Tuesday, April 03, 2018

Nathan Shepard: An American Original, April 3, 2018

We are connected with our past.
People who care nothing for the past
usually have no thought for the future.
~S. W. Kimball

Preslea Maida Shepard
Happy Birthday Preslea! Last Monday was the 8th birthday of our granddaughter Preslea Maida Shepard. She lives here in San Diego with her dad and brothers, just a short ways from Cindy and me. We all had a great time celebrating her big day last week at LEGOLAND in nearby Carlsbad.

The first picture shows a smiling birthday girl Preslea in a picture at their home in San Diego.

Birthday Wishes to Nathan! Today is the birthday of her father, our son Nathan Shepard. Best wishes to Nate for a great birthday! Nate stays busy these days being a father of three, and working full time for Wells Fargo Bank. He enjoys hockey, biking, backpacking, Roblox, and caring for the family dog Jasmine.

When Cindy and I gave our son his name 41 years ago, little did we know that he was not the first in our Shepard family to have the name Nathan Shepard. We thought we were being original. I am sure the same can said for my cousin Dane Shepard and his wife Cindy who, 22 years ago, gave their son the name Nathan Shepard. What none of us knew until recently, was that the first Nathan in our Shepard family tree was the first born child of James and Hannah Gatchell Sheppard, of Belmont County, Ohio. That Nathan was born 217 years ago on February 7, 1801, in Fredricktown, Maryland.

Nathan with Preslea and Logan
The second picture shows Nathan Shepard with daughter Preslea and son Logan.

The Sheppard clan of Kirkwood Township in Belmont County, Ohio is an important part of our family history. The patriarch and matriarch of that clan were James and Hannah Sheppard, who migrated to the frontier of Ohio from Maryland in the first decade of the 19th century. (Note: It was not until after the Civil War that we began consistently spelling our last name with one p.)

Fellow family researcher Dee Gordon has written this story about my 4X Great Grandparents James and Hannah Sheppard, the parents of the original Nathan Shepard in our family:
James and Hannah began their married life in Maryland possibly with or near her parents the Gatchells, until their first 4 children were born. Then they decided to try their luck in the wilds of Ohio. And started on their long and trying journey in a heavy covered wagon pulled by oxen. The trail they took is now known as U.S. Route 40 Highway. 
After several weeks of travel and peril they stopped in the Kirkwood twp., Belmont Co., Ohio. They settled first on the Wilson Farm in October of 1809 and remained there for one year. James then bought a quarter section in Kirkwood twp., for two dollars per acre, and made improvements. The deed was dated January 1, 1812 and was signed by James Madison President, and James Monroe, Secretary of State. The deed is still in the family.
That old homestead never had any other name other than the Sheppard Farm till 1943, 135 years later. By about 1949 it had been transferred only 4 times. This old home is spoken of at length, because from it more persons with the same family name have started out into the world than from any other home in Kirkwood twp. 
It is said that the quality of their household goods and other equipment which they brought from Maryland was of the best that could be obtained at that time.
Among those improvements made on this land in the native forest was a home erected by James to which he moved his family in 1810. It was a round-log cabin 18 by 20 feet, one story high, with one small window, and a quilt hung up for a door. They lived in this house until 1827 when he erected a two-story addition of hewed logs in which he lived the remainder of his life.
One of the odd things about this house was the adjustments made to accommodate a Grandfather's Clock. It was brought over from Baltimore and was taller than the ceiling. A hole was cut through into the room above, next to the wall on the north side. The top of the clock extended twenty inches above the upper floor and was capped over for protection. This clock was a family relic which has been lost entirely to this generation; but those two rooms completed that fine building which was nicknamed the PEPPER BOX on account of its shape.
James Sheppard was considered one of the most successful farmers in Belmont Co., and was a large land-holder, owning over 1,200 acres in Belmont Co. He also assisted in building several schoolhouses and held several township offices.
James was a Tanner by trade and followed it for several years as well as farming. He learned this and Weaving while still in Maryland. James was also a very accomplished carpenter and cabinet maker. A small bureau or chest of drawers made by James is in the permanent home of the Ohio Historical Society in Columbus, Ohio. 
James and Hannah had 99 grandchildren.
The foregoing story gives an overview of the life of this Sheppard clan in Kirkwood, Ohio in the early 19th century. Much of it seems to be word of mouth family traditions, but gives some interesting facts from which more documented research into this part of our family can be done.

Nathan Cross Sheppard (1801-1856), the oldest of the 13 children in this family, was actually born in Maryland but made the wagon journey to Ohio as a child. He was raised in Belmont County, Ohio and married Elizabeth Clark with whom he had 14 children. So this Nathan was one of 13 children. Then he and his wife Elizabeth had 14 children. Do the math. The claim above that James and Hannah Sheppard had 99 grandchildren is not far fetched.

Bethesda Cemetery Grave of Nathan Sheppard (1801-1856)
After raising their family in Ohio, Nathan Cross Sheppard and wife Elizabeth sold their Belmont County farm and migrated 600 miles westward to Rock County in Western Illinois in 1854, where Nathan died just two years later at 55 years old. He is buried there in Bethesda Cemetery, along with numerous other relatives, including a Eugene Sheppard, a Mary Sheppard, 2 Rachel Sheppards, and yet another William Sheppard.

The picture on the right shows the grave of 19th century Nathan Sheppard in Bethesda Cemetery, Illinois.

Nathan Cross Sheppard -- the original Nathan in our Shepard Family Tree -- was an outstanding American pioneer and frontiersman, who we are proud to claim. His younger brother James Cross Sheppard Jr. (1813-1887) is the one from whom we are directly descended. His son, William Shepard (1835-1862), who died in the Civil War, is the one I have written about many times in this blog. He was the Grandfather of my Grandfather William Shepard (1888-1976).
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Steve Shepard

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