Monday, November 28, 2011

So This Is Christmas, December 5, 2011

Every person is an omnibus
in which their ancestors ride.
~Oliver Wendell Holmes

Hello Family and Friends,

Greetings to all of you from San Diego, as Thanksgiving passes into memory and the hectic push toward Christmas begins.

Happy Birthday today to Patrick Shepard of Kirkland, Wa. Pat is the last of the four members of our particular clan who were born in 1990 and who therefore turn 21 this year. The others are Steven Paul Shepard, Courtney Boyd and Lyndsey Aquiningoc.

Pat lives in Kirkland with his fiance Nicole Haw, not far from his parents Darrell and Mary Shepard. He and Nicole plan to be married and will be traveling to Cancun, Mexico with their immediate family in March to celebrate. Congratulations and best wishes to both of them!

The first picture (above) shows Patrick on the right with Nicole next to him. On the left are his mom and dad Darrell and Mary. His siblings Christopher and Rachel are in the middle. This picture was taken this last summer at the Shepard family reunion in Anacortes, Washington. 

To get us in the Christmas spirit I am including a picture that was taken 19 Christmases ago, also in Anacortes, Washington. It shows Patrick on the right at 2 years old, with his uncle Russ Shepard and his cousin Steven Paul Shepard.

Oklahoma Update. I received word from my cousin Dane Shepard in Oklahoma that his father Elmer Shepard has moved. He had been living in an assisted living facility in Mustang, Oklahoma but just last week was moved to the Norman Veterans Center, Norman, Oklahoma. 

Dane said that they "had a good hour long interview with the resident doctor who has had a lot of experience in managing Dad's kind of problems. I was impressed with his understanding of the medications being taken and his recommend- ations. I am confident Dad will be able to receive help here that he was unable to get in an assisted living setting. They are able to give medical treatment and have a nursing care unit as well. It is a very nice facility and I'm so thankful he is not far away."

The third picture I am including was taken about 1941 and shows Elmer Shepard on the left in his early 20s, and Eugene Shepard on the right who was just about 20 years old (younger than his grandson Patrick in the first picture above!). Their sister (my aunt) Thelma Shepard Boyd wrote me recently to say that this picture was taken in San Diego and that the girl looks familiar and was probably just a friend of theirs.
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Sunday, November 20, 2011

"The Year Has Almost Gone", November 29, 2011

Remember, remember always,
that all of us, and you and I especially,
are descended from immigrants and revolutionists.
~Franklin D. Roosevelt

Hello Family and Friends,

Greetings to all of you from Alameda, California where Cindy and I are visiting with our son Nathan and his family. We have had a busy but enjoyable few days splitting our Thanksgiving weekend between Northern and Southern California.

Happy Birthday Kim and Damian. Today is the birthday of Kim Boyd Clark, and her grandson Damian Ortiz. The first photo shows Kim and Damian in a picture that was taken just a week ago in Missouri.

Kim is one of the grandchildren of Will and Bura Davis Shepard. She and her husband Jeff Clark live in Blue Springs, Missouri. Damian is the son of Kim's older son Jeremy and his wife Desiree, who also live in Blue Springs.

Kim: I can't believe the year has almost gone. It seems to go by faster and faster. A lot of changes this year and the best one is getting to see my grand kids every day and spoiling them. 

We will be having another grandchild in June. We have a full house plus a new litter of puppies to keep all of us busy. I think everyone but me is looking forward to the snow and can't wait for it to arrive. 

Damian is so ready to start kindergarten in August. He's full of energy, rarely gets tired and loves to dress up like Captain America, Spider-man or others. He has quite an imagination. We will have our birthday dinner at Red Lobster. Damian loves shrimp and wants to try lobster. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family! I wish we could all be together again.

Caroline Spear Davis. Today is also the birthday of Kim's Ggrandmother Callie Spear Davis, who was born on this day in 1865. Born in Spencer, Indiana, she married James Brooks Davis, with whom she had 7 children, all born in Indiana. The entire family moved to Beaver County, Oklahoma in 1913.

The second picture I am including today is one that became available to me just recently. It is one of the few pictures I have of Callie Davis and was taken later in her life when she lived in Beaver County, Oklahoma. The other family members in this picture were living in Two Buttes, Colorado, where they had moved from Oklahoma in 1928.

