Friday, May 30, 2008

Shepard Family Update, May 30, 2008

Dear Family members and friends,

Hello from Anacortes, Washington while visiting with family and looking forward to the family reunion coming up in just 7 short weeks. The plans are starting to come together as arrangements are being made for a comfortable location, a fine meal, and an enjoyable program. We look forward to having a great time. If you haven't already done so, please let one of the Anacortes folks know if you will be attending.

Fascinating Family Fact: Did you know? This coming Monday, June 2, is the graduation day for one more of our High School graduates, Lyndsey Aquiningoc, daughter of Kerri Aquiningoc and granddaughter of Gary Shepard. She is among those family youth who were born in 1990, that I referred to a few weeks ago. We celebrate with her and her family as she graduates from Weatherford High School in Weatherford, Texas. Congratulations! (see picture below)

June 2 is also the 138th anniversary of the birth of James Brooks Davis, Gram's father, and Lyndsey's great great great Grandfather. Having been gone so long, he is not well known to most of us, but Gram always spoke very highly of him. He was usually referred to by all three of his names. He died at the relatively young age of 58 (for some of us that is relatively young!), when Gram was only 32.

He was one of those "transitional" people in our family, who was adventurous enough to uproot his young family and make a major move. The family had deep roots in Spencer, Indiana. Both James Brooks Davis and his wife Callie Spear had lived in Spencer all their lives, as had Callie's mother, Maggie Williams, born in 1845. But for reasons that have been lost to history, around 1910 they decided to move the 900 or so miles to Beaver County, Oklahoma. Perhaps because it was the land of opportunity at the time. Perhaps because others in their family had already moved there or would be moving soon (see the picture below of James Brooks and his brothers AND father, taken in Oklahoma).

It could not have been an easy transition for the young family of 9. At the time Gram was about 15 and the oldest of the 7 Davis children, the youngest of whom was about 4. A Beaver County historical record says that they moved by train and then by wagon. It was an important move: within just a few years of arriving in Oklahoma, the teenager Bura Davis met and married a handsome 27 year old neighbor named William Shepard, and a new family had begun, the one to which we all belong.

Family Faces. I am including two family pictures. The first is a picture of Gram's grandfather Charles Edward Davis (1849-1926) and his 4 sons, including James Brooks Davis, Gram's father. The picture was probably taken in the early 1920s. Dane asked his father Elmer recently about the people in this picture. Here's what he said...

The picture is of our great, great grandfather Davis [with the beard] and his sons. It was taken at the South Flat church of Christ building in Beaver County, out in the country several miles from any town. Grandad and Gram met at this congregation. The men, from left to right:

Zaley Davis -- the bandmaster of Booker High School and of a frontier, community band known as a "booster band." Grandad played cornet in this band. Zaley moved to Shamrock, OK and then to Lubbock, TX continuing his career in leading bands.

Benjamin Davis -- He was the youngest son and a WWI vet.

W. Morton Davis -- He was a gospel preacher and held meetings at the South Flat church. He spent his years in Texas, including Paris and Dallas. He wrote for the Firm Foundation publication for 25 years.

James (Jim) Brooks Davis -- He was the oldest of the brothers and had five daughters and two sons: Gram (Bura, the oldest), Lawrence, Myra, Jess, Wynona, Esther and Margie.

Charles Edward Davis -- He died in 1924 after his wife who died in a flu epidemic in
1918 .

And John Davis.

The other picture, taken earlier this month, is of high school graduate Lyndsey Aquiningoc, and her cousins Nate and Kyle Sauvage. The boys are children of Kelly and James Sauvage, also of Weatherford, Texas.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Shepard Family Update, May 23, 2008

Dear Family members and friends,

"Aloha!" from Hawaii, where Cindy and Barbara and I are basking in the sunshine of Maui this week.

