Friday, July 25, 2008

Shepard Family Update, July 25, 2008

Dear Family members and friends,

Hello on this Friday after the family reunion. The dust has settled and we are relaxed a bit after all the energy and effort and hard work that went into the family reunion last Saturday in Anacortes, Washington. It was a very special occasion, as anyone who was there can tell you. 29 of us were together, about half of us from in and around Anacortes, and the other half from around western Washington, the Kansas City area, Weatherford and Lubbock, Texas, and San Francisco and Dorrington, California.

Special thanks go to Barbara and Maida Shepard and the other locals who provided places to stay and helped make all the arrangements. And to (Gary's) Cindy for the keepsake cups that were provided for the occasion. And to Kim Clark who came from so far away with her husband Jeff and brought lots of old photos.

We shared a wonderful meal and visited with some family members we don't get to see very often. Some of us even met other family members for the first time -- new spouses, young children, distant relatives. We looked at lots of old and new pictures -- some black and white photographs from 50 or more years ago, some digital pictures in a PowerPoint presentation, and some baby pictures that made us belly laugh when they were identified.

We acknowledged the oldest and youngest persons among us (the winners were Maida Shepard of Anacortes and her great grandson Nate Sauvage of Weatherford, Texas); as well as those who had come the farthest (Jeff and Kim Clark of Blue Springs, Missouri). But most of all we simply celebrated the family that we are -- very diverse in age, vocation, appearance, life style and home location, but united as one in love and respect for the ties that bind us and the shared history that brings us together.

Family Faces. And of course we took pictures. Lots of pictures. I had a difficult time selecting just two for this posting (more will be forthcoming). My camera was one of the few that did NOT get a picture of the WHOLE group, so I need Jeff or Jerry or Gary or someone else to send me a picture or two that was taken of the entire family group. I want to share that picture in the next posting. Would one or more of you please do that? I would appreciate it very much.

The first picture today shows Maida Shepard and her children and their spouses (click on the picture to enlarge it). In the back row, left to right, are Pam and Russ Shepard, Barbara Shepard, Darrell and Mary Shepard, and Cathrina and Jerry Clark. On the front row are Cindy and Steve Shepard (me), and Maida, Gary and Cindy Shepard. You can see from the smiles -- and from Darrell's imitation of the historic "Russell pose" (hint: the hands tell it all) - that we had WAY too much fun with this photo session, as we did with the entire day! ;-)

The other picture shows three of the beautiful teenagers that were with us, Linda Shepard of Anacortes (Russ and Pam's little girl) on the left, and then Lyndsey and Mandi Aquiningoc (Kerri's daughters, Gary's granddaughters) from Weatherford, Texas.

If you would like a CD of the Powerpoint Presentation that I showed at the reunion, please send me your physical address and I will send you a copy. It shows about 200 old and new family pictures, including the oldest family picture I have, of Edmond Owens, who was my grandad's great grandfather on his mother's side.

Do you have other comments or reflections or pictures of the family reunion? Send them my way and I will be glad to pass them on to everyone else.

It came to my attention that I missed the birthday of Nathaniel Sauvage, who turned 6 years old on the 7th of this month. Happy Birthday to Nate Sauvage!, whose proud parents are James and Kelly Shepard Sauvage of Weatherford Texas. Any other birthdays I missed?

Friday, July 18, 2008

Shepard Family Update, July 18, 2008

Dear Family members and friends,

Well here we are at long last - the family reunion is tomorrow. Almost 7 months ago when I first started with these family messages, it seemed like such a long time off! I wondered at that time how I would ever have enough to say, enough pictures to post, and enough interest to carry us to July. But here we are! The time has flown by. Thanks for your many responses. You can look forward to more family messages -- even if not EVERY week. In the next few messages I am planning to include information about how things went at the reunion and show some pictures.

We are looking forward to a beautiful day in Northwest Washington tomorrow, which is not unusual for this time of the year. Many people here have a hard time with all the rain this region gets, but there is an up side. It makes for some glorious sights when the sun comes out, and the mountains and trees and water and sky show how lovely the creation can be!

There will be ample room for us in the Anacortes Christian Church fellowship hall when we gather at 12 noon. After all, ours is not a large family. I was talking with a person just the other day who is one of 11 children, and her mother is one of 12 children! Can you imagine family reunions with hundreds of people? That is not us. We are expecting maybe 25 or 30 people tomorrow, and that will be a fine family gathering, if you ask me.

