Saturday, February 02, 2013

Happy Ground Hog Day! February 2, 2013

Home is people. Not a place.
If you go back there after the people are gone,
then all you can see is what is not there any more.
~Robin Hobb

Hello Family and Friends,

Happy Ground Hog Day! Today is the midpoint between Dec 21 and March 21, the day when winter is half over. We are now closer to the beginning of spring than the beginning of winter.

Happy Birthday Cindy! Today is the birthday of one of the Cindy Shepard's in our family -- this one being Cindy Ann Dillon Shepard, wife of my brother Gary Shepard of Oak Harbor, Washington.

Cindy: I am not sure what to say about my upcoming birthday. No big plans except I get my yearly steak and lobster dinner --  yay! I thank the good Lord every day I wake up now. We are doing well, except Gary has been down with the ikkies for close to 3 weeks now but he’s getting better. All is well here and we love and miss everyone very much and hope to see lots of faces at the family reunion this summer.

The first picture, taken last spring in Oak Harbor, Washington, shows Cindy on the right with her sister-in-law Barbara and her brother-in-law Russell.

William Elmer Shepard. On this day, 151 years ago my Ggrandfather William Elmer Shepard was born in Wabash, Indiana. He was born in 1862, the same year his father William Shepard died in the Civil War. William Elmer died in 1915 in Beaver County, Oklahoma just 4 months before his son William married a young 18 year old in his church named Bura Davis.

I mentioned William Elmer in my post last week because of a 1937 Court Case in which his will was in question. For the record, here is the last will and testament of my Ggrandfather William Elmer Shepard, as it appears in the summary of the 1937 Court Case.

- - -

1. I direct that all my just debts and funeral expenses be paid out of my personal property as soon as convenient after my decease.

2. I hereby give and bequeath to my wife Elvira Shepard all the following property, to wit: All my real and personal property except as hereinafter otherwise willed by this instrument and $1.000 in a certain insurance policy as per the conditions thereof. All of said personal property to be sold by her and the proceeds invested for her benefit until her death, and she shall have the right to sell the real property if she so desires and apply said proceeds as in the case of the personal property, and all other property, if any, not given and bequeathed to my son and daughter hereinafter named.

3. I also give and bequeath to my son William Shepard all farm machinery now on my place and $500 of a certain insurance policy as per the conditions thereof.

4. I also give and bequeath to my daughter Sadie J. Pruett all the following property, to wit: two steer calves now on my place and $500 of a certain insurance policy as per the conditions thereof.

I hereby nominate, constitute and appoint Elvira Shepard of Logan, Okla., my wife, sole executor of this my last will and testament, without bond.

- - -

It is a very simple document, reminding us that these were simple, hard working farm folk. In this will William Elmer left to his son William (26 when his father died), his farm machinery and $500 of an insurance policy. To his daughter Sadie (23 when her father died), he left two steer calves and $500 of an insurance policy. Everything else he left to his wife Elvira Owens Shepard, who outlived her husband by almost 17 years.

In an audio recording made about 1975, my grandfather William Shepard says that his father William Elmer died of some kind of stomach ailment ("cancer" he called it). Son William believed that it was brought on either by chewing tobacco, or as the result of being kicked in the pit of his stomach by a mule. In any case granddad said his father William Elmer died a painful death. This was in a time when access to medicines or even medical care was very limited on the Oklahoma plains.

The following picture was taken in 1920, just 5 years after William Elmer Shepard died. It shows some massive farm machinery, perhaps similar to what William Elmer left to his son William in the will above. Perhaps this was the machinery that was bequeathed to William.

The picture (click on it for a larger view) shows my grand mother Bura Davis Shepard in the middle holding a child -- probably her son Elmer (born in 1918). Just to the left of Bura is her mother-in-law Elvira Owens Shepard. I cannot identify the woman on the left or the woman on the right. They may have been family friends or neighbors.

Comparing this picture with others taken at the same time, it's clear that the elevated fellow in the middle is granddad William Shepard. He is standing in the pose of a conquering hero, victorious over a massive beast. With the amount of work these machines did to harvest their crop, they could be thought of as tamed beasts. These farm machines were also extremely valuable tools, hence the posture of the man on the ground at the left who appears to be guarding a great treasure.

We've come a long way as a family in the century and a half since William Elmer Shepard was born, but some of the same values remain. And for that we can be grateful.
- - -
Steve Shepard

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