Monday, December 26, 2011

Happy New Year, 2012!

One resolution I have made,
and try always to keep:
To rise above the little things.
~John Burroughs

Hello Family and Friends,

Greetings to you from San Diego on this last day of 2011!

Congratulations to Chenda Shepard whose birthday is tomorrow, New Year's Day! She and husband Nathan with their children Preslea and Logan live in Alameda, California. Chenda and family have been in San Diego all this past week enjoying this week after Christmas. The first picture shows Chenda and Nathan when they visited the Grand Canyon back in November.

Looking Ahead. With the new year 2012 beginning tomorrow I am thinking about several things related to family.

Babies! I think about the excitement already surrounding the new babies that will be born this year in our family. Chenda and Nathan are expecting a new baby this coming July to make 3 babies in 3 years. Jeremy and Desiree Ortiz (Kim Clark's son and daughter-in-law) of Blue Springs, Missouri are expecting twins this coming June. Are there any others expecting? Congratulations to those families.

Our favorite nonagenarian. At the other end of the spectrum, I think about the senior member of our family, Elmer Shepard of Norman, Oklahoma, who will turn 94 in May and who is in the sunset years of his life. I am grateful for his son Dane and family who are caring for him. The second picture shows Elmer and Dane in a recent picture.

Also as 2012 begins, I think about the fact that it has been four years since I began writing this genealogical blog. It was the last week of December, 2007 that I first began writing about our family. My original intent was to write for about 6 months, until the Family Reunion in the summer of 2008. But I soon discovered that there is much more to be said about this wonderful, crazy, diverse family of ours. And so the stories and pictures continue, and will for God only knows how long.

And finally, I think about 2012 being the 70th anniversary year of my Gower grandparent's move from Oklahoma to San Diego. They followed my Shepard grandparents by just 2 years in a move that was strikingly similar, not least of all because it was the final family move they made. I look forward to several opportunities to comment on this anniversary as we move through 2012. The third picture shows my grandparents, Leroy and Nola Shannon Gower, in 1971.

For now, may 2012 be a very prosperous and joyful year for each of you!
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Tuesday, December 06, 2011

The Work of Christmas Begins, December 26, 2011

When the song of the angels is stilled,
When the star in the sky is gone,
When the kings and princes are home,
When the shepherds are back with their flock,
The work of Christmas begins.
~Howard Thurman

Hello Family and Friends,

Greetings to all of you on this day after Christmas from San Diego, where the stockings are no longer hung, the presents are all unwrapped and, in the words of Howard Thurman, "the work of Christmas begins."

Anniversary. Tomorrow Cindy and I will celebrate 43 years of marriage. It has been quite a ride, from that Friday evening in 1968 when we were married at the La Mesa Church of Christ, to the day Nathan was born in the spring of 1977, to our retirements just a few years ago, to the births of our grand kids, and all the many, many experiences in between.

The first picture was taken earlier this month and shows Cindy and me enjoying ourselves on the beach in Carlsbad, California. (Thanks to friend George Andrews for taking this picture.)

In 2008, on our 40th anniversary, we were just a family of 3: the two of us and our foot loose and fancy free son Nathan. In the 3 years since then our little family has evolved beyond our imagination, and there are now 6 stockings over the Christmas fireplace, and next Christmas we will make room for yet another!

The second picture I am including was taken Christmas day at Granny Harris's house on Burgundy Street in San Diego. It shows Cindy in the middle holding our grandson Logan. Next to her is her mother Paula Harris with me in front. On the left is our son Nathan holding daughter Preslea, and momma Chenda in front of them.

Birthday. Wednesday, December 28, is the birthday of my late aunt Pauline Shepard Russell, who was born 95 years ago this week in Beaver County, Oklahoma. She was the first child of William and Bura Davis Shepard and the first grandchild of James Brooks and Callie Davis. At 11 years old her family moved to Two Buttes, Colorado where a few years later she met Bill Russell. One week after her 18th birthday she and Bill were married in Colorado. In 1940, after their two children, Rex and Beverly, were born they moved with the rest of Pauline's family to San Diego, California where they lived the rest of their lives. Pauline died in 2000.

