Saturday, February 26, 2011

Searching For Fathers, Feb 26, 2011

It doesn't matter who my father was;
it matters who I remember he was.
~Anne Sexton

Hello Family and Friends,

Happy Birthday to Darrell! Tomorrow is the birthday of my brother Darrell Shepard, who, with his wife Mary, lives in Washington State. Darrell was born and raised in San Diego, but he and Mary and their family have lived in the Northwest for nearly 30 years now.

Charger fan Darrell Shepard, Dec 2010
Darrell: "Mary and I are settling into our new lives here in Normandy Park, Washington, just west of SeaTac airport. We are the on-site managers of Fernwood at the Park, an independent retirement community. Our residents are active and vital and living life to the fullest. The average age is about 84 with several in their 90s. We live here with them, very much a part of their lives.

"These are amazing people. Tom Brokaw nailed it when he christened them 'The Greatest Generation.' They are that, and then some. (His book 'The Greatest Generation' is a must read for all baby boomers and their off spring.) I know it sounds corny but I am in awe of them. I love their values, their history, and their casual attitude towards their accomplishments. Even the briefest study of history reveals their accomplishments are astonishing. They literally saved the world!

"One gentleman is a survivor of the Battle of the Bulge. To this day, he can't bring himself to talk about it. Another lady was at Pearl Harbor Dec 7, 1941. They all have dramatic stories of survival and honor and duty. And lives lived with quiet unassuming dignity. 'We just did what had to be done...' What an understatement. In 10 or 15 years, they will all be gone. I am happy to be a part of their lives before they are all consigned to the history books."

Darrell and our father Gene Shepard, 1990s
Best wishes to Darrell for a happy birthday.

Father Search in Feature Films. With the academy awards coming up tomorrow, I am thinking about 3 recent films in which people search for their fathers. (These are not necessarily recommended for children.)

True Grit is a highly touted remake of a 1969 western and is up for an academy award for best picture. Set in the 1870s, it is about a girl named Mattie Ross whose father is killed and who is driven to do something about it. She engages the services of a crotchety lawman who helps her on a courageous journey to make things right. 

Leroy & Nola (Shannon) Gower,
1920s, probably in Arkansas
Winter's Bone, a darker film, concerns a girl named Ree Dolly who is desperate to uncover the truth about her father. Set in modern times, it centers on the values and lifestyles of families in the Ozarks, which struck a responsive chord with me. My Gower and Shannon roots are deep in the Arkansas Ozarks of the 19th and early 20th centuries. Though my grandparents Leroy and Nola Gower left Arkansas in 1925 as young parents and lived most of their lives in California, they carried with them much of the unique culture of people in the Ozarks.

The Eagle is very different from the first two films, yet is also about searching for the truth of one's father. In this film (which Cindy and I would not have seen but for the rave review of Jerry Clark) a second century Roman soldier named Marcus Aquila travels on a dangerous but life changing trek to solve the mystery of his father's disappearance. It is based on the true story of the Ninth Roman Legion who, in the year 120, marched into the mountains of Scotland, never to be seen again.

Each of these films piqued my interest in genealogy, because they concern individuals who, in searching for the important truth about their own fathers, learn something even more important about themselves. Family research is not just about discovering the truth about other people. More importantly it's about finding out who we are, who we choose to be, and what we will do with the family history that resides within us.
- - -

Sunday, February 20, 2011

One Worthy Widow, Feb 20, 2011

How will our children
know who they are,
if they do not know where 
they came from?
~Author unknown

Hello Family and Friends,

Today is the birthday of Terry Boyd of Gallup, New Mexico. He has been my uncle ever since he and my aunt Thelma Shepard were married back in the summer of 1957. Happy Birthday to Terry!

The first picture shows Terry on the left with Thelma on the right, and their granddaughter Amanda Ortiz in the middle. Terry and Thelma are holding daughter Kim's dogs Cali and Diego. Amanda is holding Zoey.

Lydia Warford Williams: One Worthy Widow. In my last post, I mentioned John and Lydia Warford Williams, my GGGG grandparents of Spencer County, Kentucky who were married in 1803. John, who died 10 years later, left his 31 year old widow Lydia an inheritance of $203.19 3/4. He also left her 4 children under the age of 10: William (9), John Pouty (7), Caroline (5) and Matilda Jane (3).

Lydia's father Henry Warford had died in 1784 in Warfordsburg, Pennsylvania, when she was only 2 years old, and now she had to deal with the death of another important man in her still young life.

