Monday, August 29, 2011

Some Remarkable Ancestors, August 29, 2011

So much of what is best in us
is bound up in our love of family.
~Haniel Long

Hello Family and Friends,

Greetings to all of you from San Diego as these dog days of summer creep along.

Happy 21st Birthday TODAY to Lyndsey Aquiningoc of Weatherford, Texas. She is the daughter of Kerri Shepard Aquiningoc, also of Weatherford, the granddaughter of Gary Shepard of Oak Harbor, Washington, and the oldest Ggrandchild of Maida Shepard. (See picture of Lyndsey with sister Mandi on the left, and the baby of a friend on the right.)

Lyndsey started a new job a few weeks ago as a dental assistant at a pediatric dental office in Weatherford. She loves to spend time with her sister Mandi, and her friends, and enjoys being a working girl and being single. I hear that she has big plans for her 21st Birthday party and that it should be a fun time.

Alexander and Jane Davis: A Remarkable Family Story. Lyndsey is also one of the GGGGG Grandchildren of Alexander and Jane Davis. Here is the family line from Lyndsey to them:

Lyndsey Aquiningoc / Kerri Shepard Aquiningoc / Gary Shepard / Eugene Shepard / Bura Davis Shepard / James Brooks Davis / Charles Davis / Alexander and Jane Buskirk Davis.

Alexander and Jane were among the very first of our Davis relatives to settle in Indiana, nearly 2 centuries ago. They were both born in Ohio -- Alexander in 1819 in Belmont County, and Jane in 1823 in Monroe County (just to the south), which is where they were married sometime in the 1840s. Census Records show them still living in Ohio in 1850, but shortly thereafter they trekked almost 400 miles west and settled outside Spencer, Indiana.

A Proud Church Heritage. According to the church records of the New Union Church of Christ outside Spencer, Indiana, Alexander and Jane were among the earliest members of that congregation, which began in the 1850s, as part of the "Stone-Campbell tradition" (aka the Restoration Movement). The New Union Church existed until 1957 when the last remaining members disbanded and joined other churches. Many of them became members of the Spencer Church of Christ, the congregation that today holds the church records for the old New Union Church. I have copies of those church records which show Alexander and Jane Davis on the first official roll of the Church, dated April 3, 1866. Those of us with their church affiliation today can proudly trace our church heritage back 5, 6, even 7 generations!

One of the children of Alexander and Jane Buskirk Davis was Charles Edward Davis (the father of James Brooks Davis). The second child of Alexander and Jane was Elizabeth Davis, who was born back in Ohio in 1844 and made the family trek to Indiana as a 6 year old girl. In 1863 the teenager Elizabeth married a local Spencer boy by the name of Calvin Carter. She and Calvin had two children, but when they were still babies, Elizabeth died at just 23 years old.

Father and Daughter, Side By Side. Her untimely death in 1867 came just one year after the death of her father Alexander. This explains why mother Jane chose to lay daughter Elizabeth to rest next to Alexander. One can only imagine the grief and hardship of the wife and mother Jane burying her 47 year old husband one year and then her 23 year old daughter the next year. At the time, Jane was herself the mother of 8 other children, one of whom was an infant (William Alexander) born earlier that same year!

Alexander and Elizabeth -- father and daughter -- still reside in the New Union Cemetery today, side by side. Theirs are among the oldest headstones in the entire grave yard at the corner of Rattlesnake Rd and Shepard Patrick Rd, right next to where the old church once stood. (See above picture) A visit to their burial site is an occasion to feel the weight of our family history and the inspiration of our ancestral memories.

More To Come. I will share more about Alexander and Jane Davis and their daughter Elizabeth in my next blog entry. I will also share an interesting proposal regarding the possible replacement of their broken, weathered headstones. For now, as we extend our birthday wishes to Lyndsey, we honor the lives of these hearty ancestors, whose difficulties seem almost unimaginable, but whose strength and resilience we have to admire.
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Monday, August 22, 2011

Joys and Concerns Here and There, August 22, 2011

No other success
can compensate 
for failure in the home.
~suggested quote
at a tattoo parlor

Hello Family and Friends,

Greetings to all of you on this fine August day in Southern California. The following are some joys and a concern regarding people in our family around the country.

Happy 25th Anniversary to Russ and Pam. Tomorrow, August 23, is the 25th anniversary of my brother Russ and his wife Pam Engan Shepard of Anacortes, Washington.

