Monday, April 25, 2011

Cloud of Witnesses, April 25, 2011

Since we are surrounded
by such a great cloud of witnesses,
let us run with perseverance
the race set before us.
~Paul the Apostle

Hello Family and Friends,

Happy Birthday on this Easter Monday to Amanda Clark Farrell and Susan Clark Cox, twin daughters of Jane Brock and Jerry Clark of Lubbock, Texas. The first picture shows Susan on the left and Amanda on the right right with dad Jerry in the middle.

I once tried to explain that Amanda and Susan are my late sister's first husband's and his second wife's second and third (or possibly third and second) children. But people started throwing things at me when I said that. So I'll just say that they are long time family friends. They were born and raised in Lubbock, Texas, where Susan and husband Andrew, with their children, still live. Amanda and Chris live in Fort Worth.

Susan: 31 is definitely easier than my transition into 30. At my ripe old age, I have discovered a few things. I get all wrapped up in birthdays. I love everything about birthdays the phone calls, the cards, the meals. But mostly I just like spending time with the people that mean so much to me. I hope they feel as blessed by my friendship as I do by theirs. And that includes my family. I am truly grateful for where God continues to place me and for the relationships he has allowed me to participate in. What a blessing each day is!

Amanda: Things here in North Texas are wonderful! We're both staying busy with work and enjoying every second! Chris recently joined the staff at Fellowship of the Metroplex in Mansfield! My work in the cubicle world continues to be fun and challenging! I love what I do and the people I do it with! Our new location allows us to split the commute from my job to the church. We are getting to know a new area of the DFW metroplex. We leave on May 18th for a week with friends in Belgium and are hoping to make a trip to Mexico in the fall. The last year has been one of transitions but God has continued to be faithful and has blessed us with a new place to further his Kingdom! The past two birthdays have flown by at a crazy pace - I keep reminding myself to soak it all in!

Cloud of Witnesses. This is also a week to remember the birthdays of 3 other wonderful people in our family whose memories will always hold a special place in the hearts of many of us. These three are, for me, among those who will forever be part of  "the great cloud of witnesses" who surround us and inspire our living. Ironically, the last born of these three died first, and the first born of these three died last.

The last born was my cousin Beverly Russell Wilk, daughter of Bill and Pauline Shepard Russell, and mother of Shannon Wilk of Atchison, Kansas. She was born April 27, 1939 in Two Buttes, Colorado. She died in a San Diego hospital in December of 1974 at the tender age of 35. Click here to see a picture of Bev with her daughter, mother and grandmother.

My grandmother Nola Shannon Gower was born in Mountain View, Arkansas April 28, 1902 or 03 (depending on which historical record you're reading). The oldest person I ever knew, she died in Anacortes, Washington in the summer of 2004 at the tender age of 101 (or 102). See second picture of her and husband Leroy taken in 1972.

My father Eugene Shepard was also born on April 28 (18 years after his mother-in-law Nola), but in Logan, Oklahoma in 1921. He died 8 years ago in Anacortes. Wednesday of this week marks the 90th anniversary of his birth. The second picture shows 33 year old Eugene, with 5 year old me, on what appears to be Easter Sunday, 1954, in front of our home on Ulric Street in San Diego.
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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Civil War Sesquicentennial: April 20, 2011

I have been sustained
by three saving graces - 
my family, my friends, and a faith
in the power of resilience and hope.
~Elizabeth Edwards

Hello Family and Friends,

Greetings to all of you from San Diego. This month of April marks the 150th anniversary of the beginning of the American Civil War. Ironically, this anniversary falls during the week that many Christians call Holy Week, with Easter this coming Sunday.

Numerous persons in our family tree were veterans of the Civil War, which continues to be of great interest to family researchers. One writer has said that more books have been written about the American Civil War than anything else in history, except the Bible. The 1860s was a time in history when many American families were forever changed, in ways that are still felt today. The following are just two instances of people in our family that were dramatically affected, stories that show "the power of resilience and hope".
1915 picture of my Grandfather,
William Shepard (1888-1976)

A Family Disconnected. I have written several times in this blog about my GGgrandfather, Civil War soldier William Shepard (1835-1862) of Wabash, Indiana. (See first picture from 1915, of the soldier William Shepard's grandson, MY grandfather, also named William Shepard.)

