Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Family Vacations, June 26, 2012

Family's more than just DNA.
It's about people who care
and take care of each other.
-agent Gibbs, NCIS

Hello Family and Friends,

Today is the 8th birthday of Kyle Christian Sauvage of Weatherford, Texas. Kyle and his older brother Nate are the sons of James and Kelly Shepard Sauvage and the grandsons of my brother Gary Shepard (see third picture below). Kyle is also the 7th of the 12 GGgrandchildren of Leroy and Nola Gower, and the 5th of the 13 GGgrandchildren of Will and Bura Shepard. 

The first picture shows Kyle during a recent baseball game. The second picture was taken when Kyle (bottom, middle), his brother Nate (on the right) and his mom Kelly (left) along with Cindy (on the right) and I spent some time together at spring training back in March in Phoenix, Arizona.

Kyle's mother Kelly wrote me recently: "Hi Uncle Steve, yes Kyle's birthday is Tuesday. We have been really busy lately. Kyle made the all star team in baseball once again this year. Every day there was either a practice or a game. He had another great season and found he has a new favorite position...centerfield. He said he wants to play centerfield like Cameron Maybin on the Padres. He is also going to summer camp every day while I'm at work. He gets to go swimming every day and a big field trip once a week. He continues to be a big Chargers and Padres fan and has a dream of being a famous baseball player for the San Diego Padres when he grows up! Everyday he gives me more reasons to be a proud mommy!"

Family Vacation Pictures. The vacation season is well under way. Recently two of my brothers, Gary and Russ, came to California on a road trip and visited Cindy and me. One day while they were here we all went to Yosemite to sight see and to relive some of our favorite memories of years past when our whole family vacationed in Yosemite.

The third picture I am including shows the 4 of us at the entrance to Yosemite. It was the first time in 39 years that we had been in Yosemite together. From left to right are my brothers Russ and Gary Shepard (Kyle's grandfather), with Cindy and me.

Do you have a family vacation photo from this summer that you'd like to share? Or, if you will be vacationing this summer and taking pictures, pass one along to me and I'd be glad to include it in an upcoming blog post.
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Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Gowers in the 1940 Census, June 20, 2012

 A family is a unit
composed not only of children
but of men, women, an occasional animal
and the common cold.
~Ogden Nash
Hello Family and Friends,

Happy Anniversary to Nathan and Chenda Shepard, who will celebrate 3 years of marriage tomorrow, June 21. They were married in San Diego overlooking the ocean on the summer solstice in 2009 just a week after Chenda arrived from Cambodia. 

The first picture shows Chenda and Nathan in a picture that was taken recently in Alameda, California where they live with their children Preslea and Logan.

More About the 1940 Census. Several weeks ago I referred the 1940 US Census and the information that I found there regarding our Shepard family who lived in Two Buttes, Colorado at the time. Recently I have found information about my mother's Gower family who lived in Oklahoma in 1940.

As I mentioned before, my Shepard grandparents moved to San Diego from Colorado just months after the 1940 US Census which was taken in April of that year. My Gower grandparents Leroy and Nola did not move to San Diego from Oklahoma until 1942, two years after the 1940 Census. Before their move they were living in the little town of Okemah, Oklahoma, about half way between Oklahoma City and Tulsa.

The second picture shows Nola and Leroy Gower with their two daughters, Maida and Melva (Vicki). Their other child, Hendrix, is not shown and may have been taking the picture. This photo was taken in San Diego not long after they left Oklahoma.

The 1940 Census records show that Leroy (age 39) and Nola (36) had three children: Hendrix (17), Maida (15) and Melva Bernice (Vicki, 6). What is not in the census, but what we know today, is that they had moved from Arkansas to Oklahoma in 1925, the year after my mother Maida was born. So they had been in Oklahoma for 15 years at the time of the 1940 Census. Family stories that I have heard indicate that times were hard for the Gowers and that Leroy in particular, had a very difficult time finding work.

The census reports that Leroy had only worked a total of 20 weeks in the year 1939, and that Nola had worked 44 weeks that year as a housekeeper, earning a total of $202. It also states that at the time of the Census Leroy had been looking for work for 36 weeks.

Leroy is listed as having completed the 7th grade in school, Nola the 4th grade. Melva (Vicki) was only 6 years old at the time and had just begun her public school education, while Hendrix and Maida had both completed the 8th grade. Maida was still in school in 1940, and was actually in the middle of her senior year in High School when they moved to San Diego in late 1942. She graduated from San Diego High just months after arriving in California.