Fascinating Family Fact: Did you know? This weekend of Memorial Day is a time to remember servicemen and women who have died, as well as family members who have passed away. Our thoughts are on Shepard family members who have died in recent years, like Eugene Shepard, Gabe Ortiz, Pauline and Bill Russell, and Margie Russell, all of whom have died in the last 10 years or so. Others who have been gone even longer still remain important to us, especially whenever we visit their headstones at Green Lawn Cemetery in San Diego or wherever they may be laid to rest. All of them -- whether well remembered or not so well known -- remind us of our valuable Shepard heritage and our ongoing family history.

Family Faces. I am including two family pictures. The first is a picture of Havilah (Colgain) Reynolds and Pauline (Shepard) Russell, grand- niece and great-aunt. This picture was taken at the last big Shepard family reunion in Anacortes in the summer of 1994. Many of you were there for that reunion and remember what a great time we had.

Speaking of Havilah, I received an email from her just the other day in which she said...

Thank you for adding me (to the family email list). To answer your questions is my online travel store - kinda like my own expedia. And is the business site where a person can get his or her own travel store. Helping people get paid to travel is just one of the things I do!... I'm really enjoying all the things I'm doing. What are the dates for the reunion? I will see what I can do to make it up!

To answer Havilah's question and to remind all of us... the Shepard Family Reunion will be Saturday, July 19, 2008, in Anacortes, Washington. All are welcome!

The other picture I am including is of serviceman Eugene Shepard. It is one of the more amusing pictures from our history, and reminds us that during WWII our people were not only sober and serious about life, but were able to face it all with a sense of humor.

Happy Birthday this coming week to Rex Russell in Reno, Nevada, on May 28, and to Brandyn Boyd of Lakeside, California who will be 15 on May 26.

I also received an email from Shannon Wilk this past week, who said,

It's been awhile since I have been able to get to the computer. I haven't been feeling very well, in and out of the hospital over the last month. I have "crohns", and sometimes when I have a flare up (it can last up to 2-3 months) my whole body shuts down on me and I end up having to stay in the hospital for a few days. No fun at all. And because of all this, I hate to say it, but I don't think Emma and I will be able to come to the family reunion. With all the hospital bills coming in, and I've missed some work, I just don't think the budget will allow it.

The weather is beautiful here and we are enjoying as much as we can... before it gets tooooo hot.... Other than all that things are going pretty good here. Emma's birthday is the 6th of June... I still can't believe she will be 3... getting too big too fast. Frank is doing well and enjoying the weather.... Hope all is well and hope to hear from you soon.

Smiles and Sunshine, Shannon and Emma

Our best wishes are with Shannon in this time of dealing with illness. We will miss her very much if indeed she and Emma are unable to make it to the reunion. But we certainly understand and hope only the best for her.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Shepard Family Update, May 16, 2008

Dear Family members and friends,

Hello from Anacortes, where Cindy and I are visiting the family and thinking through some of the details of the family reunion coming up July 19. Maida and Barbara have done a lot of work making plans for the special day and deserve a lot of thanks.

Fascinating Family Fact: Did you know? This coming Tuesday is the 90th Birthday of Elmer Shepard, presently the senior member of our Shepard clan. Elmer was born in 1918 in Beaver County, Oklahoma, the second child of William and Bura Shepard. He is one of our only living ties to the life of the Shepard family before they moved from Oklahoma about 80 years ago. His little sister Thelma and his nephew Rex Russell also came west with the family to California, but were born in the tiny Southeast Colorado town of Two Buttes, where the family lived for a few years before coming all the way west. Congratulations to Elmer on this great milestone of turning 90!

Very few of the Shepards we know about lived into their 90s. Grandad, and his only sister Sadie, both died in the very month of their 88th birthday. Gram and Grandad's two children who have died, Pauline and Eugene, each lived to be 82. Gram, a small, tender woman, surprised many of us by living to be 90. So our prayers and birthday greetings are with Elmer at 90, as he continues to set the pace for all of us! Our best wishes are also with Dane and Joan and all those who provide care for our favorite nanogenarian.