In this picture are four generations of our family:
  • Callie Davis (seated) at 71, 
  • her first child Bura Davis Shepard (on the right) at 40, 
  • Callie's first granddaughter (Bura's first born) Pauline Shepard Russell at 20, 
  • and Callie's first Ggrandson (Pauline's first born) Rex Russell, who looks to be less than a year old.
Rex was born in Two Buttes in the spring of 1936, so this picture must have been taken later that year or perhaps in early 1937. Rex passed away earlier this year at 75 in Red Rock, Nevada which is where his son Eric and wife Ruthie still live.
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Thursday, November 17, 2011

Grateful For Veteran Ancestors, November 22, 2011

As we express our gratitude,
we must never forget
that the highest appreciation
is not to utter words,
but to live by them.
~John Kennedy

Hello Family and Friends,

Greetings to all of you on this week of Thanksgiving. I am grateful for all my family and ancestors who have served their country, including a number of you who are readers of this blog.

I recently came across some information regarding one of our military veterans from generations past, my GGGgrandfather Edmond Owens Jr. (See first picture.) He was part of the Western Tennessee Militia in the War of 1812. The story is that he fought with Andrew Jackson ("Old Hickory") in the famous Battle of New Orleans in January, 1815. Edmond was part of a very diverse group of American soldiers who served together (Tennessee farmers, former Haitian slaves, frontiersmen, outlaws and pirates).

As a youth, Edmond Owens had moved with his parents from his native North Carolina to Davidson County, Tennessee, where his father became a farmer. Edmond was still a teen when war broke out, yet again, against Great Britain. He was one of the first to enlist for the American cause, just like his Grandfather Benjamin Owens, who served under Frances Marion, “The Swamp Fox”, during the Revolutionary War.

When Edmond and his ragtag group of soldiers first arrived in New Orleans to fight with Andrew Jackson, they did not make a good impression. They wore woolen hunting shirts and dyed pantaloons, raccoon skin caps, and belts of untanned deerskin with hunting knives and tomahawks. They had long unkempt hair and were unshaven. (Sounds to me like they would be right at home in New Orleans today; but this was 200 years ago!)

Regardless of their appearance they were good soldiers and they routed the British. One eye witness officer said, "the redcoats fell like blades of grass beneath the scythe." Their victory was a huge boost to the morale of the still young United States. Edmond and the other Tennessee Volunteers became legendary for their service to their county. After the war, Edmond Owens Jr. and his family left Tennessee and settled in Madison County, Illinois, where he received a land grant for his service with the West Tennessee Militia.
Select this link to read more about the story of Edmond Owens and the battle of New Orleans. Thanks to 3rd cousin Roberta Owens Brooks for sharing this story from

One of Edmond Owens' grandchildren was Elvira Owens, born in Illinois in 1864. (The second picture shows her headstone in the Sophia Cemetery in Beaver County, Oklahoma, where she lived her last years and where, as an older widow, she married Cal Williams. Cal didn't quite get the spelling of her first name correct!) 

Perhaps it was war stories Elvira had heard about her veteran grandfather that attracted her to a young man she had met when she was a teen, a fellow by the name of William Elmer Shepard. He had his own compelling war story. His father had died in the Civil war when he was just an infant in Indiana. As a young man he became a wanderer and found himself in 1886 in Madison County, Illinois where he met and married Elvira. They gave their only son the name William Shepard, the name of his paternal grandfather who had died in the Civil War.

To make a long story short, this William Shepard (my grandfather) moved to Beaver County, Oklahoma in the early 1900s, married Bura Davis, and with her had four children. Two of them, Elmer and Eugene Shepard (see picture), ended up serving their county in yet another war, World War II in the 1940s.

In the foregoing rambling tale is mentioned just 5 of the many family members for whom I am grateful this Thanksgiving week, because of their military service. Others could be mentioned, but these 5 vets deserve special thanks: Benjamin Owens (1734-1808), Edmond Owens Jr. (1795-1864), William Shepard (1835-1862), Elmer Shepard (b. 1918), and Eugene Shepard (1921-2003).

