Sunday, March 28, 2010

A Child Is Born!

It sometimes happens,
even in the best of families,
that a baby is born.
This is not necessarily cause for alarm.
The important thing is
to keep your wits about you
and borrow some money.
~Elinor Goulding Smith

Hello Shepard Family and Friends!

Greetings on this Palm Sunday, the first day of Easter week. This special post is to announce the birth of Preslea Maida Shepard this past Friday evening at California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco. She arrived nearly a week earlier than expected, but still came in at a healthy 7lbs 2oz, 22 inches long, with plenty of black hair. Baby, mother and father are all doing well.

The proud parents are Nathan and Chenda Shepard. Cindy and I are, of course the proud Grandparents. Preslea is named after Chenda's favorite singer, and Nathan's grandmother Maida Shepard. She is the newest descendant of Will and Bura (Davis) Shepard, and one of that growing group of GGgrandchildren of theirs.

The first picture (above) shows Preslea being held by her mother at barely a day old. The second picture (left) shows the three of them, Nathan, Preslea, and Chenda, before leaving the hospital to go home. For more pictures see Nathan's profile on Facebook.

Happy Birthday Nathan! Preslea ends up being an early birthday present for her father Nathan Shepard, whose 33rd birthday is April 3, this coming Saturday. April also celebrates an adventurous 2 year love story - international drama - multicultural saga for Nathan and Chenda and now Preslea. Select this link to see a photo presentation of the last two years in their lives.

Happy "birth" day to Preslea and congratulations to the happy parents!
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Friday, March 26, 2010

Shepard Family Update, March 26, 2010

Who would have thought
we'd have a black son
before we knew a democrat?
~Sean Tuohy in the movie
"The Blind Side"

Hello Shepard Family and Friends,

Greetings on this first Friday of spring. This coming Wednesday is the birthday of my cousin Joan Shepard of Dixon, California. Joan is the daughter of Elmer Shepard, the sister of Dane Shepard, and one of the 12 grandchildren of Will and Bura (Davis) Shepard. 

The first picture is an oldie from 1985 and shows Joan with her daughter Havilah. Joan wrote me to say,

The highlight of my year has to be Havilah and Kevin’s marriage. They are so suited for each other. Their wedding in January in the Utah desert was touching and just plain exhilarating! As they recited vows we looked out over the Little Grand Canyon and its breathtaking depths filled with pristine snow. Then we romped in the sunny cold with Wardle family and friends (see pictures of me at target practice and riding an inner tube).  

Now that I’m at that time of life when one feels “stationed” in job and responsibilities, it’s so refreshing to share adventures with children and grandkids. I look forward to many more happy times ahead, even in winter climes. 

Here in Northern California, I’m still teaching high school and, now that spring approaches, weeding our garden plot—the front courtyard. I’m making use of every available spot between roses and ornamental grass. My mind turns to Bura and her kitchen garden. I’ll probably plant scalloped squash, her favorite, remembering how she taught me the importance of sowing seeds that could be harvested much later in life. My best wishes to Nathan and Chenda and the eager grandparents!

Best wishes for a very Happy Birthday, Joan!

Family and Media. A couple of weeks ago I made some comments to you about an interesting TV program on Friday evenings related to family research. Here are some other thoughts on Family and Media.

"The Blind Side" is a wonderful new movie starring Sandra Bullock - and for which she recently received an academy award. It is based on a true story concerning a well to do family in a southern city, who breaks conventional barriers and welcomes into their home, and into their hearts, a needy person far less fortunate than they. It is a poignant reminder that the best families are those who can expand their family life to include others, in the spirit of compassionate outreach.

Another recent movie that speaks to this same theme is "Up." Like "The Blind Side", it was also a finalist earlier this month at the Academy Awards. It too is an inspiring and heartwarming tale, although of a very different sort. But it also tells of how opening our hearts and our families to include others can be a serendipitous, even life changing, experience.

I did not always understand that. When I was growing up, our family lived in San Diego and was very involved in our church in Linda Vista. Young military men who were lonely and far from home, would regularly visit our congregation. Our family would often invite them to have lunch with us after church and enjoy a home cooked meal. Sometimes they would stay for hours, perhaps all day.

