Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Leroy and Nola Gower's Anniversary, September 27, 2011

In time of test,
family is best.
~Burmese proverb

Hello Family and Friends,

It was 90 years ago today that my grandparents Leroy and Nola Shannon Gower were married in Mountain View, Arkansas. I mentioned in my last post that I do not ever remember them celebrating a wedding anniversary. I do know, however, that they had a special celebration on their 50th anniversary.

It took place on September 27, 1971. A number of pictures were taken that day as the family gathered to honor them at the home of Eugene and Maida Gower Shepard on Armstrong Street in San Diego. The first picture is one of the pictures from that celebration. It shows a smiling Leroy and Nola with their anniversary cake in front of them. 

The second picture (below) is also from that day in 1971 and shows Leroy and Nola on the right with their daughter Maida and her husband Eugene in the middle. In front of Eugene is their youngest son Russ; in front of Maida is Leroy and Nola's Ggranddaughter Kerri. On the left is Kerri's parents, my brother Gary with his first wife Jackie.

Of the 40 descendants of Leroy and Nola, 21 have been born since 1971. Their youngest Ggrandchild at the time, Tim Gower, missed being born on their anniversary by just 11 days.

Their anniversary September 27th was one of the first happy moments in our family's life after the tragic death just 2 months earlier of their oldest granddaughter, my 20 year old sister Linda. My other sister, 12 year old Barbara, was seriously injured in the same accident, requiring a lengthy recovery. It was a very stressful time for the whole family. 

Just a few weeks before their anniversary, Cindy and I had moved from San Diego to Berkeley, California. I had just begun seminary, and Cindy had just begun her career with Wells Fargo Bank, which was why we were unable to attend their celebration. It was one of their last anniversary celebrations; Leroy died in December, 1974. I will always be grateful for these two who were such an important part of our family.

Happy Birthday to Cathrina! Thursday, September 29, is the birthday of Cathrina Helms Clark, wife of Jerry Clark of Lubbock, Texas. The third picture shows Jerry and Cathrina in a picture taken this summer at the Italian ruins of Ostia Antica. Happy Birthday Cathrina!
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Thursday, September 22, 2011

Remembering A 90th Anniversary, September 22, 2011

The more you celebrate your life.
the more there is in life to celebrate.
~Oprah Winfrey

Hello Family and Friends,

This coming Tuesday, September 27, marks the 90th anniversary of the wedding of my late grandparents Leroy and Nola Shannon Gower. It is an occasion to remember and to honor these two whose lives had a great impact on those of us who are descendants of theirs.

Leroy and Nola were both born in Mountain View, Arkansas at the turn of the 20th century - Leroy in 1899, and Nola in 1902. They were raised there in farming families of very modest means and then married in 1921, perhaps in the Baptist Church to which their families belonged. The first picture shows Leroy and Nola in a picture that may have been taken on their wedding day.

Mountain View was where they bore their first two children, Hendrix and Maida. Maida remembers her folks saying that in 1925, on her first birthday, the four of them left Mountain View and began their 300 mile journey by wagon from Northern Arkansas to Okemah in Eastern Oklahoma.

Oklahoma was where their third child Victoria (nee Melva) was born and where they lived for 17 years. In 1942 they followed the lead of many other Okies and moved to California. They settled in San Diego where Leroy and Hendrix found work with the Railway Express. San Diego is where Leroy and Nola spent almost all the rest of their lives, in their home on Lynne Street. San Diego is also where they are laid to rest in Greenwood Cemetery. The final few years of Nola's life (she lived to 102!) were spent in Western Washington where her daughters Maida Shepard and Vicki Johnston still live today.

Their 3 children gave them 12 grand children: Hershell and Jimmie by Hendrix; Gary, me, Linda, Darrell, Barbara and Russ by Maida; and Paula, Gloria, Michael and David by Vicki. Their descendants today also include 14 Ggrandchildren and 11 GGgrandchildren. Of their 40 descendants, born in the last 90 years, just one of their children, Hendrix, and one of their grandchildren, Linda, have passed away. The rest are scattered around the U.S., mainly in Western Washington and California, but also Arizona and Tennessee.

I honestly never remember my grandparents ever celebrating a wedding anniversary. They were of very humble and modest beginnings and were not given to celebrations like anniversaries. I was only 26 years old when my grandfather Leroy passed away in 1974 (30 years before Nola). So I did not have many occasions to be around them when their anniversaries occurred. I do know that their 50th anniversary in 1971 was a special occasion, at a very memorable time in our family's history. In my next post I will share some specifics of that event. 

The second picture from 1962 was taken at the Gower home on Lynne Street in San Diego and shows Leroy and Nola Gower on the left. Maida and Eugene Shepard are on the right with their children Russell, Darrell and Barbara. On the left in front is Starlene Bass Gower, wife of Hendrix Gower.

Cheryl Gower. I mentioned two weeks ago that Cheryl Gower, wife of Jimmie Gower of Fort Mojave, Arizona, had surgery. She wrote me recently to say that she is now home and recovering very well. Continuing best wishes to her!

