Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween! - Oct. 31

In thinking, keep to the simple.

In conflict, be fair and generous.
In work, do what you enjoy.
In family life, be completely present.
~Lao Tzu

Hello Family and Friends,

Greetings from Anacortes, Washing ton on this Sunday of Halloween! Not only is this the weekend of that scariest of days, it is also a weekend to honor two family members whose birthdays are sandwiched on either side of Halloween.

Happy Birthday Maida! Tomorrow is All Saints Day for many people, but it is also the birthday of one of my favorite saints, my mother Maida Gower Shepard.

The first picture I am including (above) shows Maida with three of her daughters-in-law. From right to left in this picture are Cindy Shepard (my wife), then Maida, then another Cindy Shepard (my brother Gary's wife), then Pam Shepard. This picture was taken back in 2008 at the home of Gary and Cindy in Oak Harbor, Washington.

I won't reveal how old Maida will be tomorrow, but I can say that her 80th birthday is still a few years away. Or is it her 90th? Whatever. It is still a few years down the road. So tomorrow is not a milestone birthday for her that ends in "0", but at my age I consider all her birthdays important. My wife Cindy and I are here in the great Northwest to celebrate her special day along with several other family members in this area.

Happy Birthday Pam! Yesterday was the birthday of Pam Engan Shepard of Anacortes, Washington. She has been my sister-in-law and a member of our family ever since she and my brother Russell Shepard were married here in Anacortes back in the summer of 1986.

The second picture I am including (above) shows mom Pam with her and Russ' children Linda and Steven. Steven graduated from High School last year and Linda will be graduating this coming spring.

The third picture I am including shows the husband and father of those in the second picture, and Maida's youngest son, my brother Russ. May all your Halloweens be dark and scary! And safe.

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Monday, October 25, 2010

18 In a Scary World, Oct. 25

He that raises a large family does, indeed,
while he lives to observe them,
stand a broader mark for sorrow;
but then he stands a broader mark for pleasure too.
~Benjamin Franklin

Hello Family and Friends,

Greetings to all of you from San Francisco, California where the 2010 World Series will begin in a couple of days. Cindy and I find ourselves here on this last Monday of October, enjoying our granddaughter Preslea and her parents.  

Happy 18th Birthday Mandi Aquiningoc! Tomorrow is the birthday of Mandi Aquiningoc of Weatherford, Texas. Mandi, who will turn 18, graduated from High School just this past spring. Mandi is one of the GGgrandchildren of both Will and Bura Shepard, and Leroy and Nola Gower.

Mandi said this to me recently: "Hi Uncle Steve. I'm so excited for my birthday coming up. :) I've been doing good but I could be better. I've been trying to find a job but haven't had any luck yet. :/ I can finally vote and I'm so excited. I wanted to vote last year so bad but I wasn't old enough. No matter what, Tuesday will be special to me. :) I don't have any exciting plans, just a get together with some of the family. :) Love and miss you!"  

The first picture, taken in 2002 in San Diego, shows Mandi on the right with her sister Lyndsey and her maternal grandfather Gary Shepard. The second picture (below) was taken earlier this year and shows Mandi in the middle with her sister Lyndsey on the left and a friend on the right.

Here Comes Halloween. Last year just about this time, Nathan and Chenda were in San Diego visiting us. It was just a few days before Halloween. While driving around the city we happened upon a fellow on Midway Drive in a Gorilla costume. He was shaking a sign advertising a costume store.

It was a pretty crazy sight, and caught Chenda's attention. Having been in America just a few months, it was her first experience of Halloween. "What the hell is that?!" she blurted out incredulously, worried that something serious was going on. We tried to explain. She was still mystified. "If that happened in Cambodia, people would throw rocks on his head!"

Not a bad idea, actually. Who says third world countries can't teach us a thing or two?