I can remember on occasion getting a little miffed by some of them who seemed to overstay their welcome, or cause us to alter our family plans. But these days I am grateful for the lesson that taught me about stretching the limits of family love. I am encouraged by families who are willing to reach out and bring others into their circle. It reminds me that in many ways one's family is defined more by love and compassion than simply by blood.
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Friday, March 19, 2010

Shepard Family Update, March 19, 2010

So live that you wouldn't be ashamed 
to sell the family parrot 
to the town gossip.
~Will Rogers

Hello Shepard Family and Friends,

Greetings on this last Friday of winter from San Francisco, California. Cindy and I are recovering from a party/shower/reception yesterday that was given for Nathan and Chenda in honor of their soon-to-be-born baby girl.
Birthday greetings today to Kaylan Shepard of Newcastle, Oklahoma! She is the younger child of Dane and Cindy Shepard, and the grandchild of Elmer Shepard. She has the unique distinction of being the last descendant of Will and Bura Shepard to be born in the 20th Century. The picture on the left shows her with her dog Katie. Kaylan emailed me recently to say,

I am grateful that you remembered my birthday. I have been very busy lately with church, traveling, bowling, and many more things. We went to a singing school in Tennessee last week. I tried to sing but with my allergies like they are I sounded more like a screeching guinea pig than a singer. I'm really excited about my birthday. I can't believe I'm going to be eleven.  I wrote a poem about my birthday. 
I thought perhaps you'd like to hear it.

When I'm Eleven

I can't wait to feel what it's like to be eleven
I can't wait to have birthday cake in my mouth
I can't wait to feel shredded wrapping paper under my toes
But my only regret for turning eleven, "sigh", is my ten year old days are over.

Birthday greetings also go out to my older brother Gary Shepard of Oak Harbor, Washington who will celebrate yet another birthday this coming Tuesday. Gary is the first born son of Maida and Eugene Shepard and the third grandchild of Will and Bura Shepard, and the first of their descendants to be born in the "baby boomer" generation.

He and his wife Cindy enjoy life these days with their dog Dexter and often find themselves at their vacation home on Lake Stephens in Washington. Gary emailed me to say,

I am slowly being left in a great cloud of dust as the electronic world has left me behind. I don't tweeter, or do Facebook, or any of that stuff anymore. We are doing well. We just painted and got new carpet last month. Cindy's job keeps her busy and on a high stress level but she likes it that way. I love retirement. I'm in my 7th year this month. Should have done it years earlier.
The second picture I am including, taken in Los Alamitos, California in 1981, shows Gary and Cindy in the middle, with our distinguished looking brother Darrell Shepard on the left, and a young Nathan Shepard mugging it up on the right.

Speaking of Darrell Shepard, his wife Mary will be having some long anticipated surgery this coming Tuesday in Kirkland, Washington. Best wishes to her and prayers for a successful surgery and a speedy recovery.
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Thursday, March 11, 2010

Shepard Family Update, March 12, 2010

You've got to do your own growing,
no matter how tall your grandfather was.
--Irish Proverb

Hello Shepard Family and Friends,

Greetings to all of you from home in San Diego, as winter fades away and the new life of spring grows near.

Birthday Wishes. Happy Birthday tomorrow to my brother Russell Shepard, and his son Steven Paul Shepard, who were both born on the same day of the year, March 13. Russ and his wife Pam, as well as Steve and his sister Linda, live in Anacortes, Washington. Russ works for Dakota Creek Industries in Anacortes, while Steve (who is turning 20!) is enjoying his first year after High School Graduation. The first picture I am including shows Steven and Russ Shepard back in 1996.

Last week I mentioned an email I received from Larry Davis, one of my dad's first cousins. I mistakenly said that Larry lives in Dallas, Texas. Though all three of their daughters live in the Dallas area, Larry and his wife Sheila are long time residents of Amarillo, Texas.

Happy Birthday this Sunday to Jerry Clark, who has been a part of our family ever since he and my late sister Linda Shepard were married while students at Lubbock Christian University back in 1970, when he was a spry 20 year old. Jerry still makes his home in Lubbock, Texas, now with wife Cathrina, with whom he will celebrate a 4th anniversary next month. Jerry's birthday this year is a big one that ends in "0". Congratulations on such an auspicious milestone! The second picture, taken in San Diego in 1999, shows Jerry with Maida Shepard (middle) and Nola (Shannon) Gower.

Family and Media. I saw the first episode of the family history TV program last Friday evening, "Who Do You Think You Are?" and was pleasantly impressed. It was not just a shameless promotional for There were plenty of advertisements for that particular website, but I found this episode to be a very entertaining and interesting story about one person's search for their roots. It reminded me of some of the inspiring and surprising discoveries I have made in recent years researching our family. The series continues for several more Friday evenings on NBC. As they say, "Check your local listings." 

