Friday, July 22, 2022

Remembering One Who Gave His Life

My Great Great Grandfather William Shepard (1835-1862) died 160 years ago today. Born and raised in Wabash, Indiana, he served in the Civil War as a member of the Union Army. Married less than two years, he left his pregnant wife Mary and their young son William Elmer in the fall of 1861. From Wabash this new recruit marched some 80 miles to Indianapolis to join Indiana's 41st Infantry. Once this unit was gathered together, they marched their way 250 miles further south in the cold of winter to join the Civil War at Bowling Green, Kentucky. 

Pvt. William Shepard's grave
Evansville, Indiana
In the very first encounter with the enemy by his unit, William seriously injured his arm in a canon blast. (Somebody had to be the first injury.) His active military service ended almost as soon as it began. Sent to a military hospital in Evansville, Indiana, he languished for 5 long months. He died July 22, 1862 and lies buried today in the Civil War section of Evansville's Oak Hill Cemetery, a place I have visited more than once with great pride and humility. William's headstone stands there today as a lasting memorial to his sacrificial devotion to our country. He is an honored family member who deserves our sincerest gratitude. It is the sacred responsibility of all of us, his descendants, to make sure that he is never forgotten. May we honor his memory as he continues to rest in peace. 

Select this link or this link to read more about the details of his life and military service.

Remarkable Names. It has been a while since I shared in this blog about outstanding names in our family tree. In recent months I have come across some ancestors who were gifted (or "saddled," depending on your perspective) with unique names. Consider the following remarkable names which I have uncovered in our family tree.

First are a couple of family members whose names are a mouthful to speak. Imagine having to go through life with one of these.

Achilles Archilaus Archibald Hogg (1774-1864). Named after the Great Warrior of Greek Mythology, our ancestor Achilles was originally from North Carolina, a 3rd Great Grandfather of my Grandfather Leroy Gower. Giving their son such a big name suggests the Hogg family wanted great things from him. Or did they simply like outlandish names?

Bazzell Bazel Bassell Baswell Roberson (1745-1831) was born in South Carolina, 1745. This name is quite the tongue twister and is almost impossible to say correctly, even at a slow speed. It is unclear exactly how you even pronounce his name. He is in the family line of my Grandmother Nola Shannon Gower.

Talitha Cumi Spear (1840-1943) "Talitha Cumi" is a phrase found in the Bible. In Mark 5:41 Jesus raises a little girl from death by saying "Talitha Cumi," which in Aramaic means "little girl arise!" This Talitha Cumi is in the family line of my Great Grandmother Callie Spear Davis and was born alongside Captina Creek in Belmont County, Ohio. This is one more indication that our ancestors were quite Biblically literate and often gave their children names from scripture.

Zebulon Zerubabel Filer Fyler Flyer (1644-1714) - "Z.Z. Flyer" is in the family line of my Great Grandmother Elvira Owen Shepard. The Flyer family continued the ostentatious naming of their children by giving their son the name Samuel B. Filer Fyler Filor Flyer. Surely they had a sense of humor in giving him such a name.

These are just a few of the remarkable/amusing/outstanding names of ancestors in our family tree. In my next post I plan to share some other names that are just as memorable.
- - -
Steve Shepard

Saturday, June 18, 2022

Happy Father's Day Weekend! June 18, 2022

I believe that what we become
depends on what our fathers
teach us at odd moments,
when they aren't trying to teach us.
~Umberto Eco

On this weekend of Father's Day, I am sharing with you a post from 6 years ago. A lot has happened in our family and in our respective lives in the past few years ago. The challenges we have faced and the difficulties we have encountered were many. This post reminds us of the importance of being a part of our family. The fathers in our family are still to be thanked and honored for what they do for us. Thank God for fathers past and present! 

I am mindful of, and grateful for, two men in particular: my own father and the father of our grandchildren. My dad Eugene Shepard died in 2003 but lived a wonderful life and left a great legacy of family love and devotion. Our son Nathan is an outstanding father who makes us very proud on this weekend to honor all the men who hold our family together.

This first picture shows my dad Eugene Shepard and our son Nathan Shepard in 1996 in Anacortes, Washington. They are just two of the many fathers that are a part of our diverse and changing family.

