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.

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