Friday, December 19, 2008

Shepard Family Update, Dec 19, 2008

The best of all gifts around any Christmas tree:
the presence of a happy family
all wrapped up in each other.

-Burton Hillis

Hello Shepard Family and Friends,

It is the Friday before Christmas. Can you believe it? You DO know who was born on Christmas Day, don't you? Do you need to pause and think about it before reading on? ;-)

That's right -- Grandad! 120 years ago, on Dec 25, 1888, William (no middle name) Shepard was born in Alton, Illinois to William Elmer Shepard and Elvira Owens Shepard. Grandad's father had been born in Wabash, Indiana in 1862, during the Civil War. So our Grandad, like his wife Bura, had his roots in the Hoosier State. From all indications, however, their families did not know each other until Will and Bura met about 1913 or 1914 in Beaver County, Oklahoma.

Between Indiana and Oklahoma, however, there was this period of time for our Shepard people in southwest Illinois, across the mighty Mississippi from St Louis. It was here that Grandad's father met and married Elvira Owens and where their son Will Shepard, our Grandad, grew up. His mother Elvira was part of an Owens family with deep roots in that area, some descendants of whom live there to this day. Roberta Owens Brooks of San Antonio Texas, with whom I correspond periodically, is a descendant of that part of our family, and is on our emailing list. She is a wonderful resource for information on the Owens family.

Our family's migration pattern began back East in Maryland, Virginia and the Carolinas, in the earliest years of American history. In the late 18th and early 19th centuries our ancestors moved westward through Pennsylvania, Ohio and Tennessee to Indiana and Illinois and settled there for most of the 19th century. Near the turn of the 20th century, some of them began moving southwest into Oklahoma, including Beaver County. That's where Will Shepard met and married Bura Davis in 1915. In 1928, with their first three children, they moved a short distance to Southeast Colorado, and after 12 years there, Will and Bura, now with 4 children, moved to San Diego in 1940. They have the distinction of being our family's bridge to the west coast. Since then, some of Will and Bura's descendants remain in San Diego, while others have moved north to Northern California and Washington, and others eastward to New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas, and still others to Kansas and Missouri.

The first picture I am including today is a collage of 4 pictures of Grandad, taken in 1915 (he and Gram's wedding picture), 1932 (no, not a prison mug shot!), 1946 (in San Diego) and 1974 (2 years before he died). He was a small town man who seemed to adjust pretty well to life in the city of San Diego later in his life. He was a rambler, a cowboy, a midwest cold weather survivor, a restless man who worked at many different things, and a raconteur who loved to tell stories.

He was a very important person for us because in many ways he sets the tone for maleness among Shepard men. He influences the kind of man each of us has become and is becoming. At least to some degree. What we strive for in life, how we relate to women, the kind of fathers we become, our attitudes toward other races or cultures, our religious beliefs, our assertiveness or passiveness, and much, much more, gets formed at least partially because of the kind of man he was.

His life spanned an amazing period in world history. In 1888 when he was born, there were no airplanes or cars, people traveled primarily by horseback or wagon or train, Mark Twain was very popular (in person!), and the US population was about 60 million. In 1976 when he died, NASA had sent men to the moon, the women's liberation movement was in full swing, and the US population was about 220 million. As we approach his 120th birthday, we remember with gratitude and respect this man whose life continues to be important to this family.

The second picture shows 3 of Will and Bura's 12 grandchildren (Joan Shepard, Dixon, CA; Kim Clark, Blue Springs, MO; and Dane Shepard, Newcastle, OK), one of their 20 great grandchildren (Amanda Ortiz, Blue Springs, MO), and the youngest of their 4 children (Thelma Boyd, Gallup, NM). This picture was taken earlier this year at Dane's home in Oklahoma.

Every one have a joyous Christmas! May you be blessed with "the best of all gifts around the Christmas tree".

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