Fascinating Family Fact. There was a time when families were much larger on average than they are today. Not too many generations ago, times were tough and families needed all the help they could get to "make a go of it" on the farm. The more children you bore, the more hands you would have to work the farm.

Will and Bura Shepard and their descendants have not had large families. He was from a family of only 2 children (2 others died in infancy); she was from a good sized family of 7 children. They had 4 children themselves. Those 4 in turn had families with an average of only 3 children (2, 2, 6 and 2). There have been 18 marriages among all the descendants of Will and Bura Shepard. From all those unions, 38 children have been born, an average of only 2.1 children per marriage, a rather modest figure even by today's standards. Let that be the fascinating family fact for this week.

Family Faces. I am including two family pictures. The first is a picture of Bura Davis as a teenager. I don't know the exact date of the picture, but it was taken before she married William Shepard at age 18 in 1915. What would you guess her age is in this picture?

The other picture was taken earlier this year of Thelma Boyd (on the left), her granddaughter Amanda Ortiz next to her, then Shannon Wilk with her daughter Emma, and Thelma's daughter Kim on the right. Kim is the only one of this family group who will be with us at the reunion. We will miss the others and hope that the next family reunion will be different with even more family and friends able to attend.

Family News. Last week I mentioned that Havilah Colgain's father Art Colgain and his wife Jill were in a car accident in Utah and that Havilah had gone there to be with them. Art was released from the hospital, but Jill remained in critical condition until just a few days ago when she passed away.

I received an email from Joan Shepard, Havilah's mother, on Wednesday this past week.

"Jill died around 5:00 P.M. yesterday [Tuesday]. Havilah was with her and said that her transition was peaceful. Family and friends will celebrate Jill's life on Saturday, first at the church building then at the Colgain home. We all appreciate the love and inspiration that everyone has offered. I know Havilah has felt the presence of those praying and sending affection. I'll be thankful when Havilah can return, probably next week, though I know Art will miss her."

As a large part of our family meets and enjoys ourselves tomorrow, we cannot help but be mindful of those who will not be with us, especially Joan, Havilah, Art and their loved ones. Our prayers and very best wishes are with them in their grief and loss.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Shepard Family Update, July 11, 2008

Dear Family members and friends,

Hello on this smoky day in our part of the world. Since Cindy and I live in a forested area of Northern California, we alway get nervous when the fires starting burning like they are now. There are none burning in our immediate area, but the sun stays a reddish color from the smoke of the fires that still rage 40 or more miles away. It makes for beautiful sunsets, but the air quality is not good, and is a constant reminder that the next fire could be much closer.

Our Shepard family reunion is next weekend on Saturday, July 19, 2008, at the Anacortes Christian Church fellowship hall (12th St at M Ave) in Anacortes, Washington. We will gather at 12 noon, meet and greet one another, enjoy a catered Barbeque meal, laugh at old and new family pictures displays, view a pictorial family tree, and much more.

Fascinating Family Fact: Did you know? There are about 70 living members of our family today. About 25 of them will be at the reunion next weekend. I mentioned two weeks ago that the family descendants of William and Bura Shepard number 82 people. But that number included 12 people who have died, which leaves about 70 living members of the family. That includes family births as well as those who have married into the family. The largest portion of that 70 is Eugene and Maida Shepard's part of the family, with their 6 children and their individual families.

Since we have not been in touch with Pauline's son Rex Russell and his family for several years, we are not sure how many new births there may be in that part of the family. So the number of living family members may actually be a little larger. With the number of older teenagers and young adults in our family right now, some of us are thinking that number of 70 will grow soon. In other words we may be looking at a modest baby boom in the next 5 to 10 years, a heartening thought as we look to the future.

Family Faces. I am including two family pictures. The first is a picture which I received recently from a long lost cousin named Roberta Owens Brooks of San Antonio. She is a distant relative of ours who saw our family tree on and contacted me. This picture is of our common ancestor Edmond Owens (1795-1864), her great great grandfather, who was Grandad William Shepard's great Grandfather (through his mother Elvira Owens). I am very grateful to Roberta for sending me this picture.

