Friday, January 29, 2010

Shepard Family Update January 29, 2010

Other things may change us, 
but we start and end with the family. 
~Anthony Brandt

Hello Shepard Family and Friends,

Greetings to all of you wherever you may be. We survived our "major" (for us) winter storm last week here in San Diego and have settled back into our typically mild, usually sunny, and mostly pleasant days.

This coming Tuesday, February 2, is Ground Hog Day and the midpoint of winter. It is also the birthday of William Elmer Shepard, my father's father's father. Last week I mentioned my mother's mother's mother, Finetta Clementine Dearien, and the similarities between her story and William Elmer's story. Thanks to those of you who responded to Finetta's story with a wide range of comments. Here are some of them,

"That was an awesome story and I enjoyed your take on it!..." (from a family member in Wa.)

"That was a really interesting story. Boy, I'll tell you. Those crimes just keep happening and it makes me so angry. I just don't understand it..."  (from a family member in the Southwest)

"I wouldn't have made a very good wife back in those days. That 'ol step-father would have to sleep sometime. I'm sure they had big heavy iron skillets and I would have made good use of one of them. It wouldn't be to cook his meals either..." (from a family member in Texas)

My Father's Father's Father.  William Elmer's life story, though similar to Finetta's in several ways, may evoke a different response in many of us. He was born in Wabash, Indiana in 1862, while his father William (no middle name) Shepard was away serving on the side of the Union forces in the Civil War. Tragically his father died and never returned to meet his son. William Elmer, as his father's only child, is the lone link between all of us Shepard's today and our Shepard ancestors.

The Shepard family line continues today because he was adventuresome enough to trek across the Midwest alone as a young man to Madison County, Illinois, where he met and married Elvira Owen and with her raised two children. The boy they named after the father he never knew, William (no middle name) Shepard; and the daughter they named Sadie. (This past Wednesday, by the way, was the 118th anniversary of Sadie's birth.)

William Elmer's journey from his home in Indiana did not end in Illinois. About the turn of the 20th century he again began feeling the spirit of adventure, and moved his wife and children to the panhandle of Oklahoma, where he and Elvira lived the rest of their days.

It was there in Beaver County, Oklahoma that his son William met Bura Davis, his daughter Sadie met Levi Pruett, and the continuity of the Shepard line was assured. William Elmer died of stomach cancer in February, 1915, but not before he saw the Shepard line move precariously from 19th century Indiana to 20th century Oklahoma, with the promise of a bright and fruitful future that continues into the 21st century.

Unfortunately I have no pictures of William Elmer Shepard or his father. The first picture I am including today is one of the oldest pictures I have of my Grandfather William (no middle name) Shepard, William Elmer's son. Stamped across the front is "Pioneer Studio, Springfield, Colorado". In 1928 William and Bura moved their family from Oklahoma to Two Buttes, Colorado (near Springfield) and lived there until 1940 when they moved to San Diego. This picture was taken during those years, probably in the early 1930s.

Happy Birthday, Cindy! February 2 is also the birthday of Cindy Ann Shepard who has been married to my brother Gary Shepard for over 30 years. She and Gary make their home in Oak Harbor, Washington, and are proud to claim 6 children, and 7 grandchildren between the two of them. Gary's children and grandchildren all live in or around Weatherford, Texas, and most of you are familiar with them: Kerri, Lyndsey and Mandi Aquiningoc, Kelly (and husband James) Savage with children Nate and Kyle, and Jason Shepard.

The second picture I am including is a collection of photos showing Cindy and her kids. At the top is Gary and Cindy. Below them is Cindy's oldest daughter Michele who serves in the Navy in LeMoore, Ca. Next is her son Rickey McGauran of LaVerne, Ca, with his wife Kristie and their kids Kody and Keely. At the bottom is Cindy's daughter Samantha of Montgomery, Alabama and her boyfriend Randy. On the bottom right is Samantha's daughter Breauna of Georgia with her boyfriend Curtis, who are expecting a daughter in May - Cindy's first Great Grandchild!
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Friday, January 22, 2010

Shepard Family Update January 22, 2010

Life is what you make it.
Always has been,
always will be.
~ Eleanor Roosevelt

Hello Shepard Family and Friends,

Greetings to all of you from soggy San Diego. Winter has finally hit us hard with a rainstorm that has given us a good soaking this week. This kind of thing happens so seldom I would find it something of a novelty, were it not for those who are suffering hardship from the flooding.

