Thursday, March 02, 2023

A Presidential Love Story

Ann Mayes Rutledge (1813-1835) was a distant cousin of mine related to me through my Grandmother Nola Shannon Gower (1903-2004). Born in Kentucky in 1813, Ann's family migrated to Illinois and were among the founders of the little town of New Salem, Illinois, 20 miles northwest of Springfield. Shortly after the town's founding Ann's father built a tavern and an Inn with lodging for travelers. 

An Artist's Rendering of
Abe Lincoln and Ann Rutledge
A new resident to the town came and stayed for a while at the Rutledge Inn, a young man by the name of Abraham Lincoln. He and Ann took a liking to one another. Unfortunately, Ann was already engaged to a fellow from New York named John MacNamar. In 1832 John made a trip home to New York and promised to marry Ann when he returned. Time passed and John did not return. After a full year John never returned, nor was he heard from. As time passed Abraham began to develop a close friendship with Ann, a friendship that blossomed into romance. Abraham told her that he wanted to marry her, after he obtained his law degree, for which he was studying.

Called to Her Bedside. In 1835 Ann became very ill with Typhoid Fever. As her condition worsened and death drew near, Ann called for Lincoln who came to her bedside to console his dying friend. On Aug 25, 1835 Ann died at the age of just 22. It was a devastating experience for Abraham to have to deal with the death of his first love. He became depressed. Historians say this was the first of several severe bouts of depression. Some friends said he might have been suicidal.

Ann's sister Nancy Rutledge was heard to have said, "I can never forget how sad and broken-hearted Lincoln looked when he came out of the room from that last interview with Annie. No one knows what was said at that meeting, for they were alone together." 

“I ran off the track,” said Lincoln years later. “It was my first. I loved the woman dearly and sacredly. She was a handsome girl. She would have made a good loving wife. I did honestly and truly love the girl and think often, often of her now.”

Present Day Grave of Ann Rutledge
in Oakland Cemetery, Petersburg, Illinois
Buried and Re-Buried. Ann was buried in the Concord Graveyard, a few miles northwest of New Salem, Illinois. Lincoln was said to have visited her grave many times. More than 50 years later, after Lincoln's Presidency, after the Civil War, even after his death, the townspeople of nearby Petersburg sought to take advantage of Lincoln's popularity. By this time he had become a legend and his fame had grown immensely. The Petersburg folks dug up Ann's coffin and re-buried "Lincoln's Sweetheart" in Oakland Cemetery in the town of Petersburg. They made her grave an attraction that drew people to their young town, in hopes of "putting it on the map." Her grave remains there to this day. Were you to visit the grave of our ancestor Ann Mayes Rutledge today, you would read on her headstone the following words:

I am Ann Rutledge
who sleeps beneath these weeds,
Beloved of Abraham Lincoln,
Wedded to him, not through union,
But through separation.
Bloom forever, O Republic,
From the dust of my bosom!

- - -
Steve Shepard

Wednesday, February 22, 2023

A Record Setter

Many ancestors in our family tree were parents of numerous children. For example, I was one of six children. Other parents in our larger family brought even more children into this world. My Grandmother Bura Davis was one of 7 children. My Grandfather Leroy Gower was one of 13 children. It was common for our ancestors in the 19th century to have large families. They were pioneer people, moving ever westward, driven to populate this young country of ours.

Ancestor Sarah Bates
A Charismatic Missionary. Recently I discovered an ancestor who sets the record -- at least in our family tree -- for having the most children. This particular story begins with Sarah Marinda Bates (1817-1888), who was a distant cousin of my Grandmother Nola Shannon Gower. Sarah was born and raised in Henderson, New York. As a young adult she met and married a charismatic missionary named Orson Pratt (1811-1881) who introduced Sarah to Mormonism which she practiced wholeheartedly for many years. Rev. Pratt, an accomplished and capable religious leader, was also an historian, a civic leader, a world traveler, a scientist, a mathematician and an author. He was chosen to be one of the original 12 Apostles of the Latter Days Saints movement. As such Orson Pratt embraced polygamy. For many it was a repulsive, anti-Family and un-American practice, but it had its day in the history of Mormonism. Since Sarah's husband embraced the practice, it meant that Sarah was just the first of Mr. Pratt's numerous wives. 