These days we are as concerned as ever with living as long as possible with good quality lives. One big factor in how long we each will live is our family history. For this reason I took a look at the folks in our Shepard family and found some interesting facts. Gram and Grandad had 31 ancestors whose ages we know (they are all listed on The average life span of all these relatives (Gram, Grandad, Pauline, Eugene and the other 31) is 65 years, which is above average for people of their time.

Only 3 people among them all lived at least 90 years: Gram (1896-1986) plus two of her great grandfathers: John Lynn Wright (1810-1909) who lived to be 99!, and John Pouty Williams (1806-1898), who lived to be 92. This is remarkable since the life expectancy for Americans at the end of the 1800s was about 50 years. The life expectancy for Americans born today is about 77 years.

These facts relate only to the William and Bura Shepard part of our heritage. Each of us has at least one other part of our family tree which has to be taken into consideration. The bottom line though is that generally our Shepard ancestors lived longer than the average person for their time in history, and in some cases lived exceptionally long lives! All this is quite encouraging as we each seek to live as long and full as possible.

Birthday wishes: Besides Elmer, whose birthday will be this coming Tuesday (May 20), we extend a very Happy Birthday to Jason Shepard (30-something) on Sunday (May 18). Happy Birthday also to Ashlyn Ortiz who turns 3 on Tuesday (May 19) and TODAY to (40-something) Darren Boyd!

Family Faces. I am including two family pictures. The first is a picture of Elmer with his oldest granddaughter Havilah Colgain. On the back of the photo it says that it was taken on Elmer's birthday in 1984. (Joan, can you tell us more about the circumstances surrounding this picture?)

The other picture is of birthday girl Ashlyn Ortiz and her family. Ashlyn is the one on the hip of her mother Desiree. Her father Jeremy is holding her little brother Damian. In front is her older sister Ciara, who, like her Great Great Grandfather William Shepard, is not always comfortable in front of a camera. Thanks to Grandmother Kim for this picture, taken just last month in Balboa Park in San Diego.



Friday, May 09, 2008

Shepard Family Update, May 9, 2008

Dear Family members and friends,

Happy Mother's Day this Sunday to all moms in our family, to whom we owe so much! The woman among us with the oldest child (I am trying to be as discreet as possible here) is Maida Shepard (son Gary); and the woman among us with the youngest child is Desiree Ortiz (son Damian). And in between are all of you whom we love and celebrate this weekend.

Fascinating Family Fact: Did you know? Speaking of mothers, 1990 was the most "productive" year ever for mothers (and fathers!) in our Shepard family, when no less than 4 children were born: Steven Paul Shepard (Mar 13, Pam's little boy), Courtney Boyd (May 14, Vicki's little girl), Lyndsey Aquiningoc (Aug 29, Kerri's little girl) and Patrick Shepard (Dec 5, Mary's little boy). What this means, of course, is that not only was 1990 a special year, but so is 2008, the year they all turn 18! (Lord, help us!) I do not know of another single year when that many births took place in our family. Do you?

A related celebration: Courtney Boyd, one of the four born in 1990, will have her 18th birthday this coming Wednesday. Remarkably enough, that day also happens to be the birthday of two other people in our family, Courtney's grandmother Thelma Boyd in Gallup, New Mexico, and Christopher Shepard in Bothell Washington, all three of whom were born on May 14 (different years, of course). Happy Birthday to Courtney, Thelma and Chris!

Yet another related celebration: Congratulations are also extended to Courtney Boyd, daughter of Darren and Vicki of Lakeside, Ca., who will graduate from High School this spring. Any other graduations this spring that we can celebrate?

