Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Celebrating Irish, March 13, 2018

St. Patrick's Day is an enchanted time
a day to begin transforming
winter's dreams into summer's magic.
~Adrienne Cook

Celebrating Our Irish Heritage! Happy Saint Patrick's Day this coming Saturday! I have not mentioned for some time in this blog two of our most prominent Irish ancestors, 18th Century Immigrants Thomas and Eigness Shannon. They are my 6X Great Grandparents via my grandmother Nola Shannon Gower (1903-2004). The following is a summary of their descendants' migration across our country since they arrived nearly 300 years ago.

Leroy and Nola Shannon Gower, San Diego, 1972
Pennsylvania. Thomas and his wife Eigness sailed across the Atlantic from Derry, Ireland to Pennsylvania about 1725, and eventually settled in Sadsbury, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania about 60 miles west of Philadelphia. State records show that in 1734 Thomas Shannon purchased 200 acres of land in Lancaster County on which he and his family got their start in America.

Virginia. He and Eigness had 5 children. Their first, Samuel Shannon (1727-1811), was born about 1727 in Pennsylvania, and is the one from whom we are descended. Samuel and his wife Jean Reid Shannon (1725-1806) migrated 400 miles westward in 1772 and settled in the frontier town of Poplar Hill, Virginia. They eventually made their way farther west to the area south of Nashville, Tennessee. 

Tennessee. Samuel and Jean's first child was David Shannon (1756-1823). He was born in Virginia but settled in Tennessee with his parents. In Tennessee David married a girl from North Carolina named Jane McKnight (1759-1830), whose ancestors had also migrated from northern Ireland in the early 1700s. (Our Irish blood thickens.) Life in Tennessee after the Revolutionary War was good for David and Jane McKnight Shannon who brought into the world a total of 11 children. 

Mississippi. The first of David and Jane Shannon's 11 children was David McKnight Shannon (1790-1860). He married Anna Pickens (1785-1867), who herself had several ancestors who were Irish immigrants. (Our Irish blood thickens even more.) David and Anna then migrated a couple of hundred miles southwest where they settled in Itawamba County, Mississippi.

Samuel Pickens Shannon and Finetta Dearien Shannon,
Arkansas, 1920s
Louisiana and Arkansas. The first of David and Anna Shannon's 10 children was David Reid Shannon (1821-1864), who married Peggy Gray (1829-1899). David and Peggy migrated to Southern Louisiana where they had 9 children. The Civil War took the life of 42 year old father David, leaving a distraught and poverty stricken widow Peggy Shannon. Her father and brothers rescued her and the children from their desperate plight in Louisiana and moved them to Stone County, Arkansas in 1867. (Read more about that touching story here.)

Oklahoma and California. The 7th child of that rescued brood was my Great Grandfather, 8 year old Samuel Pickens Shannon (1859-1930). Some 14 years after relocating to Arkansas he in turn rescued a young girl from a different kind of tragic life when he married Finetta Dearien (1861-1960). Read about their story here. The two of them bore 9 children in Arkansas, the last one being my grandmother Nola Agnes Shannon, who after marrying fellow Arkansan Leroy Gower, migrated to Oklahoma and then on to San Diego.

Russ and Steven Paul Shepard, 2012
Anacortes, Washington
So there you have it: the 3 century trail of our Shannon Irish ancestors across our country from Southeast Pennsylvania all the way to California. It is one part of our great Irish heritage to remember and to celebrate this Saint Patrick's Day!

Happy Birthday to Russ and Steve. Birthday wishes today to my brother Russell Shepard and his son Steven Paul Shepard, who were both born on March 13. There is a certain symmetry about this birthday for the two of them: Russ at 56 years old is exactly, to the day, twice as old as Steve at 28 years old. Russ is a native of San Diego while Steven has lived his entire life in Anacortes, Washington. Steven and Russ (and Russ' wife Pam) live at the Shepard home on Wildwood Lane in Anacortes. They are part of the care-giving team for our mother Maida Shepard who at 93 needs plenty of loving care and attention.

Linda and Jerry Clark, Cindy and Steve Shepard
San Diego, August 1970
Best Wishes To Jerry Clark. Happy Birthday tomorrow to my brother-by-another-mother Jerry Clark who lives with his wife Cathrina in Lubbock, Texas. Originally from Albuquerque, Jerry has lived in Lubbock nearly his entire adult life. He has been a part of our family ever since he and my late sister Linda were married back in August, 1970 in San Diego.