With Sarah, Mr. Pratt had 14 children. He went on to gather around him 9 other women whom he married and with whom he fathered children. In the early years of Mormonism polygamy was not uncommon. It was encouraged, as a way of increasing the numbers of this new sect. To her credit, our ancestor Sarah Bates refused to be married to anyone besides her one husband. Other men sought to make her one of their "spiritual wives," but she refused.  Among her suitors was the founder of Mormonism, Joseph Smith himself, according to a reputable article regarding Mormon history on Wikipedia. 

Rev. Orson Pratt (1811-1881)
The Man Who Fathered 38 Children. Sarah Bates' husband Orson Pratt fathered 38 children by his 10 wives between 1834 and 1877. How does a father bring 38 children into the world and give them the attention they deserve? He doesn't. Because he can't. Mr. Pratt obviously was not motivated by any sense of family love but simply from a base desire to procreate, regardless of the consequences. Because of its detriment to healthy families, the Mormons finally repudiated polygamy publicly in 1890. The practice became a felony in 1935.

Yet the historical record remains clear about Mr. Pratt's 38 offspring. What is also clear is Sarah Bates' refusal to accept Polygamy, despite her husband's full embrace of it. She even became an outspoken critic of the Mormon practice. As you might expect it created a serious rift between her and her husband leading to the end of their marriage. 

Sarah later became a founder of the Anti-Polygamy Society in Salt Lake City. In 1874 she was excommunicated from the Mormon Church. The following year she described herself by saying, "I am the wife of Orson Pratt. I was formerly a member of the Mormon church. I have not been a believer in the Mormon doctrines for thirty years, and am now considered an apostate." 

The full story of our family's history includes the feel-good episodes as well as the head-scratching stories of people whose actions we rightly call into question. Like most families, our history is a checkered one, including people we can be proud of, as well as others whose stories we might not want to repeat. But even from them we can nonetheless learn valuable lessons. Wisdom comes from discernment.
- - -
Steve Shepard

Sunday, February 12, 2023

Black History Month

February is Black history month. In our family tree we have a number of Black ancestors including Lulu B. Lee (1871-1941), a 2nd cousin (4X removed) who was originally from Virginia. She was one of the more fascinating people in our family history. She was black but not a slave, having been born just a few years after Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation. 

Dr. Harry Warren Mickey

Lulu was a Great Granddaughter of our notable ancestor Matthew Gower (1762-1853). Lulu was a domestic worker for most of her life. During one particular job in New Jersey, she ran into legal problems and had to appear before a judge. She was accused of "visiting a disorderly house."  We don't know what her crime actually was, but whatever it was earned her 30 days of hard labor in prison. If nothing else, it appears that Lulu was caught up a judicial system that treated people of color unfairly. Sound familiar?

Lulu's sister Amanda Lee (1875-1950) had a son named Harry Warren Mickey (1904-1973) who was the first black Medical Doctor in the city of Washington, D.C. In the June 7, 1930 edition of the Washington D.C. newspaper The Evening Star, the graduates of the Medical College of Howard University were listed. Among them was our ancestor Harry Warren Mickey. One family tradition has it that he was the physician for our 25th President William McKinley and that Dr. Mickey accompanied the President to Ohio when McKinley was assassinated.

Another notable black relative in our family tree was Bishop Henry Beard Delany (1895-1991). He was an outstanding Episcopal minister who, in the early 20th century, was one of only two black bishops in the Episcopal Church in the entire United States. He is related to us through our Gower ancestor Charity Gower Clayton (1804-1847).