The third picture I am including was taken in a restaurant in San Diego about 1942, during World War II. It shows Pauline Shepard Russell and her husband Bill Russell on the right. On the far left is Pauline's brother Eugene Shepard in his Coast Guard uniform. A reliable source tell me that next to Pauline is Bill's sister Louella Russell with her husband, also in uniform.

Pauline and Bill Russell have two grandchildren alive today, Shannon Wilk who, with daughter Emma, lives in Atchison, Kansas; and Eric Russell, who with wife Ruthie, lives in Red Rock, Nevada.

What is the "work of Christmas" that Howard Thurman refers to in the lines at the top of this post? In the rest of his poem he tells us.

The work of Christmas begins:
to find the lost,
to heal the broken,
to feed the hungry,
to release the prisoner,
to rebuild the nations,
to bring peace among the people,
to make music in the heart.

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Born On Christmas Day, December 19, 2011

Love came down at Christmas;
love all lovely, love divine.
~Christina Rosetti

Hello Family and Friends,

Greetings to all of you on this special week of Christmas! Nathan, Chenda, Preslea, Logan, Cindy and me -- together we wish you Happy Holidays and a very Merry Christmas!

On Christmas Day, 1888 my grand father William Shepard was born in Alton, Illinois. He was the one chosen by a Davis woman (Bura Davis) to be her husband, which forever connected the Davis family to us Shepards. Even later, their son Eugene Shepard was the one chosen by a Gower woman (Maida Gower) to be her husband, which forever connected the Gower family to us Shepards.

William Shepard's family left his hometown of Alton, Illinois in the early 1900s and settled in Beaver County, Oklahoma, where William met and then married Bura Davis in 1915. 13 years later, with three children in tow, they moved to Two Buttes, Colorado where their fourth child Thelma was born. In 1940 William and Bura and their family made a major move from Colorado to San Diego, California.
Thelma and William Shepard, about 1940
The picture of William that I am including today was taken around the time they made that move and may even have been taken in the mountains of California as they made their way into San Diego. This picture shows 4 year old Thelma Shepard, with her father, a spry 51 year old William Shepard.

What I like about this picture is that it represents my grandad very well: dressed like a workingman, stern in demeanor, resolute in appearance, careful guardian of his youngest child, a no-nonsense kind of guy. What I also like about this picture is that it shows my grandad as I never knew him. I was born just 8 years later, but I do not remember him standing up so straight and appearing to be so slim and robust. He is carrying his 51 years well.

My grandad William learned how to be a man from his father, William Elmer Shepard, who did not have a happy upbringing himself. William Elmer never knew his father, who died in the Civil War. He was raised by a older step father who made life so unbearable that William Elmer ran away from home as a teen, never to return. (Read more about that here.) William Elmer's unhappy childhood was probably reflected in his son William's sometimes serious and humorless demeanor. It may also help to explain why William, as a young family man, was something of a wanderer like his father and was away from his family for extended periods of time.

His wanderings made for great storytelling later in life. I remember him telling us grand kids about carrying a sixshooter, riding a horse, and chasing after the renegade Indian Cochise in the dangerous badlands of the southwest, and other such stories. On the other hand his wanderings must have made life difficult for his family that was left at home.

William and Bura Shepard, Christmas Eve, 1973
In a recording from near the end of his life, grandad William talks with great fondness about his father William Elmer and the warm relation- ship they shared in the months leading up to William Elmer's death from cancer in 1915. William missed something in his early life by being raised by one who had been a fatherless war baby. But he was compensated by the influences of a mother, Elvira Owens, and a wife, Bura Davis, who both were from strong, healthy families. See picture of William and Bura Shepard on Christmas Eve, 1973.

As we near the 123rd anniversary of William's birthday I am grateful for the memory of my grandfather, and for the love of family he learned and shared with his children and grandchildren.