My Mother's Mother's Mother; my Father's Father's Father. One of the more interesting stories I have discovered in researching our family's history concerns my mother's mother's mother, a woman by the name of Finetta Clementine Dearien. One of the most interesting things about her story is how similar it is to the life story of William Elmer Shepard, my father's father's father. 

When you think about it just a bit you realize that one's father's father's father is all the way across the family tree from one's mother's mother's mother. (Are you keeping up with me here?) But in this particular instance Finetta and William had a lot in common, even though their family paths did not cross until two generations down the road. Finetta and William were born within months of each other, during the American Civil War, a time of widespread death, anguish and lawlessness. They were both mid-Americans -- one an Indianan, the other an Arkansan. And both were born under heartbreaking circumstances.

I have shared before about the life of William Elmer Shepard, and will share some more about him next week, just before the occasion of his birthday. Today I would like to share with you about Finetta.

O My Darlin'. Finetta Clementine Dearien was born in the late winter of 1861 in Mountain View, Arkansas. Her unfortunate mother was a school girl named Roena Norton, whose stepfather David Dearien had molested her, resulting in the birth of Finetta. During Roena's pregnancy, he kept his stepdaughter from public view, refusing even to let her attend school. To make matters worse, after Finetta was born, out of shame he caused her mother Roena to disappear. One version of the family story is that he got her hopelessly lost in one of the caves near Mountain View, where she perished. Another version is that he simply took her away in a horse drawn wagon to some unknown fate. In either case, after she had given birth to Finetta, Roena was never seen or heard from again by any of her family. Another family story has it that the stepfather never admitted to fathering Finetta until on his death bed in 1900. By that time Finetta was 39 years old, married, and had borne 8 children of her own.

Finetta was raised by her loving but surely heartbroken grandmother Elizabeth Mitchell Dearien, and lived her entire life in and around the small town of Mountain View. Finetta actually made a decent life for herself, marrying a fine man named Samuel Pickens Shannon. (See first picture from about 1920 showing Samuel and Finetta.) Together they had a total of 9 children, the youngest being Nola Shannon Gower, my mother's mother (who we laid to rest in San Diego, just over 5 years ago at age 103).

And the Two Shall Become One. During World War II, just about the time Finetta was celebrating her 80th birthday, one of her granddaughters, Maida Gower, met Eugene Shepard here in San Diego. And with that relationship, and ensuing marriage, the connection was made between the family lines of my mother's mother's mother and my father's father's father.

Finetta died in 1960, three months short of her 100th birthday, and is buried in Timbo, Arkansas. This past summer my mother Maida went to visit her grandmother Finetta's grave outside Mountain View. She rests in an isolated graveyard which is difficult to access. In an interesting twist of fate, her grave is kept out of public view most of the time, just like Finetta's ill-fated young mother so many years ago.

Much of what I know of Finetta, I was told by my grandmother, Nola Shannon Gower, over 30 years ago. (See picture of Maida Gower Shepard and her mother Nola Shannon Gower, at Nola's 100th birthday celebration.)

Finetta's origins are unfortunate to be sure, the full facts of which will probably never be known. Truth be told, however, this was probably not the first time in our family a child was born under such dubious circumstances. For certain it was not the last. But surely her story is worth telling for more than the sordid events surrounding her birth. What do you make of it?

She causes me to ponder how pervasive domestic violence has been and continues to be in many families. How critical it is for us to create family relationships of love and mutual respect, rather than self interest and intimidation. But more than anything, Finetta is a poignant reminder that the best life is not the one that is given to us, but the life we make for ourselves.
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Friday, January 15, 2010

Shepard Family Update January 15, 2010

[One] day all God's children
will be able to sing with new meaning,
"My country, 'tis of thee,
sweet land of liberty,
of thee I sing.
Land where my fathers died,
land of the pilgrim's pride,
from every mountainside,
let freedom ring."
~Martin Luther King, Jr.