Roberta (Owens) Brooks, a reader of these emails (and a 3rd cousin by way of William Shepard's mother Elvira Owens) emailed me to say, "I did view 'Who Do You Think You Are' on Friday. It was good for someone who doesn't currently do genealogy and is interested in getting started. There is another program on PBS (on my area on Wednesday at 8:00) called 'Faces of America'.  It is also about tracing your family and I think it is far more interesting because it goes into more depth about the celebrity they are profiling. Henry Louis Gates (I think he is from Harvard) is the host and is very thorough. He includes historical happenings of the time as they affect the family. Check it out. I love reading your emails -- keep up the good work."

Irish Eyes. Most of us have some Irish blood in us, probably from more than one family line. Here are two of mine:
  • James Brooks Davis married a young woman named Caroline (Callie) Spear, whose Ggrandfather, James Spear (1768-1821) was an Irishman. Born in County Armaugh, Ireland he left his homeland for Belmont County, Ohio, where he lived out his days with his American born wife Elizabeth McConnahaw.
  •  My maternal grandmother was born with the very Irish name of Nola Agnes Shannon (see her in the picture above). But it was nearly 200 years previous to her birth in 1903 that her GGGgrandparents Thomas and Eigness (Reid) Shannon (both with the dates 1686-1737) brought their Irish heritage to America and settled in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.

You may be able to trace your heritage to other Irish immigrants. But regardless of how much Irish blood you carry, Happy Saint Patrick's Day this coming Wednesday! When you are having a green one this week, think of James and Thomas and Eigness. (How in the world do you pronounce "Eigness"?)
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Friday, March 05, 2010

Shepard Family Update, March 5, 2010

"Cousin to cousin we'll always be,
Special friends from the same family tree."

Hello Shepard Family and Friends,

Greetings from our home in San Diego where the sun is shining and the living is great in these latter days of winter 2010.

Texas Emails. Jerry Clark of Lubbock, Texas emailed me this past week to confirm that he was indeed the photographer of the picture that I included last week of 5 Shepard siblings, taken in 1983 in Anacortes, Washington. How in the world he got that motley crew to pose so well for him I do not know. But I am glad that he did!

I also received an email this past week from Larry Davis of Dallas, Texas with updated information on his particular part of our family. Larry has been a reader of this blog for some time. He is one of the nephews of my grandparents Will and Bura (Davis) Shepard, and a first cousin of my father Eugene Shepard, who died back in 2003.

Cousins Galore. Larry and my dad were 2 of 31 first cousins who were grandchildren of James and Callie Davis. (See the first picture of James Davis, taken in the 1890s.) I have mentioned before in this blog that James and Callie had 7 children, including Larry's father Lawrence Davis and my grandmother Bura (Davis) Shepard. See a picture of all 7 children with their parents.

For those 7 children to have a total of 31 offspring is not an extraordinary number for the early to mid 20th century, but it still makes for a very large extended family. I am one of 12 first cousins on my dad's side of my family and that seems large. But 31? Those 31 cousins -- born between 1916 and 1949 - account for an extended family of several hundred people today.

Of those 31 cousins...
4 were born with the last name Shepard;
9 were born with the last name Davis;
8 were born with the last name Kilpatrick;
6 were born with the last name Jenkins;
4 were born with the last name Millikan;
and all 31 (and most of their descendants) can be found on our family tree on

The second picture I am including shows 9 (of the 31) cousins who were gathered at the Shepard/ Davis Family reunion last summer. (Click the pic for a larger view.) Beginning upper left are: Virginia Jenkins Niles (with husband Harold), Arthur Jenkins (with wife Grace), Gary Millikan (with wife Barbara), Charlotte Davis Taylor (with husband Terrel), Arlen Millikan, Jessie Davis Bushong, and Kathy Davis Villanueva. Seated is Elmer Shepard (the oldest surviving cousin) and his sister Thelma Shepard Boyd. The two children are Kaylan and Nathan Shepard, Elmer's grandchildren and among the younger descendants of James and Callie Davis.

In the email from Larry Davis this past week, he referred to his older brother Ronald Davis, who died in 1998. When I first began research into our family back in the late 1980s, Ronald was a great source of information. He had done a tremendous amount of family research at that time, copies of which he graciously sent to me, and which I still find very helpful today. We can all be grateful for Ronald and the family work he did. He was undoubtedly the first compiler of our family tree to gather his information on a computer.

Who Do You Think You Are? I have received announcements about a new TV series that begins on Fridays starting this evening on NBC titled "Who Do You Think You Are?" It is about different celebrities and their search for their family roots. This evening's program concerns "Sarah Jessica Parker on her journey through family history as she discovers an ancestor involved in the Salem Witch Trials."  For anyone interested in family history it might be worth watching. If you happen to view it, I'd be interested in your reaction.
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