May your Christmas be filled with warm memories and happiness!
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Saturday, December 03, 2011

"Thanks To All Willing To Share", December 12, 2011

OUR history begins before we are born.
We represent the hereditary influences of our race,
and our ancestors virtually live in us.
James Nasmyth

Hello Family and Friends,

Greetings to all of you wherever you may be, and however you may be surviving the December rush through Advent and Christmas.  Cindy and I find ourselves in Carlsbad, California vacationing this week with friends George and Diane. We are all of 30 miles from home!

I have written before about a family project to replace the headstones for two ancestors of ours, my GGGgrandfather Alexander Davis (1819-66) and his daughter Elizabeth (1843-67). They both reside beneath weathered and broken headstones in Spencer, Indiana. My second cousin Jerry Davis was the instigator of this project this past summer. He now tells me that we have raised the total amount needed from descendants of theirs. The headstone has been ordered and its creation is underway!

Jerry: I am getting anxious to get the stone in place and completed. I certainly appreciate all your assistance in helping to bring this to completion and that Alexander and Elizabeth will have a permanent grave marker. A BIG Thanks to all those who were willing to share with their contributions to see this completed.  We are blessed with such a loving and caring family.

Following is a list of relatives who were willing and able to contribute. Their names are in bold. Pictured are five of the donors: Jerry Davis, Stan Guy, Becky Davis, Gary Millikan and Thelma Boyd.

Descendants of Alexander Davis/ Charles Edward Davis/ John E. Davis:
  • Stanley Guy (Dallas, Texas) - grandson of John Davis  
  • Jon D. Guy (Arnett, Ok.) - grandson of John Davis
  • Milfred W. Davis (Amarillo, Texas) - son of John Davis
  • William P. "Bill' Davis (Alamogordo, N.M.) - grandson of John Davis   
  • Jerry D. Davis (Grand Prairie, Texas) - grandson of John Davis  
Descendants of Alexander Davis/Charles Edward Davis/James Brooks Davis:  
  • Jim and Nancy Bushong (Oologah, Ok.) - great grandson of J.B. Davis
  • Becky Davis (Bartlesville, Ok.) - granddaughter of J.B. Davis
  • Gary Millikan (Tulsa, Ok.)- grandson of J.B. Davis
  • Steve and Cindy Shepard (San Diego, Ca.) - great grandson of J.B. Davis  
  • Thelma Shepard Boyd (Gallup, N.M.) - granddaughter of J.B. Davis
  • Norma Lou Allen (Bolivar, Mo.) - granddaughter of J.B. Davis
  • Shirley Borgstadt (Springfield, Mo.) - granddaughter of J.B. Davis 
  • Carolyn Roberts (Bolivar, Mo.) - granddaughter of J.B. Davis
    Note: Norma Lou, Shirley and Carolyn's contribution is in memory of their mother Nona Davis Kilpatrick and sister Venita Kilpatrick Bridger.

Descendant of Alexander Davis/Charles Edward Davis/Thomas Davis:
  • Julie Coble Vandagriff (Bedford, Indiana) - great granddaughter of Tom Davis

Descendants of Alexander Davis/Samilda Dorcas Davis Medaris/Ada Medaris Johnson:  
  • Kellene Hardy (Richardson, Texas) - granddaughter of Ada Johnson
  • Jaydene Morrison (Nederland, Colorado) - granddaughter of Ada Johnson

Descendant of Alexander Davis/Salathiel George Davis/Harry Davis:  
  • Scott G. Davis (Oklahoma City) - grandson of Harry Davis
The donors above represent a unique cross section of descendants of Alexander and Jane Davis. Not a single person in this list knows every other person on the list, but we are all related nonetheless. And we are now united as family in a common cause. The bottom line though is that this project is a wonderful tribute to our Davis ancestors who lived through some great hardships and left a wonderful legacy for which we can be very grateful. Replacing their headstones not only witnesses to the impact they made, it also shows the high esteem in which we hold them.

And maybe it indicates, as James Nasmyth says in the quote above, that "our ancestors virtually live in us".
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