Sunday, March 31, 2013

Happy Easter! March 31, 2013

Our Lord has written
the promise of the resurrection,
not in books alone,
but in every leaf in spring-time.
~Martin Luther

Hello Family and Friends,

Greetings to all of you and Happy Easter on this beautiful spring day!

Terry Boyd. On this day of resurrection it is appropriate that we remember my uncle Terry R. Boyd (1937-2013), of Blue Springs, Missouri who passed away last Monday. Terry had been a member of our family ever since he married Thelma Shepard in San Diego back in the summer of 1958. Born in Tucson, Arizona, Terry lived for many years in San Diego where his and Thelma's two children Kim and Darren were born. Much of his life was spent in Gallup, New Mexico until he and Thelma moved to Blue Springs, Missouri last summer. 

His daughter Kim Boyd Clark informed me that Terry had requested no funeral. But there will be a grave side service April 6 at 2 pm at del Angel South Lawn Cemetery, in Tucson, Arizona, when he is laid to rest near his mother Loraine Hopkins Boyd.

The first picture is one of my favorites of Terry and is from December, 1958. It shows Terry with Bura Davis Shepard, who had become his mother-in-law just a few months earlier. Among other things this playful picture reminds me that Terry had a great sense of (sometimes irreverent) humor, which I always found to be a good balance (some would say irritant!) to the midwestern stoicism in our Shepard/Davis DNA. God bless the memory of Terry and the family he leaves behind.

Happy Birthday today to my cousin Joan Shepard of Dixon, California, one of the 12 grandchildren of Will and Bura Davis Shepard. She is the daughter of the late Elmer and Beryl Shepard and the mother of Havilah Wardle of Victoria, Texas. (See picture of Joan and Havilah in Hawaii back in January.)

Joan: Visiting with Havilah and Kevin in Oahu was the highlight of my year. They were exceptionally generous with me, teaching me the basics of scuba diving--at least enough to keep me from hurting myself! In such a few days, I experienced Earth in ways that had seemed impossible before. Being with them was a true joy and I look forward to visiting Victoria soon. Returning to Texas should feel like going home. Who knows what adventures await us all!

From the (e)Mail Box. I received an email from my nephew Patrick Shepard who said that the baby he and Nicole will be having this summer will be a boy, not a girl (as I erroneously reported in my last post). Patrick also mentioned that he was interviewed on a local Seattle TV station this past week regarding the work he does in caring for the aging. He shared with me this link where the interview can be viewed online. Way to go, Pat! You do our family proud.

Shannon Irish Ancestors. As I continue my description of the Irish ancestors in our family tree, I need to mention Thomas and Agnes (Eigness) Shannon. These two came to our shores around 1700 with Thomas' 3 brothers William, Robert and Andrew. We know more about Thomas and Agnes' family than any other Irish immigrants we can claim, thanks to the 1990 book "Shannon" by the late Dexal Shannon, which I have mentioned before in this blog.

The book catalogues hundreds of American descendants of Thomas and Agnes but has very little information about our Shannon history in Ireland. What the book does say is that Thomas Shannon's great grandfather, John Shannon, was from Scotland and immigrated to Ireland in 1602, just about a century before Thomas and Agnes crossed the Atlantic to the new world. Dexal Shannon also tells us that Thomas and family came from Munster, a province in the south of Ireland, and settled in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Unfortunately, where in the province of Munster they originated is unknown.

Select this link to read the first few pages of the Shannon book, which includes some very interesting information about the early years of our Shannon ancestors in America, including the 1737 will of Thomas Shannon.

Thomas and Agnes are two more in our pantheon of Irish ancestors. My grandmother Nola Agnes Shannon Gower, was the GGGG granddaughter of Thomas and Agnes Shannon.
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Steve Shepard

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Terry Boyd (1937-2013), March 26, 2013

If one could only teach the English how to talk,
and the Irish how to listen,
society here would be quite civilized.
~Oscar Wilde 

Hello Family and Friends,

Terry Boyd (1937-2013). First of all, I received word just last night that my uncle Terry Boyd passed away yesterday. He and wife Thelma Shepard Boyd had moved to Blue Springs, Missouri from Gallup, New Mexico just last summer. Our prayers and best wishes are with his wife Thelma, his children Kim and Darren and their whole family.

Happy 3rd Birthday today to our granddaughter Preslea Maida Shepard of Alameda, California. Preslea is the first of the 3 children of Nathan and Chenda Shepard, and the youngest Great granddaughter of Maida Gower Shepard of Anacortes, Washington, and Paula Harris of San Diego. 

