Friday, February 27, 2009

Shepard Family Update, February 27, 2009

Some family trees
bear an enormous crop of nuts.

- Wayne H.

Hello Shepard Family and Friends,

Greetings from home in San Diego where we have returned, after our time away in the snow of Northern California and the cold of Washington.

I saw this cartoon and wanted to share it with you. It reminds me of the quote I sent some months ago: "Families are like fudge, mostly sweet with a few nuts." The fact of the matter is every family has its share of nuts. The only question is who among us are the nuts and who are not? It is not always obvious, you know. Each of us has our own nomination, and they are not all the same.

I think my Grandad, Will Shepard, was something of a nut. As a grandfather he could be a very funny person and quite a tease. But he wasn't always that way, of course. Just a few weeks ago Kim Clark sent me a picture of a Sheriff's badge that belonged to Grandad, suggesting that he was some sort of authorized law enforcement official for a period of time in Baca County, Colorado back in the 1930s. (She is doing some research to find the full story.)

I don't know how the word "nut" came to mean a crazy or eccentric person anyway. I like nuts. They're sweet. They're tasty. They make great snacks. People sometimes call my state, California, "the land of fruits and nuts," as if that were a derogatory comment. In reality it is a point of pride. Be that as it may, our family does have its nuts, and I am glad it does. As I said, I like nuts.

After all, what would our family be if we didn't have a few nuts in it? They are what spice up our family life. They are what keeps our family life from being boring. They are the stuff of great family stories. And they are our reminders that, like the rest of the world, our family has great variety in our ranks. Some of us are straight as an arrow, others are wild and crazy; some have chosen a life that follows familiar patterns, others are very unique; some are definitely old school, others are paving new ground; some are very religious, others haven't seen the inside of a church in a long time. But all of us belong to the same family nonetheless.

So I think the squirrels have it right. When I look around at our family, I find myself saying the same thing they are saying, because the nuts among us seem to be everywhere. And to that I say... Thank God for the wonderful family we have been and are becoming!

Happy Birthday today to Darrell Shepard! The fact that today is Darrell's birthday has nothing to do with this discussion about nuts. Honest. It was simply coincidental.

Although when I think about it, Darrell is one of the more likable nuts among us. I know of no one who is more "nuts" about his family than Darrell. He is the 7th Grandchild of Will and Bura Shepard and lives in Kenmore, Washington with his wife Mary and their three children, Chris, Rachel and Patrick. After being a devoted father and husband, he somehow finds time for his job, his church, and to play guitar in his band! Congratulations to Darrell on this special, milestone birthday! Interestingly, Darrell, (Gary's) Cindy Shepard, and Joan Shepard were all born within just a few weeks of each other, back in early 1954.

The first picture I am including today is a picture from 1964 and shows Darrell and his younger brother and sister, Russell and Barbara Shepard. (Did mom know how to dress her kids, or what!) The three of them form the second triad born to Maida and Eugene Shepard.

The second picture I am including today was taken last summer in Anacortes, Washington and shows Darrell with two of the loveliest women in our family -- his daughter Rachel on the left and his niece Kelly Sauvage on the right. This picture was taken at the 2008 Shepard Family reunion.

The 2009 family reunion will be at the Newcastle Community Center in Newcastle, Oklahoma, this coming July 18. That is less than 5 months away. Are you making your plans?
One of the nuts in the family tree

Friday, February 20, 2009

Shepard Family Update, February 20, 2009

We all grow up with the weight of history on us.
Our ancestors dwell in the attics of our brains

as they do in the spiraling chains of knowledge

hidden in every cell of our bodies.

~Shirley Abbott

Hello Shepard Family and Friends,

Greetings from the chilly Northwest, where Cindy and I are visiting with mom and family. There is no snow or ice at the moment here in Anacortes, but it is cold -- that painful, penetrating, damp cold that makes Californians like us wish we had heavier coats! We are also talking through our plans to attend the family reunion this summer in Newcastle, Oklahoma (just south of Oklahoma City) on July 18. Have you made your plans yet?

In the last two posts I have shared some thoughts regarding the Owens branch of our family tree, that we are connected to through great grandmother Elvira Owens. I have one more interesting thing to share related to this part of our family. If one follows the information on the Owens lineage on, it continues back at least 62 generations with names and dates, all the way back to the time of Jesus in the first century! I traced our family information all the way back to "Joseph of Arimathea", who was born in the year 1. This was the person who is mentioned in the Bible as having buried the body of Jesus. (Mark 15.43-46) What a find! I was thrilled to discover that we were related to someone who, over two thousand years ago, knew Jesus and is even mentioned in the Gospels.

