Saturday, April 27, 2013

On To Ireland, April 28, 2013

We have always found the Irish a bit odd. 
They refuse to be English.
~Winston Churchill

Greetings to all of you from Palma, Spain, on the beautiful Mediterranean Island of Mallorca, 130 miles or so from mainland Spain. It has been 3 weeks since Cindy and I began this adventure with our friends Papa George and Yaya, and each step of the way has held new and different experiences.

The first picture shows the four of us last week when we visited the local Fortress in the coastal city of Malaga, Spain, the fourth largest city in the country.

On To Ireland. Later today we begin the last leg of our journey when we make our way to Ireland. As you might have guessed, our visit to the green Isle was one of the reasons I have been sharing with you my discoveries of the Irish immigrants in our family in recent weeks. Each of the ancestors I have found has caused me to grow more excited about setting foot for the first time in this country where our roots run deep, as they do for many Americans.

I have known for most of my life that there was Irish blood in my veins, primarily because of what I heard about the heritage of my maternal grandmother Nola Shannon Gower. I never knew her to be very knowledgeable about the specifics of her Irishness, probably because her Irish ancestors came to America 5 generations before she was ever born. 

Ironically, one can find more about her ancestry online today in a few minutes than she ever knew in her 101 year lifetime. She has a whole gaggle of Irish immigrants among her ancestors, including the following: Thomas and Eigness Shannon, William and Margaret Pickens, William and Mary Baskins, George and Lydia Davis, John and Elizabeth McKnight, James and Mary Alexander, and William Gray (all of whom I discussed in recent posts). When you add in their children and other family members who crossed the Atlantic with them, you get a total of 29 different Irish immigrants. If her family tree were a Christmas tree it would be ablaze with Irish lights!

On the other side of my family, my Grandmother Bura Davis Shepard has at least one Irish immigrant that I have found so far in her family tree, James Spear, who is in the line of her mother Caroline Spear Davis.

Because the Irish immigrants in our family tree came across the Atlantic so long ago, it has proven difficult to learn much about their lives in the old country. Yet I am still confident that next week's visit to Ireland will be worthwhile, even if it is only the beginning of a search for our roots in the British Isles.

Nola Shannon Gower (1903-2004). Speaking of Grandma Gower, today, April 28, is the 110th anniversary of her birth. She was born just outside Mountain View, Arkansas in 1903, to a family which had been settled in northern Arkansas for several generations. She died in 2004 in Anacortes, Washington where she lived with her daughter and family for the last few years of her life.

The second picture shows a young grandmother Nola Shannon Gower with her first grandchild Hershell Gower in about 1944, not long after she and grandpa Leroy Gower moved their family to San Diego. I like this picture because, having recently become a grandparent myself, I now know the joy and satisfaction she is experiencing in this picture and the wonderful feeling of holding the hand of one's own grandchild.

Eugene William Shepard (1921-2003). Today is also the anniversary of the birth of my father Eugene Shepard who was born in Beaver County, Oklahoma 92 years ago. This summer will mark 10 years since he died. He will be remembered in a special way by all those who gather for our family reunion in Anacortes, Washington on August 10.

Beverly Russell Wilk (1939-1974). Yesterday, April 27, was the anniversary of the birth of my cousin Beverly Wilk who, when just a year old, moved from Two Buttes, Colorado with her family and lived the rest of her life in San Diego. Her daughter and granddaughter, Shannon and Emma Wilk, live today in Atchison, Kansas.

The third picture is one I included in this blog several years ago. Taken in the mid 1950s it shows Eugene Shepard and his niece Beverly Russell just outside the El Cajon Blvd Church of Christ, where most of the Shepard and Russell family attended at that time.

These are three different family members from three different generations. All three were loved dearly and are fondly remembered because each of them blessed the lives of those who knew them in unique ways. 
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Steve Shepard

Sunday, April 21, 2013

A Tangle of Pickenses, April 21, 2013

Don't stop thinking about tomorrow...
Yesterday's gone, yesterday's gone.
~Fleetwood Mac

Hello Family and Friends,

Greetings once again to all of you from the Cruise Ship Legend as we continue our way across the Atlantic. Our time on board this ship is nearly complete as we are just a few days from our final cruise destination of Barcelona, Spain.

