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.
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