It did not take me very long, however, to realize that I had been duped. This was "creative" family research, not careful, honest work. This was someone (probably several someones) trying to make the family story much more interesting that it actually is. There are no legitimate resources for the information I was finding before the 18th or 19th century. I mention this to show that sometimes people get carried away. And I suspect there was probably some religious motivation here to find some (imagined) connection to the life of Jesus. In any case, I have no reason to believe that the information I found can be trusted as factual.

It was something of a let-down, but it was also a learning experience. It helped me to see that family research is a very inexact science, unless the information is very carefully resourced, which is nearly impossible at times. It also tells me that family research is a very emotional matter, and that it is very tempting to stretch the truth to fit one's interests. Or to put it another way -- you always, always, have to be careful about any information you find on the internet.

Speaking of family research being emotional, have you seen the National Treasure movies? Nicolas Cage plays a character who is very serious about his family history. So serious, in fact, that he is willing to risk life and limb to clear up a misunderstanding about relatives long dead. You have to admire the spirit of one who feels "the weight of history" that much and takes his family connections that seriously.

Today is the birthday of Terry Boyd of Gallup, New Mexico. Terry has been a member of our family since he and Thelma were first married over 50 years ago. Happy Birthday, Terry!

The first picture I am including today is a picture of Terry with his mother-in-law Bura Davis Shepard, taken in December, 1958. The second picture I am including was taken 50 years later. It is a picture of Terry and Thelma Boyd, which I took last year when visiting them in New Mexico.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Shepard Family Update, February 13, 2009

Family life is too intimate
to be preserved by the spirit of justice.
It can be sustained by a spirit of love
which goes beyond justice.

- Reinhold Niebuhr

Hello Shepard Family and Friends,

Greeting from the snowy mountains of Northern California where Cindy and I happen to be on this day before Valentine's Day. May you be blessed with loved ones around you tomorrow on a special day that celebrates love -- that perfect remedy for the coldest winter weather.

I want to continue some thoughts I began last time regarding the Owens family to whom we are connected through Grandad's mother Elvira Owens (1864-1931). I have mentioned before that I correspond with Roberta Owens Brooks, a third cousin who is herself originally from Alton, Illinois (Grandad's birthplace) in Madison County. With her we share a common ancestry, through Edmond Owens, Jr. (1795-1864), who is Roberta's gg grandfather, and ggg grandfather to those of my generation.

Roberta has graciously shared with me valuable documentation regarding Edmond Owens. He was originally from South Carolina, but was living in Davidson County, Tennessee when he became one of the famous "Tennessee Volunteers" and served in the War of 1812, which began when Edmond was only 17 years old. That war lasted until 1815 and has been called "the second war of independence" against Great Britain.

Madison County history books say that the war veteran Edmond, his wife Anna Phelps, and their 6 children migrated in 1838 to Madison County, Illlinois, 300+ miles from their home in Tennessee. It was not until 15 years later, in 1853, that President Franklin Pierce signed a declaration giving Edmond an 80 acre land grant in Madison County, Illinois as a result of his military service 38 years earlier! (The wheels of government ground slowly EVEN then.) Hence the presence of the Owens family in Madison County, which continues to this day. The 5th of Edmond and Anna's 6 children was Payton Owens (1826-1872), the father of Elvira Owens, the mother of William Shepard (Grandad).

One of Edmond Owens' gg grandchildren is Dane Shepard, who will be hosting the Shepard family reunion this summer near Oklahoma City on July 18. He was kind enough to send me these details about the event:

The reunion will be held in the small town of Newcastle, Oklahoma off Interstate 44, 25 minutes south of the Will Rogers World Airport. Reunion facility: Newcastle Community Center, 1221 N. Main St., Newcastle, OK 73065. Date and time: Saturday, July 18, noon to 5 p.m.

Accommodations: nearest is a local motel about one mile from the facility (newly remodeled) -- Newcastle Motel, 1221 N. Main St., Newcastle, OK 73065, phone 405-387-4444. Rates: single = $40; double = $45. They will give a lower rate for 5 or more rooms. The other option is the city of Norman (home of OSU) which is about a 15 mile drive east. You can Google "motels in Norman, OK" and see them all. They are located along I-35. Here are a few: Days Inn: 405-360-4380; Guest Inn: 405-360-1234; La Quinta Inn & Suites: 800-531-5900; Super 8: 405-329-1624.
Since tomorrow is Valentine's Day it seems to me that family pictures of young lovers is in order. The first picture I am including is the wedding picture of Bura Davis Shepard's parents, James Brooks Davis (25 at the time) and his wife Caroline Matilda Spear (30 at the time). They were married January 1, 1896. Kim Clark recently send me several old family photos, including this gem. Thanks so much, Kim!