Hello Shepard Family and Friends,

Today is the birthday of a great American hero, Dr Martin Luther King Jr. Though today is his birthday, this coming Monday is the day when most of us will have a holiday to celebrate him and remember his life. He was a minister and activist who championed peace and freedom for all families. Had he not been shot and killed in 1968, he would today be celebrating his 81th birthday. Families of all kinds and colors, shapes and sizes owe a great debt of gratitude to Dr. King.

This coming Thursday, January 21, is the birthday of Dane  and his son Nathan Shepard. Dane, the 6th of the 12 grandchildren of Will and Bura Shepard, grew up in San Diego with the rest of us Shepards of his generation, but is retired now and living in New Castle, Oklahoma. Happy Birthday to Dane and Nathan!

The first picture I am including today shows a young Dane Shepard in San Diego in 1953. With him in the picture are his parents Elmer and Beryl, and his teen aged aunt Thelma Shepard. Dane emailed me recently with the following update.

We are grateful to be doing well in spite of all the cold weather we've had since Christmas Eve. It was ten degrees this morning but the sun is out and it's supposed to warm up in the next few days. What a change from Southern California!  I can imagine what it was like for the Shepard and Davis families living in the "panhandle" of Oklahoma years ago.

Regarding birthdays, Nathan and I celebrate the same day, Jan. 21 (he will be 14 and I must admit to 59!).  Both he and Kaylan keep Cindy and I young with home school, bowling, church, and other activities. Elmer is doing about the same and is still able to get out for church services, visits, and appointments. We hope to celebrate his 92 birthday in May. We are truly thankful for the opportunity to be with and assist him, as well as Cindy's parents who struggle at times with their health.

As I think about family and look forward to the coming year, I'm reminded of a stanza from one of my favorite hymns by Folliott Pierpont:

For the joy of human love,
brother, sister, parent, child,
friends on earth and friends above,
for all gentle thoughts and mild,
Lord of all, to Thee we raise
this our hymn of grateful praise.

The second picture I am including today shows Dane with his wife Cindy and children Nathan and Kaylan, and his father Elmer.

Dane passed on to me an email he received from cousin Becky Davis of Bartlesville with an update on how she is doing after her recent fall and hospitalization.

Thank you for the e-mail that I received in the hospital and also for checking to see how I am getting along. I came home 10 days ago and had to have Jessie get some equipment so I could get around. She has been wonderful. They put two rods in my leg so I would not have to wear a cast and can get around with a walker. The doc said I could do anything that the pain would allow. Am able to do everything except cook and wash my clothes. I have ordered a recumbent stationary bike which should be here on Monday. Used one at the hospital and could tell that is what I need to get some strength back. 

Mom and I have not been outside since I got back. It is just too cold. Have to go see the Doctor on Tues. but should be warmer and maybe all this snow will have melted. Mom is fine but gets a little disoriented after dark. I heard the name for that is Sundown Syndrome and a lot of older people have it. We don't get worried about it considering her age. She still has some spice in her. Love to all,  Becky Davis

Have a wonderful week as we make our way into these bleak midwinter days. Maybe you can even find some spice in the midst of it all.
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Friday, January 08, 2010

Shepard Family Update, January 8, 2010

When the star in the sky is gone,
When the Kings and Princes are home,
When the shepherds are back with their flocks,
The work of Christmas begins.
...To make music in the heart.
~Howard Thurman

Hello Shepard Family and Friends,

The holidays are now over, the Christmas wrappings have been trashed, travels have concluded, and most of our families are back to some semblance of normalcy. Just a few days ago Cindy and I made our last trip to the airport to get our visiting family members back to their homes. Despite the busy-ness of the season, I hope your celebration was as enjoyable as ours.

This Sunday is the birthday of Mary Ann (Medina) Shepard of Kirkland, Washington. Mary is a part of that very select group of women who are the daughters-in-law of Maida Shepard. Mary's husband is Darrell Shepard, Maida's middle son, and their 3 children are Christopher, Rachel and Patrick. Mary has been a member of our family ever since she and Darrell were married while at Abilene Christian in 1982. A week ago yesterday they celebrated 27 years of marriage. Congratulations and Happy Birthday!