I remember well that warm and pleasant Saturday afternoon in Anacortes 25 years ago when the families of Russ and Pam gathered in the front yard of the Shepard home on Wildwood Lane for the wedding ceremony. (see first picture) It was the last family event that our Grandmother Bura Davis Shepard attended before her death in October that year.

Happy 18th birthday to Linda Shepard! Russ and Pam are the proud parents of two children, Steven and Linda. (see second picture) Steve reached the milestone age of 21 earlier this year, and Linda reached her own milestone when she turned 18 just last Tuesday (August 16). Linda and friends enjoyed a tattoo trip to Seattle to celebrate the day. (How the rites of passage change!) Happy Birthday, Linda!

Happy Birthday Amanda. This coming Thursday, August 25, is the birthday of Amanda Ortiz who lives in Blue Springs, Missouri. She is the daughter of Kim Boyd Clark, also of Blue Springs, and the granddaughter of Terry and Thelma Shepard Boyd of Gallup, New Mexico.

Amanda: "My birthday is approaching quickly! Mom, Jeff and the family are taking me for a steak dinner. It should be a good day! 

"I am enjoying what I have left of my twenty's. :(  I am having a blast with my nieces and nephew here in Missouri. I have missed them so much living so far away from them since I moved away in 2006. I may live in the Midwest now but I am still a San Diego girl at heart :)  

"I am currently living in Blue Springs, MO and am coming up on 3 years working with Allstate's Flood division and look forward to many more years with them. I am currently in school and will be obtaining my business degree in Human Resources in October. I am looking forward to the next year of my life and hoping to experience new and exciting things. Thanks for the birthday wishes!"

Update on Elmer Shepard. As you probably know, my uncle Elmer Shepard, who lives in Mustang, Oklahoma, is the senior member of our Shepard clan at 93 years old. His son Dane Shepard wrote me recently with an update on how his dad is doing.

In the last few weeks, Dad had a couple of days where his blood pressure dropped so low he was unresponsive. They have adjusted his medication and he seems stable now. He is weaker and is unable to get out anymore. He spends more time in bed and it is easier now to use a wheel chair instead of his walker to get him from his room to wherever he needs to go. I usually try to take him some Braums ice cream which he enjoys. I am now not immune to his short fuse and aggression. He likes to eat but there is very little else he enjoys. He doesn't like TV and is unable to sit for any period of time especially to read. He still hangs on and is aware of his surroundings and who people are yet seems to remain mentally uncomfortable most of the time. He stills receives hospice care and observation. Obviously, my reports on Dad will continue to go downhill as he slowly weakens. It will be such a blessing when the Lord takes him home. He's not the Elmer we once knew.

Our prayers and best wishes are with Elmer; and with Dane as he continues to care for and watch over his father.
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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Family Reunions, August 17, 2011

What the next generation will value most
is not what we owned,
but the evidence of who we were
and the tales of how we loved.
~Ellen Goodman

Hello Family and Friends,

Greetings from San Diego on this week after our family reunion. Cindy and I are home and catching up after a trip to Washington State for the recent family get together.

Last Saturday in Anacortes, Washington 22 of us gathered to enjoy each others company and celebrate the life we share as members of one family. The first picture shows those who attended. Click on the picture for a larger view. Select this link for more pictures from the Anacortes reunion and the reunion referred to below.

We renewed relationships, introduced some new family members, heard family stories, looked at pictures and family books, shared a great meal (thanks to Gary and Cindy!), and enjoyed the afternoon on a beautiful day in Western Washington. We were young (3 mos.) and old (86); we traveled from far and near; we were engaged and married and friended; but despite all the diversity, we enjoyed that unique and remarkable bond we share as family. 

We awarded handmade glass artwork (made specially for this event by Steven Paul Shepard) to three persons: the one who had traveled the farthest (Jerry Clark, Lubbock Texas), the newest member of the family (Barbara's new husband John Mackey), and the youngest family member (3 month old Logan Shepard).

The second picture shows Great Grandmother Maida Shepard with her two newest Great Grandchildren Logan and Preslea Shepard.

Most of us were descendants (or their spouses) of Will and Bura Davis Shepard. But we were also joined by Bud Davis, a first cousin of my dad Eugene Shepard. Bud lives not far from Anacortes in Graham, Washington and is the son of the late Jess and Mildred Davis, whose family still lives in Bartlesville, Oklahoma.

Also last Saturday, a kind of  "extension" of our family reunion was held in Kansas City, Missouri. Kim Boyd Clark, her husband Jeff, and several of their family, along with Shannon and Emma Wilk of Atchison, Kansas also gathered to renew their bond as descendants of Will and Bura Davis Shepard. 