What you may not know is that William from Wabash enlisted in the Union Army September 12, 1861 and served in the 41st Regiment (Indiana Second Cavalry), and began his active service in December, 1861 in Indianapolis. His regiment spent the early winter near Louisville, Kentucky, and in February joined with General Buell's army and moved further south to Nashville, Tenn. Meanwhile, back home in Wabash, on February 2, 1862, his wife gave birth to a son, William Elmer Shepard.

Battle of Shiloh, April, 1862
During April and May of 1862 William Shepard's unit was part of fierce battles that took place at Shiloh, Corinth, Pea Ridge, and Tuscumbia in the area around Southern Tennessee. During one of these engagements, he was injured. An old family legend has it that his arm was shot off in a cannon blast. Whatever the actual injury, and wherever it actually occurred, William was hospitalized in Evansville, Indiana. Then on July 21, 1862, just 10 months after enlisting, he died of Typhoid Fever during his hospital stay, and was laid to rest in the Oak Hill Cemetery in Evansville.

As expected, in time the widow Shepard remarried. When her war baby William Elmer became a teen he found himself engaged in his own conflict, this one with his step-father. As a result, sometime in the 1870s William Elmer ran away from home, first to Illinois where he eventually married into the Owens family of Madison County, and then, later in life, to Beaver County, Oklahoma, where he died Feb, 1915. After leaving Indiana as a teen, he was disconnected from his birth family for the rest of his life. That war-related family conflict must have left painful scars not only for William Elmer, but for the Indiana family he left behind. It has also has made it very difficult today to discover our Shepard roots.

Another family related Civil War story. Just one month before the start of the Civil War, my GGGgrandmother Roena Norton gave birth to a baby girl in a small town in the Ozark mountains of Arkansas. Roena was an unmarried teenage girl who disappeared under mysterious circumstances not long after her daughter Finetta was born.

A family legend has it that Roena's step-father David Dearien was responsible for Finetta's birth, and for the subsequent disappearance of his step daughter Roena. These sad events occurred in the early months of the Civil War, which was a dangerous time of rogue lawlessness. I can't help but wonder if the war time atmosphere in Northern Arkansas made Roena's disappearance a lot easier to accomplish, and to remain an unsolved mystery.

The third picture, from the 1940s, shows Finetta Clementine (Dearien) Shannon, Roena's baby girl, much later in life. Behind her is Finetta's youngest daughter, my grandmother, Nola Shannon Gower.

Family Reunion. The above stories are about 2 War-time babies who suffered tragic disconnection from their parents, which makes our connections and reunions today all the more poignant. Our 2011 Shepard Family reunion in Anacortes, Washington is just four months away. Select this link for details. We are hoping that many Shepards and Gowers and Davises and Boyds and other related family members will attend.

Are there other family reunions being planned for members of related families? The Kilpatricks used to have a big family reunion every couple of years, but I have not heard of any events in recent years. If any of you have information about upcoming family gatherings, please pass the word.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Family: A Mirror of Oneself, April 14, 2011

Don't visit family
unless you want to see
a mirror of yourself!
~Joan Shepard

Hello Shepard Family and Friends,

I received word a few days ago from my cousin Joan Shepard of Dixon, California about a trip that she made recently to Oklahoma. She went to see her brother Dane and his family, including their father Elmer Shepard, who will be 93 next month. 

The first picture was taken at their mini family reunion in New Castle, Oklahoma, and shows Joan's cousin Kim Clark on the left in front of Kim's husband Jeff, who live in Blue Springs, Missouri. In the middle is the senior member of our Shepard clan, Elmer, with his son Dane behind him, in whose home this picture was taken. On the right in front is Joan with her daughter Havilah Colgain Wardle of West Valley, Utah.

Joan: "For my birthday, Havilah and I flew to Oklahoma City. It was such a blessing to see Dad and to visit our family there. Dane, Cindy, Nathan, and Kaylan are busy home schooling with all the bustle of band practice and bowling games. Also, they are devoted to the members of their church and to Dad, caring for his every need.