Not long after the settlement of her husband's property, the widow Lydia took her inheritance, packed up her four young'ns, and moved on. Literally and figuratively. They first traveled 75 or so miles northwest, through Louisville, Ky, across the state line, and into Washington Co., Indiana, where she and the kids resided in 1820, according to Census records. Some time later they moved on to Spencer, Owen County, Indiana, where she and the kids made their home.

Being a young widow with 4 children on the American frontier in the early 19th century must have been tough. There are indications that Lydia and the kids traveled with some of her siblings, which must have made life a little easier for her. Most of Indiana was Indian land, with few roads. It was officially the "Indiana Territory" until 1816 when it became a state with a total of just 64,000 settlers. Perhaps it was the new statehood that lured Lydia and her family to make their new home there.
Records indicate that by 1826 Lydia found another life partner when she married William S. Jones, and settled down with him 25 miles north of Spencer, in Putnam, Indiana. Even so, Spencer remained a special place for the family, and is where at least two of Lydia's children lived most of their lives. One of them was John Pouty Williams, whose daughter Maggie Williams was the mother of Caroline ("Callie") Spear. In 1896, Callie then married James Brooks Davis, their first child being my grandmother Bura Davis.

Spencer, Indiana is where many of our Williams, Spear and Davis kinfolk are buried, and where others still live today. The second picture is one I took in 2009 at the Pleasant Hill Cemetery outside Spencer. It shows the leaning, weathered headstone of John Pouty Williams (1806-1898). (Click the pic for a larger view and to read the inscription.) He was one of Lydia Williams' children, whose father John Willams had died in Kentucky in 1813 when John Pouty was just a boy of 7.

These are the kind of people who reside in our family tree, people who endured despite the difficulties they encountered. I wish we knew more about folks like the young widow Lydia Warford Williams and her children. But what we do know can inspire us to live with as much fortitude and perseverance as they did. 

From Then to Now. The following 13 generation lineage, similar to the one in my last post, begins with the oldest Warford I know about, continues through Lydia Warford Williams, and ends with the youngest member of our family.
  • John Warford I - 1650-1699 (who married Abigail Pinckney), parents of...
  • John Warford II - 1683-1769 (who married Elizabeth Stout) parents of...
  • Joseph Warford - 1711-1774 (who married Elizabeth Banner) parents of...
  • Henry Warford - 1741-1784 (who married Elizabeth Van Hook) parents of...
  • Lydia Warford - 1782 -1829? (who married John Williams) parents of...
  • John Pouty Williams - 1806-1898 (who married Sarah Richardson) parents of...
  • Margaret Frances Williams - 1845-1904 (who married William Spear) parents of...
  • Caroline Matilda Spear - 1865-1951 (who married James Brooks Davis) parents of...
  • Bura Emerald Davis - 1896-1986 (who married William Shepard) parents of...
  • Eugene William Shepard - 1921-2003 (who married Maida Gower) parents of...
  • Steven Dale Shepard - b. 1948 (who married Cynthia Harris) parents of...
  • Nathan William Shepard - b. 1977 (who married Chenda Sou) parents of...
  • Preslea Maida Shepard - b. 2010.
- - -

Monday, February 14, 2011

Valentine's Day, Feb 14, 2011

Our ancestors dwell
in the attics of our brains
as they do in the knowledge
hidden in every cell of our bodies. 
~Shirley Abbott

Hello Family and Friends,

Happy Valentine's Day! In the spirit of familial love, I have put together a new and improved version of a photoshow I shared with you last year.

John and Lydia Williams. Two star-crossed lovers I would like to have included in the foregoing were John Williams and Lydia Warford, my GGGG grandparents. Unfortunately no pictures exist of these two, whose love resulted in their Kentucky marriage in 1803. But I do have a picture of their granddaughter Margaret Williams Spear, and her daughter Caroline Spear Davis. I have shared this picture (from about 1880) of Maggie and Callie before, but I am including it again below.

I received some new information recently regarding our Williams ancestors from Pamela Williams Martin of North Carolina, a fourth cousin of mine, who is also a 4G grandchild of John and Lydia Williams.

John Williams, born around 1780 outside Washington DC in Fairfax, Va., moved as a young man with his family to Spencer County, Kentucky, southeast of Louisville. Lydia Warford, born in Warfordsburg, Pennsylvania, met John after her family also settled in Spencer County, Kentucky. They married in nearby Shelby, Kentucky, 4 days before Thanksgiving, 1803.

John and Lydia's life together was cut short when he died just 10 years later. We don't know how John died, just that he was probably in his 30s. Since the year he died was 1813, the war of 1812 seems a possibility, but Pam found no record of him serving in that conflict. For now his death is a mystery. 

Pam obtained an "Appraisal of the Estate of John Williams", which was settled November, 1815 in Shelby County, Kentucky, a fascinating historical document. Here are just some of the numerous items of his estate that were listed as having been sold: (All spellings below are as they appear in the document.)