Next Family Reunion? In my last post I brought up the subject of a possible family reunion next summer. I mentioned that our last reunion in Anacortes, Washington was in 1997. I was only 11 years off! As many of you know, we had a Shepard Family Reunion in 2008 in Anacortes. Then last year, 2009 in Newcastle, Oklahoma we had our most recent Family Reunion. Now that we have that straight... When should we have our next reunion? One suggestion has been that we gather in 2011 (next summer) in Anacortes once again. Other thoughts?
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Monday, October 18, 2010

Memories Young and Not So Much, Oct 18

I looked up my family tree
and found three dogs using it.
~Rodney Dangerfield

Hello Family and Friends,

Greetings to all of you from cool and rainy San Diego. 

Happy Birthday to Kori Boyd. Today is the 13th birthday of Kori Lynn Boyd, daughter of Darren and Vicki Boyd of Lakeside, California. Kori is the granddaughter of Terry and Thelma (Shepard) Boyd and one of the Ggrandchildren of Will and Bura Shepard. 

The first picture I am including today shows Kori on the left in a pink shirt, with her sister Courtney and her brother Brandyn. Happy 13th to Kori!

Remembering Uncle Bill. Today I am remembering my uncle Willie Davis Russell, who was also born on this day, but 102 years ago, in Gage, Oklahoma. He was the first son-in-law of Will and Bura Shepard. Uncle Bill married my aunt Pauline Shepard in 1935 and was among those family members who migrated from Colorado to San Diego in the early 1940s. The San Diego area is where Bill lived until he died in 1997. His and Pauline's children Rex and Beverly were pictured at the top of the cousin collage I included in my last post. Their two living grandchildren are Eric Russell of Red Rock, Nevada, and Shannon Wilk of Atchison, Kansas.

The second picture I am including today shows uncle Bill sitting on the lower right. This picture was taken at a family reunion in Anacortes, Washington in 1994. 

Happy Birthday Vicki. Also in this same picture is my aunt Vicki (Gower) Johnston (seated in the middle in green). Her birthday is also today. Standing behind Vicki is her daughter Paula Tuzzolino (whose birthday is NOT today). 

Vicki is the youngest child of Leroy and Nola Gower, and was born in Rock, Oklahoma. Vicki spent much of her growing up years in San Diego, but for over 30 years now has made her home in Oak Harbor, Washington, where she lives with her husband Duke Johnston. Happy Birthday to Vicki!

Yet another birthday person in this same picture is Art Colgain, whose birthday was yesterday. He is pictured in the blue shirt on the left. Art, who lives in the Salt Lake City area, is the father of Havilah Colgain Wardle (standing next to Art in the purple shirt). Havilah is Joan Shepard's daughter and another one of the Ggrandchildren of Will and Bura Shepard. 

Among the other family members pictured here are Rachel Shepard (bottom left) and Mary Shepard (top left). At the top right are Nathan and Cindy Shepard, Kerri and Mandi Aquiningoc, and Barbara Shepard. 

Next Family Reunion? Speaking of Family Reunions, this is a good time to start thinking about a Shepard Family Reunion for next summer.  It will have been two years since our last one. One idea is to gather in Anacortes, Washington, where we last had a reunion in 1997. Other suggestions? 
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Friday, October 15, 2010

Kissin' Cousins, Oct. 15

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

~author unknown

Hello Family and Friends,

In my last post I referred to my Ggrandfather Samuel Pickens Shannon. He received his middle name from his grandmother Ann Pickens, who was a Ggrandchild of immigrants William and Margaret Pickens. Curiously, Ann was also the GGgrandchild of William and Margaret. "How can someone be a Ggrandchild and a GGgrandchild of the same couple," you ask?

Here's how it happened: It's confusing, and a little bizarre, so follow me closely. Two of William and Margaret Pickens' grandchildren (first cousins) married each other, Matthew Gillespie and Anna Pickens. They had a child who they named Mary Q. Gillespie. She married Andrew Pickens, who was yet a third grandchild of William and Margaret. Are you following me? (Evidently Willie and Marge's grandkids didn't wander far from the family farm.)

The following is a 12 generation lineage that begins with European immigrants William and Margaret Pickens and continues through their youngest descendant Preslea Shepard. It includes the aforementioned first cousins who are indicated here by asterisks*.