Below is a slide show honoring all the fathers past and present in our Shepard, Gower, Harris and other families. Pictured are young fathers, old fathers, dads from long ago and dads who are very new to the task. At least one is a father of five kids, while others are fathers of just one or two. Some are steady and hard working, others are just thrilled at the very idea of being dads. Some have been at it for many years and now revel in the joy of "grandfatherhood", while others are still learning how to be the best dad they can. Some do a great job of being step dads, while others face unique and daunting parental challenges.  

My brother Gary of Oak Harbor, Washington has been a father since 1968, while my late cousin Hershell Gower of Bullhead City, Arizona, who died during Covid two years ago, had been a father since 1967. That's 49 years! Congratulations to them.

All the fathers pictured here are to be thanked for their hard work and the loving guidance they give their kids. Click on the arrow below to start the Father's Day video.



Happy Father's Day to all of you who have taken on the great task of being a dad!
- - -
Steve Shepard

Thursday, June 02, 2022

A Day Full of Memories

"In life, it's not where you go, it's who you travel with." 

– Charles Schulz

June 2 has always been an important date on the calendar for our family. It is a day loaded with special events and full of wonderful memories for every part of our family.

It was on June 2, 1915 -- 107 years ago -- that my paternal grandparents, William Shepard and Bura Davis, were married in Beaver County, Oklahoma. They had only known each other about two years, but in that period of time their love grew and their decision to marry was made. 

I have written numerous times in this blog about the wedding of William Shepard and Bura Davis, especially this blog post on the 100th Anniversary of their wedding. It was a simple event in the home of their local preacher. But it was an event with great significance for their descendants who are remembering them all these years later. Will and Bura are both gone now; Will for almost 50 years and Bura for nearly 40 years. But their love and devotion to their family remains in the hearts of all of us who knew and appreciated them.

Will and Bura chose to get married on the birthday of her father James Brooks Davis, who was born on June 2, 1870 in Spencer, Indiana. It speaks of the love and respect Bura had for her father that she would marry on his 45th birthday.

On June 2, 1979 my brother Gary Shepard and Cindy Ann Dillon were married in a Garden wedding in our home on Humbolt Street in Los Alamitos, California. It was also a simple but very meaningful ceremony with just a few special people in attendance. Today they are remembering that special event after 43 years of married life. Best wishes to them as they celebrate their 43rd anniversary in Oak Harbor, Washington where they live.

Paula Hicks Harris. The memories we have on this second day of June are not all happy ones. It was four years ago today, on June 2, 2018, that Cindy's mom passed away at our home here on Burgundy Street in San Diego. She was just a few weeks short of 95 years old. She was a wonderful woman who has been sorely missed for these last 4 years, and will remain in our hearts forever.

Celebrations are also in order today because it was 20 years ago yesterday, on June 1, 2002, that Jeremy Ortiz and Desiree Ambriz were married here in El Cajon. Jeremy is the son of my cousin Kim Boyd Clark and the grandson of my Aunt Thelma Boyd.

This has been a day filled with various family memories, all of which are important. 
- - -
Steve Shepard

Monday, April 25, 2022

Lulu Lee McGee

Researching our family history has put me in touch with some interesting people. Our Family Tree includes over 15,000 people, which means that it contains a large variety of individuals. One of the more fascinating people I have found is a 2nd cousin (4X removed) by the name of Lulu Lee McGee, born in Virginia in 1871, she died in Tennessee in 1941.

Lulu was married to Ome Madison McGee (1873-1950), a Grandson of Matthew Gower (1762-1853), my 5X Great Grandfather. Lulu was a domestic worker most of her life, a servant of well-to-do families. She was black but not a slave, having been born 5 years after the abolition of slavery. Originally from Virginia, Lulu married for the first time at 20 years old to John Hoskins in Arkansas. She had one daughter Martha, who tragically died in 1918 of Lobar Pneumonia as a result of the Spanish Flu which ravaged the entire country for several years.

Cousin Lulu Lee McGee (center)
with her sister (right) and family, about 1941
30 Days of Hard Labor. While in her 30s Lulu did domestic work for a family in New Jersey. Her efforts were evidently less than stellar. She was accused of criminal behavior and was arrested. She found herself before a judge who sentenced her to 30 days of hard labor in the Allegheny County Workhouse. Fortunately, we have the public prison record for Lulu's brush with the law. By the way, this is not the first time that the public prison record of a person in our Family Tree has been available. Four years ago I wrote about Edgar Lee Vessels who spent twenty years in a Texas prison, with his public prison record being a prime source.