The third picture I am including shows Maida Gower in a one of the few pictures I have which was taken in Okemah. It was taken shortly before they moved to California. Maida told me recently that she was not in a church choir but part of an Eastern Star program. For just a short time in Oklahoma she had responded to a neighbor's invitation to participate in Eastern Star.

In view of the information given in the 1940 Census regarding the Gowers, it is understandable why the family would move to California in search of work just two years later. It must have been a kind of dream come true when Leroy and his son Hendrix found good jobs just weeks after arriving. Being in California was a time of new beginnings for the Gowers. Their life on the west coast was very different from the difficult times in Oklahoma, reflected in the Census of 1940.
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Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Celebrating 300! June 13, 2012

In the midst of the chaos
When the wind is howling I hear
the ancient song
Of the ones who went before
And know that peace will come
-Susan Stauter

Hello Family and Friends,

Father's Day. This coming Sunday is Father's Day, a day to remember and honor our fathers. The first picture I am including today shows the three fathers who have been most influential in my life: my grandfathers Leroy Gower (1899-1974) and William Shepard (1888-1976), and my father Eugene Shepard (1921-2003).

Happy Birthday Scott Ortiz. Today is the 27th birthday of Scott Ortiz, the son of Kim Boyd Clark. Scott is also the grandson of Terry and Thelma Shepard Boyd. The second picture (below), taken last Christmas, shows Scott on the left with his brother Jeremy and their Ortiz grandfather Gabe, Sr.

Celebrating 300! Today marks a major milestone in the life of The Shepard's Crook: the 300th blog post. When I first began this adventure 299 entries ago, I had no idea that it would continue this long. But I should not have been surprised. Researching our family, celebrating our family's life, and sharing pictures is a never ending enterprise.

Thanks to all of you who read this blog. More and more family members are added to my mailing list all the time. Some are close family while others are distant relatives -- kissin' cousins or shirttail relatives. Some are kinfolk I have never met but who are related to people I am related to, and who share an interest in our family. I appreciate the feedback, questions and insights that I have received from many of you, and the interest you have shown in learning about our common ancestors.

I don't know what the future will bring or how long this blog will continue, but for now I will keep telling the stories and sharing the pictures of our family. They are worth telling and sharing because they are about us: you and me, the new family members, as well as the relatives long gone. They are all people whose lives and loves, whose courage and mishaps need to be told and retold, because their stories are our stories. And because in the retelling we "hear the ancient song of the ones who went before and know that peace will come."

Arrival Day. Today is the anniversary of "arrival day" in our family. It was on this day 3 years ago that Chenda Sou arrived in California from Cambodia. A week later she and our son Nathan were married, and within a year they became parents when Preslea was born. The following year they became parents again when Logan was born, and today they are within weeks of yet a third child.

This means, of course, that Cindy and I are now grandparents, something that is changing our lives and touching our hearts in ways we never imagined. The third picture shows Nathan and Chenda (in the middle), with Cindy and me on either side, and their two children Logan and Preslea (the Khmerican Cowgirl).

We celebrate with Chenda as she looks back on her first 3 years in America and as she continues her adjustment to a new family, a new culture and a new language. The learning curve has been steep, and the road has not always been easy, but we are very grateful for her and for the change she has brought to our family.
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Tuesday, June 05, 2012

A Widening Circle, June 6, 2012

I looked up my family tree
and found out that I'm the sap.
~Rodney Dangerfield

Hello Family and Friends,

Greetings to all of you from San Diego, where we are settling into our new home at the foot of Cowles Mountain on the outskirts of the city.

Happy Birthday Emma Wilk! Today is the 7th birthday of Emma Beverly Jean Wilk, the daughter of Shannon Wilk of Atchison, Kansas, and the granddaughter of my cousin Beverly Russell Wilk (1939-1974).

Shannon: "Yes Emma will be 7. Still trying to wrap my head around it. Where did my little baby go?? She is doing wonderful. Having a good summer so far. They got out of school a week early. They start back on the 9th of August. I think that is too early, but I don't make the rules....lol. I'm doing well, working and taking care of Emma. Enjoying nice weather, though it was quite hot yesterday. I think we hit 90. Still no rain, and the grass, and trees and fields are sure in need of it. I will admit I'm needing some good summer thunderstorms. They get pretty amazing here in Kansas. We have a new neighbor family and they have a 14 year old girl. Emma has found her a new BFF."

Emma is in the very middle (#7) of the 13 GGgrandchildren of Will and Bura Shepard. These GGgrandkids are a very special group who fills the rest of us with hope for our family's future. It's a group that embraces the youngest family members among us, from Lyndsey Aquiningoc (born 1990) to Dominic Ortiz (born 2012).