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Click on the link above to see a photo presentation that celebrates Preslea's three years. If you have trouble with the link above, select this external link.

Happy First Anniversary this Thursday, March 28, to Pat and Nicole Shepard, of Bothell, Washington. They were married exactly a year ago in Cozumel, Mexico. Best wishes to the two of them for many happy years together. Pat and Nicole are expecting a baby girl this summer, their first child and the first grandchild of my brother Darrell and his wife Mary.

More Scots-Irish Immigrants. In my last post I mentioned John and Elizabeth McKnitt who came to Maryland in the 1650s from Raphoe, Ireland. In 1678 another group of Scots-Irish landed in this new world, an extended family with the last name Alexander, who also came from Raphoe, in the north of Ireland. This group included James and Mary (Maxwell) Alexander (see image of James Alexander) and their teenage daughter Jane Alexander.

There is some indication that James Alexander was a Presbyterian minister in the old country and may have been part of the religiously inspired immigration of Scots-Irish to our shores. This would have made James and Mary and family similar to the families of Thomas and Alexander Campbell, among the founders of the Stone-Campbell Movement in America (Churches of Christ/Disciples of Christ) that many of us are affiliated with today.

A few years after arriving in the new world, James and Mary's young daughter Jane Alexander (1665-1691) met and eventually married John McKnitt (Jr.) who was born in the new world to immigrant parents John and Elizabeth Wallace McKnitt. (Remember them? They were featured in my previous blog post).

The young couple John and Jane (Alexander) McKnitt (later their name became McKnight) also made their home in Somerset County, Maryland. Life was very difficult for those early colonial settlers, as is illustrated in the death of Jane McKnitt/McKnight before her 30th birthday. She is buried in Manokin Presbyterian Church Cemetery (see her burial  information here)

Widower John Jr., after the death of his young wife in 1691, and then his parents in 1708, evidently made his way a bit northward, for he is buried in Newark, Delaware and his grave can be visited at the Head of Christiana Church Cemetery. (See picture of the cemetery.)

This then is a fourth set of immigrants in our family tree who came to our shores from Ireland -- the Spears, the Grays, the McKnitts and now the Alexanders. A few more sets of Irish immigrants remain to be shared. Unfortunately the Irish information about all these ancestors of ours is scant, but at least this brief overview of them gives us an idea of how deep and pervasive our Irish roots are.
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Steve Shepard

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Spring Celebrations/Remembrances, March 19, 2013

There are two kinds of Irish families:
the hitting kind and kidding kind.
If you are fortunate
you are from the kidding kind.
P.J O'Rourke

Hello Family and Friends,

Happy Birthday today to Kaylan Shepard of Newcastle, Oklahoma. Kaylan is the daughter of Dane and Cindy Shepard and is the youngest of the 21 Ggrandchildren of Will and Bura Shepard. I received the following recently from her father Dane.

"Cindy and I are grateful for the blessings of the new year and being able to celebrate Kaylan's fourteenth birthday. We have enjoyed each stage of development that our kids have gone through and the revealing of their personality, character, and talents given them. Kaylan continues to be involved in the arts, both visual and performing. She is taking an art class and plays clarinet in the advanced home school band in Oklahoma City. She remains active in bowling and has a good chance of doing well in the sport according to her coach.  Kaylan is helpful, always says "thank you," and is fun to be around.

"I regretted to hear of the passing of Becky Davis. She was so positive, spiritual, kind, and serving. I'm glad Kaylan had the opportunity of meeting her. She will be well remembered for a life well spent in spite of dealing with physical issues and limitations. Thanks again for keeping us informed and connected.   ... Dane"

Speaking of Becky Davis, her brother Bud sent me a link to a wonderful tribute to Becky by her nephew Brent Taylor. It is called Becky Ran Home Today. 

Happy Birthday to my brother Gary Shepard this coming Saturday, March 23. Gary and his wife Cindy live in Oak Harbor. He is the oldest child of Maida Gower Shepard and her husband Eugene Shepard, who passed away 10 years ago this summer. Gary is the third grandchild of both Leroy and Nola Gower and Will and Bura Shepard.

The second picture, taken last summer, shows my brother Gary on the right with our younger brother Russell on the left.  

More Irish Ancestors. The next in our gallery of Irish immigrants is a couple by the name of John and Elizabeth (Wallace) McKnitt who came to America in the mid 1600s. This was nearly a century before the other Irish immigrants I mentioned in previous posts.

