Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Points of Pride, Sept 28

The measure of a woman's character
is not what she gets from her ancestors,
but what she leaves her descendants.
~author unknown

Hello Shepard family and friends,

Greetings to all of you from warm and sunny San Diego where somehow the word has not reached us that fall has arrived. It has been warmer this week than it has been all summer. My last two posts were celebrations of our family's move to the West Coast 70 years ago. In this post I want to celebrate family events as current as tomorrow's newspaper.

Happy Birthday. Speaking of tomorrow, it is the birthday of Cathrina Helms Clark, wife of the esteemed Jerry Clark of Lubbock, Texas. This first picture today shows Cathrina and Jerry and was taken this summer on "The Top of The Rock" in NYC.

Cathrina: Jerry and I have been staying extremely busy and have had a great summer! Traveled to New York with my parents in June and went to San Antonio with Jerry and Susan's business and stayed at a wonderful resort. We went to Myrtle Beach, S.C. with Amanda and Chris, Susan and Andrew to celebrate 30th and 60th birthdays. Had a wonderful trip! Made me miss the Carolina Beaches. We managed a weekend trip to see Amanda and Chris and also a weekend trip to see my grandchildren. Jerry went to visit Becky, Matthew, Emmerson, Miller and Brooks and is planning a trip for my birthday to Estes Park, Colorado. Terry (Jerry's brother) and wife Susan are coming for a visit in October. We also enjoy spending some time with our grandchildren in between trips! Oh, I can't forget that we spread rock all over our front yard this summer. A huge job!  Jerry did most of it. I did help after work. The neighbors are as happy as we are to have this done!

A First Day of School. I recently got a letter - with pictures! - from cousin Shannon Wilk of Atchison, Kansas. Her daughter Emma (see her picture on the left), one of the GGgrandchildren of Will and Bura Shepard, celebrated a special milestone a few weeks ago when she attended her first day of school. 

Shannon: "Here are some pictures. Emma looks just like me, poor kid! Her first day of school went well. I only cried a little bit. ;-) She is having a great time and really likes riding the bus. She got mad when I told her she doesn't go back to school till Monday. Too cute! I will remind her of this when she doesn't want to get up Monday morning!"

A Last Day of School. A very different milestone was reached last Friday when another GGgrandchild of Will and Bura, Lyndsey Aquiningoc of Weatherford, Texas, graduated from Kaplan College. Congratulations to Lyndsey on her last day of school. The third picture shows Lyndsey with her mother Kerri (Shepard) Aquiningoc.

Kerri said: "Another milestone in my life is happening. My daughter Lyndsey is graduating from Kaplan College. She has earned her right to be a Dental Assistant and I am so very proud of her. I know now she will make something for herself. CONGRATS Lynds. I LOVE YOU SO MUCH and I know your DAD is very proud of you too!"

Proud seems to be the operative word of this post - proud of Lyndsey for graduating, proud of Emma on starting school, and proud of Cathrina for getting within 10 years of my age with such grace and charm!
- - -

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Golden Years of the Shepard Family, September 22

The leaves of memory seemed to make
A mournful rustling in the dark.

~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Hello Shepard Family and Friends,

Greetings to all of you from San Diego on this first day of fall, 2010. This is a month to celebrate the Shepard family's move to San Diego, 70 years ago this month.

It was a time of tremendous change for our small family that at the time numbered only 9 people. They had come from Two Buttes, a small town, isolated in the southeast corner of Colorado, and Beaver County, Oklahoma before that. San Diego was a bustling city that must have felt overwhelming to them. Although in 1940 it had just 200,000 people (about 1/7 the size it is today), they still must have felt some culture shock.
But whatever shock they experienced seems not to have lasted very long. Their move to Southern California began the Golden Years of the Shepard family, a time of prosperity and growth for the families of the four children of William and Bura Shepard. They all settled nicely into life in San Diego, as did most of the other transplants from elsewhere in the U.S. in those post war years. (see the first picture of 6 of the 9 who made the move: Will, Bura, Elmer, Thelma, Bev and Rex, in the glare of the Southern California sunshine, shortly after their move).

In the spirit of the times, Will and Bura had 10 more grandchildren born to them in the "Baby Boom" era (1946 to 1964). For nearly 40 years after their move, they, along with their children and grandchildren, enjoyed the good life in the San Diego area, and maintained a healthy, close knit, extended family life. As I look back in it, I had no idea what a rich experience it was to grow up in the same city with my grandparents, aunts, uncles and all my cousins.

The second picture show Bura Shepard with her daughter Pauline Russell and her servicemen sons Gene Shepard (left) and Elmer Shepard (right) in Feb, 1945.

About the time that Will died in 1976 the inevitable scattering began. Since then most of Will and Bura's descen- dants have moved northward to western Washing- ton, Northern California, Nevada and Utah; or eastward to Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Kansas and Missouri. Only a few of their descendants remain in San Diego today: Cindy and I, Darren Boyd and his family, and Jeremy Ortiz and his family.

