Friday, November 13, 2009

Shepard Family Update, November 13, 2009

(The following is written by my cousin Dane Shepard who has agreed to be the guest poster for two weeks while I am out of the country and unable to access email or the internet. Thank so much to Dane for this gracious contribution to the family blog.)

Dear Shepard Family and Friends,

Greetings from central Oklahoma where the wind does come "sweepin' down the plain." This is Dane Shepard filling in for my cousin, Steve, while he and Cindy are enjoying a cruise. Steve has done a great job of keeping us informed and connected and I will try to continue with that effort in his absence.

It's interesting and sometimes a bit surprising where we end up in life.  For example, take Chenda Shepard who recently came from Cambodia to be a part of the family. I imagine it has been quite an adventure for her. (See her below trying out a Razor while at the reunion in July.) For myself, being a native Californian for 55 years, I never dreamed I would be living in Oklahoma where a good portion of our family history took place. My father, Elmer, has made a complete circle returning to Oklahoma where he was born via Colorado, California, and Texas. Of course, this is nothing new, even for our ancestors on both the Shepard and Davis sides. Today and next week we'll be taking a look at the early lives of a special couple and the changes that life brought them.

The information I am sharing is from a homemade booklet of ten pages entitled, "Garden of Memory." It contains some Shepard and Davis family pictures and the recollections of Margie Davis Millikan-Williams regarding the Davis family and a special tribute to her oldest sister, Bura, and husband, William Shepard. I found it among my dad's belongings and I'm grateful that Margie took the time to record her thoughts so we could share in what otherwise might have been lost and forgotten. No date appears on the booklet but it seems to have been written after William and, perhaps, Bura had passed on. Maybe some of you can provide some helpful details. I have taken the liberty of doing some editing for clarification and continuity.


The pictures above show Margie and Bura toward the end of their lives.  Bura was the oldest and Margie the youngest of the seven children of James Brooks and Caroline Davis. Both lived to the ages of 100 and 90 respectively.

Here is part one of "Garden of Memory: the Shepard Family":

Bura was only sixteen when the James Brooks Davis family moved to Oklahoma from Indiana. She left behind a young Christian man interested in her and I'm sure they must have missed one another. But Mother told Dad that she wouldn't leave a child behind so he got busy with a sale and preparations to go west. Oklahoma was a new state and it took hardy characters to remain there. The droughts, wind, and grasshoppers were something else.

The [William Elmer and Elvira] Shepard family had moved from East St. Louis where William had worked on the railroad. His run was from St. Louis to Kansas City. When he was in K.C. he felt so much better that he decided to go west to Oklahoma for his health. He could also get land cheaper there. They had two children, William and Sadie. Sadie worked at the Logan Post Office for a time and later married Levy Pruett, a rancher. They all seemed to enjoy the wide open spaces.

Dad at first substituted as a mail carrier for Sam Whitlow on the LaKemp route. However, the Sophia Post Office was soon discontinued; the two horse hack and the motorcycle route went with it. Dad looked for other work and found it in a country store owned by Harve Miller. The nearest store was in LaKemp, a small community of 45 or 50. There was a bank and a Dr. Smith with his small office and medical wisdom. [According to Elmer Shepard, this was the doctor that delivered Pauline, his sister, but was to too late when his time came so his father, William, did the honors.]

In 1915 we moved a quarter mile east to an 80 acre plot that Dad had bought from Grandpa [Charles Davis]. Dad had bought the store from Harve Miller, and he and his brother, Zaley, built a new one on the property. Grandpa was getting old and retired from farming as his cataracts were causing failing eyesight. He sold the other half to Uncle John. Later, Uncle John and Aunt Vera retired to Booker,TX.

The Shepard farm was less than a mile east of us and it didn't take Will long to notice and admire Bura. His father was a good man but no one had taught him the way of salvation. By that time he was in very poor health. They took him to Amarillo, TX and he was diagnosed with stomach cancer. It was too late for any help. He died in late winter or early spring.

While Bura and Will were going together, Will had a chance to learn the way of salvation. (He was a deacon in the church for several years before he passed away.) A pioneer preacher by the name of Ballard taught and baptized many people at that time. Will and his father were two of them. This meant so much to his father in his last days and I'm sure to Will the rest of his life. He continued going to church services and helped on the new South Flat church building which was built in about 1917. Before that we met in the Happy Hollow School and before that in a sod school house.

That's all for now. We'll continue next week.

Gratefully yours,

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