Happy Birthday Kerri. Earlier this month, on March 3, a very special birthday was had by my eldest niece Kerri Shepard Aquiningoc of Weatherford, Texas. Born in Walled Lake, Michigan 50 years ago (can that be right?), Kerri was raised in San Diego. She is the first born daughter of my brother Gary Shepard and Jackie Perry.
- - -
Steve Shepard

Monday, February 19, 2018

75 Years of Cousins, February 19, 2018

Home is where love resides,
memories are made,
friends are always welcome,
and families are forever.

Today is the 75th birthday of my cousin Hershell Gower who lives in Bullhead City, California. Hershell is the first of the 12 Grandchildren of our Grandparents Leroy and Nola Shannon Gower. The 12 of us were all raised together in San Diego back in the 1940s, 50s and 60s.

Leroy and Nola had moved to San Diego during the Second World War in 1942 from the small town of Okemah, Oklahoma. Within a matter of months the grandchildren began arriving on the scene. Hershell, his brother Jimmie, my brother Gary and myself were the first four, born in the decade of the 1940s. Over the 20 year period from 1943-1962 the Gower children, Hendrix, Maida and Vicki, gave their parents a total of 12 Grandkids. Hershell was the initial Gower Grandchild, born in 1943 to Hendrix and Starlene Gower, while my brother Russell Shepard was the last one, born in 1962.

Leroy and Nola Gower and Family, 1968
All 12 of us kids frequented the Gower home on Lynn Street in East San Diego for family events, or for a weekend stay, or just to stop by and visit. Some of us even lived there for periods of time. It was a happy place where we all felt welcome and where familial love was in abundance. In that modest 2 bedroom home the Senior Gowers lived for almost 50 years. It still remains an important place for all us in our remembering of our Gower grandparents. From Grampa's cigarette smoke, to Grandma's Tommy Tarts and other culinary delights, it was a house of memories that will never leave us.

The first picture shows Leroy and Nola Gower in the front yard of their home on Lynne Street in San Diego in 1968. Pictured here are most of their family members, especially their first two Great Grandchildren, Kerri Shepard and Sean Gower -- both less than a year old -- sitting on Grandpa's lap.

Hershell, Hendrix and Nola Shannon Gower, 2003
It has been 75 years now since the start of that generation of those dozen Gower grandkids. Two of those 12 have passed away: my sister Linda Shepard (1950-1971), and my cousin Gloria Harrell Watson (1953-2016). Today the other 10 live scattered around from Western Washington to Southern California to Arizona to Tokyo, Japan. We cousins don't get to spend as much time with each other as we did back in our youth, but our connections remain the same, with an historical bond that will always be there.

The second picture I am including shows Hershell on the left with his father Hendrix Gower and his grandmother Nola Shannon Gower. This picture was taken in 2003 in Anacortes, Washington at the 100th birthday celebration of Nola Gower.

Happy Birthday and best wishes on this day of a milestone celebration to Hershell Gower, the senior member of those dozen cousins. I spoke with Hershell earlier today. He is doing well and enjoying life with his wife Shelly and their dogs "in the sticks", as he calls it, in Bullhead City, California.
- - -
Steve Shepard

Monday, February 12, 2018

Valentine's Day Approaches, February 12, 2018

We do not find the meaning of life
by ourselves alone -
we find it with another.
~Thomas Merton

Happy Valentine's Day! This is the week of Valentine's Day, which is on Wednesday. It is a day to celebrate and honor love, whether you are a senior, a child, or anywhere in between. It seems to me that this makes Valentine's Day the perfect time to celebrate family love.

For most of us it was, and is, those familial relationships that have meant the most to us throughout our lives. In families we first received unconditional love, we learned about love, and we discovered the importance of extending love to others. It was also in family relationships that it became clear to us that loving those closest to us was gratifying and the pillar upon which all love is based. On the other hand, in families we also learned that love can be challenging and even heartbreaking. So on this week of Valentine's Day we celebrate family love, not just warm fuzzy feeling we get with our family, but the realistic, tough kind of love as well. 

Eugene, Gary, Maida Shepard, 1946
"Show Me The Love" Award for 2018. For the last several years on Valentine's Day I have selected one person in our family who receives a "Show Me The Love" Award. It is a member of our family whose life exemplifies family love in an extraordinary way. The more I learn about the history of our family, the more I marvel at the people from who we are descended. In many instances they are people who sacrificed a lot for their kin. They are people who gave up much to better their station in life and that of their children.

You can look back in the archives of this blog to the last several Valentine's Day posts that have referred to individuals who won the "Show Me The Love" Award. They were mostly people who lived before our time, but what we learned about them shows they were clearly deserving of this Award. This year, however, I want to select a person for this Award who is still with us: my mother Maida Gower Shepard. 