Only three of those who first moved to San Diego in 1940 are alive today. Elmer Shepard, who now lives in Mustang, Oklahoma near his son Dane, was a 22 year old in 1940 and getting ready to enter the Air Force. Thelma (Shepard) Boyd (Will and Bura's younger daughter) and Rex Russell (Will and Bura's grandson) were both 4 year olds when they made the move. They both grew up in San Diego, but Thelma now lives in Gallup, New Mexico, while Rex lives in Red Rock, Nevada. (Thanks to Elmer and to Thelma for the reflections they gave me on the family move to San Diego so long ago.)

I was the second of the grandchildren born to Will and Bura after the Shepard family migrated to California, and consider myself a beneficiary of that move. Their willingness to uproot their family and respond to the opportunity that presented itself is something worth celebrating. I honor their courage and foresight.
- -

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Celebrating A Century Long Family Journey, September 16

When a society or a civilization perishes,
one condition can always be found.
They forgot where they came from.
~Carl Sandburg

Hello Shepard Family and Friends,

Greeting from home once again in San Diego, a city that has been home to some of our Shepard family since September, 1940.

Gayle, Alberta and parents Sadie (Shepard) and Levy Pruett
70 years ago this month William and Bura Shepard moved from Two Buttes, Colorado to San Diego. The entire Shepard clan made the move to California, except for Will's sister Sadie Shepard Pruett (see first picture). She had remained in Oklahoma with husband Levy Pruett and their children. Bura, of course, left most of her Davis family behind in Oklahoma and Colorado.

The Shepards decided to move to California at the invitation of some Colorado family friends named Suter who had moved to San Diego a few years earlier. The Suters had opened a boarding house for men who were employed in the war effort, and needed some help managing a second boarding house. Will and Bura jumped at the opportunity. At least it was gainful employment, something in short supply where they had been living in Colorado.

At first it was just Will and Bura, with their children Elmer, Eugene and Thelma (see Thelma's picture below), who made the move to the west coast. The next year, 1941, Eugene drove back to Colorado to get his older sister Pauline and her two children, Rex and Beverly (see picture below). Her husband Bill Russell, who was still recovering from a bone disease that had required amputation of one leg, joined them a little later.

Rex, Beverly and Thelma, early 1940s, San Diego
When the family settled in San Diego it concluded a century-long, westward journey of three generations of William Shepards. The first William Shepard (1835-1862), our earliest known Shepard ancestor, moved 300 miles westward from his birthplace in Belmont County, Ohio, to Wabash, Indiana around 1850. His son William Elmer Shepard (1862-1915), moved 990 miles further west from Indiana, via Madison County, Illinois, to Beaver County, Oklahoma just after the turn of the 20th century. 

William Elmer's son, also named William Shepard (1888-1976), moved with his family from Illinois to Oklahoma, then moved his own wife and children 160 miles to Southeast Colorado. In 1940, they completed the last leg of the Shepard westward migration when they traveled the 1150 miles from Two Buttes, Colorado to San Diego. The Shepard family migration from Eastern Ohio in 1835 to the West Coast was complete.

The move itself must have been an adventure. My uncle Elmer Shepard, reporting through his son Dane, tells me they piled into a used four-door Dodge sedan that Will had purchased after selling his work truck in Colorado, leaving most of their belongings behind. 

In 1940 there were no Interstate Highways. And there were many more lonely stretches of barren southwest landscape than there are today. The best they could do, especially as they got close to San Diego, was Highway 8, which only a few years earlier had been paved, after being a "plank road" across the California desert. 

These days you can can drive those 1,150 miles entirely on freeway, and you can do it in about 24 hours, if you are hardy enough (like Jeff Clark, for example!). Back then it would have taken a couple of days, at best. Without air conditioning or many other amenities that we take for granted today.

I'll say more about this move in my next post. For now it is a time to celebrate the foresight and willingness of Will and Bura who uprooted their family and moved to the West Coast in September, 70 years ago. I am grateful they did.
- - -

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Another Year Older, Sept. 9

The great tragedy of life
is not that people perish,
but that they cease to love.
~W. Somerset Maugham

Hello Shepard Family and Friends,

Greetings to all of you from beautiful Anacortes, Washington, where Cindy and I are visiting my mom Maida and all our kinfolk in this part of the world.

Maida, Linda, Gene, Steve and Gary, 1953
Today is the day that I, and the state of California, take our turn at growing another year older. This fine state of ours is 160 years and going strong. I am considerably younger. When I was born California was still 2 years from celebrating her centennial.

The first picture I am including today was taken in 1953 in San Diego and shows Maida and Eugene Shepard with the first 3 of what would eventually be 6 children. I am at the bottom left at 5 years old (don't you love the butterfly collar?), older brother Gary is on the lower right (looking like an angel) and Linda is in her father's arms (ever so stoic).

These days Cindy and I spend a good amount of our time traveling. One of our favorite destinations is San Francisco, the home of our son Nathan and his wife Chenda, and, of course, their baby Preslea. We just concluded a wonderful long weekend with Preslea while her mom and dad were off galavanting on a well deserved holiday weekend.
Steve and Preslea

The second picture I am including shows our granddaughter Preslea and me in a picture taken by Grannie Cindy just a few days ago. Preslea is now 5 months old and the pride and joy of her parents and us.