Ruby Dee and Diahann Caroll
portraying the Delany Sisters
In addition to the foregoing, two of the most accomplished black ancestors in our family tree were Sarah and Annie Elizabeth Delany (1891-1995), two of the children of the aforementioned Henry Beard Delany. Annie's biography on reads as follows: 

Annie Elizabeth Delany was one of ten children born to Bishop Henry Beard Delany and Nanny Logan, having been born in Raleigh, North Carolina in 1891. She, along with her sister, were thrust into the national limelight in the last decade of their lives. With her sister Sadie (Sarah Delany) and journalist Amy Hill Hearth, a book was published, "Having Our Say: The Delany Sisters' First One Hundred Years" (1993) which found itself on The New York best-sellers list. The book recounted the sisters' experiences growing up in the segregated South and later in New York. Their story was later made into a play that toured the country. In 1994, the sisters published another book, "The Delany Sisters' Book of Everyday Wisdom." Bessie Delany died in Mount Vernon, New York at age 104. In April of 1999, the Delany sisters' story was made into a movie which starred Ruby Dee and Diahann Caroll.

On Black History Month it is gratifying to know that we have a number of Black members whose lives give credit to our larger family.
- - -
Steve Shepard

Friday, January 20, 2023

Ruth Wheeler Fortner, Centenarian

Children born today
have a fifty-fifty chance
of living to 100.
~William Greider

Recently I was in touch with some kinfolk in Indiana who updated me on a relative by the name of Ruth Wheeler Fortner. Most of us here on the West Coast are probably not familiar with Ruth who is a second cousin of mine. Ruth's Grandfather was Thomas Davis (1872-1955) who was a brother of my Great Grandfather James Brooks Davis (1870-1928). Ruth has lived in Spencer, Indiana most of her life. Spencer is where my Grandmother Bura Davis Shepard was born in 1896 and where many of our Davis ancestors were settled for several generations. Cousin Ruth turned 100 years old last month on December 5. 

Nola Gower in 2004 on her 100th Birthday
with daughter Maida Gower Shepard 
The few times I have been to Spencer, Indiana, I visited Ruth. She was always very welcoming and glad to visit with relatives from near or far away. On more than one occasion she was gracious enough to be my guide to a local cemetery -- the New Union Church Cemetery -- where numerous Davis ancestors of ours are buried.

It is always uplifting to hear of relatives who make it to the century mark. It has not happened very often among members of our larger family. One of the more recent centenarians among us was my Grandmother Nola Shannon Gower (1903-2004). Grandma Gower was from a family of folks who lived to advanced years. Her mother Finetta Dearien Shannon (1861-1960) died just 3 months short of her 100th birthday. Her older daughter, my mother Maida Gower Shepard, will turn 99 years old later this year! 

Ruth Fortner and me in Indiana, 2011

I was surprised to learn recently from Wikipedia that there are about 100,000 centenarians alive today in the U.S. That is one in every 3,000 people.

As I looked through our family tree, I could only find a handful of relatives who reached the 100 year mark. But even that handful is a good sign that we have some "longevity genes" in our DNA. As far as I know, Ruth Fortner is the only living centenarian in our larger family today. There may be others. And if so, I hope you will let me know. I would be glad to hear about them and honor them in The Shepard's Crook.

Here is a list of those in our family tree who lived to be at least 100 years old:

Lawrence Davis 1898-1999 (brother of my Grandmother Bura Davis Shepard)
Loudilla Jackson Davis 1904-2006 (Lawrence's wife)
Marjorie Davis 1907-2008 (Lawrence's sister)
Nola Shannon Gower 1903-2004 (my Gower Grandmother)
Ruth Wheeler 1922-

It is interesting to note that this list includes a married couple: Lawrence Davis and his wife Loudilla Jackson. They were married for 69 years! For most of those 69 years they lived in Beaver County, Oklahoma. There must have been something exceptional and good about their life together that enabled each of them both to hit the century mark. It speaks well of our Davis ancestors that their number includes these three centenarians, Lawrence, Loudilla and Marjorie.

Regarding my Grandmother Nola Shannon Gower, she lived a healthy, wholesome life. She was always generous and loving, seldom complained, and leaned on her faith to help her through tough times. She lived to be 101 years old, despite the fact that she (a non-smoker herself) lived in the same house with a heavy smoking husband for 53 years. It is no surprise then that Grandma Gower outlived Grandpa Gower by 30 years.

None of us knows exactly how long we will each live. But we all do hope to live long meaningful lives. If we live wholesome and healthy, we too might join the ranks of the centenarians among us.

