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.
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Steve Shepard

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