Happy Birthday Kelly! This coming Sunday, Sept 12, is the birthday of my niece Kelly Shepard Sauvage of Weatherford, Texas. She is wife to James, mother to Nate and Kyle, and the youngest daughter of my brother Gary Shepard. She is one of the Ggrandchildren of Will and Bura Shepard.  

30 something Kelly with sister Kerri
Kelly wrote me to say: "I stay busy with my full time job at the high school and taking care of two active boys. Nathaniel is in 2nd grade and Kyle is in 1st. Both boys have signed up to play little league again this fall. Between practices and games for them, I’m sure I’ll be running crazy. James is going to referee football again this year and work his real job, usually about 12 hours a day. Which leaves lots of time for me and the boys to hang out together. We love going to the lake, water parks and of course Chuck E Cheese. I am still a diehard Chargers and Padres fan! Like any good mother, I have made my children fans of all teams from San Diego. Kyle is my sports child and loves to watch the Padres games with me. He is looking forward to watching the Chargers play this fall and loves Phillip Rivers. Every once in a while I get together with my sister Kerri, and have a crazy, fun time or catch a “chick flick” with my friend at work."
- - -

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Deep Roots and Tangled Branches, Sept 2

Genealogy is where you 
confuse the dead 
and irritate the living.

Hello Shepard Family and Friends,

Greetings to all of you from San Francisco, California where Cindy and I have already begun this long Labor Day weekend. Many people will be traveling and visiting family or friends, but we have the pleasure and responsibility of grand-baby sitting in this City by the Bay. It's a tough job, but somebody's got to do it.

Nola (Shannon) and Leroy Ertin Gower in the 1940s
I few weeks ago I referred in this blog to my maternal grandfather Leroy Ertin Gower. (See picture of him with his wife Nola Shannon Gower.) I discovered recently that Leroy has a rich Gower heritage that stretches back nearly 4 centuries in North America.

Finding family links that reach into the early 19th century and occasionally into the 18th century is not difficult. My grandfather Gower's lineage, however, can be traced back to the early 17th century in Colonial America.

Here is my Gower lineage, beginning with my granddaughter, for the last 370 years.

Preslea Maida Shepard (b. 2010)
Nathan Shepard (b. 1977) (married Chenda Sou)
Steven Shepard (b. 1948) (married Cynthia Harris)
Maida (Gower) Shepard (b. 1924) (married Eugene Shepard)
Leroy Ertin Gower (1899-1974) (married Nola Shannon)
George W. Gower (1873-1944) (married Serena Turner)
Leroy Gower (1854-1909) (married Ellen Taylor)
Jackson Gower (1831-1902) (married Mary Anderson)
Abel Gower (1800-1870) (married Rachel Rebecca Lay)
Matthew Gower (1762-1853) (married Susannah)
Thomas Gower (1741-1815) (married Mary Robertson)
John Gower (1721-1800) (married Rosemond Fielding)
Abel Gower (1690-1780) (married Mary)
*Abell Gower (1640-1689) (married Jane Hatcher)
Abell Gower (from Gloucester, England, dates and wife unknown)

A key person in this lineage is Abell Gower (second from the bottom), who was the first of this group to be born on American soil. He was born in 1640 in the town of Henrico, Virginia near Richmond, and is the earliest American birth among all my known ancestors.

The year 1640 was 135 years prior to the Revolutionary War, long before the declaration of Independence and the creation of "The United States." In 1640 the total population of Colonial America was only 26,600. (1,000 times that number of people live in California today!)

4 Generations: Leroy Gower, Maida, Gary and Jason Shepard
There are numerous historical referen- ces to this Abell Gower and his work in local and regional govern- ment. He is described in Virginia Biography this way: "Gower, Abell was a justice of Henrico County, Virginia from 1679 till his death in 1689; sheriff in 1681, and a member of the house of burgesses in 1679. He married Jane, daughter of Edward Hatcher, of Henrico. He appears to have been a son of Abell Gower of Boulton, county Gloucester, England, esquire."

This Abell Gower lived in Virginia, while the next two generations of Gowers lived in nearby North Carolina. It was Ggrandson Thomas Gower who began the westward migration into Tennessee sometime before 1800. Following the lead of other pioneers, the Gowers continued their move westward. They settled for most of the 19th century and into the 20th century in Stone County, Arkansas, which is where my mother was born in 1924. In 1925 her part of the Gower clan then moved to Okemah, Oklahoma, and then in the early 1940s, on to Southern California, where some of them still live today. A number of others, including my mother Maida and her sister Vicki (Gower) Johnston, moved to northwestern Washington in the 1970s where they still live.

The second picture (above), shows Leroy on the left with his daughter Maida, his grandson Gary Shepard and his Ggrandson Jason Shepard, now of Fort Worth, Texas. This picture was taken in San Diego in 1972, just 2 years before Leroy died.
- - -