In Lulu Lee's situation the public record of the Allegheny (Pennsylvania) County Prison indicates that her crime was "Visiting a Disorderly House." She was incarcerated with others whose crimes were: Keeping a Disorderly House, Selling Liquor, Being a "Common Prostitute," Drunkenness and Vagrancy.

A Miscarriage of Justice. In this period of Reconstruction in American history, personal enslavement was illegal, but unfair treatment of people of color was still very apparent. 30 days in prison for her offense seems a miscarriage of justice at the very least. Unfortunately, it was typical of the late 19th century, when Jim Crow laws abounded and racial discrimination was common. 

In that day and age people of wealth took the work of their domestic servants very seriously. Servant work like this lent itself to abuse, with Lulu being a prime example. One only needs to read the daily news to realize that this kind of mistreatment is no less apparent today.

Lulu's prison record from 1899 says that she was 5'3'' tall, had brown hair and blue eyes, weighed 145 lbs., and was a Baptist. The record also indicates that she never attended school, and at 29 years old could not read or write. Her occupation was listed as "housework."

Her Saving Grace. Lulu had some hard experiences in life, and struggled tremendously at times. Her saving grace may have been her sister Amanda Fitzhugh Lee (1878-1959) whose family had done quite well. Sister Amanda's son was Dr. Harry W. Mickey (1904-1973) the first African-American Medical Doctor in Washington D.C. He received his medical degree from Howard University, which was announced in the June 22, 1922 edition of the Washington D.C. Evening Star newspaper. Dr. Mickey was a White House Physician during the Presidency of Warren McKinley. A family story has it that Dr. Mickey traveled with President McKinley on his fateful trip to Ohio in September, 1901 when McKinley was assassinated.

The group picture above shows Lulu in the center with her sister and family including her nephew Dr. Harry W. McKinley who is standing behind LuLu and to the right. This picture was taken in 1941 at the 50th wedding anniversary celebration of Harry L. and Amanda Mickey (the two dressed in formal black in this picture).
- - -
Steve Shepard

Tuesday, March 29, 2022

Cousin Connections

In my genealogical research of recent months I have focused my attention on ancestor Matthew Gower (1762-1853), one of the earliest Gowers of whom we have any record. Matthew was the GGGreat Grandfather of my Grandfather Leroy Ertin Gower (1899-1974). Or to come at it from the other direction, Matthew was the GGreat Grandson of Abell Gower, the first Gower ancestor to come to America from England.

Two recently discovered Gower cousins have helped focus my attention on ancestor Matthew Gower. One cousin is Marsha Fagnani of Calaveras County, California. She, like me, is a direct descendant of Matthew Gower. She leads a Facebook Group called Friends of Gower Cemetery (the Cemetery where ancestor Matthew Gower is buried). Their stated purpose is "to preserve and maintain the pioneer family Gower Cemetery, established in 1816, located behind the Centenary United Methodist Church on Gower Road, Nashville, Tennessee." I encourage you to visit their Facebook page to find out all about the work of cousin Marsha and other Gower descendants. Their efforts are well worth our support and encouragement. On their Facebook page are several resources related to the Gower Cemetery and our Gower ancestry. Among those resources is a list all the known Gowers that reside in the Cemetery.

Unknown Children from Oklahoma
in the 1920s
Another Gower cousin I was fortunate enough to find and connect with recently is Edwina Gower from Arkansas. Cousin Edwina, another direct descendant of  Matthew Gower, has a special interest in Matthew and has collaborated with several of us in an effort to share information and learn more about this important ancestor. The rewarding work of discovering more about Matthew Gower and other Gower ancestors continues.



More Old Family Photos. As I mentioned in my last post, I was unexpectedly gifted dozens of old family photos by second cousin Norman Getz of Beaver, Oklahoma who passed away earlier this year. On the right is one of the photos of two unknown children, probably from the 1920s. Some of the photos I received are from the 1920s and 1930s and show people I know and can identify. Many of the photos however are images of people I cannot identify. 

Elvira Owens Shepard (center left) with 
other friends, family, neighbors
The photographs I have received are good quality for the most part and are quite remarkable really. The problem is that they show family or friends who are unknown to me. In this post I have included a few more of these images. If you recognize these folks please let me know. If you don't know these folks, just admire and ponder these compelling historic images from a couple of generations ago. 