Good Things Come in Twos. This week in our family we celebrate two different sets of twins. This Tuesday, April 23, Dominic and Isaac Ortiz turn one year old. They are the sons of Jeremy and Desiree Ortiz of Blue Springs, Missouri and the grandsons of Kim Boyd Clark. Thanks to mom Desiree for this first picture which shows the twin smiles of healthy brothers Dominic and Isaac. Happy Birthday to them!

This Thursday, April 25, twins Susan Clark Cox and Amanda Clark Farrell turn a magical 33. They are the daughters of Jerry Clark and Jane Clark Brock of Lubbock, Texas. Happy Birthday Susan and Amanda!

A Tangle of Pickenses. In my last post I mentioned John and Eleanor (Baskin) Pickens, whose son John Pickens II (1730-1795) was an accomplished captain in the American Revolutionary War. Another son of John and Eleanor was Andrew Pickens, the GG grandfather of Nola Shannon Gower, my grandmother, and therefore the one from whom we are directly descended.

John Pickens' BROTHER Andrew Pickens (1699-1756) (not to be confused with his SON also named Andrew Pickens (1730-1795)) had a son of his own, also named Andrew Pickens (1739-1817). You may have to read the previous sentence a few times to get the gist of it. It is a very confusing family situation because John Pickens' son, his brother, and his brother's son all had the same name -- Andrew Pickens.

In our family today my brother Russ has a son with my name -- Steven Shepard -- and it can sometimes be confusing. In generations to come, our descendants may have a tough time keeping us straight. But the Andrew Pickens family phenomenon of the 18th century is a real puzzler with 3 men in close genealogical proximity having the same exact name. Throw in a few other men in our tree with similar names (Andrew Pickens Shannon -1809-1857, and Robert Andrew Pickens - 1644-1699), and you get a tangle of Pickenses that takes a keen eye to keep straight!

Part of the reason I even mention all this is because the Andrew Pickens whose dates are 1739-1817 was a General in the American Revolution and was something of a war hero (just like his cousin John Pickens II, mentioned above). General Andrew Pickens made quite a mark in South Carolina, where that part of our family settled after leaving Pennsylvania. In northwest South Carolina there is a town of "Pickens" and a county of "Pickens" named for him. He was born in Pennsylvania where his immigrant parents Andrew and Nancy Pickens settled after coming over from Ireland.

The second picture is from a portrait of General Andrew Pickens of South Carolina. (If only General Pickens had seen the twins in the picture above, he might have cracked a bit of a smile!) Andrew married a woman named Rebecca Calhoun, who was quite an impressive woman in her own right. The following is from "The Early Families of the South Carolina Low County" and documents the remarkable story of Andrew and Rebecca.

The Romance of General Andrew Pickens and Rebecca Calhoun. When the Pickens family moved from Pennsylvania to South Carolina, they settled in the small town of Abbeville. Later young Andrew had a prominent part in bringing about a permanent settlement with the Cherokee Indians. During the time of the Indian uprising, an event occurred destined to greatly effect his life. Among those who escaped the Indian massacre was Ezekiel Calhoun and his pretty young daughter Rebecca, just 15 years of age. During their three years there young Andrew and Rebecca became friends. There was nothing unusual about that and nothing was thought about it at this time as he was away the greater part of the time. The separation of the young couple was not for long. His friendship with Rebecca grew into love and they were married March 19, 1765, at the home of her father. They were married by Justice of the Peace William Calhoun. Both families were loyal church members, but ministers were few and hard to reach. Tradition says it was the largest wedding party ever assembled in upper South Carolina up to this time. The festivities lasted three days without interruption. The beauty of the bride was the theme of all talks and the wedding was long talked of as the most important event of the decade. Andrew bought 250 acres of land and they built a house which is described elsewhere. She was said to be one of the most gifted women of her time, and was an equal match for her famous husband.

