Friday, June 26, 2009

Shepard Family Update, June 26, 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 Members and Friends,

Greetings to each of you from hot Tucson, Arizona where Cindy and I are visiting friends for the weekend. At our family reunion July 18 -- which is fast approaching! -- we may have a number of relatives from my Grandmother Bura Davis' side of the family. Many of them live in and around Oklahoma and have been invited to join us, in particular by Dane Shepard and Kim Clark, who have gone out of their way to make contact with many of them.

The first picture I am including today shows the connections with our larger Davis family. In the picture is my great grandparents James Brooks Davis and Caroline (Callie) Spear Davis with their 7 children. It is one of the finest quality old family pictures that I have.

Standing tall in the back is the oldest child, my grandmother Bura Davis, who, 7 years after this photo was taken, would marry William Shepard, who she did not even meet until after they had moved and settled in Oklahoma. I never remember her looking any taller than she appears in this picture.

The boy on the far right is Lawrence Davis, taking the serious posture of the oldest boy. He was the second born in the family, and in 1930 would marry Loudella Jackson. Next to Bura is Myra Davis, the third child, who has her father's eeire eyes; in 1918 she would marry William Allen Kilpatrick. The boy smack dab in the middle is Jesse Davis, the middle child of the 7, who would marry Mildred Beck in 1930. (Mildred, by the way, is the last survivor of this generation in our family, and lives in Bartlesville, Oklahoma today.)

The girl nearly hidden on the far left is Winona Davis, child #5, who in 1924 would marry William Allen's brother Barney Kilpatrick. Esther, child #6, is the cute little girl in the front between her parents with her head slightly cocked. She would marry Perry Jenkins in 1923. Marjorie, the youngest of the 7, is the baby sitting in her father's lap. In 1931 she would become Mrs. John Millikan, and then 50 years after that, Mrs. A.C. Williams.

Marjorie was born in late December 1907. In the picture she cannot be any more than a few months old, indicating that this picture must have been taken in the spring or summer of 1908 -- 101 years ago! The location was probably Spencer Indiana, where the family lived at the time. A few years later they moved to Beaver County, Oklahoma.

None of the people in this picture are still living today. The last one of James and Callie's children to pass away was the youngest, Marjorie, who died just last fall in Tulsa, Oklahoma at 100.

One of the most remarkable things about this picture is how they managed to get all the children to pose so perfectly, at the same time. To get ANY 9 people to photograph well is tough enough. When 7 of the 9 are under 12 years old, it is uncanny. Some of our younger family members may need to be reminded that this picture was taken long before the age of digital photography, meaning that each shot was very important. They did not take 20 pictures and then select the best one. 100 years ago photography was still a relatively new phenomenon, which may help to explain the rapt attention given by each of the family members -- including the baby!

The indicators of the early 20th century in this photo are very apparent -- the curtains in the back, the knickers on Lawrence, the collar and blouse on Jess (try putting that on a boy today and the neighbors may call CPS!), the well worn shoes, the soft white cottons on all the girls, and the high collars on everybody.

Mother Callie, though 5 years older than her husband James, actually looks younger and is quite a beauty at 42 years old. He is the one who -- though only 37 --seems to show in his face the signs of having borne 7 children in the first 12 years of their married life.

Most of those who read this blog are descendants of Bura Davis, the tall girl in the back in the picture above. But a growing number of readers are descendants of the other Davis children, with names like Niles, Millikan, Allen, Borgstadt, Ellred, Taylor, Roberts and of course, Davis. We will be blessed to be joined at the reunion by some of these other members of our larger family.

Congratulations Newlyweds. I mentioned last week that Nathan, our son (and one of James and Callie's GGgrandsons) was recently joined by his fiance Chenda from Cambodia. But I need to report further this week that they were married last Sunday, on Father's Day! It was this father's honor to do the outdoor ceremony in San Diego, on a small bluff overlooking the Pacific ocean. Congratulations to Nathan and Chenda Shepard! The second picture I am including today is a picture of the newlyweds with Cindy and me. (I promise not to bore you EVERY week with updates. ;-)

Happy Birthday Kyle Sauvage. As a final word I want to say happy birthday to Kyle Christian Sauvage, one of James and Callie Davis' GGGgrandsons. Kyle, who turns 5 today, lives in Weatherford, Texas with his parents James and Kelly Sauvage. Kyle is the grandson of Gary Shepard and the great grandson of Maida Shepard.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Shepard Family Update, June 19, 2009

The most important thing
a father can do
for his children
is to love their mother.

-Theodore Hesburgh

Dear Shepard Family and Friends,

Greetings to all of you on this third weekend of June. Tomorrow we are having a memorial service for my wife Cindy's brother Joe Paul Harris who passed away a few weeks ago. There will be tears and sadness, but it will also be a time to celebrate his life. The service will be at the El Cajon Blvd Church of Christ in San Diego, a place of many memories for me and a number of family connections.