One of the people who figured prominently in the life of our family in the early part of the 20th Century was my Great Grandmother Elvira Owens Shepard Williams. She appears repeatedly in the photos that we have from that era. The group photo above on the left shows 6 folks, a few of whom I can identify. The lady on the right is Mrs. Erickson, a family friend and neighbor who appears in a surprisingly number of our old photos. Next to Mrs. Erickson, in the hat, is Cal Williams who is seated next to Great Grandmother Elvira Owens Shepard. As an older widow, Elvira married Cal Williams who was considerably younger than her. The lady on the left and the two children in the back I cannot identify. Can you?

This next picture is a better image of Elvira Owens Shepard (1865-1931) and her late-in-life husband, the young and dapper Cal Williams (1882-1968). Select this link for more about Elvira and Cal and the controversy their marriage created nearly 100 years ago. 

 
The final picture below is a compelling picture of an attractive young family posing formally yet gracefully in a setting and posture reminiscent of a number of old family photos I have seen. I recognize the wicker chair which is a type of chair I have seen in other old family photos, but I do not know who this family is. Do any of you know?
    

I continue to sort through the many pictures I have received. In future posts I look forward to sharing with you more of the best of them. The goal of identifying all the people in these pictures for future generations is an important one. Your help would be greatly appreciated.
- - -
Steve Shepard

Monday, February 28, 2022

Tell Me Who I Am


Pauline and Bill Russell
probably in the 1930s
I received word recently that my second cousin Norman Getz (1936-2022) of Beaver County, Oklahoma passed away a few weeks ago. Norman was one of the 36 first cousins of my father Eugene Shepard. Among Norman's belongings were dozens of old family pictures which were given to Lisa Parks, my second cousin who lives in Fort Worth. Lisa was gracious enough to forward them on to me. 

The photos are a treasure trove of images from our family's history in the early years of the 20th century. Most of them are unidentified, although some have writing on the back which tells something about the people in the photos. But as with many old photos I have seen, the words on the back don't help much. They include phrases like, "this is mother," or "this was taken after we left Oklahoma," or "this was taken last summer." 

One picture that jumped out at me when I saw it, was a picture I had never seen before. It shows my aunt Pauline Shepard Russell (1916-2000) and my uncle Bill Russell (1908-1997) when they were very young. It is a picture that may have been taken when they were married in January 1935 in Springfield, Colorado. I am grateful for all these pictures from our family's history, identified or not. 

Elmer, Pauline and Eugene Shepard
Tell Me Who I Am. I am hoping that you might be able to help me put names to the people in the pictures I have. Over the next couple of months I will share with you some of the pictures I have received, in hopes that some of you can tell me who these people are. 

This second picture, like the first one, may also be from the 1930s. On the back of this photo is written: "Aunt Sadie. Taken in the yard this summer." I doubt this is a picture of my Great Aunt Sadie Shepard Pruett (1892-1980). The two fellows in the picture look very much like my Uncle Elmer Shepard (1918-2012) on the left, and my father Eugene Shepard (1921-2003) on the right. The woman in the middle looks more like my Aunt Pauline Shepard than my Great Aunt Sadie Shepard Pruett. If you have some insight into these photos, I would appreciate hearing from you.

The third photo is a group picture and shows a collection of women in Oklahoma, probably in the late 1920s. The back of the photo lists the women in the picture: Sadie, Mrs. Bachman, Mrs. Esther Frass, Mrs. Erickson, Grandma, Bura, and Amelia Frass

A photo from the 1920s of several family members,
neighbors and friends
I am suggesting a date of the late 1920s for this photo because "Grandma" (Elvira Owens Shepard), the woman in the middle/right in white, died in 1931. Grandma Elvira Shepard appears in many of the photos that I have received. She seems to have been the matriarch of the Shepard family in the early 20th century in Oklahoma, which would explain why she is so prominent in many of the photos. Next to Elvira, on the right, is my Grandmother Bura Davis Shepard (1896-1986), Elvira's daughter-in-law.

In the back in this photograph is a tall woman who is identified as Mrs. Erickson. She appears in a number of the photos that I have received. She must have been a close family friend or neighbor. If anyone can tell me about Mrs. Erickson and her place in our family's history, I would appreciate hearing from you.