Next time: More about Andrew Pickens and his cousins, and more about our travels around Europe.
- - -
Steve Shepard

Sunday, April 14, 2013

"She Is On Her Way", April 14, 2013

Another world is not only possible,
she is on her way.
On a quiet day
I can hear her breathing.
~Arundhati Roy

Hello Family and Friends,

Greetings to all of you once again from the Carnival Ship Legend as we continue our way across the Atlantic. We lumbered out of Florida on this monstrosity a week ago and now she is on her way to Spain where, in another week, our cruise will conclude.

This past Friday we stopped for a day at the Islands of Bermuda where Papa George was kind enough to take this picture of Cindy and me, which shows our ship in the background.

Happy Birthday Rachel! Today is the birthday of Rachel Jane Shepard, the daughter of my brother Darrell and his wife Mary. She is on her way to becoming 26. Rachel lives in Kirkland, Washington and is the Director of the Business Office at a Senior Living facility in the Seattle area.

The second picture, taken last fall, shows Rachel in the middle with Jessica Bell on the left and Nicole Haw Shepard on the right.

The Irish Count Grows. I keep finding Irish immigrants among our ancestors. In this post I will mention several more, including Eleanor Baskin and John Pickens. They are among the same cluster of immigrants I mentioned in my last couple of posts, all of whom are ancestors of my grandmother Nola Shannon Gower.

John Pickens (1710-1771) was one of the children of Willie and Marge Pickens, the couple I previewed recently. After settling in the area north of Philadelphia in the early 18th century, son John met and then married a young woman named Eleanor Baskin. She had come from Ireland with her own family in the early 1700s and may not have even known John Pickens or his family until they met in America. Three of John's brothers had married girls from the George Davis family, at least partly because they were all part of the same Church north of Philadelphia. John Pickens, however, chose a different family -- the Baskins -- from which to find his life partner.

Eleanor Baskin (1716-1781) came across the Atlantic with her parents William and Mary Baskin. They had come from Donegal, in the north of Ireland, a county from which several of our Irish ancestors originated. So Eleanor and her parents William and Mary are 3 more Irish folks in our family tree who placed their hopes in the promise of the new world and ventured across the Atlantic. Their spirit -- and the spirit of so many Irish immigrants to America -- was the same one felt by the contemporary writer Arundhati Roy in the quote at the top of this post. They were all people who knew that another world was not only possible, she is on her way.

John and Eleanor's son John Pickens II (1730-1795) was an accomplished captain in the American Revolutionary War. I will share more specific information about Captain Pickens as I discover it. Another son of theirs, Andrew Pickens, is the one from whom we are directly descended. Next time I will share more about Andrew Pickens, his son, also named Andrew Pickens, and his nephew, also named Andrew Pickens.
- - -
Steve Shepard

Sunday, April 07, 2013

"In the End the World Will Break Your Heart", April 8, 2013

To be Irish is to know
that in the end
the world will break your heart.
~Daniel Patrick Moynihan

Hello Family and Friends,

Greetings to all of you from Tampa, Florida where Cindy and I find ourselves today. We are getting ready to board a Carnival Cruise ship that will set sail later today for a trip across the Atlantic to Europe. We are with our friends Papa George and Yaya, experienced world travelers -- and fun people -- who will help make this a memorable experience.

Happy Anniversary! Speaking of memorable, tomorrow is the 7th wedding anniversary of Jerry and Cathrina Clark of Lubbock, Texas who were married back in 2006 in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Best wishes to both of them for many more happy years together.

More About the Irish. In my last post I mentioned the family of William and Margaret (Pike) Pickens, ancestors of ours who immigrated to this country from Limerick, Ireland in the early years of the 18th century. 

I told you that two of Willie and Marge's grandchildren (first cousins) married each other, illustrating how some Irish immigrants remained in family clusters and intermarried. Another anomaly of their
 family is that at least 3 of their children married members of one other family, by the name of Davis.

Their first child, Israel Sidney Pickens, married Martha Davis; their 3rd child, Robert Pike Pickens, married Miriam Davis; and their 4th child, Andrew Pickens, married Nancy Ann Davis. All three Davis girls were presumably children of Church friends George and Lydia Davis. (George's name was spelled "Davice" in Ireland, and became "Davis" in America.) It appears that the Pickenses and the Davises -- both immigrant families -- settled near each other in Pennsylvania, and in three instances their children hooked up with each other.