"An added bonus was a surprise visit from Kim and Jeff Clark. We caravaned to Dad's nursing home in a wind storm that reminded me of why the Shepards originally left Oklahoma and Two Buttes! I was delighted to see Dad, especially his eyes sparkling as he recognized us. He doesn't converse much anymore, but he did enjoy the attention and our trip for fried catfish (and fried okra, and fried corn, and fried pickles).

"While sitting beside Dad, Kim shared memories of Gram [Bura Davis Shepard]. I was reminded of how devoted our grandmother was to family, helping rear three generations -- from her own children to Gary Shepard and Shannon Wilk. We had to chuckle as we saw Gram's personality in each of us: perhaps calm determination is one trait we share, perhaps some stubbornness, too. (Don't visit family unless you want to see a mirror of yourself!)

"When we left Dad, it was difficult saying goodbye. But my heart feels especially blessed that Havilah could travel with me to be with family. Laughing and sharing tender moments with her was a perfect birthday gift! Like Kim, we'll keep memories alive. We'll always have our lives together with Elmer, a special Dad and Granddad."

Happy Birthday Rachel! Today is the birthday of my niece Rachel Shepard. She is the daughter of my brother Darrell Shepard and his wife Mary Medina Shepard. Rachel's brothers Christopher and Patrick complete the Darrell and Mary Shepard family, all of whom live in the Seattle area. Rachel lives with brother Chris and boyfriend Brian in Kirkland and is the business office manager at Memory Care Community in Seattle. For her birthday Rachel will have a special evening with her family, going out to eat and then enjoying the evening at her parent's home.

The second picture (above) shows Rachel on the left with her older brother Christopher on the right. Between them in their father Darrell. This picture was taken last fall in Anacortes, Washington when they were all gathered at Grandma Maida Shepard's home to celebrate her birthday.

The third picture, taken 20 years earlier, also shows Rachel with her brother Christopher, the one still demure and composed before the camera, the other one not so much. This picture was also taken on Wildwood Lane in Anacortes, at what has been the Shepard family home since 1978, when Maida and Eugene first moved from San Diego to Washington.
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Friday, April 08, 2011

Joy and Bewilderment, April 8, 2011

Family and friends are hidden treasures. 
Seek them and enjoy their riches.
~Wanda Hope Carter

Hello Family and Friends,

Happy Anniversary TODAY  to Jerry and Cathrina! Congratulations to Jerry and Cathrina (Helms) Clark who were married 5 years ago today in Santa Fe, New Mexico. They make their home in Lubbock, Texas, where Jerry has lived since the 1960s when he first attended Lubbock Christian University.

Cathrina and Jerry: "Yes, it has been 5 years! We are taking "the Rome trip" with a great couple from San Diego this summer for our anniversary. Really looking forward to our trip. We are going to dinner this Friday night, but since we were busy with a family reunion last weekend in Houston, we are staying home this weekend. We are busy planning how to landscape our backyard (which is now dirt). Also trying to get everything ready for summer travels. Our best to all! Come see us in the beautiful dust bowl 2011."

The first picture shows Jerry and Cathrina on the Puget Sound of Washington a few years ago. The second picture was taken a few years earlier than the first one -- 36 years earlier to be exact! It was taken in Lubbock, Texas and shows Jerry with sister-in-law Barbara Shepard on the right. An unidentified college friend of Jerry is on the left.

The Changing Nature of Families. Earlier this year I was part of a fascinating email correspondence regarding the difficulty of chronicling our family and keeping track of everyone. The whole issue arose because of two family members who had never married, but had been a couple for many years, and even had a child. Now regardless of one's opinion about the life choice of that particular couple, the fact remains that somehow they, and any children they might have, need to be accounted for in the family tree to which they belong.

Anomalous family relationships have always been a part of family life. My GGgrandmother Margaret Williams was the wife of William Spear, a man who had been married to Margaret's sister Caroline Williams. After Caroline died, William married her younger sister Margaret and had 8 children by her. To complicate things even more, William and second wife Margaret named their first child after his first wife Caroline.