The second photo is a picture of one of Edmond Owens' ggg grandchildren, Nathan Shepard of San Francisco. Nate's fiance Chenda Sou is on the right, and his mother, (my favorite valentine) Cindy Shepard is on the left.

This picture was taken last month near the world famous 12th century temples of Angkor Wat near Siem Reap, Cambodia. We were visiting Chenda there in her home country, where she presently lives until she is able to get her visa to come to the US.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Shepard Family Update, February 6, 2009

The family is a haven
in a heartless world.

~Christopher Lasch

Dear Shepard Family and Friends,

Hello everyone from San Diego where a "fierce" winter storm has been raging. The drizzle has been relentless with winds up to 20 mph, and temperatures in the mid 50s. I am not sure how much more of this we can take. ;-)

This next Wednesday, Feb 11, is the 154th anniversary of the birthday of my great grand uncle Josiah Owens (1855-1903), the older brother of my great grandmother Elvira Owens Shepard (1864-1931). They are both members of the Owens branch of our family tree. This particular branch was rooted in Madison County in Southern Illinois when Grandad's father William Elmer Shepard (1862-1915) married Elvira there in 1886.

William Elmer Shepard was the young man whose father had died in the Civil War a few months before he was even born. At its best a family is "a haven in a heartless world", but for the young William Elmer such was not the case. The family story I heard recounted many times by my father is that life was so unbearable for William Elmer with his step-father that he ran away from home in Wabash, Indiana as a teenager, never to see his family again. What we do know for a fact is that he made his way (by himself?) to Madison County, Illinois, some 330 miles southwest, just across the Mississippi River from St Louis, Mo.

I wonder if, on the way, he went down to Evansville, Indiana, to visit the grave of his biological father (whose grave one can visit even today in the Civil War section of Oak Hill Cemetery). This was the father he had never met, the father who had given his life in the Union cause, the father whose death had been the root cause of the unhappiness of this young wandering nomad. I suspect we will never know for sure what route he took, but I cannot help but think that thoughts of his father weighed heavy on his mind as he traveled.

Today you can drive from Wabash south on Hwy 31 to Indianapolis, catch Interstate 70, and skoot on over to Madison County, Illinois in 5 or 6 hours. In the 1870s God only knows how long it would take a teen to travel that far by himself. However he finally arrived "out west" in Madison County, whatever adventures he had on the way, whatever side trips he happened to take, it was in Illinois that he eventually met and then married Elvira Owens (whose great grandchildren 12 of us would become, some 3 generations later). In 1886 when he and Elvira married, the 23 year old William Elmer, so far from his mother and step-family, must have been thrilled to suddenly belong to the Owens family, a large, well established family in that part of Southwestern Illinois.

The convergence of the Owens line and the Shepard line is a fascinating aspect of our family history. There is more I want to share about these folks and their place in our family tree. But I need to save that for another time. Since most of what I have been sharing took place over 100 years ago, precious few photos of these folks exist that I can share. Hopefully as more research is done, and more networking takes place, more photos and more interesting stories will surface.

The first photo I am including is a small collection of Owens pictures. The first 3 images are of Elvira Owens, the first in 1919 showing her young grandson Elmer Shepard on her lap. The next two are from 1920 with her young daughter-in-law Bura Davis Shepard. The third image is Elvira's grandfather Edmond Owens Jr. (possibly her great grandfather Edmond Owens, Sr.).

The second picture I am including shows some of the family of Kim Clark. In the picture is one of Elvira Owens' great great grandchildren Jeremy Ortiz and his wife Desiree Ortiz of El Cajon, California, with their three children Ciara, Damian and Ashlyn. On the left is Jeremy's sister Amanda Ortiz, of Blue Springs, Mo. This picture was taken this past Christmas at the home of Jeff and Kim Clark.

I received an email from Kim recently who said: "Ciara is now starting softball and Jeremy coaches and Desiree is team mom. Ashlyn is in preschool and is really liking it but she is on the shy side. Damian was in the hospital for 3 days. He is home on a monitor now and seems to be feeling ok."

Remember to put the Shepard Family reunion on your calendar for July 18, 2009, at the Newcastle Community Center, in Newcastle, just south of Oklahoma City. Kim Clark will be sending out an announcement about the event. If we do not have your physical address, or if you know of a family member or friend who would like to receive an announcement by USMail, please send Kim or me an email with their address.