Maida Gower Shepard, at 93 years old, has lived in Anacortes, Washington for the past 40 years. She and her sister Vicki Gower Johnston of Chandler, Arizona are today the senior members of our family. Originally from Arkansas, mom moved with her family from Oklahoma to San Diego during World War II. There she met Eugene Shepard (1921-2003) and lived with him in San Diego for over 30 years. In San Diego they raised their 6 children. In 1978, their life changed dramatically when Eugene retired and they moved 1,500 miles to Skagit County, Washington.
Steve, Maida, Gary Shepard, 2018

The first picture (above) was taken in San Diego in 1946 and shows Mom with young husband Eugene and their first child Gary. The second picture shows Mom in the middle with me on the left and my brother Gary Shepard on the right. This picture was taken just last month at Mom's home on Wildwood Lane in Anacortes, Washington.

Mom has showed extraordinary love her whole life long. She learned that kind of extraordinary family love from her parents, especially her mother Nola Shannon Gower. Maida's home has been a place of welcome throughout her life, a place where she has shown how much family means to her. 

For the last 72 years Mom has had one or another child or grandchild living with her without a break. For over 7 decades her home had been a place of love and acceptance. Talk about loving dedication to her family! Even today, at 93, Mom has 4 family members living with her. Two years ago she was diagnosed with memory loss and is now in need of her family's assistance, rather than the other way around.

So with all the foregoing in mind, I suggest to you that Maida Shepard deserves the "Show Me The Love" Award for 2018. I cannot imagine another person more deserving.   

Paula Harrell Tuzzolino, 2015
Happy Birthday Paula. Last week on Feb 7 was the birthday of my cousin Paula Harrell Tuzzolino of Sun Lakes, Arizona. Paula is married to husband Frank, and together they are the primary caregivers for Paula's mother Vicki Gower Johnston. Best wishes for a very happy birthday to Paula!

This second picture shows Paula and was taken a few years ago in Oak Harbor, Washington at the home of her mom Vicki Gower Johnston.

Make it a happy Valentine's Day for the ones you love!
- - -
Steve Shepard

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Sadie, Cindy and Soldier William, January 30, 2018

When I get older losing my hair
Many years from now
Will you still be sending me a Valentine
Birthday greetings bottle of wine
~John Lennon

Hello and greetings to all of you from San Diego on this warm and sunny day in late January as we approach the midpoint of Winter later this week on Ground Hog Day.

Remembering Sadie Shepard Pruett (1892-1980). This week marks the anniversary of the birth of my Grandfather's sister Sadie J. Shepard. She was born and raised in Venice, Madison County, Illinois, but at 13 years old her family moved to Oklahoma. After finishing school she actually went into teaching for a while. But that career was cut short when a young fellow named Levy Pruett caught her eye. She married Levy in 1910 and settled into being a rancher's wife in rural Beaver County, Oklahoma. She and husband Levy raised three daughters, Alberta, Gayle, and Twila.

Levy and Sadie Pruett, Bura, Will and Thelma Shepard
This first picture shows Levy and Sadie Shepard Pruett with Bura and William Shepard (Sadie's brother). In front is the Shepard's youngest child Thelma at 6 years old. This picture was taken in the summer of 1942 in Beaver County, Oklahoma when the Shepards, who lived in San Diego at the time, had returned to Oklahoma for a summer visit.

From The History of Beaver County, Volume 1 (p. 439): "Levy Pruett was born in Weaubleau, Missouri in 1879. He came to Beaver County in 1905. He filed on a quarter of land south of the Elmwood Post Office. In 1910 he married Sadie Shepard who had been born in Illinois in 1892. She had come here in 1905 with her folks. Before her marriage, she taught three terms of school, and one term after they were married. They lived in a two room frame house, later building a new house. Levy and Sadie lived on their ranch till 1966. Due to poor health, both went to the Beaver Nursing Home to live. Levy passed away in 1968." Sadie lived in Beaver County until her death in 1980.