If you do have comments to make about these photos, send me an email, or simply click on the comments button at the bottom of this page and you can leave a message. I would be glad to hear from you.
- - -
Steve Shepard

Wednesday, February 02, 2022

An Infamous Weekend

Mine eyes have seen the glory
of the coming of the Lord:
His truth is marching on.
~Battle Hymn of the Republic

Happy Birthday to Cindy A. Shepard! Today, February 2 is a memorable day in our Shepard Family history. Not just because it is groundhog day. Nor because it is the exact midpoint of winter. Not even because it is the birthday of my sister-in-law Cindy A.Shepard of Oak Harbor, Washington. All that makes it plenty memorable, of course. But the second day of February stands out for us Shepards because of two historic events that occurred on the same day in the lives of some kinfolk. One event was very happy and the other very tragic. 

160 Years Ago Today. In February of 1862, my Great Great Grandfather William Sheppard was just a few months into his military service in the Civil War. He had joined the Union Army's 2nd Indiana Cavalry in September, 1861 while living in Wabash, Indiana. Over the following few months, after his military training, his unit marched southward from Indiana into Kentucky. At the town of Bowling Green, William's unit had their first taste of battle in a skirmish with confederate forces. 

It was the very first conflict of the War for the 2nd Indiana Cavalry. This unit went on to fight in the war for 3 more years. They fought at the famous encounter at Shiloh. They went on to engage the enemy in other venues as well before returning to Wabash, Indiana at the end of the war. 

But William's active duty in the Civil War began and ended at Bowling Green, Kentucky. On Sunday, February 2, 1862, William suffered a serious arm injury from a canon blast. We don't know if the canon misfired, or if William was hit by enemy fire. We only know that the injury brought an abrupt end to his active duty in the Civil War.

Tragic Irony. While on the battlefield that fateful day in February 1862, young William could not have known what was happening back home in Indiana. The very day he was injured in Kentucky, his wife Mary in Wabash, Indiana, was giving birth to their second son. What tragic irony that these two events would happen on the same day, some 315 miles apart.

After suffering his injury, William was taken off the battle field and transported to a military hospital in Evansville, Indiana. 5 long months later, on July 22, 1862 he died. The actual cause of death was not the arm injury, but dysentery, an intestinal infection that took the life of countless soldiers who, like GGGranddad William, experienced extended stays in wartime hospitals.

The second day of February will always remain in our family history as a time when joy and tragedy intersected. In Indiana a baby was born; in Kentucky the baby's father was mortally wounded. It may have been her longing for her soldier-husband that caused Mary Shepard to name their newborn child William Elmer Shepard. 

The Rest of the Story. That wartime baby William Elmer Shepard became a very important figure in our family history as a young adult. He left his troubled stepfamily in Indiana and journeyed alone to the Saint Louis area where he married, had two children, and then migrated with them to Oklahoma in the early years of the 20th century. Our ancestors suffered much in those tragic years of the Civil War. We are grateful for their fortitude and resilience, and are honored to be counted among their descendants.
- - -
Steve Shepard

Monday, January 17, 2022

The Lost 100th Grandchild

Which one of you,
having a hundred sheep
and losing one of them,
does not leave the ninety-nine
and go after the one that is lost?
Luke 15.4

In the years I have been researching our family history, I have used numerous resources to gather information. One resource I have found especially helpful is the book Sheppard-Marshall and Allied Families, written by 3rd cousin Lillian A. Sheppard. Originally from Iowa, she lived for many years in San Jose, California until her death in 1982. Her book is a well researched and extensive collection of Sheppard family members. And it is available online at Ancestry.com at this location. 

As a reminder, many of our ancestors, including Lillian, spelled their name with two p's. Included in Lillian Sheppard's family history are my 4X Great Grandparents James Sheppard (1775-1843) and his wife Hannah Gatchell Sheppard (1784-1839) of Kirkwood, Ohio. I have written about James and Hannah numerous times in The Shepard's Crook. 

An image of Lillian Sheppard
from her book
The 99 Grandchildren. In Lillian Sheppard's family history she records 99 grandchildren of James and Hannah Sheppard. James and Hannah themselves had 13 children, each of whom had large families of their own, averaging nearly 8 children apiece. Hence the 99 grandchildren of James and Hannah. For some reason Lillian was unaware of the 100th grandchild of James and Hannah. That "lost" 100th grandchild is my Great Great Grandfather, Civil War soldier William Sheppard (1835-1862). He is the one from whom our part of the Shepard family is descended. His younger son was William Elmer Sheppard (1862-1915) who took his family to Beaver County, Oklahoma, which is where my Shepard Grandparents met and started their family.

