Thursday, December 27, 2012

"A World Lives In You", December 28, 2012

You can kiss your family good-bye
and put miles between you,
but you carry them
with you in your heart,
because you do not just live in a world
but a world lives in you.
~Frederick Buechner

Hello Family and Friends,

Greeting to you as 2012 draws to a close and a new year is about to begin.

Pauline Shepard Russell. On this date, December 28, in 1916 -- 94 years ago -- my aunt Pauline Shepard was born. She was the first child of William and Bura Shepard, who had just gotten married the year before in Beaver County, Oklahoma. When Pauline was just 11 years old her family moved to Two Buttes, Colorado, where she finished school and then, just a week after her 18th birthday, married Bill Russell in 1935. Pauline and Bill in 1940 moved to San Diego where they raised their children and lived the rest of their lives. The San Diego area is where she died in 2000.

Pauline and Bill had two children, Rex and Beverly, who are both gone now, but two of Bill and Pauline's grandchildren remain -- Eric Russell of Red Rock, Nevada, and Shannon Wilk of Atchison, Kansas. Shannon has one daughter, Emma, who is the lone Ggrandchild of Bill and Pauline Shepard Russell.

The collage above includes my aunt Pauline Shepard Russell in the middle, in a picture taken in San Diego about 1945. Across the top are her Ggrandmother Maggie Williams Spear (about 1880), her grandmother Callie Spear Davis (in 1896) and her mother Bura Davis Shepard (in 1915). Across the bottom are her daughter Beverly Russell Wilk (in 1959), her granddaughter Shannon Wilk (in 2008), and her Ggranddaughter Emma Wilk (in 2011). This is a unique collection of pictures. Nowhere else in my entire photo collection do I have pictures of 7 consecutive generations of women. The lives of these 7 stretch over a period of 167 years.

Happy Anniversary! Yesterday was the wedding anniversary of my wife Cindy and me. We were married 44 years ago at the La Mesa Church of Christ near where we live today in San Diego. Thanks to Cindy for putting up with me for all these years. The second picture, which was taken back in October while we were on vacation, shows Cindy and me. Thanks to our friend Linda Tanner for taking this picture.

Happy Blogiversary. It was 5 years ago today that I first began writing about family in this blog. Since that time I have written 302 posts on my Shepard, Davis, Gower and Shannon families with other ancestors included along the way. I have posted over 700 different family pictures and have told endless stories -- all of them true; many of them factually accurate! ;-)

How much longer this kind of thing will go on, I cannot say. What I do know is that our family life goes on, and children continue to be born with no end in sight! And our knowledge of our ancestors continues to grow. It appears there will never be an end to what needs to be said about who we are, who we have been, and what we make of it all.
- - -

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas! December 24, 2012

Christmas is the season of joy,
of holiday greetings,
of gift-giving,
and of families united.
~Norman Vincent Peale

Hello Family and Friends,

Greetings to all of you on Christmas Eve! May this holiday be a joyful one filled with happiness and wonderful family gatherings. 

The first picture shows a couple of the Christmas celebrants at our house this year. In the Santa hats are William Quincy Shepard and his big sister Preslea, in the lap of their mother Chenda.

Tomorrow is the birthday of my Grandfather William Shepard (1888-1976), who was born 124 years ago in Alton, Illinois on Christmas Day, and who died in San Diego in 1976. He and my grandmother Bura Davis Shepard spent 61 years together, during which they raised 4 children, welcomed the arrival of their 12 grandchildren, and were still around to celebrate 6 of their 21 Ggrandchildren. There are 51 branches on our family tree that are the direct result of their life together. 

The second picture shows William Shepard's grave. He and his wife Bura are buried side by side in a beautiful corner of Greenwood Cemetery in San Diego, in a section with a dozen or so other Shepard, Gower and Russell family members.

I mentioned the book Shannon in my last post, written by Dexal Shannon. In its index are 25 different William Shannons. "William" is also a common name on the Shepard side of our family, nearly as common as it is on Gower/Shannon side.