The following lineage begins with Revolutionary War Veteran Benjamin Owens and continues to our family's youngest member Logan Alexander Shepard.
  • Benjamin Owens (1734-1808) who married Elizabeth Owens, the parents of...
  • Edmond Owens, Sr.  (1762-1821), who married Sarah Rives, the parents of...
  • Edmond Owens, Jr. (1795-1864), who married Anna Phelps, the parents of...
  • Payton Owens (1826-1872), who married Mary Wheeler, the parents of...
  • Elvira Owens (1864-1931), who married William Elmer Shepard, the parents of...
  • William Shepard (1888-1976), who married Bura Davis, the parents of...
  • Eugene Shepard (1921-2003), who married Maida Gower, the parents of...
  • Steve Shepard (b. 1948), who married Cindy Harris, the parents of...
  • Nathan Shepard (b. 1977), who married Chenda Sou, the parents of...
  • Logan Shepard (b. 2011)
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Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Unexpected Treasures, November 15, 2011

If your descent is from
heroic sires,
show in your life
a remnant of their fires.
-Nicholas Boileau

Hello Family and Friends,

A few weeks ago when Cindy and I were in Washington, we discovered some unexpected treasures. A couple of old family photo albums had turned up in the bottom drawer of an old cabinet, beneath some material that had not been moved in several years. The albums were nearly 70 years old, and contained pictures from the late 1930s and early 1940s, including photos of my parents Maida and Eugene before they were married, some before they had even met each other.

The first picture I am including today from those old albums shows Maida Gower (on the right) with my aunt Starlene Bass Gower, wife of Maida's brother Hendrix. This picture was taken around 1940, when Maida's Gower family still lived in Oklahoma.

Most of the pictures in the albums that were found are black and white, as you might expect. Color photography would not be popular until the 1960s. And cameras were not nearly as sophisticated as they became in later years, with automatic focus and light adjustment. Some of the pictures however, like this first one, are excellent quality.

The late 1930s and early 1940s was a very unique time. There may never have been a time in the known history of our families when there was so much turmoil in our world and transition in our families. World War II was taking place, with all of the uncertainly it brought to our nation and to our families.

During these years my father's Shepard family and my mother's Gower family moved to California. The second picture, taken in Two Buttes, Colorado in the late 1930s, shows school boy Eugene Shepard with family friend (and one time girl friend?) Violet Gibbs (who later married Rod Ramirez). The Gibbs family had moved to San Diego about 1939 and wrote back to Will and Bura in Colorado encouraging them to move out west and run a boarding home just as they were doing. So many new people, military and civilian, were moving to San Diego that housing was scarce, and boarding homes were doing a great business. So in 1940 Will and Bura packed up their family, moved to San Diego and ran a boarding home for several years as they got settled in California.

In moving to San Diego, the Gowers and Shepards left behind small, depressed farming communities in Colorado and Oklahoma, as they embraced the bustling energetic city life in San Diego. They seemed to make the transition quite well, but there must have been some culture shock for Will and Bura Davis Shepard, and for Leroy and Nola Shannon Gower. The future was good for both families with employment opportunities resulting in a better quality of life.

Besides all this, it was a time for Eugene, Elmer, Maida and others to choose life partners, decisions that would alter their lives forever. Within a few years of moving to California, all 5 single children of both families got married and began families of their own.

Speaking of family treasures, I received an update recently from my cousin Dane regarding his father Elmer Shepard, who will be 94 next spring. He lives in Arbor House Assisted Living, in Mustang, Oklahoma not far from Dane and his family in Newcastle, Oklahoma. Elmer continues to have health concerns but is in a safe, comfortable place with good care. He was honored recently on Veteran's Day in a ceremony that was appreciated by the residents and their families.

Thanks for the treasure that Elmer is to our family, and for all the Veteran's among us.
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Remembering Bura Davis Shepard, November 8, 2011

From our ancestors come our names;
from our virtues come our honor.

Hello Family and Friends, 

Today is the 115th anniversary of the birth of my paternal grandmother Bura Emerald Davis Shepard, who was born November 8, 1896 in Spencer, Indiana. It was 25 years ago this fall that she died, just a few weeks short of her 90th birthday. For those of us who knew her, her positive legacy and her wonderful memory remains.

She was the oldest of the 7 children of James Brooks and Caroline Spear Davis. Her siblings were Lawrence, Myra, Jesse, Winona, Esther and Marjorie. In 1913 at the age of 16 her family migrated to Beaver County, Oklahoma, following the lead of several other Davises who had made the same move from Indiana. Beaver County, and in particular the South Flat Church of Christ, seemed to be to her liking. Because after just two years in Oklahoma she married William Shepard. He was a young man with hoosier roots himself whom she had met at the South Flat Church. Their life together lasted 61 years and resulted in 4 children: Pauline, Elmer, Eugene (my father), and Thelma.

Bura moved with her husband and family in 1928 to Two Buttes, Colorado and then in 1940 to San Diego, California where she and Will lived nearly all the rest of their days. 