- 1 old hat that sold to Reuben Smith for .62 1/2
- 1 sett geers that sold for 4.00
- 1 Big pot that sold to James D. Davis for 4.00
- 14 hogs that sold for 20.00
- 1 Gray mare that sold for 16.12
- 6 head of Sheep that sold for 8.00
- 1 white cow and calf that sold for 13.53
- 1 red heifer, 1 Bull, 1 Stear that sold for a total of 11.94

Here are some of the debts against John Williams' estate, also listed in the Appraisal:
- Appraisers Charge: .50
- Clerks fee: 3.30 1/2
- James Bristoes note on said estate: 11.25
- Whiskey for the sale: 1.50
- Sheriffs Bill for 1811: 1.30
- Majistrates fee: .50

"Whiskey for the Sale"? It appears whiskey was available at the estate sale where John's property was looked over and purchased. Was someone offering free shots of Kentucky Bourbon, to soften the spirit and loosen the purse strings of people like brother-in-law Reuben Smith, so he would cough up the 62 1/2 cents for John's old hat? (Yes, they did have "half cents" back in those days. See picture.) Evidently the cost of the whiskey was then charged to John William's estate. (Have you ever been to a yard sale or estate sale like that?)

After it was settled, the cash amount of young John William's estate was $203.19 3/4. That might be enough to buy an iPhone today, but 200 years ago it was a sizable sum for John Williams to leave his young widow Lydia Warford Williams. As it turned out it was enough to help get Lydia back on her feet.

More about that part of the story I will share in my next post. For now we can be grateful for ancestors like John and Lydia, their loves and disappointments, their resilience and their dreams, that somehow get passed on to us, and -- if there is any truth in the quote at the top -- that we carry with us as we journey through life.

The following is a lineage showing several of the people mentioned above. It begins with the young girl pictured with her brother near the top of this post and continues with each generation to William Williams, the oldest Williams of whom I have any data.
  • Ashlyn Ortiz - b. 2005, daughter of...
  • Jeremy Ortiz - b. 1980 (who married Desiree Ambriz) son of...
  • Kim Lorraine Boyd - b. 1961 (who married Gabriel Ortiz) daughter of...
  • Thelma Lea Shepard - b. 1936 (who married Terry Boyd) daughter of...
  • Bura Emerald Davis - 1896-1986 (who married William Shepard) daughter of...
  • Caroline Matilda Spear - 1865-1951 (who married James Brooks Davis) daughter of...
  • Margaret Frances Williams - 1845-1904 (who married William Spear) daughter of...
  • John Pouty Williams - 1806-1898 (who married Sarah Richardson) son of...
  • John Williams - 1782-1813 (who married Lydia Warford) son of...
  • William Williams - 1745-1801 (who married Elizabeth Averett)
- - -

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

That Peculiar Hysterical Charm, February 8, 2011

In every dispute between parent and child, both cannot be right,
but they may be, and usually are, both wrong.
It is this situation which gives family life
its peculiar hysterical charm. 
~Isaac Rosenfeld

Hello Family Members and Friends,
Phillip Wilk: 1935-2007. I am remembering Phil Wilk, who was born exactly 76 years ago today. He was the parent of two young children in 1974 when his wife, my cousin Beverly Russell Wilk died unexpectedly in San Diego. He lived over 35 years in San Diego but spent his last years in Atchison, Kansas, which is where his partner Frank, his daughter Shannon, and his granddaughter Emma still live.

Emma and Shannon Wilk
Shannon: "I would love to share some memories of dad with you. He LOVED to cook. Watching the cooking shows, and trying new stuff out on us! That's where I got my love of cooking.

"I remember many of his stories. Once his oldest sister Paula was getting ready to go out, when silk stockings were in fashion, the kind with the line down the back of the leg. Due to the silk shortage, she would draw a line down her legs, to look like she was wearing them. Dad  would wait till she got half way done, then jump out and scare her, and she would have to start all over again. He would always laugh when he told that one. He had one of those voices that just drew you in and you would listen, calming in a way.
"I could talk to him about anything. I can remember always knowing that things would be okay when he was around. He took charge, had that 'authority figure' about him. Even my friends would call him to ask a question or advise. Mostly it was questions about cooking. lol. I miss him, his voice, his laugh. I miss his smile. Ha!! I miss him cooking me chicken soup when I was sick. Dad was a good man, a smart man. A stubborn man. But he was my daddy. And I loved him deeply."

