Thursday, December 23, 2010

Remembering the Birth, Dec 23, 2010

The one who has not Christmas in their heart
will never find it under a tree.
~Roy L. Smith

Hello Family and Friends,

Greetings on this week of Christmas from soggy San Diego! I am including in this post more of my favorite Christmas pictures from years past.

This Saturday is not only a time to celebrate the birth of Jesus, it is also the anniversary of the birth of my late grandfather William Shepard, who was born Christmas day, 1888. (See the first picture from 1960 of William with wife Bura, grandson Rex Russell and wife Ellen, daughter Pauline, daughter Thelma and husband Terry Boyd, and granddaughter Beverly Russell.)

If there was ever a gift I'd like to give my Shepard grandfather, it would be a middle name. His parents didn't give him one (see his birth certificate). His grandfather's name was exactly the same as his, with no middle name. His father's name was also the same as his, except for the addition of the middle name Elmer (a name William and Bura gave to their first son Elmer James Shepard of Mustang, Texas - see second picture).

For 100 years now, people have tried to give granddad a middle name. William appears in numerous governmental records, but only in one official record have I seen his name listed as anything other than William Shepard.

For some strange reason the U.S. Census taker who visited their Beaver County (OK.) family home in May, 1910, gave him the middle initial J. (see the record here) His sister Sadie's middle initial is J, but to give him that initial was surely just a slip of the governmental pen.

Ronald Davis (1931-1998), in his fine Davis family history work from the late 1980s, curiously bestowed on William the middle name "Elmer" (the middle name of his father).

A Davis family history from 1995 (Our Heritage Generations Past and Present) gives William the middle name "James", the middle name of his oldest son. Or were they taking a cue from the 1910 U.S. Census mistake?  

Nancy Bushong has recently published a "Davis and Beck Family History", a well written book that I will say more about in a future post. In the Christmas spirit she generously gives William the middle name "Elmer", as Ronald did in the 1980s.

And so it goes. This could be explained as "the curse of the two-names." Most of us have three names so it only seems proper to give those poor two-name people a third one. But for granddad, as for his grandfather before him, it is too late. History cannot be rewritten. As much as we might like to gift William with a third moniker, the best gift we can give to him -- or to any two-name person -- is to appreciate them as they are. And do our best to set the record straight.

What would granddad William say about this discussion if he were here to celebrate his 122nd birthday with us? I only knew him for the last 28 of his 88 years, but I am sure he would NOT be the nitpicker that I am. He'd make light of it all, and might even weave a tale to explain how ALL the names are correct!

The third Christmas picture shows William and Bura's youngest granddaughter Kim Boyd Clark with her husband Jeff and her three Ortiz grandchildren, Ashlyn, Damian and Ciara.

As you remember the birth(s) this weekend, may all your Christmases be bright!

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