Best wishes to centenarian cousin Ruth Wheeler Fortner of Spencer, Indiana!
- - -
Steve Shepard
(he, him, his)

Tuesday, December 27, 2022

Thank You For 15 Years

 As this year of 2022 comes to an end, I want to say thank you to all of you who are readers of The Shepard's Crook, especially those of you who have responded through online comments, emails or in various other ways. It was exactly 15 years ago that I first started writing this blog. Over these past 15 years I have written about various people in our family from all parts of the United States. 

Thelma Shepard Boyd (left)
and Maida Gower Shepard
I have celebrated the newest family additions in our midst, whether they were babies born in Washington, North Texas, California or elsewhere. Whether they had the last name Shepard, Aquiningoc, Gower or some other name, their birth was celebrated. And we have remembered and honored the senior most members of our family: people like my mother Maida Gower Shepard in Anacortes, Washington who is now 98, as well as my Aunt Thelma Shepard Boyd who lives in El Cajon, California. They have the unique distinction of being the two oldest living descendants of our larger family. 

It has been an honor for me to research our Gower and Shepard and other associated families. It has been a joy to learn about relatives from long ago, while celebrating the oneness we share as descendants with a common heritage. I continue to do research on and to gather valuable information about people from all the various parts of our Family Tree. Ancestry is a terrific resource and has allowed me to add over 30,000 individuals to our Family Tree. That number embraces cousins and relatives far and near over the last 200 plus years. It includes my nearest relations as well as cousins way out on the farthest branches of our Tree. They are all people with whom we share some DNA. 

From our family in San Diego
 to yours wherever it might be:
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
Over the past 15 years I have shared with you nearly a thousand old family photos, as well as numerous recent ones. In these posts I have introduced you to ancestors I never knew about, people from fairly recent times as well as centuries past, folks who have contributed in their own way to the history of our family. 

As 2022 comes to an end, and a new year is ready to begin, I want to share with you in celebrating the family that we are. The Shepard's Crook will continue into the foreseeable future, honoring our roots, remembering our past, and enjoying the unity we share as family. I welcome any suggestions, comments or contributions you might like to make to The Shepard's Crook.

From our family and our home on Burgundy Street in San Diego, to your home wherever it might be, Cindy and I wish you all the very best for a healthy and happy new year! 
- - -
Steve Shepard

Friday, November 18, 2022

Special Cemeteries

In my family research, cemeteries are very important for information gathering. Ironically, some of the most exciting adventures in my genealogical research have been at graveyards. Call me crazy, but there is nothing more exciting than finding the grave of a relative I have been searching. 

Pleasant Grove Cemetery, Spencer, Indiana
A few cemeteries stand out as being very special places in the history of our family. Oak Hill Cemetery in Evansville, Indiana for example. That is where my GGGrandfather, the Civil War soldier William Shepard (1835-1862), is buried. Another important graveyard is the New Union Cemetery outside Spencer, Indiana, adjoining the old New Union Church, which is now defunct. The Cemetery is home to many of our ancestors for several generations. Numerous Davis family members in particular are laid to rest there. 

Just a few miles away is the Pleasant Grove Cemetery, a beautiful, neatly maintained place where a number of other ancestors are buried, including my 3X Great Grandfather John Pouty Williams (1806-1892). And then there is the Sophia Cemetery in Beaver County, Oklahoma, the resting place of my Great Grandparents James and Callie Spear Davis, among numerous others. 

The New Union Cemetery (Indiana) and the Sophia Cemetery (Oklahoma) are resting places that are of great importance to generations of family members. 

Greenwood Cemetery, San Diego
Here in San Diego is Greenwood Cemetery, a significant resting place for over 50 years to family members of the Shepard, Gower and Russell families. Among our relatives buried there are my father Eugene Shepard, my Shepard grandparents and my Gower grandparents, and numerous other cousins, uncles and aunts. They are all congregated in one particular location just east of a loop some 50 yards or so south of the main Cemetery office.

The picture on the left was taken at Greenwood Cemetery recently. The central row of headstones in this picture includes numerous Shepard, Gower and Russell family members. On the left at the bottom of this picture is the headstone for my uncle Hendrix Gower.   