Uncle Hank Gower and Paula Tuzzolino
My Cousin Paula. Yesterday was the birthday of my cousin Paula Tuzzolino. I have recently gotten back in touch with Paula after many years of very little contact. She is the 6th grandchild of our grandparents Leroy and Nola Gower and the daughter of Vicki Gower Johnston of Oak Harbor, Washington. Happy Birthday to Paula on this milestone birthday!

Paula and her husband Frank presently live in Sun Lakes, Arizona but they actually split their time between Sun Lakes and their home in Oak Harbor, Washington, "the best of both worlds," Paula says. She also told me that her birthday was celebrated casually, because she is recovering from some health issues, and Frank will be going in for shoulder surgery later this week.

Jeff and Kim Clark
Happy Anniver- sary to Jeff and Kim! I just noticed that a few weeks ago, on January 18, Jeff and Kim Boyd Clark of Blue Springs, Missouri, celebrated their 4th wedding anniversary. They are almost still newlyweds! Best wishes to them for many more happy years together.

Valentine's Day Pictures, Anyone? Next week I will include a Family Photo presentation for Valentine's Day. Do you have pictures of family members kissing or hugging? I invite you to email them to me so that I can include them in the presentation.

Family Reunion, Aug 13, 2011 in Anacortes, Washington. Select this link for a web page with all the details. As more details become available, they will be posted there.
- - -

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Remembering Rex, Feb 2, 2011

Family life is full of ups and downs,
success and failure
and all kinds of characters...
It's difficult to imagine
anything more nourishing to the soul.
Thomas More

Hello Family and Friends,

Greetings on Ground Hog Day! If you are a pessimist, today is the very depths of mid-winter. For optimists, today is a sign that we are half way to spring!

Rex Russell (1936-2011) I received word recently that my cousin Rex Russell suffered a heart attack and passed away last Tuesday, January 25. For the last 12 years he had lived in Red Rock, Nevada next door to Eric and Ruth Russell, his son and daughter-in-law. Rex would have been 75 this May. Our prayers and best wishes are with Eric and Ruth in this time of loss.

Rex was the first child of Bill and Pauline (Shepard) Russell, the first grandchild of William and Bura (Davis) Shepard, and the first Great grandchild of James Brooks and Caroline Davis. (See 1989 picture of Rex with his father Bill and son Eric, taken at Rex and Margie's home in Lakeside, California.)

Rex and his sister Beverly were the only ones among the 12 grandchildren of Will and Bura to be born in Colorado. They were small children when the family migrated to Southern California in 1940. Rex is the first of Will and Bura's grandchildren to pass away as an older adult. Two of their grandchildren -- Linda and Beverly -- died as young people.

Rex was raised in San Diego, graduated from San Diego High School, and retired from San Diego Gas and Electric Company. In 1959 he married Ellen Lane with whom he had one son, Eric. In the late 1990s, after his second wife Margie died, Rex moved from Southern California to Red Rock, Nevada.

He spent some of his summers as a youth visiting family in Oklahoma. I received an email from Larry Davis a while back regarding one such visit. (Larry was born the same year as Rex, and is a first cousin of Rex's mom Pauline Shepard.) Larry: "I remember Rex when I was probably in the 7th Grade. Rex came to Oklahoma as a teenager in the early 1950's. I am not sure but I believe Rex Russell and Lyndel Jenkins blew up the entire Oklahoma panhandle with fire crackers during the week Rex came to visit us."

Rex was a fun loving guy, and quite an outdoors man. One of his favorite places was Kaibab, Arizona, where his ashes will be scattered. In recent years he also loved living in the boondocks of Red Rock, Nevada near Eric and Ruth, racing his Camaro occasionally, and riding his horse Roper. (See recent picture of Rex above, taken this past December with a San Francisco 49er Cheerleader. Click here to see more pictures of Rex and his family over the years.)

Happy Birthday today to Cindy (Dillon) Shepard. She and her husband (my brother) Gary Shepard live in Oak Harbor, Washington. Cindy wrote me recently:

"Gary and I have been staying busy but doing well. The weather up here has been pretty wet so we haven’t really gotten to do much outside. Gary’s been preaching quite a bit at our church lately and I really enjoy listening to him. I am attaching a 4 generation picture of my side of the family which is a milestone. It has been close to, if not a little more than, 40 years since 4 generations have been alive at the same time in my family."

The picture above was taken last summer and shows Cindy on the left with her daughter Samantha on the right, her granddaughter Breauna at the top, and her 8 month old Ggranddaughter Janaeya in the middle.

Special Note Regarding Email Addresses. On a few occasions recently I have had some of you request the email address of family members. I want to remind you that the emails I send out do not show the addresses of every one on my mailing list. But I am always glad to share an email address with any family member who requests one from me.
- - -