The first picture I am including today was taken recently in Washington and shows Mary with her daughter Rachel.

Next Thursday, January 14 is the birthday of Eric Russell of Red Rock, Nevada. Eric is the very first of the 20 Ggrandchildren of Will and Bura Shepard. Happy Birthday to Eric!

The second picture I am including today shows Eric (second from the left) with his family in a picture taken back in 1978. In the picture are Eric's grandparents Bill and Pauline (Shepard) Russell in the front on the right. In the back on the left is Eric's uncle Phil Wilk. On the right in the back is Eric's father Rex Russell with his wife Margie. In front of Eric are his cousins Karl and Shannon Wilk, children of Phil and his late wife Beverly.

I received word this last week that Joan Shepard's daughter Havilah Colgain and her boyfriend Kevin Wardle plan to get married later this month on January 23. The wedding will take place near Price, Utah where they live. Congratulations to them both!

The list of people who are a part of our online family continues to grow. Among the recent additions are: Cheryl and Jim Gower of Fort Mohave, Arizona (first cousins of mine on the Gower side of my family); Nicole Haw of Bothell Washington (Patrick Shepard's significant other); Jeanette Adkins of West Virginia (of the West Virginia Sheppards); and Vicki and Duke Johnston of Oak Harbor, Washington (Vicki is the sister of Maida Shepard).

If you know of others who would like to receive the weekly emails that I send out, please send me their email address.
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Friday, January 01, 2010

Shepard Family Update, January 1, 2010

Last year's words
belong to last year's language,
and next year's words
await another voice.
- T.S. Elliot

Hello Shepard Family and Friends,

Happy New Year to all of you! May 2010 be filled with health and happiness and may you find great joy in the family ties that bind us all together.

The birthday of Pauline (Shepard) Russell was this past Monday, Dec 28. Of the 45 descendants of Will and Bura Shepard that have been born since they were married in 1915, Pauline was the very first, born in 1916 in Beaver County, Oklahoma. She died 9 years ago in the San Diego area, where she and husband Bill Russell lived for most of their lives and raised their family. Pauline's descendants today are her son Rex and his son Eric Russell of Nevada, and her granddaughter Shannon Wilk, and Shannon's daughter Emma of Kansas.

The first picture I am including today shows Pauline and her mother Bura (Davis) Shepard in San Diego. It was taken in the mid 1940s, just a few years after the family moved from Two Buttes, Colorado to Southern California. Pauline's corsage and the lovely outfits on these two suggest this may have been a Mother's day picture.

"Auntie Pauline", as many of us knew her, was the first of the 31 grandchildren of James Brooks and Callie (Spear) Davis, who were married on New Year's Day 114 years ago. See a picture of them in 1896 on their wedding day.  See a picture of them in 1922 with their first 5 grandchildren, including Pauline.

Becky Davis Hospitalized. One of the younger grandchildren of James and Callie Davis is Becky Davis of Bartlesville, Oklahoma. Her brother Bud Davis emailed me recently to say that Becky had a fall and spent the week of Christmas in the hospital in Bartlesville with a broken leg that required surgery. The good news is that she should be home by now. Prayers are appreciated as she continues to recover.

Happy Birthday to my wife Cindy Shepard this coming Thursday, January 7. Cindy and I Iive in San Diego and celebrated 41 years of marriage just last Sunday.

Happy Birthday TODAY to Chenda (Sou) Shepard. This is a bitter sweet time for her. Not only has she just enjoyed her first Christmas, she also received word from her homeland Cambodia last week that her father is seriously ill in Phnom Penh. Chenda and husband Nathan Shepard live in San Francisco. The second picture I am including shows Cindy with daughter-in-law Chenda. It was taken Christmas day in San Diego where we celebrated the holiday with Cindy's family.

Today begins the third year that I have been writing this family blog. When I began on the last Friday of 2007, I would never have imagined that there would be so much to say about our family each week. The history of our family is so interesting, with people to keep up with, and new information being uncovered all the time, that there seems to be a never ending list of things to share. I look forward to continuing this family blog for the foreseeable future and solicit your input. I welcome your old or new family photos, or interesting news and information about our family. 

Blessings to all of you for a wonderful and prosperous 2010!
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