The first picture I am including today shows Emma Wilk with her cousin Ciara Ortiz. The second picture shows Emma's grandmother Beverly Russell with her brother Rex Russell. This picture was taken in San Diego sometime in the late 1940s when Bev was about the same age that her granddaughter Emma is today.

The Circle Widens. It is always gratifying when, in the midst of my online family research, I hear from people who are related to me in some way. Just the other day I got a message from a woman who is a GG granddaughter of John Pouty Williams and his wife Sarah, who are my GGG grandparents. I have written a number of times in this blog about John Pouty and Sarah. They are among our progenitors who lived outside Spencer, Indiana and are buried in the Pleasant Grove Cemetery there. They were the Ggrandparents of my grandmother Bura Davis Shepard.

The relative who contacted me is Betty-Jean Girouard, from Montreal, Canada. Betty-Jean's grandmother, Minnie Mary Williams was a first cousin of Callie Spear Davis (my Ggrandmother). Minnie Mary Williams (1900-1992) with her husband Alexander Kembel (see 3rd picture, from 1919), were early 20th century immigrants to Canada, where some of their descendants, including Betty-Jean, live today.

Connecting with people in this way not only gives me the simple joy of corresponding with folks who are related, albeit distantly, it also widens the circle of people who are researching some of the same people I am. And with a widening circle comes the hope of more discoveries and insights about people in our family trees.
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Friday, June 01, 2012

Three Anniversaries, June 1, 2012

Don't worry that children never listen to you;
worry that they are always watching you.
~Robert Fulghum

Hello Family and Friends,

10 Years. Today is the 10th wedding anniversary of Jeremy and Desiree Ortiz of Blue Springs, Missouri. Jeremy is one of the Ggrandchildren of Will and Bura Shepard. He and Desiree's new twin boys --  Isaac and Dominic -- were born April 23 and are the youngest of the 13 GGgrandchildren of Will and Bura Shepard. They are also the first set of twins among all their descendants.
Grandmother Kim reported just yesterday on Facebook: The babies are doing great. Isaac weighs 4 lbs 10 oz and Dominic weighs 5 lbs 1 oz. Dominic is a little bigger and has chubbier cheeks but other than that they are the same. They have been in the NICU over 5 weeks now. Grammy goes every day, now that I can hold them and feed them. What a fun job -- it's so beautiful there. It will be so nice to get them home pretty soon. We were told not to take them to church or other places with a lot of people until the end of summer.
Jeremy and Desiree's other children are Ciara, Ashlyn and Damian. Best wishes to Jeremy and Desiree for a happy anniversary in the midst of all that is happening in their lives these days.

33 Years. Tomorrow, June 2, is the 33rd wedding anniversary of my brother Gary Shepard and his wife Cindy Dillon Shepard. The second picture shows Gary on the left and Cindy on the right, with our father Gene Shepard in the middle. Even though Cindy's sweatshirt says Anacortes, this picture was taken at our vacation home in Arnold, California, Thanksgiving 1990.

Gary and Cindy had a beautiful garden wedding in our backyard in Los Alamitos, California in 1979, but will celebrate the event tomorrow in Oak Harbor, Washington, where they live. Cindy had much needed surgery on her shoulder about two weeks ago, and is recovering nicely. Happy Anniversary to them!

97 Years. Tomorrow, June 2, we remember the 97th anniversary of the wedding of William Shepard and Bura Davis who were married in Beaver County, Oklahoma in 1915. They were married on the 45th birthday of Bura's father James Brooks Davis (1870-1928).

Will and Bura's wedding 97 years ago was significant because it connected the Shepard and the Davis family lines that have been so important and valuable to our heritage. A key person in that part of our heritage was Bura's father James Brooks Davis, who was born June 2, 1870. He and his wife Callie Spear Davis are noteworthy "transitional people" in our family tree. They uprooted their family of 9 in 1913 and moved 900 miles from Spencer, Indiana, where their families had been settled for several generations, to Beaver County, Oklahoma where some of their extended family still live today.

The third picture is one I received earlier this year and shows William and Bura Davis Shepard sitting in a beautiful old car with their three children. From left to right are Eugene on the hood, Pauline on the running board and Elmer sitting behind his father William. This picture was taken about 1926, when the family lived in Beaver County, Oklahoma.

Will and Bura likewise were transitional folks who -- a generation later -- uprooted their family in 1940 and moved them 1,200 miles to San Diego where they settled for the rest of their lives, and where some of their descendants still live today. Will and Bura were the first of the Shepards and the Davises to move to Southern California.
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