The first of our family members laid to rest in this cemetery was my sister Linda Shepard Clark (1950-1971) who died in a car accident at just 20 years old in 1971. 3 years later her cousin Beverly Russell Wilk (1939-1974) died unexpectedly at just 35 years old and took her place in this sacred location. 

If you visit Greenwood Cemetery you will recognize many of the names on these headstones. But you will not see a marker for my late cousin Gloria Kerr Watson (1953-2016). But she is there. She is tucked safely in the ground, sharing a grave with our Grandmother Nola Shannon Gower whose grave is on the right in this image. Cemeteries are places of death and solemnity. But there it's amazing how a visit to one can enliven the memories of our loved ones who have gone before us.
- - -
Steve Shepard

Tuesday, November 01, 2022

Happy 98th Birthday!

Today, November 1, is the birthday of my mother Maida Gower Shepard of Anacortes, Washington. 98 years ago she was born in Mountain View, Arkansas. She was raised in Okemah, Oklahoma, the second child of Leroy Gower and Nola Shannon Gower.

In 1942 (80 years ago today) Mom celebrated her 18th birthday as a senior at Okemah High School. Even though she and her family had lived in Okemah for 17 years, they were making plans to leave Oklahoma for California, which was the land of opportunity at the time. Mom's father Leroy and brother Hendrix had already relocated in San Diego to find jobs and a place to live. In late December of 1942 Maida and her mother endured an arduous bus ride from Okemah, Oklahoma to San Diego. But it was well worth it to be reunited with her father Leroy and brother Hendrix in Southern California.

For the next 36 years she lived in San Diego, where she met and married Eugene Shepard, with whom she raised their 6 children. In 1978 they moved from San Diego to Anacortes, Washington where she has lived for the last 44 years. The picture on the right shows Mom and me in a picture that was taken earlier today as her birthday began.

Maida lives with her daughter Barbara who is her primary caregiver. This evening of her birthday we had a happy family party as we celebrated this special birthday. Best wishes to Maida for many more birthdays.
- - -
Steve Shepard

Friday, October 28, 2022

Those Who Were Challenged Most

In my years of researching our family, a few individuals stand out as having overcome severe personal challenges. They are people who had to endure hardships that most of us would find hard to fathom.

Willie Davis Russell. I have always admired and respected my uncle Bill Russell (1908-1997) for the way he dealt with the loss of a leg to bone disease as a young adult. Despite the difficulty of being an amputee, Uncle Bill was a good humored individual. Whenever our family gathered he enjoyed the occasion. I remember how he would sit down next to one of us kids, and very discreetly take our hand and put in on his knee. The child would be shocked at the hard plastic feel of his prosthesis. He got quite a kick out of surprising kids that way. After all these years, I must say, that behavior now seems a bit creepy to me, but that was Uncle Bill.

Uncle Bill Russell with wife
Pauline Shepard Russell, 1978
Despite his disability, Bill did well for himself. He worked hard for much of his life as a tax consultant. He made the most of life with his wife, my Aunt Pauline, and overcame with grace and determination the hardship of losing a limb. Uncle Bill died just before the turn of the 21st century but is survived today by his son Eric Russell, his granddaughter Shannon Wilk, and his Great Granddaughter Emma Wilk.

Peggy Ann Gray Shannon. A second ancestor who had to deal with serious personal hardship was Peggy Ann Gray (1829-1899), the Grandmother of my Grandmother Nola Shannon Gower. In 1864 her husband David Reid Shannon died in Louisiana while fighting for the confederacy in the Civil War. He left her as a widow with 7 children: Mary Ann (16), William (14), James (12), Richard (11), Sarah (9), Margaret (2), and Sam (5). What an incredible hardship, to be left with 7 children and no husband, in Wartime, far from home. I cannot imagine a more desperate situation for a young mother. Select this link for more about the life story of David Reid Shannon. Thankfully Peggy's father and brothers eventually came to her rescue. They traveled over 400 dangerous miles from northeastern Mississippi during the height of the Civil War to their daughter and sister in rural southern Louisiana. They gathered up Peggy and her children and moved them another 400+ miles to Stone County, Arkansas where they started a new life. Peggy's story is not only about her strength and courage amidst great adversity. It is also about the way it brought out the best in her family who responded to her plight.