John (1630-1708) and Elizabeth (1632-1708) -- like our other Irish ancestors -- also came from the north of Ireland, but these two came from the small town of Raphoe, in County Donegal. John and Elizabeth were originally from Glasgow, Scotland, but had moved to Ireland as a young couple before making the big move to America in the 1650s.   

They settled in Somerset County, Maryland, not far from where they landed, and evidently lived the rest of their lives there. As with many immigrants from Europe, the McKnitts changed the spelling of their name. Over a couple of generations McKnitt gradually became McKnight, although in the process it had over a dozen variations (everything from McKnitt to MacNitt to MacNaught, etc.)

John and Elizabeth's graves are today in Manokin Presby- terian Church Cemetery in Princess Anne, Somerset County, Maryland. (See picture of the Church and adjoining cemetery.) 

To give you an indication of how long ago they came across "the pond", their GREAT grandson Robert McKnight (1732-1818) served in the American Revolutionary War. Robert McKnight's grandson was David Reid Shannon, who served in the American Civil War and was the grandfather of my grandmother Nola Shannon Gower.

Here then are the generations from immigrants John and Elizabeth McKnitt to the present:
  • John McKnitt (1630-1708) - wife Elizabeth Wallace (1632-1708)
  • John McKnitt (1660 - 1714) - wife Jane Alexander (1665-1691)
  • John McKnitt (1687 - 1733) - wife Catrine (1720- )
  • Robert McKnight (1732-1818) - wife Catherine (1748-1805)
  • Jane McKnight (1759-1830) - husband David Shannon (1756-1823)
  • David McKnight Shannon (1790-1860) - wife Ann Pickens (1785-1867)
  • David Reid Shannon (1821-1864) - wife Peggy Ann Gray (1829-1899)
  • Samuel Pickens Shannon (1858-1930) - wife Finetta Dearien (1861-1960)
  • Nola Shannon Gower (1903-2004) - husband Leroy Gower (1899-1974)
  • Maida Gower Shepard (b. 1924) - husband Eugene Shepard (1921-2003)
  • Steve Shepard (b. 1948) - wife Cindy Harris (b. 1948)

This Summer: Shepard/Davis/Gower Family Reunion - Saturday, August 10, 2013, Anacortes, Washington.
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Steve Shepard

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Irish Eyes Are Smiling, March 14, 2013

There is something frightful
in the way in which characteristic qualities
are repeated from generation to generation.
~Oliver Wendell Holmes

Hello Family and Friends,

This coming Sunday is Saint Patrick's Day, a day to celebrate all things Irish. As I mentioned in my last post, I plan to mention at least one Irish immigrant from our family tree in each blog post I send out this month. As with most American families we can trace our roots to a number of Irish immigrants -- I count 12 so far! And there is still more research to be done.

Irish Immigrants William and Polly Gray. Another of the relatively recent Irish immigrants in our family tree are William Gray (1771-1865) and his wife Polly, who came to America from County Antrim, (Northern) Ireland sometime around 1800. Interestingly the immigrant I mentioned in my last post, James Spear, also came from (Northern) Ireland, but from County Armaugh. Though they lived only a few wee kilometers from each other in their homeland, there is no indication they ever knew one another.

I have parentheses around (Northern) Ireland because when these two immigrants left their homeland, the island of Ireland was a united country. Today Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom, while the rest of Ireland is a separate nation.

Where our ancestors landed when they arrived in America made all the difference. William and Polly Gray appear to have arrived in the southern state of South Carolina, which is where they settled. James Spear probably arrived in a Northern port because we know he settled in Pennsylvania. While James Spear's descendants can be traced across the Northern part of the U.S., William and Polly Gray's descendants can be traced across the South, from South Carolina to Mississippi to Louisiana to Stone County, Arkansas (where my mother and both my Gower grandparents were born). Descendants of these Gray and Spear immigrants then found their way to Oklahoma in the the early years of the 20th century, and finally made their way to San Diego in the 1940s.

One of the granddaughters of William and Polly Gray was Peggy Ann Gray, whose husband David Reid Shannon died in the Civil War fighting for the South. One of Peggy and David's sons was Samuel Pickens Shannon, the father of my grandmother Nola Shannon Gower.