On the Gower side of my family, one of my 19th century ancestors fathered a child by his stepdaughter. It was a terribly immoral situation, but the truth remains that trying to show that in a family tree is almost impossible, without asterisks, dotted lines and arrows going in different directions.

The increase in the number of unmarried parents these days is only one of the many challenges for those who try to keep track of family. Same sex couples is another. Fortunately computer programs do a pretty good job of allowing for a variety of family situations and configurations.

There are some family anomalies today that create challenges never dreamed of just a few genera- tions ago. Earlier this year a news report came out about Adrian and Lisa Shepherd (no known relationship to us), a couple in England who had triplets by in vitro fertilization (see picture). Two of the daughters, Adrian and Lisa, were born in 1999. The third daughter of this trio, Ryleigh, was born in November, 2010, from a fertilized egg that had been frozen and kept in storage since 1999. Same parents, same act of fertilization, but births 11 years apart. Who could have imagined such a thing not very long ago?

I find this to be an exciting though sometimes bewildering time to be engaged in family research, even though the challenges for family tree keepers are many. Thank God that behind all the incredible changes these days, some things remain the same. There is still that simple yearning for 2 people to be connected in a loving life partnership, and then for that love to result in the joy of parenthood.

If only it was as simple for those who to try to keep it all straight.
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Monday, April 04, 2011

Trifecta - April 4, 2011

A man who doesn't spend time
with his family 
cannot be a real man.
~Don Corleone
(in "The Godfather")

Hello Family and Friends,

Greetings to all of you on this travel day for Cindy and me, as we drive down the great Central Valley of California from Alameda back home to San Diego.

Jim and Cheryl Gower Celebrating 42 years
On this day in history, three different members of our family were born. One is a first cousin of mine on the Gower side of the family, another is the husband of my niece Kelly, and the third one is the granddaughter of a cousin on the Shepard side of the family. I don't think any of the three have ever met each other. Yet they are all valued members of our family.

The first born of this trio is my cousin Jim Gower, the second child of Hendrix and Starlene Gower and the second grandchild of Leroy and Nola Shannon Gower. Jim was born and raised in San Diego, but he and wife Cheryl are now retired and live in Fort Mojave, Arizona.

Cheryl: "We are doing great. Jim is busy making all types of kaleidoscopes and selling them here in Fort Mojave and in Oatman, Arizona. He keeps the neighborhood in shape with all his "Mr. Fix-it" abilities. In February we celebrated our 42nd wedding anniversary (picture attached). Our son Tim is still teaching and coaching at North Monterey County High School in Castroville, Ca. He has one son, Dane (11 years old), and will soon be engaged to a lovely lady, named Patti, who has a boy and girl of her own. So the family will blossom and we are thrilled."
James Sauvage and Family

The second birthday person today is James Sauvage. Originally from Ohio, he met and married Kelly Sauvage in San Diego. They now live with their two boys in Weatherford, Texas.

This second picture shows Cincinnati Reds fan James at his party last year. Next to him are his sons Nate and Kyle. Also pictured are niece Mandi and sister-in-law Kerri.

Kelly: "James has been working for Pumpco for a year now. It keeps him busy and even allows him to do a little traveling. Every few months he’ll fly to PA helping the guys in that area. He referees football as often as possible. Right now he works the Semi-Pro games every Saturday night. He is also Kyle’s baseball coach…team name Padres. It’s tough trying to teach eleven 6 year olds the basics of baseball and keep their attention for an hour. Lucky for James, he has me around to help. We don’t have big plans for his birthday, probably just dinner with the family.
Horse riding Ciara

"The boys and I spent spring break in Arizona at the Padres spring training.  Such a blast! Kyle has made plans to go again next year. He got so many autographs! Nate got some too, but he wasn’t as excited as Kyle was. It was a long drive for me with two boys, but it was so worth it
The third birthday person on this day is 9 year old Ciara Ortiz of Spring Valley, California. She is the first child of Jeremy and Desiree Ortiz, the first grandchild of Kim Clark, and the first Ggrandchild of Terry and Thelma (Shepard) Boyd. She is also one of the 10 GGgrandchildren of Will and Bura Shepard. The third picture shows Ciara riding a horse in a picture taken last fall.

Best wishes to all three of them!
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