It happens to have been Will and Bura Shepard's church home for the several decades they lived here in San Diego. It was also my parents' church for the first 10 years of my life, and was where my siblings and I learned our earliest lessons about faith. I remember it well as the place I first learned how to act up in Sunday School! (I also learned the consequences of doing so.) It was also the place where I learned to recite from memory all the books of the Bible, something I can still do -- over 50 years later -- without thinking twice. (OMG, what am I admitting to!)

And on this weekend of Father's day, I am also remembering -- in a second hand sort of way -- that the El Cajon Blvd Church is where my father and mother (Eugene Shepard and Maida Gower) were married 64 years ago this past May 24th.

Father's Day. Speaking of Father's Day, best wishes to all you fathers, and fathers-to-be! The first picture I am including shows two of the fathers of our family, Elmer and Eugene Shepard. This picture was taken in San Diego about 1944, when both of them were serving in the military. Eugene (on the right), who passed away 6 years ago, is the father of my siblings and me, while Elmer -- the father of Joan and Dane -- is the oldest living father in the Shepard family.

Here are the other 11 men who are living fathers of the descendants of Will and Bura Shepard: Dane Shepard, Art Colgain, Rex Russell, Terry Boyd, Darren Boyd, Jeremy Ortiz, Gary Shepard, James Sauvage, Steve Shepard, Darrell Shepard, and Russ Shepard. Happy Father's Day to them and best wishes to all the men in our family!

If you are like me, however, this weekend is also a time to remember fathers and/or grandfathers who are no longer with us. Here is a list of all the fathers of descendants of Will and Bura who have passed away, in some instances way too young: Gabriel Ortiz, Manuel Aquiningoc, Bill Russell, Gene Shepard, and of course Grandad William Shepard. Thanks be to God for all of them and for the memories of them we hold in our hearts.

Welcome to America! As a father myself, it is my joy to offer congratulations to our son Nathan Shepard on the arrival of his fiance Chenda Sou from Cambodia this past weekend. Cindy and I were on hand when Nathan met her plane in Los Angeles last Saturday night, and welcomed her to the U.S. after an arduous overseas flight. Even though she has been living in Cambodia, she has enjoyed being on our email list for several months, so she is not unfamiliar with life among our family members. She and Nathan are now living in San Francisco where Nathan has lived and worked for the last several years. They will be married soon and are looking forward to being with us in Newcastle, Oklahoma next month for the family reunion.

Happy Birthday this coming Monday to Vicki Boyd, wife of Darren Boyd of Lakeside, California. Vicki is the mother of Courtney, Brandyn and Kori Boyd. She and Darren will celebrate 21 years of marriage this coming Thursday. Congratulations!

Our family reunion on July 18 in Newcastle, Oklahoma is just a few weeks away. Please let Dane Shepard or Kim Clark know by next Friday if you will be attending, so we can plan accordingly. And don't forget to bring whatever old (or new) family pictures you would like to put out on our display table for others to see.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Shepard Family Update, June 12, 2009

Whatever we think of the past,
we must not be prisoners to it.
President Obama
June, 2009

Hello Shepard Family and Friends!

Greetings to all of you on this fine spring day. In last week's post I mentioned that we cannot change the past, but the past can change us, in the best possible way. Akin to that idea is the one quoted above from President Obama's speech last week in Egypt. In it he warned of being prisoners to the past, by letting the past keep us from positive change. He was speaking in particular about American/Muslim relationships. But this thought also relates to our family's history.

I love studying our family, learning about our ancestors, trying to understand the decisions they made, the loyalties they formed, the love of family they showed, the faith they affirmed, the varied approaches they took to life, and the ways they responded to adversity. But in all my learning (and my memories) about family who have preceded us, I realize that there were some attitudes and approaches to life that we must not emulate.

Did you know that there are many black Americans, especially in the south, with the last name of "Shepard"? And even more with the last name of "Davis", and some with other names within our family tree. My guess is that they did not bring those names to America with them. They have those names because they received them from some slave owners named Shepard or Davis in early 19th century America, in a time when owning slaves was a common, accepted practice, and perfectly legal. (I do not know if it was our particular Shepard or Davis ancestors -- or relatives with other last names -- who were slave owners, but it is possible. Perhaps in time, after more research, we will find out.)

Obviously over time slavery has become unacceptable to people in our country and in our family. We refuse to be prisoners to our past by maintaining old attitudes about slavery in particular, or negative attitudes about Americans of color in general. The fact that we have a black president is only one indication of this. Times change. Sometimes for the better! The attitudes of our family members have evolved over the years in regard to the diversity among our fellow Americans. And it has happened because we have been careful not to be imprisoned by our past.

To take this point a bit further, attitudes among the different age groups within our our own family members continue to change. In many ways those of my generation approach life quite differently from many of our ancestors. Yet I can already see that among family members younger than me, there are even more attitude changes. I am grateful for ways that the younger members of our family resist being prisoners of their past, and are open to the future just as much, or even more, than we who precede them. I marvel at this wonderful flow of history, of which our family is one small but very important part.