In the third picture, from left to right, are Ashlyn Ortiz, Shannon and Emma Wilk, Ciara Ortiz, Jeff and Kim Boyd Clark, and Amanda, Desiree and Damian Ortiz. (Click on the picture for a larger view.)
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Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Shepard Family From East to West, August 10, 2011

My ancestors wandered
lost in the wilderness for 40 years
because even in Biblical times,
men would not stop to ask for directions.
~Elayne Boosler

Hello Family and Friends,

Greetings to all of you from San Diego, California on this week of our family reunion. This Saturday afternoon at the Anacortes Christian Church (12th and M St) in Anacortes, Washington our family will gather from far and near to celebrate our life together. 

Happy Birthday Jeremy. This coming Friday, Aug 12, is the birthday of Jeremy Ortiz, son of Kim Boyd Clark, of Blue Springs, Missouri. Originally from San Diego, Jeremy and Desiree and their children moved earlier this year to Missouri, where Kim and her husband Jeff Clark live.

Kim: "Jeremy is working like crazy. He has a very busy Pizza Hut store and is looking forward to the Chargers coming to town [Kansas City] Oct 31." The first picture shows Jeremy with their 3 children, Ashlyn, Ciara and Damian.

4th Great Grandparents, James Sr., and Hannah. Recently in this blog I shared about the discovery of my 3rd Ggrandparents James and Hannah Shepard. I would now like to introduce the parents of James Shepard, whose names were also James and Hannah. James Shepard Sr. was born in 1775, the year before the birth of our nation, in Hagerstown, Maryland, just 65 miles from Washington, D.C. His wife Hannah Gatchell was born in 1784 in Calvert, Maryland, in the northeast corner of that state, half way between Philadelphia and Baltimore.

James Sr. and his wife Hannah, followed the lead of most early Americans by moving westward. In the early 1800s, they left Maryland and migrated more than 200 miles, through the Cumberland Valley into southwest Pennsylvania and finally down into eastern Ohio where they settled in Belmont County. That's where their children were born, including their son James Jr., from whom we are descended.

In 1839 Hannah Gatchell Shepard, at only 55, died, leaving her husband James and several children. The very next year, James Jr., who had married his own Hannah, was feeling the same pioneering spirit that had driven his parents westward. The younger James and Hannah left Ohio and migrated some 350 miles further west to Tippecanoe County, Indiana, leaving behind his widowed father James Sr., who died in Ohio a few years later in 1843.

From East Coast to West. With the discovery of the senior James Shepard, and his wife Hannah Gatchell, our Shepard family line has now been traced all the way back to the East Coast, and all the way back to the beginning of our nation. Originally from Maryland, they migrated to Eastern Ohio, where their children were born. One of them, James Jr., migrated to Northwest Indiana with his family, which included William Shepard, a young man who gave his life in the Civil War. He left one son, William Elmer Shepard, who moved to Illinois and then with his own family to Beaver County, Oklahoma. That's where his son William Shepard married Bura Davis. After a move to southeast Colorado, where they lived 12 years, they and their four children made the final jump of over 1,000 miles to the West Coast, settling in San Diego in 1940. 

It took 165 years but the Shepards finally made it from Hagers- town, Maryland in 1775 to San Diego, California in 1940 with stops in Ohio (35 years), Northern Indiana (40 years), Illinois (25 years), Oklahoma (23 years), and Colorado (12 years). If you plot out all these stops from Hagerstown to San Diego (see graphic), you get a fairly direct route that bisects our country from Northeast to Southwest, from the Atlantic to the Pacific. Our Shepard ancestors were a wandering people as they made their way across the U.S., but they wandered in a remarkably straight line, at least until they reached the Pacific Ocean.

In San Diego nearly the entire clan lived for more than 30 years until the early 1970s. But in the 40 years since then, many members of our family have "bounced back" to New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri and Kansas. Still others have moved northward to Northern California and Utah. And a large number have moved to Western Washington, in particular Anacortes, Washington where our Shepard Family Reunion will be held this coming Saturday. Only a handful of us Shepard descendants live in San Diego today.