Civil War Section of Oak Hill Cemetery, Evansville, Indiana
William Elmer Shepard (1862-1915). This week also marks the beginning of a fateful month in the life of Sadie's father, William Elmer Shepard, born February 2, 1862 during the Civil War. This was also a fateful month for Sadie's Grandfather, William Shepard, who was a soldier in the Union Army's 41st Regiment. The soldier William was injured in a battle at Bowling Green, Kentucky in February, 1862 just days after his son William Elmer was born. Father William, almost certainly unaware of his son's birth, was sent to a military hospital in Evansville, Indiana. There, for 5 long months, he attempted to recover from his injuries. He finally succumbed to illness in the hospital on July 22, 1862 at just 27 years old. He lies buried today in the Civil War section of Evansville's Oak Hill Cemetery. Born 30 years later, Sadie never met her Shepard grandfather. We can only assume that through the family stories her father told her, Sadie knew of her Grandfather's sacrifice. It was an offering of his life that is honored and remembered to this day.

Will You Still Need Me, Will You Still Feed Me. Happy Birthday this Friday, February 2, to my brother's wife, Cindy Ann Shepard of Oak Harbor, Washington. I visited with Cindy this past week when I was in Washington to visit with my Mother Maida Gower Shepard and the rest of the family there. Cindy is doing very well and continues her work at Schenk Packing in nearby Mount Vernon where she has been employed for 15 years. She said she is pleased to be reaching this milestone birthday since few people in her entire family have reached this age.

This picture shows Cindy with Maida at Gary and Cindy's home in Oak Harbor this past Thanksgiving. Cindy is part of the invaluable team of family members who care for Maida. At 93 Mom continues to be tended to by her primary care givers and children, Gary and Barbara Shepard, and several other family members from Oak Harbor, and Anacortes, Washington where she lives. Best wishes and Happy Birthday to Cindy!
- - -
Steve Shepard

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Wintertime Anniversaries, January 18, 2018

Rejoice with your family in the beautiful land of life!
~Albert Einstein

Greetings to all of you today from beautiful San Diego!

Happy Anniversary to my cousin Kim Boyd Clark and her husband Jeff Clark who are celebrating 11 years of marriage today. Kim tells me that she and husband Jeff will be spending today celebrating in Palm Springs, California. They love retirement and enjoy the opportunity to spend more time with their grandkids. They also enjoy traveling in their RV and plan to spend half their time on the West Coast visiting family ands friends.

This first picture shows Kim (on the left in sunglasses) and Jeff (in the back on the right) with several family and friends. On the far right is Kim's mother Thelma Shepard Boyd. This picture was taken this past Monday at SeaWorld here in San Diego.

Happy Birthday Dane and Nathan! This Sunday, Jan 21, is the birthday of my cousin Dane Shepard of Blanchard, Oklahoma, and his son Nathan Shepard, a student at Florida College, who was also born on Jan 21.

The second picture I am including today shows Dane and Nathan Shepard on the right, with mother Cindy Shepard and sister Kaylan Shepard on the left. This picture was taken last summer.

12 Shepard Cousins. Kim Boyd Clark and Dane Shepard are two of 12 cousins who are the grandchildren of William and Bura Davis Shepard. Three of those 12 cousins have passed away: Rex, Beverly and my sister Linda. All 12 of us spent most, if not all, of our growing up years in San Diego during the middle years of the 20th century. That was a wonderful time of growth and togetherness for the Shepard family of William and Bura. Today we cousins are scattered around the U.S., from Washington to California to Oklahoma to Missouri.

In recent months I have shared in this blog about extensive findings related to our Shepard ancestors prior to the Civil War. One interesting conclusion I have drawn from those findings is how important Eastern Ohio was in the history of our family. In particular Belmont and Monroe Counties in Southeast Ohio. Both counties are situated along the Ohio River and are just south of the Cumberland Trail, a famous westward migratory route for frontier Americans in the early 19th century, a route that our Shepard, Davis, Spear and probably other ancestors used in moving westward.

I have known for a long time about the importance of Belmont County Ohio in the history of my Grandmother Bura Davis Shepard's family. More recently I discovered that the family of Callie Spear Davis (my Grandmother's mother), was also from that very same part of Ohio.

But only recently did I find out that our Shepard ancestors were also from Belmont County, Ohio as well. John Sheppard (1737-1827) settled with many family members in the township of Kirkwood, Belmont County, Ohio in the first decade of the 19th century. In 1843 some of these Sheppards migrated to Indiana. Later of course they migrated on to Oklahoma and eventually California.

My grandparents William Shepard and Bura Davis did not even meet until the early 20th century when their families lived in Oklahoma, where Will and Bura were married in 1915.  But as I came to find out, William's grandparents and Bura's grandparents (unknown to each other) had lived in close proximity 75-100 years earlier, in Ohio. For the first half of the 19th century, a large clan of our Sheppard ancestors lived in the area around Sewellsville, Ohio which was just 14 miles from Belmont, Ohio where some of our Davis ancestors were settled, and where Alexander Davis (1819-1866) was born. All of this is remarkable to me since, as far as we know, the Shepards and the Davises never met face to face until Oklahoma in 1913.

