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)
- - -

1 comment:

Derek Owen said...

Hi Steve,

I cant figure out how to msg you any other way so here goes. My name is Derek Owen and I am a distant relative to you thru our common ancestor Edmond Owen(s). I had no idea there was a Jr in the story as my family's version is that my great great great grandfather and TN Volunteer Edmund Owen fought at the Battle of New Orleans. I am a descendant of Edmond Jr's little brother David Owen (1810-1893). I see you have the name listed as "Owens". Where did you get your info on the Owens? Id like to get more as I'd like to go back further. I am aware our branch of the Owen family came to the new world in 1641. Can you put me in contact with your source as we are clearly talking about the same people. My email is thanks Derek