Headstone Replacement. We continue to receive donations in hopes of replacing the headstones for Alexander Davis (1819-66) and his daughter Elizabeth (1844-67), in Spencer, Indiana. Select this link for all the details. Please contact me by email or contact Jerry Davis if you are able to contribute. Thanks so much.
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Friday, September 16, 2011

"Seizing the Treasure", September 16, 2011

Take time to remember,
for the heart holds many treasures,
golden moments that will always be a part of us.
(from Seizing the Treasure)

Hello Family and Friends,

I have written before in this blog about the long time family connection between the Shepard, Davis and Kilpatrick families. Two of my great aunts, Winona Davis and Myra Davis, married Kilpatrick brothers in Oklahoma back in 1918 and 1924, and began a serious intertwining of our families. It continued when members of those families moved and settled a few years later in Two Buttes, Colorado, and then when some of them even later moved to the West Coast and maintained ties. Over the years the connections between the Kilpatricks, Davises and Shepards have been as convoluted as they have been warm and memorable!

Marjorie Vaughn-Eldred, a reader of this blog who lives in Buckley, Washington, is a member of the Kilpatrick family with whom our family has been in cahoots for several generations now. Marjorie's mother was Marion Kilpatrick, a sister of Bill and Barney Kilpatick, the two fellows who long ago married the Davis girls, who were sisters of my grandmother Bura Davis Shepard. In other words Marjorie is a first cousin of a first cousin of my father Eugene Shepard. See what I mean by convoluted?

A New History Book. Just this year, Marjorie published a family history titled Seizing the Treasure: Nuggets of Vaughn-Kilpatrick Story. This very personal book is a 350 page collection of family stories that take place over the last 100 years. It tells the stories of Marjorie, her parents and grandparents, as well as her siblings, her children and other family. It covers the Kilpatrick family and their moves from Beaver County, Oklahoma to Two Buttes, Colorado, to California, Oregon and Washington. If those moves sound familiar, it's because some of the Shepards and Davises made very similar moves at various times in the 20th century.

Marjorie's book is one more work that will take its place alongside other writings that chronicle the life of our larger family. The strength of her book is the family recollections that recount stories while not being quite so concerned with exact dates and other details. Her work is "an anthology of family tales [that] joins several genres: non-fiction, creative non-fiction, essay, letters, and a bit of poetry." It is a valuable piece of our family history that is worth reading, and for which we can be grateful. 

Marjorie told me just yesterday: "People can email me at cemeingv@q.com and request a book or go to Amazon.com and buy a copy there for $16.95. If they buy two copies (buddy system) they can save the postage. The book plus mailing expense is about $20 if they order one copy from me."

Remembering Edwin Kilpatrick. Reading Marjorie's stories prompted me to remember a first cousin of Marjorie, Edwin Kilpatrick, who is mentioned in her book. Edwin was one of the great influences in my life and illustrates the important relationships between our families over the years. 

Many of you remember that Edwin was the minister of my family's church, the Linda Vista Church of Christ, in San Diego in the 1960s. He took a special interest in our church youth group and led us on many wonderful adventures, not the least of which were trips to Yosemite, including my first excursion to the top of Half Dome. (See second picture of Edwin on a youth backpack in Little Yosemite Valley.) He was one of the key factors in my decision to go into the ministry, which resulted in 40 years of full time ministry. He also married Cindy and me 44 years ago, and was a dear friend of ours until his untimely death from cancer just 11 years later. It was my honor to preside at his funeral service in 1979 in Roseville, California.

The third picture, from 1972, shows Edwin Kilpatrick, his wife Ruby and 4 of their children in the right half of the picture. In the left half of the picture are my parents Eugene and Maida Shepard with my sister Barbara and my brother Russ. My wife Cindy is on the far left. (Click on the picture for a larger view.)

Thanks to Marjorie for her new book, and for this reminder of the strong and lasting relationship our families have shared.

Friday, September 09, 2011

Taking My Turn, September 9, 2011

remains the measure of our stability
because it measures our sense of loyalty.

~Haniel Long

Hello Family and Friends,

Taking My Turn. Today I take my turn in doing something that there is no avoiding, something that everyone of us must do, something that no person in this life can escape. Ever. Today I get to celebrate yet another birthday. I will do it for the 63rd time.

I guess it is only fair. I have reminded many of you, innumerable times in the posts of this blog, that the years of your life are slipping away. And if that wasn't enough, I included pictures to prove the point. The reminders have come whether you liked them or not -- and I suspect in some cases it was "not". But I have had to be fair. The Shepard's Crook does not discriminate. I would hope that my constant birthday reminders are a measure of my stability and my sense of loyalty to our family (see the Haniel Long quote above).

So today, 9-9-11, I take my turn. I suppose someone else should be giving this unflattering reminder that I am a year older and what a wonderful thing it is. (Yeah, right.) But did any of you step forward and volunteer? Of course not. So it is my duty. Happy Birthday to me.