Henry William Cooper
Henry William Cooper. Perhaps the most amazing story of personal adversity among our ancestors concerns a distant cousin of my mother Maida Gower Shepard. Henry William Cooper (1852-1906) was born and raised in Newnata, Stone County, Arkansas, the same community where my mother was born in 1924. Henry was born without the use of his legs. It was obviously a disability that made life extremely difficult for him and his family. 

Though he went through life without the use of his legs, he became proficient using his hands. He had a workshop where he made chairs, baskets, brooms, dolls and puppets. The old picture at the left shows him playing the fiddle and operating dancing dolls he had made himself. He also made a cart on which he could get around, using wooden blocks to propel himself. (Thanks to the Stone County History Museum in Mountain View, Ark. for this old photo.)

At 25 Henry married Margaret Parlee Anderson and with her bore and raised a family of 9 children.

When people write about our ancestor Henry Cooper they mention his similarity to the famous French Artist Toulouce Lautrec (1864-1901), a contemporary of Cooper. Lautrec was without the full use of his legs and, like our cousin Cooper, compensated for his infirmity by being extraordinarily creative.

Here then are three remarkable people in our family tree who overcame great hardships. They responded to their adversity with determination, fortitude and hard work. They are people whose DNA we share, and who inspire us to be as resilient as they were.
- - -
Steve Shepard

Friday, October 14, 2022

A Forgotten Immigration

Much of my Shepard family research in recent years has focused on the descendants of James Sheppard (1775-1843) and his wife Hannah Gatchell Sheppard (1784-1839) from Kirkwood, Ohio. I wrote in a blog post a few years ago that James and Hannah Sheppard had over 100 grandchildren. As a result, they likely have several thousand descendants in the US today, over two centuries later. 

Massachusetts Bay Colony
Puritan Immigrants
Recently I have discovered that a whole other Shepard migration from England to Massachusetts took place in the 17th century by a large number of folks who spelled their last name SHEPARD, just as many of us do today. One of the unique things about these particular Shepard folks is that they were Puritans, which influenced the way they named their children. 

Two of the earliest Shepard immigrants from England to Massachusetts were Deacon Ralph Shepard (1603-1693) and his wife Thankslord Perkins (1609-1693). Other given names among these early immigrants were: 

  • Thankful Shepard (1651-1692), Ralph and Thankslord's daughter
  • Mary Thankful Dill (1676-1723), a granddaughter of theirs
  • Thankful Knowles Shepard (1745-1764), daughter of a well-known Massachusetts Ship Master
  • Samuel Lord Shepard (b.1885)

Clearly the New England Shepards were partial to Biblical names. They gave their kids names such as Charity, Joshua, Aaron, Moses, Solomon, and Hannah, as well as lesser-known Bible names like Hepzibah, Mehitable, Theophilus, Angelica and John Baptist.

But my favorite among all these pious monikers is this particular name: "O Lord Another William Shepherd" (1744-1801). Yes, there was an actual person with that name. Imagine going through life with a name like that. I am beginning to wonder if his parents Tom and Betsy Shepherd had a sense of humor and gave their son this name as a humorous gesture. "O Lord Another" was born in Grange, a small town in rural eastern Scotland in 1744 to Thomas Edward Shepherd and Betsy Sellars. He immigrated to Anson County, North Carolina and served in the American Revolution. One record shows that he applied for a pension for serving in the War. He died in Anson County in 1801.

O Lord Another's name suggests that William Shepard was a very common name for folks among our ancestors. Here's an interesting fact: in my family tree today there are 24 different men with the first name William and the last name Shepard, Shepherd, Shephard or Sheppard. All four last name spellings were common among our ancestors. 

Old family photo of William
Henry Harrison Sheppard
The oldest William Shepard I can find in our family tree is my 7th Great Granduncle William Shepherd (1682-1759), born in St Michael's Parish, Barbados. He was part of the Sheppard migration to Maryland in the early 18th century via the Carribean Island of Barbados. The most recent William Shepard in our family is our grandson William Quincy Shepard, born in San Francisco in 2012. 

