roots in Indiana for many years, but only recently have I come to appreciate the equally important roots of Callie Spear Davis' family in Indiana. I have written recently about discovering how those Spear ancestors also migrated to Indiana from Eastern Ohio about the same time the Davises did, around 1850.

Early 19th Century Ohio Roots. I have also known for some years that our Davis ancestors in Ohio prior to 1850 were connected to the Restoration Movement, a religious revival which gave birth to the Churches of Christ as well as the Disciples of Christ. What I had not known till recently is that Callie Spear Davis' family was equally connected to the Restoration Movement in Ohio in the early 19th century when that movement was in its infancy.

Part of what lead me to this was some genealogical data my grandmother Bura Davis Shepard had given me years ago, long before she died in 1986. I am grateful for the time I was able to spend with her, asking her for details of her ancestry, and for the wealth of information she provided me at that time. She also put me in touch with her nephew Ronald Davis (1931-1998), who was an impressive chronicler of our Davis/Spear family history.

One tidbit of information that Ronald shared with me concerned Andrew Spear (1806-1887), one of our Spear ancestors from Ohio who did NOT migrate to Indiana, as many of our other Spear ancestors did around 1850. Among those who DID migrate to Indiana were Andrew Spear's brothers Daniel, David, James, and Robert Spear.

Andrew Spear's father, James Spear (1768-1821) knew all about migration. He had come to America from County Armaugh, Ireland at about 20 years old, at the turn of the 19th century. Though he did not migrate to Indiana himself -- he only made it as far west as Ohio -- he may have encouraged his sons to venture on westward.

Church of Christ Cemetery, Ohio
Church of Christ Cemetery. Why his son Andrew Spear did not migrate to Indiana from Ohio, we may never know. Maybe he felt obligated to care for his family or tend to his farming. What we do know is that Andrew remained in Eastern Ohio for the rest of his life, and is buried there. Ronald Davis' family history says that Andrew Spear died in 1887 and is buried in Church of Christ Cemetery, Dalzell, Ohio.

That was the tidbit of information from Ronald Davis that caught my attention: Church of Christ Cemetery. Was this cemetery named after a Restoration Movement congregation of the 19th century? Does it indicate that some of our Spear ancestors were members there? It is hard to draw any firm conclusions at this point. 

A Distant Spear Relative. I recently corresponded with a distant Spear relative in Florida by the name of Bonnie Sprout. She, like me, is also a direct descendant of Irish immigrant James Spear and his wife Elizabeth McConnahaw Spear, whose son Andrew is buried in this Ohio cemetery. Bonnie gave me some details about the Church of Christ Cemetery. She said is located on the farm of some of her Sprout relatives from Lower Salem, Washington County, Ohio. She also connected me to the Find-A-Grave listing for the cemetery. That is where I found the two pictures of the cemetery included in this post. The first one shows a panoramic view of the cemetery while the second one shows the front of the church on the cemetery grounds, which has the name "Church of Christ" across it.

There is still much to be learned about the history of this Church and Cemetery which is tucked away in the rural hills of Eastern Ohio. But if nothing else this is one more indication that our family's deep Ohio roots -- in this case our Spear roots of 200 years ago -- are connected to the religious tradition with which many of us are affiliated.
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Steve Shepard