  1. William Pickens (1670-1735)
    (who married Margaret Pike)
  2. Israel Pickens (1693-1749)
    (who married Martha Davis)
  3. *Anna Pickens (1726-1775)
    (who married
    *Matthew Gillespie)
  4. Mary Q. Gillespie (1756-1789)
    (who married
    *Andrew Pickens)
  5. Ann Pickens (1785-1867)
    (who married David M. Shannon)
  6. David R. Shannon (1821-1864)
    (who married Peggy Ann Gray)
  7. Samuel Pickens Shannon (1858-1930)
    (who married Finetta Dearien)
  8. Nola Shannon (1902-2004)
    (who married Leroy Gower)
  9. Maida Gower (b. 1924)
    (who married Eugene Shepard)
  10. Steven Shepard (b. 1948)
    (who married Cynthia Harris)
  11. Nathan Shepard (b. 1977)
    (who married Chenda Sou)
  12. Preslea Maida Shepard (b. 2010)

I am 1 of 12 first cousins who are grandchildren of Leroy and Nola Gower. I am also 1 of 12 first cousins who are grandchildren of Will and Bura Shepard. (See the collage of cousins: Beverly, Rex, Jimmie, Gary, Hershell, Dane, me, Paula, Linda, Michael, Joan, Gloria, Kim, Darren, David, Russ, Barbara and Darrell.) Of all my cousins, none married each other, or even came close.

250 years ago, however, the marriage of first cousins happened on occasion. In some families it was encouraged. In others it was almost necessary because of the "slim pickens" in their not so highly populated communities. But today it is illegal in some states.

Now, be careful before blaming your weird personality traits or your forgetfulness on these ancestors of ours who messed up the family gene pool. The marriage of first cousins is perfectly legal in most of the United States, because there is simply not the scientific evidence to confirm the genetic dangers. Most of us would never marry a first cousin, not because it's dangerous, but because of our modern day cultural conditioning.

How often have first cousins married in the history of our extended family? I haven't been able to turn up any others besides Anna and Matthew. Can you?
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Monday, October 11, 2010

Columbus Day, Oct 11

Columbus found a world, and had no chart,
Save one that faith deciphered in the skies
~George Santayana

Hello Family and Friends,

Happy Columbus Day! Actually tomorrow is the real Columbus Day, but today is the day we observe it. And well we should. Because of Christopher Columbus, most Americans have a European connection that keeps genealogists and family researchers busy.

I found one person in our family tree with the name Columbus. Even though he was known by that name, and even signed his WWI draft registration card that way, his full name was actually Robert Columbus Shannon. He was the brother of my maternal grandmother Nola Shannon Gower. Unfortunately he only lived one month past his 30th birthday and died in 1923.

His parents Finetta Shannon (on the far right in the first picture) and Sam Shannon (in the picture below) knew how to give their kids outstanding names. They may not have been smiling in the pictures included today, but they had to have been smiling when they named their children. They started out slow, giving their first born the beautiful but simple name Mary Ann (second from the right in the first picture).

But then they got down to business, giving their kids names like Marcelous, Elminey, Columbus, Alonzo, Arizona Caldonia, and Tabitha Canzada, before wrapping things up with their last born, Nola Agnes, my grandmother.

(By the way, the first picture (above) is from a four generation family photo taken in 1946. From left to right are: little Mary Ann Everidge, her father Earnest Everidge, his mother Mary Ann Shannon Everidge, and her mother Finetta Dearien Shannon.)

The full name of the father of Robert Columbus was Samuel Pickens Shannon, my Ggrandfather. I have known his name for many years, but I never knew till recently the significance of his middle name Pickens. That was the last name of his maternal grandmother Ann Pickens (1785-1867). Just like today, grandmas back then had a way of influencing the choice of names for their kids. 

Ann Pickens was the Ggrandchild of immigrants William Pickens (1670-1735) and Margaret Pike (1672-1740). William (born in France) and Margaret (born in Ireland) came to the U.S. about 1700 and settled in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, near Philadelphia. 