The first picture shows Bura in the middle surrounded by her family in a picture that was taken about 1943 in San Diego. On the back left are her son Elmer and her husband Will. On the right are her daughter Pauline and Pauline's husband Bill Russell. In front are Will and Bura's daughter Thelma, and Pauline and Bill's children Rex and Beverly Russell. The only member of Bura's immediate family not in this picture is her son Eugene Shepard, who was probably holding the camera.

Will and Bura's descen- dants include 12 grand children, 21 Ggrand children, and 10 GGgrand children who today are scattered around the western half of the U.S. Bura is still remembered today for her small stature but strong character, her unwavering faith, and her love of family. 

The second picture was taken in 1982, just a few years before her death, and shows Bura with son Eugene on the left and son Elmer on the right.

I still have the Bible I received as a boy which came with family tree pages in the middle. I can still remember when my grandmother Bura helped me fill in the blanks of those pages some 50 years ago. As we sat at the dining room table, I wrote down unfamiliar names of people long dead, like her parents James Brooks Davis and Caroline Spear and her grandmother Margaret Williams. And I heard for the first time about far off places like Spencer, Indiana, as my journey into family history began.

Not everything about our ancestors lives within us, but I am convinced that some of the best of Bura Davis is reflected in my life. I am sure many of you can say the same.
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Saturday, November 05, 2011

Thanks To A Fantastic Family, November 6, 2011

We are linked by blood;
and blood is simply
memory without language.
~Joyce Carol Oates

Hello Family and Friends,

Greeting to all of you from San Diego, California where Cindy and I have returned after a trip to Anacortes, Washington to be with family to celebrate my mom's birthday.

Happy Birthday tomorrow to Havilah Colgain Wardle of West Valley, Utah. She is a Ggrandchild of Will and Bura Davis Shepard and the granddaughter of Elmer Shepard, the senior member of our Shepard clan. The first picture shows Havilah with her husband Kevin.

Havilah: "I've had an incredible year since my last birthday! Every year gets better and better, which makes me especially excited on my birthday to celebrate and be thankful for my life! Kevin and I celebrated our first wedding anniversary in January, and have been working together all year on our house and property. We doubled the size of our garden, upped the number of fruit trees in our yard to 19, added a crested duck to our family, and remodeled our kitchen. (I celebrated the removal of my tonsils in June by lying on the couch, drugged, watching Kevin knock out the wall between our kitchen and living room.) 

My mom Joan and I took a trip to Oklahoma to visit Granddad, and Dane, Cindy and family earlier in the year. [See picture of Havilah with grandfather Elmer and mother Joan.] In August, I attended a fantastic wedding celebration for Art (my dad) and Valery Colgain. My dad is extremely happy and loving life with his lovely wife! This year was my 10 year high school reunion. My best friends from high school and I created a fabulous impromptu reunion in Chico, CA, and I got to visit Mom on the same trip. =) I just received my business license for Tiki Dogs Grooming Salon, which I run out of our house. I'm proud to say I have some very loyal customers! I continue to paint, write, and cook for fun. 

As for my birthday celebration this year, Kevin took me to Topaz Mountain a few days ago to find my birthstone. Dad and Val are cooking dinner for us Saturday, and I've been told there may be a deep fried turkey. Can't wait! I've gotta say, these past 29 years have been fantastic, thanks to a fantastic family, and I look forward to the bright future I've been blessed with." 

The following is a lineage for Havilah that includes her Davis ancestors.
  • George Davis (1799-1843), who married Rozilla Davis (1796-1880), the parents of...
  • Alexander Davis (1819-66), who married Jane Buskirk (1823-95), the parents of...
  • Charles Edward Davis (1849-1926), who married Malinda Elizabeth Wright (1846-1920), the parents of...
  • James Brooks Davis (1870-1928), who married Caroline Matilda Spear (1865-1951), the parents of...
  • Bura Emerald Davis (1896-1986), who married William Shepard (1888-1976), the parents of...
  • Elmer James Shepard (1918), who married Beryl Swinney (1923-94), the parents of...
  • Joan Elaine Shepard (1954), who married Art Colgain (1954), the parents of...
  • Havilah Treaest Colgain, who married Kevin Wardle.
Also in the above lineage is Alexander Davis, the one for whom we are seeking to get a replacement headstone in Spencer, Indiana. Jerry Davis reports that we have received over $1000 in donations, enough to obtain the new headstone for Alexander and his daughter Elizabeth Davis. Thanks to all of you who have made a contribution to this effort! More details about this project will be forthcoming.
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