William Quincy Shepard, born this past summer, is a descendant of both the Shepards/Davises and the Gowers/Shannons. His name sakes are his GGgrandfather, his GGGgrandfather, and his GGGGgrandfather, all of whom had the name William Shepard, as you can see in the 8 generation lineage below. The fourth name in the list is the William Shepard whose birthday we remember on Christmas day. Grandad would be proud that his name is being carried on, into the 21st century, by the youngest Shepard among us.
  • James Shepard (1813-1887), wife Hannah -?- (1818- 1872)
  • William Shepard (1835-1862), wife Mary Sprague (1840-1919)
  • William Elmer Shepard, (1862-1915), wife Elvira Owens (1865-1931)
  • William Shepard, (1888-1976), wife Bura Davis (1896-1986)
  • Eugene William Shepard (1921-2003), wife Maida Gower (b. 1924)
  • Steven Dale Shepard (b. 1948), wife Cindy Harris (b. 1948)
  • Nathan William Shepard (b. 1977), wife Chenda Sou (b. 1980)
  • William Quincy Shepard (b. 2012)
The picture below shows 6 consecutive generations that are included in the lineage above. The William Shepard whose birthday we remember tomorrow is in the middle of the top row.

In the top row, from left to right, are Elvira Owens Shepard (in 1919), her son William Shepard (about 1930), and his son Eugene Shepard (in 1951). On the bottom row are me, Steve Shepard (in 1981), my son Nathan Shepard (in 2011), and his son William Quincy Shepard (in 2012). 

As you can tell, I have taken a liking to this format showing consecutive generations of family members. It gives us a feel for the flow of our family history and enables us to see the similarities (or differences) in appearance over the generations. (Note: the baby in Elvira's lap in this montage is her grandson Elmer Shepard, 1918-2012.)

Blessings to all of you this Christmas!
- - -
Steve Shepard

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Sam Shannon: Child of the Civil War, December 18, 2012

Not a fairer star will ever shine,
In the deep blue vault of heaven divine.
~from the book Shannon

Hello Family and Friends,

In my last two blog posts I told the story of Civil War soldier David Reid Shannon and his widow Peggy Gray Shannon. The 7th of their 9 children was Samuel Pickens Shannon, my Ggrandfather. 

Samuel was born in Monroe County, Mississippi on Feb 15, 1859, just as the country was ramping up for the Civil War. He was named after one of his mother's brothers -- Samuel Gray -- and his father's mother -- Anna Pickens.

His earliest years were remarkably eventful. When just a year old his parents David and Peggy Gray Shannon took their family of 6 children and migrated from Northeastern Mississippi to the town of Claiborne, just west of Monroe, Louisiana. Leaving Northeastern Mississippi was a good idea. Within a few years it would be a dangerous hot spot of Civil War fighting.

In Louisiana, when Samuel was just two years old, his mother Peggy gave birth to another son, George Henry Shannon, who lived just 3 months, dying in October, 1861. This was the first, but unfortunately not the last tragedy of Samuel's young life. About this same time Samuel and his family were uprooted and moved again, this time to Sugartown, in central Louisiana, some 150 miles south.

In April, 1864, when Samuel was just 5 years old, his father left for the war, and the family never saw him or heard from him again. In June of 1865 they finally did get confirmation that he had died and was buried in Chalmette National Cemetery in New Orleans.

At about 8 years old, Samuel was uprooted yet again. When the war finally ended and it was safe to travel, his Gray grandfather and 3 of his uncles from Arkansas took Samuel, his mother and the other children, and moved them to the family homestead near the town of Timbo in Stone County, Arkansas. Actually, a history of the Shannons says that Peggy's family came and "brought Peggy and some of her children to... her father's homestead located southeast of Timbo, Arkansas".

Evidently not all of Samuel's siblings made the move to Arkansas. Some of them must have stayed with friends or relatives in Louisiana, splitting up the family, which was unfortunate but probably not too uncommon in war torn families like this one. Samuel, however, the youngest son of the late soldier David Reid Shannon, did make the move with his mother and lived the rest of his life in Stone County, Arkansas.

In 1881 Samuel married Finetta Clementine Dearien, who was born in Stone County, Arkansas during the Civil War and who had her own tragic childhood story to tell. You can read about it here. Sam and Finetta Shannon (see the first picture of the two of them, in the 1920s) had 9 children, the youngest of whom was my grandmother Nola Shannon Gower. After a tumultuous early life Sam lived into his 70s and died in 1930. He and Finetta are both buried in Gray's cemetery near Timbo, Arkansas.

The second picture, taken about 1940, shows two of Sam and Finetta Shannon's grandchildren, both of whom were born in Stone County. On the left is Maida Gower Shepard who now lives in Anacortes, Washington. On the right is her cousin Bernice Johnson Beckham, who still lives in Stone County, Arkansas.