Family Faces. I am including two family pictures. The first is a picture of three important mothers- grandmothers- great grandmothers of our Shepard family: Beryl (Swinney) Shepard (with husband Elmer), Pauline Russell (with husband Bill) and Maida Shepard (with husband Eugene). This picture was taken in San Diego about 1950, and evokes fond memories of the early years of an era that has passed for our Shepard clan. Those of us who were alive at the time can remember what it was like in the 1950s, 60s and into the 70s when Gram and Grandad, their 4 children and spouses, and the grandkids would regularly get together for family gatherings on July 4, New Year's Day, or whenever plans were made. They were happy times, when we all lived in fairly close proximity, cousins got to know each other, and Gram and Grandad were alive to enjoy the family they had spawned. But as our numbers grew, and as kids became adults with families of their own, and as people moved on to other places, those times we enjoyed so much faded into the past. And now they are just memories that come back to us when we see pictures like this one.

The other family picture shows the smiling face of soon-to-be 18 and soon-to-be high school graduate Courtney Boyd, with her younger brother and sister, Brandyn (14) and Kori Lynn (10), the children of Darren and Vicki Boyd of Lakeside, California. I received this picture in an email from them just last week with this message:
We are very busy here. Brandyn plays year round baseball and Kori is playing Volleyball. Courtney is working part time and staying busy with friends and school. She helps out when she can. This photo was taken this past February. Courtney will be graduating on June 5th from Santana High School. Hope you are all doing well.
Remember: Shepard Family Reunion, Saturday, July 19, 2008, Anacortes, Washington. We hope YOU will be there to catch up with other family members!


Friday, May 02, 2008

Shepard Family Update, May 2, 2008

Hello Family Members and Friends,

Greetings to you all, from New Jersey to California, from Washington to the midwest to Oklahoma and Texas! I hope spring continues to be as beautiful in your part of the world as it is in ours. The California poppies along the roadsides are as bright and colorful as we have ever seen them.

Fascinating Family Fact: Did you know? Our family history includes some names that are still common today like William, John, Mary and Sarah. But there are also, in the branches of this big tree of ours, some names that you seldom (if ever!) hear today - like Rozilla, Salatis and Salathiel (twins), Zona, Isolana, Ulysses, Udorous, Vashti and Marmaduke. I am NOT making these up! They are all first names of our relatives and you can find each of them listed in our family tree on Any of you getting some ideas for naming your next child? ;-)

Family Faces. With Mother's day coming up next weekend, I am including two family pictures, both of groups of women. The first is a picture of Grandad's only sibling, his sister Sadie J. (Shepard) Pruett (1892-1980), and two of her daughters, Gayle and Alberta. This picture appears to have been taken at Gram and Grandad's wedding in 1915. Sadie was married to Levy Pruett, with whom she had one other child, Twila, in 1929. Sadie's part of the family did not move to California when Gram and Grandad did in 1940, so they were not well known to most of us. But there must be a whole branch of our family, descended from her, that lives in the Oklahoma area and elsewhere. Do any of you know about them?

The other is a more recent picture of a group of women called "the Yayas". In this picture are women who are mothers to many of us: Maida Shepard, Jane Brock, and Paula Harris (Cindy's mom) on the front row, and Barbara and Cindy Shepard on the back row. They live in places as diverse as Washington State, Northern and Southern California, and Lubbock, Texas, yet they get together each year for a special week in some place around the country. This picture was taken at our home in Dorrington, California in the summer of 2004, when they chose to visit the Sierra Nevada mountains of California. (Click here to see a slide show of a different trip the Yayas took.) Comparing the two family pictures you see here, it is uncanny how much Barbara and her great Aunt Sadie look alike. Did you notice?

Plans continue to take shape for the family reunion July 19 in Anacortes, Washington. The food, the fellowship, the family ties are all just a few of the reasons it will be a wonderful event. You may have received another letter of invitation recently from Barbara and Maida which referred to the latest plans. (If you did not get a letter, be sure to send your physical address to me or one of the Anacortes folks and we will make sure you get one.)