Happy Birthday Scott Ortiz! Tomorrow, June 13, is the birthday of Scott Ortiz, who is the 11th Ggrandchild of Will and Bura Shepard, the younger son of Kim Clark, and grandson of Thelma and Terry Boyd. He moved to Blue Springs, Missouri a few months ago from San Diego and works in nearby Kansas City. His mom Kim tells me that he has practiced Jiu Jitsu (a type of martial arts) for several years and also enjoys boating and looks forward to going to the lake this summer. The first picture is of Scott (on the left) with Jiu Jitsu Brazilian World Champion Andre Galvao.

Scott was the last of Will and Bura's descendants to be born before the death of Bura Shepard in 1986. This means that 17 of the 44 descendants of Will and Bura have been born since they both died. When you consider that those born just prior to Bura's death were babies when she died, it is clear that nearly half of our entire family today never knew Will or Bura personally. The only thing they know about those wonderful two people is what we tell them. And there is a lot of good to tell!

The second picture I am including was taken in 1988 and shows Scott Ortiz in the bottom left in front of his mother Kim Clark. Also in the picture are Scott's older brother and sister Jeremy and Amanda, and his father Gabe Ortiz who passed away in 2002.

Remember our family reunion next month on July 18 in Newcastle, Oklahoma. At the reunion, there will be a table set up for any old or new family photos you might like to bring for people to see.

Our host Dane Shepard needs to tell the caterer by June 27 how many to feed, so please email Dane at or email Kim Clark at and let one of them know by June 26 if you will be attending. We want to make sure there is enough food to feed everyone!

Friday, June 05, 2009

Shepard Family Update, June 5, 2009

Nothing we do changes the past
-- everything we do changes the future.
(Anacortes High School '09 Class Motto)
Hello Shepard Family and Friends!

Greetings to all of you as June (yes, June!) arrives and our view to this summer becomes clearer. If it is true that, "nothing we do changes the past," why should we be so concerned about history, in particular our family history? For me the answer is this: even though we cannot change the past, the past can change us. In the best possible way. That is the hope and promise of remembering and learning from those who have gone before us.

Happy Birthday Emma Wilk. Tomorrow is the 4th birthday of little Emma Beverly Jean Wilk. Emma is the daughter of Shannon Wilk of Atchison, Kansas, and is one of the select group of 8 GGgrandchildren of Will and Bura Shepard. See a picture of Emma and her mother. Happy Birthday, Emma!

Emma is part of the 4th generation of descendants of Will and Bura, which ranges from Lyndsey Aquiningoc (18 years old) to Damian Ortiz (2 years old). The previous generation of direct descendants numbers 20, so this generation, which presently numbers 8, is just getting started.

As you might expect, the descendants of Will and Bura have just about doubled in each new generation, the numbers being 2 - 4 - 12 - 20 - 8. When it is all said and done, this newest generation of 8 individuals should eventually reach a total of at least 40 descendants, perhaps even more. I may not be around when the final tally for this generation is made sometime around 2040, so someone else will need to be keeping score by then! ;-)

It is the nature of families that with each succeeding generation the branches of the family tree cast a wider scope. One couple, Will and Bura, were the husband and wife who were the genesis of this particular part of the larger family to which we belong. The first generation of their descendants were their four children, siblings of each other, a rather modest beginning for the early 20th century. The 2nd generation (to which I belong) are Will and Bura's 12 grandchildren, all of whom are either siblings or first cousins. The 3rd generation (Will and Bura's 20 Ggrandchildren) are either siblings, first cousins, or second cousins. The 4th and newest generation (Will and Bura's 8 GGgrandchildren) are either siblings, first cousins, second cousins, or third cousins. Some of those in this newest generation are quite removed from each other, and may not ever meet, but they all still share Will and Bura as their GGgrand- parents and will always have that in common.

Beryl Swinney. Next Thursday is the 86th anniversary of the birthday of Beryl Swinney Shepard. Originally from East Texas, Beryl was serving in the military in World War II when she met Elmer Shepard. They married after the war and settled in San Diego where they lived for over 30 years and raised their two children. She and Elmer then retired to East Texas, which is where she died 15 years ago. The first picture I am including, taken in the 1970s in San Diego, shows Beryl with her husband Elmer and their children Joan and Dane Shepard.

Congratulations to the OTHER Steve Shepard. Today Steven Paul Shepard of Anacortes, Washington, graduates from Anacortes High School. Steve is the 13th Ggrandchild of Will and Bura Shepard. His family, including parents Russ and Pam, Grandmother Maida, and aunt Barbara, are all -- choose one of the following... -- elated / relieved / tickled pink / exhausted / very proud. (Maybe they are all of those things!)

Congratu- lations, Steve, on all your hard work and dedication. We wish you well as you figure out where your life will go from here! If any of you have words of wisdom for Steve, he will be among those attending the family reunion July 18 in Oklahoma.

This second picture shows graduate Steve Shepard in cap and gown in front of his High School and next to the school bell. Thanks to aunt Barbara for this picture.

If you need help finding where our family reunion July 18 will be, let Google show you the exact location of the Newcastle (Oklahoma) Community Center. The reunion will be from noon till 5 pm.
Steve Shepard (the older one)