Here is my lineage from Irish immigrants William and Polly, including the one who, today, is their youngest descendant:
  • William Gray (1771-1865) - wife Polly Henley
  • son Richard Gray (1803-1882) - wife Mary Gilmore
  • daughter Peggy Ann Gray (1829-1899) - husband David Reid Shannon
  • son Samuel Pickens Shannon (1858-1930) - wife Finetta Dearien
  • daughter Nola Shannon (1903-2004) - husband Leroy Gower
  • daughter Maida Gower (b. 1924) - husband Eugene Shepard
  • son Steven Shepard (b. 1948) - wife Cindy Harris
  • son Nathan Shepard (b. 1977) - wife Chenda Sou
  • son William Quincy Shepard (b. 2012)

Happy Texas Birthday! Today is the birthday of Jerry Clark of Lubbock, Texas. He has lived there ever since he was in college at Lubbock Christian University, which is where he met and then married my sister Linda Shepard back in 1970. Linda died just a year later, but we have claimed Jerry as a member of our family ever since, whether he wanted us or not! ;-)

The second picture is from the summer of 2011 and shows Jerry and Cathrina on the left in Irish green (is that a star spangled shamrock?), and Cindy and me on the right. 

Today Jerry and his wife Cathrina enjoy the good life in their happy home in south Lubbock, and are the proud grandparents of 10 grandkids, who are spread out over West Texas.

Jerry: All is good on the Texas front. I just had a knee procedure to clear up some aging issues but it is spring break and I will be back at full power soon. Cat and I are really enjoying our church and the life group that meets at our house weekly. In addition to travel, grandkids and Ranger (the household German Shepherd) we keep quite busy. We will make a big trip to cruise the Danube this summer from Budapest to Germany. We are loaded and ready to conquer Europe again! Best to all and love. Hope to make it up to Anacortes in August.

Speaking of Family Reunion... Now is the time to put the Family Reunion in Anacortes, Washington on your calendar: Saturday, August 10, 2013. Here's hoping you will make plans to be there, wherever you may be coming from! More details will be forthcoming.
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Steve Shepard

Saturday, March 09, 2013

Comings and Goings, March 9, 2013

My soul longs for your dwelling place
and to see you face to face.
~Becky Davis

Hello Family and Friends,

Greetings to all of you from cool and rainy San Diego. This coming Wednes- day is the Birthday of my brother Russell Shepard and his son Steven Paul Shepard, who were both born March 13. Russ and Steve live in Anacortes, Washington. Happy Birthday to both of them!

The first composite picture shows Russ and Steve with Russ' mother Maida Shepard.

Becky Davis (1938-2013). I received word from cousin Bud Davis that his sister Becky Davis of Bartlesville, Oklahoma passed away just this past Thursday. Becky was a niece of my grandmother Bura Davis Shepard and a great lover of family history. Over the 5 years that I have written this blog Becky has corresponded with me several times and has been a great resource for her part of our family. 

The second picture taken in 2009 shows Becky in the middle with her sisters Jessie, Charlotte and Kathryn, and with cousin Dane Shepard.

Bud: Becky passed away this morning [Thursday] approximately 10 a.m. Her family, the hospice nurse and her minister were with her at the time of passing. One of the last requests was for us to read from Psalms including Psalm 23. We are sad to lose Becky but know she is singing and laughing in her unique way in heaven with the Lord.

Recently when attending a class at church on Psalms, the class members were asked to write a psalm of their own much like David did. The following is what she wrote:

My soul longs for your dwelling place and to see you face to face.  

As wonderful as earth is and all the things you give us to enjoy, 
there are times when pain and trouble overwhelm me.
I long for you.

Forgive me and give me peace 

and help me know that others are hurting more than I am, 
and think of your loving kindness, righteousness and justice 
and to be at peace.
I love you.

Our prayers and best wishes are with all Becky's family in this time of loss.

Irish Eyes Are Smiling. This month of Saint Patrick's Day I plan to mention in each blog post at least one of the Irish immigrants that are in our family tree. One of our most recent ancestors to immigrate to America from Ireland was James Spear (1768-1821) who is a relative of both Becky Davis and me. 

James Spear came from County Armaugh, (Northern) Ireland to Pennsyl- vania as a young man, probably in the 1780s, and married an American woman named Elizabeth Mcconnahaw in 1788. (With a name like Mcconnahaw, she may have been Irish herself, but I have no evidence for that.) Their grandson William Spear, born in Pennsylvania in 1832, eventually moved westward and settled in Owen County, Indiana where he met and married Margaret Frances Williams. William and Margaret's oldest child was Caroline Matilda Spear who married fellow hoosier James Brooks Davis, the grandfather of both Becky Davis and my father Eugene Shepard. 