An Understandable Oversight. Now to be fair to cousin Lillian, there are good reasons why her research failed to turn up the 100th Grandchild of James and Hannah. First of all, her research and writing were completed in 1974, long before the Internet came along with its amazing number of genealogical resources. 

Furthermore, William Sheppard, born in 1835, left the Sheppard family homestead in Ohio as a child with his parents and migrated to the wilderness of Indiana. In so doing he evidently lost contact with his grandparents and other family. He grew up in Indiana, served in the military during the Civil War, and died at just 27 years old. Communication was so poor in those days that his war service and his death at a military hospital may not have been known to many in his own family. After William's death in 1862, his widow Mary Sprague Sheppard with their two young sons Frank and William, got on with their lives which did not include William's family of origin.

Gravesite of GGGrandfather
William Sheppard in Oak Hill Cemetery
Evansville, Indiana
When I first started researching the soldier William Sheppard some 30 years ago, it was very difficult to find information about him. For several years I thought he had been lost to history and further details of his life would never be found. I knew that his son William Elmer Sheppard was born in Wabash, Indiana, so I visited Wabash and found a few references to him in County history books there. That led me to his grave in Evansville, Indiana where I found a little more information about him. 

Disappointed But Gratified. So it is not surprising that William, the 100th grandchild of James and Hannah Sheppard, could not be found by Lillian Sheppard in her research and was not included in her 857 page book. It leaves me disappointed that Great Great Grandpa William Sheppard, an honorable soldier who gave his life for his country, is missing from this important historical resource.

But it is gratifying to know that telling his story in this blog is one more way of assuring that GG Granddad William will not be lost to history. He now takes his place as one of the many Grandchildren of James and Hannah Sheppard. May his memory be a blessing to all his descendants.

I mentioned that in her research Lillian Sheppard uncovered 99 grandchildren of James and Hannah. In recent years that number has actually grown. In my family tree on Ancestry.com I have now identified from historical records 118 grandchildren of James and Hannah Sheppard, from their first Grandchild Hannah J. Sheppard (1825-1902) to their last Grandchild Etta Blanche Sheppard (1873-1963). Those 118 Grandchildren, with their individual families, would make for one huge family reunion!
- - -
Steve Shepard

Saturday, December 18, 2021

Our Mixed Quaker Heritage

The Quakers, also known as Friends,
are a small group of devout people
who worship in silence,
believing that all
have the Light of God in them.
-Karen Brooks

The Quaker religion has had a great impact on our family. They have had an important place in our nation from its beginning and have had a strong impact on our family history as well. My Grandmother Bura Davis Shepard was the Grandchild of Melinda Wright Davis, whose Quaker ancestry reached back over 100 years to the Quaker beginnings in England. Historically the Quakers were pacifists, abolitionists, evangelical, and strict in their Christian beliefs. The following are Quakers from our family tree who illustrate these particular qualities.

An artist's rendering of a
 typical 18th century Quaker
Nathan Bangs Gatchell (1756-1813), my 5th Great Grandfather, was an English immigrant during the time of the Revolutionary War. As a devout Quaker and pacifist, he was not allowed to take up arms against the enemy. But as a patriot he was compelled to help in some way, so he simply cleaned the guns of colonial soldiers during the Revolutionary war. But even that participation in the Revolution was too much for his pacifist Quaker brethren and he was "disowned" as a result.

The Newberry Community. My 7th Great Grandmother Rachel Wells Wright (1720-1771) was an influential Quaker leader from Maryland, who led the effort to spread the Christian faith into the frontier of colonial America. The Quakers always believed in gender equality and were welcoming of women leaders and preachers. Rachel and her family caught the pioneering spirit and gave themselves wholeheartedly to the spread of their Quaker faith and the growth of their new nation.