It is an interesting and curious fact of our family history. If nothing else this is a reminder than our lives and our families and our history is really more interwoven that we ever thought.
- - -
Steve Shepard

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Fun With Family Names, January 10, 2018

Bee to the blossom, moth to the flame;
Each to his passion; what's in a name?
~Helen Hunt Jackson
Happy Birthday to my wife Cindy this past Sunday, January 7. Her birthday occurred in the midst of a time when our family is down with the flu. It is a bug that has hit our entire community very hard - neighborhood, school, church -- and our family has not escaped the ugly symptoms. Unfortunately most of her birthday was spent in bed. Fortunately we are on the mend. Happy Birthday to Cindy!
This first picture shows Cindy surrounded by me, grandsons William and Logan, and our dog Jasmine. This picture was taken a few weeks ago on Christmas Day in San Diego.

Happy Birthday today to Mary Shepard, wife of my brother Darrell Shepard. Originally from Chicago, Mary and her family live in Bothell, Washington near Seattle. Mary is the administrator of a senior care facility in nearby Everett, Washington. Besides working hard at her day job, Mary loves spending time with her four Grandchildren, who all live close by.

I have mentioned before in this blog how 2017 was a banner year for discovering new information about our Shepard ancestors before the mid-19th century. For many years the Civil War Soldier William Shepard (1835-1862) was the oldest Shepard ancestor I knew about. The soldier's younger son was William Elmer Shepard (1862-1915) and his grandson was William Shepard (1888-1876), my Grandfather.

As far as I know the Civil War Soldier William was the oldest Shepard ancestor that my father and even my grandfather ever knew about. Fortunately we have access to more historical data these days than ever before, hence the recent discovery of family information that was virtually lost to our parents and grandparents.

Fun With Family Names. We have always known that there were several William Shepards in our family history, a tradition that continues today with my Grandson, who was given the name William Shepard (b. 2012). But with the Shepard ancestry discoveries of 2017, I have found that the name William was a favorite of our Shepard family long before the Civil War. The 19th century soldier William Shepard (1835-1862) actually had an uncle whose name was also William Sheppard (1808-1884). (Before the Civil War the most common spelling of our family's name was Sheppard, with two p's.)  

The soldier William also had a first cousin with the same name, William Sheppard (1832-1905), who was also born in the Kirkwood Community of Belmont County, Ohio. These two cousins with the name William Sheppard lived in close proximity at birth and were born just 3 years apart. They were both born into the large and prosperous clan of Sheppards who settled in the Kirkwood Township of Belmont County, Ohio in the early 19th century.

Some other names of Sheppard folk in that clan are amazingly similar to names that we Shepards have given our children. Because of these naming similarities, one might think that we were well acquainted with these Ohio Sheppards from the early 19th century. But the fact is we have not known about them until recently.

The father of the aforementioned cousin William Sheppard was Nathan Cross Sheppard (1801-1856), which is interesting because today we have two Nathan Shepards in our family, one of them being our son Nathan William Shepard. The name Nathan Cross Sheppard is eerily similar to Nathan Ross Shepard, the name of the son of my cousins Dane and Cindy Shepard who live in Blanchard, Oklahoma.

There are other familiar names among the family members of my GGG Grand Uncle Nathan Cross Sheppard. Not only did Nathan and his wife Eliza Sheppard have a son named William Sheppard, they also had children named Rachel Sheppard (1843-1856), Mary Sheppard (1845-1905), and even a Findley Sheppard (1829-1899), all of which are names of Shepard family members today.

This second picture shows daughter and mother Rachel and Mary Shepard, two of those who have the same names as family members from two centuries ago. This particular picture was taken a few years ago at the home of Maida Shepard of Anacortes, Washington.

Yet another fun coincidence: The mother of this Ohio Sheppard family was Eliza Sheppard (1804-1894), whose maiden name was Clark, and was originally from Half Moon, New York. Whether she is related to either of the Clarks who find themselves among our kinfolk is unknown. I am referring of course to my late sister's husband Jerry Clark of Lubbock, Texas, and Kim Boyd Clark's husband Jeff Clark of Grain Valley, Missouri. Just when you thought we had plenty of Clarks in our family tree, it turns out we have yet another.

These are just some of the interesting name similarities that I have found in recent months between us in the 21st century and our early 19th century ancestors. We are two centuries removed from them, but the connections are stronger than we might think.
- - -
Steve Shepard