The third picture I am including today shows the youngest sibling of Robert Columbus Shannon and the last child of Sam and Finetta Shannon, my grandmother Nola Shannon Gower, who died in 2004. With Nola, in this 1995 picture, are her two daughters Maida Gower Shepard (on the left) and Vicki Gower Johnston (on the right), both of whom live today in western Washington.

Among the newest readers of this blog is Jerry Davis of Grand Prairie, Texas, whose father was a first cousin of my paternal grandmother Bura Davis Shepard. Jerry has a great interest in family history, having done lots of research into our Davis ancestors. I look forward to future correspondence with Jerry that will result in family stories and research that will find their way into future blog posts. It is good to be connected to him.
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Monday, October 04, 2010

Confessions of a Nitpicker, Oct 4

The bond that links
your true family
is not one of blood,
but of respect and joy
in each other's life.
~Richard Bach

Hello Shepard Family and Friends,

I sometimes find myself being a nitpicker. Is that a trait commonly found in our family? Is there something in our genes that I can blame it on?

In my small part of our larger family (see picture of our son Nathan and his wife Chenda), we have a tendency to relish those times when one of us misspeaks, which is a form of nitpicking. We point out the mistake with a certain glee. For example: "Aha! You just said 'soot', when you meant to say 'shoot'!" 

Truth be told, however, with a daughter-in-law whose first language is not English, we have toned down the gleefulness a bit, thereby showing a little compassion. But the proclivity to nitpick is clearly still there and rears its ugly head on occasion.

That explains why a particular blog caught my attention one morning not long ago. It has the catchy name "Throw Grammar From the Train - Notes From a Recovering Nitpicker." (You can find the link to that blog on the front page of this blog, down the right hand column a ways where several links are listed.) The nitpicker who wittily writes that blog is focused on minor grammatical errors that she finds irksome. If you too are a nitpicker, you will enjoy reading it.

The nitpicker's life is not easy for someone who does family research. Annoying misspellings of family names are very common, even by those who should know better.

The first time I came across this problem (at least for a nitpicker it's a problem) was when I researched my GGgrandfather William Shepard (1835-1862) (see the picture on the left of his grandson and namesake, in about 1935). In the county history book of Wabash, Indiana the elder William is listed among the Civil War Veterans with his name misspelled William "Sheppard". In Evansville, Indiana where he is buried, the cemetery office has his name as William "Shephard". If you go to his headstone in that very same cemetery, you will find his name spelled William "Shepard" (correct at last!). Misspellings like that are among my pet peeves.

The other day I got an email from cousin Becky Davis of Bartlesville, OK. She asked me about the spelling of one of our Davis ancestors, born about 1755. Becky: "Steve, do you know the correct spelling of 'Maramaduke' Davis? [with 3 a's] Or is it 'Marmaduke' Davis?" [with 2 a's]  

The middle man in the 1925 picture on the right is Marmaduke's Ggrandson Charles E. Davis, next to his sons James Brooks and John.

Becky's email continued: My niece is progressing nicely on the history book of our family and we need to be sure the names are spelled correctly. The first spelling is what I have in my notes, but it doesn't sound right."

Becky is a nitpicker after my own heart. I don't know about Nancy Bushong, the niece Becky referred to. But if she has asked for help in spell checking her book, there must be some nitpickiness in her.

Like any good nitpicker, after reading Becky's email, I felt the need to find the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth so help me God. So I went immediately to and searched for GGGGGG grandpappy Davis. I found 18 different historical references to him. 15 of those references have his name spelled "Marmaduke" (just like the cartoon dog). But there were 3 misspellings, none of which matched Becky's misspelling:

-Marmiduke Davis (in the 1830 U.S. Census)
-Mrmeduke Davies (in the 1840 U.S. Census; last name also misspelled!)
-Marmaduk Davis (in the 1850 U.S. Census)

How is one suppose to do credible family research when Census takers make mistakes like that!? It's enough to make a grown nitpicker cry.

Okay, okay, maybe I am taking this thing a little too far. Even I must confess that, when all is said and done, there is more to family life than getting the details exactly right. The greatest meaning lies not in right spelling, pronunciation or grammar, but in the right spirit. The quote at the top of this post suggests as much.

But surely spelling counts for something, doesn't it?
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