Friday, September 14, 2018

The Pantheon of the Famously Named, September 14, 2018

Observe good faith and justice toward all nations.
Cultivate peace and harmony with all.
~George Washington

In recent months I have done considerable research into our Sheppard ancestors of Eastern Ohio in the early 19th century. These were our Sheppard ancestors who spelled their name with two PPs. It was not until our vagabond ancestor, my Great Grandfather William Elmer Shepard (1862-1915), that our name was consistently spelled -- by his descendants anyway -- with one P.

My research into our Sheppard ancestors from Belmont County, Ohio has centered on the prominent, early 19th century, family of James Sheppard and Hannah Gatchell Sheppard. They had a total of 13 children, their 7th child being James Cross Sheppard Jr., the one from whom we are descended, and the one about whom I have written numerous times in this blog. James and Hannah's last child was George Washington Sheppard. It was an interesting choice and it piqued my interest. How often have people in our family tree named their kids after Presidents?

I have found five instances among our ancestors where people were so named. There may be others hiding in the branches of our large family tree that I have not yet identified. If you know of ancestors who were named after Presidents, please let me know. I'd be glad to add them to what I am calling "The Pantheon of the Famously Named."

George Washington Sheppard. The first one is George Washington Sheppard (1829-1900), the 13th child of my GGGG Grandparents James Cross and Hannah Sheppard of Kirkwood, Belmont County, Ohio. In 1829 when he was born, the original George Washington, our first President, had been dead about 30 years. G.W. Sheppard's parents James and Hannah were born in 1775 and 1781 respectively. They were children, in the area of Washington DC, during the years of George Washington's greatest accomplishments. It is no wonder they named one of their children after him.

William Henry Harrison Sheppard
William Henry Harrison Sheppard. The second person in this "Pantheon of the Famously Named" is William Henry Harrison Sheppard (1840-1862). He was named after our 9th President, William Henry Harrison (1773-1841). President Harrison only served for a short time in 1841. He died of pneumonia just one month after his inauguration, making him the President with the shortest tenure. Our ancestor William Henry Harrison Sheppard was the 7th of the 11 children of John and Elizabeth Donahoo Sheppard, and was a grandson of the aforementioned James and Hannah Sheppard of Belmont County, Ohio. Here's a curious bit of trivia: Parents John and Elizabeth Sheppard named their son after Harrison in July, 1840, before Harrison was actually elected President in November, 1840. So technically they named their son after a beloved politician and Presidential candidate who later became President. But who's quibbling? He still gets added to this Pantheon!

This first picture purports to show William Henry Harrison Sheppard in a Civil War uniform, probably about 1862.

By the way, our ancestor William Henry Harrison Sheppard was another of the many fellows named "William Shepard" in our family tree. Sadly, William Henry Harrison Sheppard died in 1862 in the Civil War at just 21 years old. Interestingly, he was the first cousin of my GG Grandfather William Shepard (1835-1862) who also died in the Civil War, also in 1862. So not only were these first cousins who were given nearly the same name, they also died the same year, in the same war. It would be unusual for first cousins today to be given the same name. But 200 years ago, when families were large, migration was prevalent, and communication was often lacking, it was not unusual.

William Henry Harrison Loyd
William Henry Harrison Loyd. The third member of our "Pantheon of the Famously Named" was also named after President William Henry Harrison, a fellow by the name of William Henry Harrison Loyd (1841-1920). He was connected to the part of our Shepard family in Indiana, and probably knew very little about the Sheppards of Belmont County, Ohio. William Henry Harrison Loyd was the husband of the step-daughter of my GG Grandmother Mary Sprague Shepard Ragsdale of Ladoga, Montgomery County, Indiana. Mary was the widow of my GG Grandfather, the soldier William Shepard. Read about their story here.

William Henry Harrison Loyd was born April 17, 1841, just 13 days after the death of President Harrison on April 4, 1841. Before he was President, William Henry Harrison had been the Governor of the Indiana Territory, and was well known and beloved by many in that state. It is very understandable then that while the country was mourning the death of this new President, parents would give their son his name.

I am very fortunate to have found this very old image of William Henry Harris Loyd looking very distinguished, almost Presidential. He died in 1920 at nearly 80 years old, which means this picture was probably taken around the turn of the 20th Century.

I have others to add to this "Pantheon of the Famously Named," and I will share about them in my next post. Stay tuned.

A Milestone Birthday. Last Sunday I celebrated a milestone birthday when I turned 70 years old. It is a milestone that I accept with a mixture of joy and trepidation. I am glad to be as healthy as I am at this point in my life, realizing that the average age of the 19th century ancestors I like to write about, was less than 50. 

This second picture shows Cindy and me. It was taken just a couple of weeks ago here in San Diego on a sunny Sunday afternoon. Thanks to young grandson William Shepard for taking this picture.

I am grateful to God for all the many the joys of life, especially those that come from being part of such a wonderful family -- both my immediate family and the larger clan to which I belong.
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Steve Shepard