The Shannon Book. Much of the information in this post and the previous two -- regarding Samuel Pickens Shannon and his parents David Reid and Peggy Gray Shannon -- comes from the book Shannon, by Dexal Shannon (1931-1992).

It is a self published book, the second edition of which he finished in 1990, not long before he died in 1992. In the introduction he mentions that the first edition had been published in 1981. In the book he catalogues the many descendants of Thomas and Agnes Shannon, who had come to America around the year 1700 from Munster, Ireland.

The index of the book lists 1,057 different individuals with the last name Shannon, not to mention at least as many other descendants who have different last names. The total of those referred to in the book must be at least a couple of thousand. Some of you who are readers of this blog may also have a copy of Dexal's book. If any of you know where other copies may be obtained, please let me know. I have had people ask me where they can get a copy. 

This was one the earliest family histories that was done on a personal computer. Hard copies are valuable, but a digital copy -- if it can be found -- would be even more valuable.

We are greatly indebted to the late Dexal Shannon for this rich resource on the history of our Shannon family, especially as it tells us about people like Samuel Pickens Shannon and his parents, and the details of their remarkable lives.
- - -

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

A Vet's Widow Remembered, December 12, 2012

It is not until much later,
as the skin sags and the heart weakens,
that children understand;
their stories sit atop the stories
of their mothers and fathers,
stones upon stones,
beneath the waters of their lives.
~Mitch Albom

Hello Family and Friends,

Today -- 12/12/12 -- is the day some people believe the world will end, according to their reading of the ancient Mayan Calendar. I have my doubts about that. And if you are reading this, my doubts must be well founded. But today I am remembering a woman whose world, as she knew it, did end some 150 years ago.

She was my GGgrandmother, Peggy Gray Shannon (1829-1899). Her husband, my GGgrandfather David Reid Shannon, died in the Civil War and is buried in Chalmette National Cemetery in New Orleans (see first picture). Peggy was the mother of 7 children between the ages of 16 and 2 when her husband died. Actually she and David had had two other children, Martha in 1857, who died at 6 months old, and George in 1861, who died at 3 months old. So she was no stranger to deep sorrow and tragic loss.

She and her children lived in the small, farming com- munity of Sugar- town, in central Louisiana, during that difficult time when David was away. Furthermore, in those days there were very few support structures for widows and their children. To make matters even worse, her husband had served on the side that LOST the war, so whatever assistance might have been given by the US Government was very slow in coming, if it came at all. The sorrow and loss experienced by her and untold thousands like her, is hard for us to fathom.

One redeeming factor was the strong sense of family that many people felt. Peggy's father Richard Gray and 3 of her brothers and their families had migrated around 1860 from Monroe County, Mississippi to Stone County in Northern Arkansas where they homesteaded land west of Mountain View. After the war, Peggy's father, and her brothers James, Samuel and Lawson traveled the 400+ rugged miles south to Louisiana, gathered up Peggy and her children and moved them to their homestead in northern Arkansas.

As best we can tell, Peggy seemed to do well with her parents and brothers and their families in Arkansas. She lived there till she died in 1899, just short of her 70th birthday, and is buried in an unmarked grave in Gray's cemetery near Timbo in Stone County. A few years before her death, she applied for a widow's pension, which was finally made available to some Confederate widows by the US Government in the 1890s. In her application for a pension she signed documents with an "X", probably indicative of her illiteracy. If David too was unable to write, it may explain why Peggy went 14 months without hearing anything from her husband while he was away at war.

Stone County, Arkansas, where Peggy and children settled after the war is where our Shannon and Gower ancestors lived for several generations. The second picture shows my grandparents Nola Shannon Gower (one of Peggy's grandchildren) and her husband Leroy Gower. It was taken in the early 1920s, probably in Stone County, Arkansas, where they were both born (in 1899 and 1903) and where they were married (in 1921 - could this be their wedding picture?). Stone County is also where their first two children were born, Hendrix (in 1922) and Maida (my mother, in 1924). Some of our kin still live in Stone County, Arkansas, some 150 years after our Shannon ancestors first settled there.

We are indebted to Civil War widow Peggy Gray Shannon and her family for their strong spirit that enabled them to survive the tragic loss of their husband and father during one of the darkest times in our nation's history. Their story teaches us something today about making the most out of life even when the world around us collapses and life seems at its worst.
- - -

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Celebration and Remembrance, Dec 5, 2012

You are born into your family
and your family is born into you.
No returns. No exchanges.
~Elizabeth Berg

Hello Family and Friends,

Happy Birthday, Pat! Today, Dec 5, is the 22nd birthday of my nephew Patrick Shepard, who is a Ggrandchild of both Will and Bura Shepard, and Leroy and Nola Gower. Patrick is the younger son of my brother Darrell and his wife Mary.