Rachel was also one of the leaders of the Quaker settlement in Newberry, South Carolina, a bustling community of Quaker activity. South Carolina, however, was a slave state. Being adamantly opposed to slavery, the Quaker community was distraught. Prodded by the abolitionist hell-fire-and-damnation preacher Zachary Dicks, the Quaker community of Newberry struggled with life in South Carolina. At the turn of the 19th century the entire Quaker community abandoned Newberry, South Carolina and settled in Southwest Ohio and other regions. All because of their strong abolitionist stance.

A 19th Century Apostle Paul.  Rachel's daughter Charity Wright Cook (1745-1822) exceeded her mother's accomplishments and became one of the most influential Quaker preachers of the early 19th century. She was a virtual Apostle Paul as she traveled extensively to visit and strengthen Quaker fellowships throughout the new world. Supported by the larger Quaker establishment in Pennsylvania, she even journeyed to Europe to build up the Quaker gatherings there. She was the embodiment of Quaker evangelism and leadership and became one of the best-known colonial Quakers.

Quaker Assembly with a woman preaching
Several books have been written about the remarkable life of our ancestor Charity Wright Cook, including one by the late Quaker scholar Algie Newlin, and another by my 5th cousin Jean Chesley Schubert of Western Washington. Contemporary Quaker writer Barbara Leutke of Seattle is in the process of writing yet another book about Charity Wright Cook. 

The Quakers have had a very positive impact on the history of our family. This is true despite the fact that there was a narrowness about their approach to Christianity. Early Quaker leadership tended to be harsh and overbearing. They strongly believed that Quakers could only marry within their faith. Marrying someone who was not a Quaker was grounds for ouster from their fellowship. That very thing happened to my 3rd Great Grandmother Matilda Reynolds (1814-1876) who was from a respectable Quaker family in Pennsylvania. In 1834 she fell in love and married James Shepard (1813-1887), though he was not a Quaker. As a result young Matilda, at just 20 years old, was booted out of her Quaker fellowship. 

Despite their strictness, the Quakers have contributed in many positive ways to the life of our family over the last 3 centuries. We can be grateful that they have left us a legacy of strong faith, patriotic citizenship and steady engagement with our culture. The most inspiring legacy of our Quaker progenitors is simply the stories of their lives, many of which are found in the posts of The Shepard's Crook.

A note of thanks. I want to say thank you to all of you who are readers of The Shepard's Crook. It is a labor of love that I began writing 14 years ago this month. After 710 posts and over a thousand family pictures I can still say I have enjoyed the research and the work very much. Best wishes to all of you for a joyous Christmas and a wonderful New Year. That greeting even extends to the anonymous troll who continues to play the part of the family grinch! 
- - -
Steve Shepard

Monday, November 01, 2021

Celebrating 97 Years Young

Happy 97th Birthday today to my mother Maida Gower Shepard, the senior member of our family. Maida has lived on Wildwood Lane in Anacortes, Washington for 43 years. She lives with her daughter/care giver Barbara and is supported by Gary and Cindy and other family members and professional care givers.

Maida was born in Mountain View, Arkansas in 1924, the second of the three children of Leroy and Nola Shannon Gower. After growing up in Oklahoma she spent 36 years in San Diego with husband Eugene raising their 6 children. They retired in 1978 and moved to Northwest Washington where they have been ever since. Husband Gene passed away in 2003 but Maida and daughter Barbara have maintained their life there in Anacortes ever since.

Maida Gower Shepard earlier today
with two of her kids Gary and Steve
What is so special about 97?? On the occasion of her 97th birthday, her family celebrates with her and honors her.  Here are the biggest reasons that 97 is so special:

1. If you make it this far, you might as well plan on making it to 100. There's a good chance you'll make it. 

2. At 97 who, among your family and friends is going to complain when you ask for help? They would look foolish to consider themselves put upon.

3. The number 97 is a prime number. It is always good to have the word "prime" describe you. Just like the number 97, there is no one else just like you.

4. At 97 there is at least a 97% chance you are the most respected member of any group.

5. At 97 you can pass gas and no one complains or even gives it a second thought.

6. At 97 you can smugly revel in the knowledge that you are closer to heaven than almost anyone around you.

7. At 97 you know better than anyone how good God has been to you.

8. At 97 you can smile knowing that 97% of those around you will probably never be able to match your age.

9. At 97 you are part of far less than 1% of the American population. 

For all these reasons and so much more, Maida Shepard is a very special person to all her family and friends.On this her birthday we are glad to celebrate with her yet another year of life. May God bless her with many more.
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Steve Shepard