Below is a 9 generation lineage that traces one strain of our Shepard Family from our oldest known ancestor, James Shepard, Sr. of Hagerstown, Maryland, to our youngest family member, Logan Shepard, of Alameda, California (see picture of Logan with his sister Preslea, on granny Cindy's lap).
  • James Shepard Sr., (1775-1843) born in Hagerstown, Maryland, who married Hannah Gatchell (1784-1839), the parents of...
  • James Shepard Jr., (1818-1887) born in Belmont County, Ohio, who married Hannah (maiden name unknown), the parents of...
  • William Shepard (1835-1862)  born in Belmont County, Ohio, who married Mary Sprague (1840-1919), the parents of...
  • William Elmer Shepard (1862-1915), born in Wabash, Indiana, who married Elvira Owens (1864-1931), the parents of...
  • William Shepard (1888-1976), born in Alton, Illinois, who married Bura Davis (1896-1986), the parents of...
  • Eugene William Shepard (1921-2003), born in Logan, Oklahoma, who married Maida Gower (b. 1924), the parents of...
  • Steven Dale Shepard, born 1948 in San Diego, who married Cindy Harris (b. 1948), the parents of...
  • Nathan William Shepard, born 1977 in San Diego, who married Chenda Sou (b. 1980), the parents of...
  • Logan Alexander Shepard, born 2011 in San Francisco, California.
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Thursday, August 04, 2011

Finding Family Up Fish Creek Road, August 4, 2011

Whether we recognize it or not,
we are connected with our past.
~S.W. Kimball

Hello Family and Friends,

As Cindy and I made our way up Fish Creek Road outside Spencer, Indiana a few weeks ago, I was concerned that the Spear Cemetery would elude us once again. Twice before I had attempted to find it, without success.

Two years ago Cindy and I had looked but failed to locate it. 20 years before that I had made my first genealogical trek to Spencer with my dad, and we had made a serious effort to find it, but were unsuccessful. All we had found on that hot muggy July day in 1989 was a field of thick weeds about 3 feet high. "Were the headstones completely overgrown?" I had wondered.

Spear Cemetery
This time I had actually "googled" Spear Cemetery and found it online! (See it yourself here.) And we had a car with a GPS system. So I was cautiously confident as we headed west out of town on Hwy 46 and then drove north on Fish Creek Road. After leaving the pavement on Lennox Road, we drove on gravel about a mile and crossed Fish Creek. We then came to the same intersection where Dad and I had been stymied. Everything was the same: hot and muggy, overgrown weeds, not a headstone in sight. 

This time we decided to look around. We crept south on the crunching gravel about a hundred yards and then took a right turn, which swung up a hill and back northward. On the right was a wall of tall trees and thick bushes. About 30 yards up this grade I noticed a kind of tunnel cut into the bushes, barely big enough for a car to drive into. No sign. No road. No indication that anything of interest might lay inside, besides maybe a back woodsman chewing tobacco, sitting on a porch with a shotgun! 

James and Callie Spear Davis, 1896
As we drove inside the tunnel an opening appeared. Then we saw a modest barbed wire fence, beyond which was a clearing, maybe half an acre in size. The trees overhead shaded the entire sanctuary, which was dotted with a few dozen graves, most of them carrying the name Spear. This was it. The Spear Family Cemetery. 

This was the burial ground of the kinfolk of my great Grandmother Caroline "Callie" Spear Davis (1865-1951). Though she and husband James Brooks Davis were born and married in this community, they are buried in Beaver County, Oklahoma where they migrated with their children in 1913. But in this Indiana cemetery, on a hot day last month, we found a number of Callie's relatives, whose names are in our family tree. It was a rewarding find, a sacred place, hallowed ground. With fading memories of lives and loves that still provide the foundation for the family we are in 2011.

Select this link to see several of the graves we visited at the Spear Family Cemetery. You'll see a photo presentation that actually includes pictures we took at 6 different Indiana cemeteries last month, each of which was a unique visit. None, however, was more satisfying to discover than the one off Fish Creek Road outside Spencer, Indiana.

James and Kelly Shepard Sauvage
Happy Anniversary Kelly and James! One of Callie Spear's GGgranddaughters is Kelly Shepard Sauvage, of Weatherford, Texas. Tomorrow she and husband James celebrate 11 years of marriage. Congratulations!

Kelly: It’s been crazy at work as I’m trying to close out the budget for this year and get ready for next year. Yes, our 11th anniversary is coming up on Friday. We don’t have big plans; probably just dinner out with the four of us. We are both busy with work and our boys. Not many changes around here. We are all doing really well though, just trying not to melt. We are working on 30+ consecutive days of at least 100 degrees! Thanks for remembering us.

It's getting closer: Shepard Family Reunion, Aug 13, Anacortes, Washington.
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