Pat and his wife Nicole live in Bothell, Washington. He is the administrator of a health care facility in Edmonds, while Nicole is a nurse in Kirkland. They were married back in March, they bought a new home in August, and now their lives will be changed even more, as Pat explains below.

Pat: "On my birthday Nicole and I will go out to dinner and then on Saturday we will have some friends and family over for dinner. This will be my last birthday celebration without a little one around. Nicole is 9 weeks pregnant and we are so excited about it! We have our first ultrasound appointment this Friday! We are comfortable in our new home and now need to start setting up a nursery in one of these empty rooms!"

Lincoln. Cindy and I recently saw the new Steven Spielberg movie Lincoln, an excellent film about Abraham Lincoln's struggle to pass the 13th amendment to the constitution, abolishing slavery. The film is very well done, historically accurate, and is masterfully crafted. For a 2 1/2 hour movie, it is wonderfully paced. It is about the power, the promise and the pitfalls of the political process as it tells about events of great importance in our family's history.

Another Civil War Ancestor. Watching the film prompted me to do more research into ancestors who served in the Civil War. I have mentioned a number of times in this blog about GGgrandfather William Shepard (1835-1862) who died in the service of the Union Army. But until very recently I did not know the story of another Civil War soldier in our family tree. On the Gower side of my family is GGgrandfather David Reid Shannon (1821-1864), who served in the Confederate Army.

David Shannon and his wife Peggy Gray were originally from Monroe County, Mississippi but had moved to Sugartown, Louisiana by the time of the war. At nearby Alexandria, David entered the Confederate Army in April, 1864 at the age of 43. At the time, he and Peggy were the parents of 7 children, ranging in age from 15 to 1 1/2 years old. (They had a 6 year old named Samuel Pickens Shannon, who would later become the father of Nola Shannon Gower, my grandmother).

At 43 years old, with a wife and 7 children, one can understand why David waited until 1864, rather late in the war, to answer the call to serve. By that time several hundred thousand men had died or been wounded, and the Confederacy was desperate for more soldiers. David served in the Louisiana Cavalry, 2nd regiment, as a Cavalry Scout for military operations in Western Louisiana and Eastern Texas.

After hearing nothing from or about her husband for over a year, his wife Peggy went to Alexandria, Louisiana in June, 1865 and met with a man who had served with her husband. He gave her the tragic news that David had gotten sick and had died in November of 1864, 7 months previous! News did not travel fast in those days. According to the National Archives, 1st Sargent David Reid Shannon of the 2nd Louisiana Cavalry died at New Orleans of "Chronic Diarrhea and Intermittent Fever" on November 8, 1864.

Heartsick, Peggy left Alexandria and returned home to Sugartown to her 7 children, to figure out how to put her family's life back together. I will share more of the story of David Reid Shannon and his widow Peggy in my next blog post. The second picture shows Chalmette Cemetery in New Orleans, where David Reid Shannon was laid to rest 148 years ago this month. Thanks to KWRorie for sharing this picture online.

The following is a 13 generation lineage of Patrick Shepard through Civil War soldier David Reid Shannon to the oldest Shannon ancestor I know about, Irishman John Shannon.

  • Patrick Shepard (b. 1990) (wife Nicole Haw) the son of...
  • Darrell Shepard (b. 1954) (wife Mary Medina) the son of...
  • Maida Gower Shepard (b. 1924) (husband Eugene Shepard) the daughter of...
  • Nola Shannon Gower (1902-2004) (husband Leroy Gower) the daughter of...
  • Samuel Pickens Shannon (1858-1930) (wife Finetta Dearien) the son of...
  • David Reid Shannon (1821-1864) (wife Peggy Gray) the son of...
  • David McKnight Shannon (1790-1860) (wife Anna Pickens) the son of...
  • David Shannon (1756-1823) (wife Jane McKnight) the son of...
  • Samuel Shannon (1727-1811) (wife Jean Reid) the son of...
  • Thomas Shannon (1686-1737) (wife Eigness Reid) the son of...
  • Robert Shannon (1630-1724) (wife Annal --) the son of...
  • John Shannon (1601-16??) the son of...
  • John Shannon (1571-1605)
- - -
Steve Shepard