On the upside, I am genuinely grateful to be around to celebrate yet another birthday. And I sincerely appreciate the well wishes that many of you have expressed in phone calls and emails and Facebook posts. I appreciate them all.

Having a birthday is yet another opportunity for me to boast shamelessly of the wonderful family Cindy and I are blessed to be a part of, including our son Nathan, his wife Chenda, and their two children, Preslea and Logan. The first picture above, taken by Cindy last week in Alameda, California, shows me and the youngest member of our family, our grandson Logan.

Happy Birthday Kelly! Monday is the birthday of my niece Kelly Shepard Sauvage. She lives with husband James and sons Nate and Kyle in Weatherford, Texas. Kelly was born and raised in San Diego, and has remained a California girl at heart even though she has lived in the lone star state for over 10 years now. The second picture I am including shows Kelly with their two sons. Best wishes for a very happy birthday to Kelly this coming Monday!

Update on Davis Headstone Replacement. Jerry Davis and I have received word from several of you that you would be willing to help with the replacement of the headstone in Spencer, Indiana for ancestors Alexander Davis and his daughter Elizabeth, which I detailed in my last post. Thanks so much! If there are others who would like to help, please contact me by email or contact Jerry Davis with your interest. The cost will be $958 and I am pleased to report that we are well on our way toward reaching that goal. But we do need more help, so please give it some thought.

Cousin Cheryl Gower. I received word earlier this week from Cheryl Gower, the wife of my cousin Jimmie Gower of Ft Mojave, Arizona. Cheryl said that she will be in a Las Vegas hospital today having some serious surgery and would appreciate our thoughts and prayers.
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Saturday, September 03, 2011

New Headstone for Old Davises, September 3, 2011

All other pacts of love or fear
derive from it and are modeled upon it. 
~Haniel Long

Hello Family and Friends,

Greetings today from Alameda, California on this weekend of Labor Day.

In my last post I mentioned Alexander and Jane Davis, Ohio immigrants who were among our earliest Davis ancestors to settle in Indiana. I do not have a picture of Alexander and Jane, but I am including a picture that shows their son Charles Edward Davis (with the cane, second from right). Taken in the 1920s this picture also shows Alexander and Jane's Davis grandsons Zaley, Benjamin, Morton, James Brooks and, on the far right, John.

Alexander and Jane were among the very first members of the New Union Church of Christ, outside Spencer, Indiana. Alexander and their daughter Elizabeth Davis Carter are buried in the New Union Cemetery, next to where the old New Union Church once stood.

Old and Broken Headstones. If you visit the New Union Cemetery today, you can see the graves of Alexander and Elizabeth Davis -- if you know where to look. Theirs are among the oldest, most weathered headstones in the entire grave yard. When Cindy and I visited the cemetery in July we needed the help of local family member Ruth Fortner to locate them. The two broken headstones are flat, not upright like most of the others around them, and are so old that they are very difficult to read.

Jerry Davis of Grand Prairie, Texas, is a direct descendant of Alexander Davis -- as am I, and many of you. (At least 35 of you who are reading this are also direct descendants.) Jerry wrote me recently with an idea about Alexander Davis and his daughter Elizabeth. He is suggesting we replace both of their broken, nearly unreadable headstones, with a new one.

He has found out that it will cost $958 to obtain a new quality headstone that will honor the memory of these two and be a fitting tribute to them in this cemetery that holds so much history of our family. Jerry has said that he will make a substantial contribution himself toward the cost of this headstone. Cindy and I have agreed to do the same. Are there others among you who can contribute to this cause?

The Rest of the Story. By way of explanation I should mention that Jane Buskirk Davis, Alexander's wife and Elizabeth's mother, is not buried in Indiana. She was among our Davis kinfolk who left Indiana in the 1880s and migrated to Oklahoma. Jane, at 70 years old, with their youngest son William Alexander Davis, "ran for land" in the Cherokee Strip in 1893, staking a claim and settling in what eventually became Helena, in Alfalfa County, Oklahoma.

Jane died just two years later in 1895. Land had been donated for a cemetery but it had not yet been plotted. Even so, they allowed Jane's burial, and she became the first person buried in Good Hope Cemetery just south of Helena. Today she lays to rest there beside her son William Alexander and his wife Mary. (See the second picture of Jane's headstone.)

Jane's headstone in Oklahoma is in very good shape, as you can see from the picture. Back in Indiana, however, her husband's headstone and that of her daughter, are in very poor condition (see my last post for a picture of their headstones).

Can You Help? If you are able to contribute to the effort to buy a new headstone for Alexander Davis and his daughter Elizabeth Davis Carter in Spencer, Indiana, please contact me by email or contact Jerry Davis. We are hoping to get contributions from several of our family for $50 or $100 or whatever you can give. Please let us know if you can help, or if you have any questions. It's the least we can do for these wonderful ancestors to whom we owe so much.