A number of Spear descendants of immigrant James Spear settled near Spencer, Owen County, Indiana. Two years ago Cindy and I visited the Spear Cemetery, a few miles from Spencer, Indiana where laid to rest are a number of our ancestors, who are descendants of Irishman James and Elizabeth Spear. The third picture shows the peaceful Spear Cemetery outside Spencer, Indiana. (Read more HERE about this cemetery and our visit there.)
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Steve Shepard

Sunday, March 03, 2013

The Gower Big Picture, Sunday, March 3, 2013

No one's family is normal.
Normalcy is a lie invented by advertising agencies
to make the rest of us feel inferior.
~Claire LaZebnik

Hello Family and Friends,

After my last post, I decided that an overview of our Gower ancestry would be in order. Fortunately we have a pretty clear picture of the Gowers from whom Grandpa Leroy Gower was descended, going all the way back to the first arrival of the Gowers in this country in the 17th century.

Happy Birthday Kerri. First, however, I need to say Happy Birthday to one of Grandpa Gower's Ggrandchildren, Kerri Shepard Aquiningoc. She was born on this day in 1968 while her parents were on something of an extended visit to Michigan. They were there for little more than a year, when Kerri was born. My guess is that their new baby made them so homesick for California they decided to return to San Diego, which is where Kerri was raised from the age of about 3 months.

Today Kerri lives in Weatherford, Texas, not far from  Lyndsey and Mandi, her two daughters (see first picture). Mandi will present Kerri with her first grandchild this June when Mandi and her boyfriend Stephen will welcome the arrival of a baby girl. That new baby will be the first GGG grandchild of Leroy and Nola Shannon Gower (and the first GGG grandchild of Will and Bura Davis Shepard). And will make my brother Gary a Great grandpa!

Mandi: My mom is excited to be a grandma and everyone else is excited for me too. She'll be born June 19, exactly a month before my dad's birthday:) I thought that was kind of cool:) Her full name is Kambree Kay Bowman:) I'm doing great as well. Me and my boyfriend Stephen have our own place in Mineral Wells so we've been pretty busy the past couple weeks. I'm still working at Panda Express and I love it. I miss and love all you guys!!

The Gower Big Picture. Our Gower family line is actually quite impressive. Information is available that shows Grandpa Gower's paternal family line originating with Irish immigrant Abell Gower who came to America from Boulton, County Gloucester, England sometime before 1640. That is the year his son, also named Abell Gower, was born in Henrico, Virginia.

The graphic below (click on it for a larger view) shows the migration pattern for 10 generations of our Gower ancestors between 1640 and 1942. It begins in Henrico, Virginia (near Richmond) on the East Coast, and culminates in San Diego on the West Coast where Leroy and Nola Gower settled in 1942 and lived almost all the rest of their lives.

  • Point A (Henrico, Virginia) on the map is where Abell Gower (1640-1689) was born.
  • Point B (Wake County, N.C.) is where Abell and Jane Gower's son, named Abel (with one L) Gower, was born in 1690. (Read more about them in this blog post.)
  • Point C (Iredell, N.C.) is where Abel's grandson Thomas Gower (and wife Mary Robertson) lived in 1780.
  • Point D (Blount County, Tenn.) is where Thomas and Mary's son Matthew (and wife Susannah) lived in 1800.
  • Point E (Wayne, Tenn.) is where Abel and Rachel (Lay) Gower lived in 1830. (Read more about them in this blog post.)
  • Point F (Tishomingo, Miss.) is where Jackson and Mary (Anderson) Gower lived in 1850.
  • Point G (Stone County, Arkansas) is where Leroy and Ellen (Taylor) Gower lived in 1880. (Read more about them in this blog post.)
  • Point H (Okemah, Oklahoma) is where George and Serena (Turner) Gower moved in the 1920s. (Read more about them in this blog post.)
  • Point I (San Diego, Ca.) is where Leroy and Nola (Shannon) Gower settled in 1942. (Read more about them in this blog post.)
It took about 300 years for our Gower ancestors to get from Henrico, Virginia, where they arrived from England, to San Diego, where they completed their migration across the country. Like countless other families, they were driven westward, slowly at first and then jumping the final half of the country to the West Coast in the middle of the 20th century, when travel was much easier. The first half of their migration across country was by foot, on horseback, or in a horse-drawn wagon.

Since 1942 Leroy and Nola Gower's descendants have scattered, and today live primarily in Southern California/Arizona (where their son Hank Gower's family lives) or in Northwest Washington (where their 2 daughters Maida Gower Shepard and Vicki Gower Johnston now live). Other Gower descendants live elsewhere in California, Texas, Tennessee and Indiana.
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