Among the other William Shepards in our family tree is William Henry Harrison Sheppard (1840-1862) (pictured at left) named after the 9th President of the U.S.

In the mid 18th century when "O Lord Another William Shepherd" was born in Scotland, William Shepard was already in common use among our ancestors. That affection for the name William Shepard continues to modern times. In 1977 we gave our son the name Nathan William Shepard. My father was Eugene William Shepard (1921-2003). His father was simply William Shepard (1888-1976). His father was William Elmer Shepard (1862-1915), and his father was William Shepard (1835-1862). And so it goes.

The history of the name William Shepard in our family is varied. One would be hard pressed, however, to find a Shepard ancestor with a more colorful name than "O Lord Another William Shepherd."
- - -
Steve Shepard (he/him/his)

Friday, August 26, 2022

More Remarkable Names

I have shared before in The Shepard's Crook that a large number of our ancestors who spelled their name "Shepard" came to the American colonies from Europe in the 18th century via the Island of Barbados in the Caribbean. It was a very common way of transitioning from Europe to the American colonies. 

The "Passenger and Immigration Lists Index, 1500s to 1900s" indicates that a John Sheppard arrived in Maryland on a ship from the Caribbean Island of Barbados in 1726. That John Sheppard (1713-1741) and his eventual wife Anne Schiels (1714-1741) may very well be the first "Sheppards" in our ancestral line to arrive in the American Colonies. From Maryland, some of our Shepard ancestors migrated to Kirkwood, Ohio where they settled. Some of them eventually chose to move further westward.  Some made their way to Iowa. Others to Indiana, Oklahoma and finally California and other places on the West Coast.

I shared the interesting names of some of those ancestors in my previous post, but here are a few more outstanding names of folks from whom we are descended.

Obedience Dutiful Bugg (1755-1846). Originally from Cumberland, Va., Obedience is found among the ancestors of my Grandfather Leroy Gower. She was from a family who knew about duty and obedience. Her first husband, Colonel James Martin, served in the Revolutionary War. Married three different times she understood the meaning of obedience and duty. She and her husband James named two of their daughters "Prudence" and "Temperance". As a child Obedience lived on a Virginia plantation which served as a makeshift military hospital during the Revolution, nursing injured Patriot soldiers back to health. As a child she witnessed family members responding to the call of duty and being obedient in service to their country. 

Washington at Valley Forge
Rev. Lewis Cookson "Ole Club Axe" Davis (1756-1835). As far as I know this Davis ancestor is not related to the family of my Grandmother Bura Davis. As I researched Old Club Axe, I discovered to my surprise that he is actually a part of my wife Cindy's ancestry. The bigger surprise however is why this minister of many years chose to take the nickname "Old Club Axe." It is not a moniker that would endear him to Churches looking for a new minister. As a young adult he served in the American Revolution and was part of George Washington's Army who spent the disastrous winter of 1777-78 at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania. That horrific experience alone would harden an individual. After his military service Rev. Davis was a circuit riding Baptist preacher of the "hard-shell" variety in Georgia and Alabama for many years.

Pearly Majesty Morphis (1895-1983).  Hers is a name that rolls off the tongue easily with grace and beauty. One can almost hear the harps of heaven as her name is spoken. She is an example of how our 19th century ancestors tended toward ostentatious names. Pearly was born in Arkansas just before the turn of the 20th century and is in the family line of my Grandmother Nola Shannon Gower. Like Grandma Gower, Pearly and her family lived in Okfuskee County, Oklahoma for several years before moving on to California. Pearly is buried today in Tehachapi, California. She brings to our family tree an ancestor named Maida Tinsley, the only other Maida in our tree besides my mother Maida Gower Shepard. 

There was a whole other immigration of Europeans with the last name "Shepard" who migrated from England to the Massachusetts Bay Colony in the 17th and 18th centuries. These were folks with a strong Puritan influence. They gave their children very pious names. One such ancestor was Thankslord Shepard Perkins (1612-1681). More about Thankslord and her kinfolk in my next post.
- - -
Steve Shepard