To be completely honest Roberta did mention to me that she is only fairly certain the picture is Edmond Owens. (The back of the picture says "Grandad Owens", an ambiguous reference! A word to the wise -- when you label photos, give the person's NAME, not "grandma" or "my uncle".) The person in the picture could be Edmond's son Payton Owens (1826-1872, who was Grandad William Shepard's grandfather). In either case this is now the oldest family picture I have, probably taken during or before the Civil War. Edmond Owens was born in 1795. How old would YOU say he looks in this picture?

The other picture is of a family gathering back in 1990 at the Shepard family home in Anacortes. It shows Maida and Eugene Shepard, on the left. Then from left to right are Russ Shepard, Steve, Cindy and Nathan Shepard, Mary and Darrell Shepard, and Barbara and John Clay. In front are Steven Paul Shepard, Pam his mother, and Rachel and Christopher Shepard.

Family News. This past week I sent out an email regarding the traffic accident in Utah involving Havilah's father Art Colgain and his wife Jill. Havilah Colgain Reynolds is Joan Shepard Colgain's daughter. Last I heard Jill was still in critical condition, Art had been released from the hospital, and Havilah was on her way from her home in Auburn, California to be with her dad in Utah. Does anyone have a more recent update? Our prayers and best wishes are with them all.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Shepard Family Update, July 4

Dear Family members and friends,

Hello on this July 4th mid-summer holiday! I hope you are all able to enjoy this day with family and friends. Cindy and I are doing something a little different this year -- enjoying a quiet holiday at home alone. Nathan is vacationing in Southeast Asia -- of all places! -- but will be home in time for the three of us to go to Anacortes in two weeks for the family reunion.

Fascinating Family Fact: Did you know? On this July 4th holiday it is interesting to note that our family has been almost entirely rooted in the U.S. since before its founding in 1776. Drive around any U.S. town or city today and you will see a large percentage of citizens who are first or second generation Americans. And the number is growing rapidly. But of all the family roots that converge into Will and Bura Shepard, the one that winds its way back to another country first is traced through Gram's (Bura Davis') mother, Caroline Spear (see pictures of her in messages dated June 6 and June 20). Her great grandfather was an Irishman named James Spear, born in County Armaugh, Ireland in 1768.

James Spear came to the U.S. as a young man -- probably not long after 1776. He married an American born woman from Delaware named Elizabeth McConnahaw, had 12 children with her (!), and eventually died in Belmont County, Ohio in 1821. He is the first person I can find among all the ancestors of Will and Bura Shepard who was born in another country. In other words, you have to go back 240 years -- before there was a United States -- to find a single ancestor in Will and Bura's family tree born in another country. To me this is pretty amazing. And we are talking here about ALL the ancestors of Will and Bura, going back four generations before them. The amount of U.S. history experienced first hand by these ancestors is staggering. It covers the entire history of our nation -- every president, every war, every milestone, every single July 4th holiday ever celebrated.

Now to be sure, there are a few gaps in the information I have on the roots of our family, especially in Grandad's (William Shepard's) paternal line before the civil war. So there may be an exception to what I'm saying, but it's unlikely. This, of course, refers only to the ancestors of Will and Bura Shepard. We each have other ancestors named Gower or Boyd or Russell, etc., who are are a different story altogether.

Family Faces: I am including two family pictures. The first is a picture that Dane sent me a while back, taken at a family gathering, probably in Valley Center (near Escondido, Calif.) at the home of Rod and Violet Ramirez. Left to right in the picture are: Gary and Cindy Shepard; Bill and Pauline Russell; Carl, Phil and Shannon Wilk; Steve, Cindy and Nathan Shepard; and Dane Shepard. I am guessing the year this picture was taken is 1983 or 84, based on Nathan, who looks to be 6 or 7. Can any of you make a better guess?

The other is a picture of 5 of Maida Shepard's grandkids in Anacortes, Washington. Taken in the summer of 2002, it shows -- starting from the bottom left -- Steven, Rachel, Patrick, Linda and Christopher Shepard. Steven and Linda are children of Russ and Pam Shepard; and Rachel, Pat and Chris are children of Darrell and Mary Shepard.

Congratulations to Jerry Clark and to Jane Brock on the birth of their third grandchild last Saturday! Miller Sims Cave was born to Matthew and Becky Clark Cave in Weatherford, Texas.
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