This reminds me of two of my Grandmother Bura Davis's sisters, Winona and Myra Davis, who married Kilpatrick brothers back in the early 20th century. Curiously, the last name of the women in both instances is the same -- Davis. But the 2 Davis girls married their Kilpatrick boys in Oklahoma, 200 years AFTER the 3 Pickens boys married their Davis girls in Pennsylvania. I have found no indication that these sets of Davis folks -- 200 years separated -- were related. But it certainly is a remarkable coincidence nonetheless.

George and Lydia Davis (the parents of those 3 girls who married the Pickens boys) were Irish immigrants themselves, and can be added to our growing list of immigrant ancestors, with the total now reaching 20. So we can see again that there was such a large number of Irish immigrants in Pennsylvania at this time that they tended to live near one another and in some instances even married within their families.

Two of the aforementioned Irish immigrants who had come over separately, but had met and married each other in the new world, were Israel Sidney Pickens and his wife Martha Davis. They married in Bensalem, Bucks County, Pennsylvania in 1726, but migrated southward beyond Washington, D.C. into Virginia. Israel died in 1749; Martha died in 1774. They are both buried at Cub Creek Cemetery in Charlotte County, southwest of Richmond,Va. (see picture of the cemetery - photo by Cathy Powers).

Here then is a lineage that traces our immigrant ancestors George and Lydia Davis to the present.

George Davis married Lydia Emory, 

their daughter Martha Davis married Israel Sidney Pickens, 
their daughter Anna Pickens married Matthew Gillespie, 
their daughter Mary Gillespie married Andrew Pickens, 
their daughter Anna Pickens married David McKnight Shannon, 
their son David Reid Shannon married Peggy Ann Gray, 
their son Samuel Pickens Shannon married Finetta Dearien, 
their daughter Nola Shannon married Leroy Gower, 
their daughter Maida Gower married Eugene Shepard, 
their son Steve Shepard married Cindy Harris, 
their son Nathan Shepard married Chenda Sou, 
and their younger son is William Quincy Shepard (b. 2012)

Over the next few weeks Cindy and I, with our friends, will be at sea, or traveling around Europe, but I plan to continue these blog posts with information about our Irish heritage. There are still some remarkable family stories to share!
- - -
Steve Shepard

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

More Irish Blood, April 3, 2013

A person is better than their descent.
~old Irish law

Hello Family and Friends,

Happy Birthday Nate! Today is the birthday of our son Nathan Shepard of Alameda, California. Nathan works for Wells Fargo Bank in San Francisco. He and wife Chenda are the proud parents of three little ones, Preslea, Logan, and William Shepard, who -- have I told you this before? -- are the most beautiful grand kids in the world. They are among the participants in the following magical photo presentation that celebrates Nathan's birthday.

- - -

Happy Birthday Ciara! Tomorrow is the birthday of Ciara Ortiz, one of the GGgrandchildren of Will and Bura Shepard and the granddaughter of Kim Boyd Clark. Ciara lives with her family, including mom and dad Desiree and Jeremy Ortiz, in Blue Springs, Missouri. Thanks to Desiree for this picture that shows birthday girl Ciara.

Desiree: Thursday Ciara will be 11. I just can't believe how much she has grown up. Next year she will start middle school and has been selected to be in honors math. She is very excited. Jeremy and I are very proud she is such a smart girl:) We will be traveling to Tucson on Ciara's birthday so we celebrated early with the family by enjoying dinner at Samari Chef a Japanese steak house where they cook your meal in front of you. We had a great time!

Happy Birthday Jim! Tomorrow is also the birthday of my cousin Jimmie Gower, the second son of the late Starlene and Hank Gower. Jim and his wife Cheryl live in Ft. Mohave, Arizona. He is the second grandchild of Leroy and Nola Shannon Gower.

More Irish BloodSpeaking of Nola Shannon Gower, I want to mention a few more of our Irish ancestors -- these are named Pickens -- from whom we are descended through her.

My grandma Gower's father was Samuel Pickens Shannon. His middle name came from his grandmother Anna Pickens. She was the GG grandchild of William Henry Pickens and his wife Margaret Pike, who came over from Ireland in the early 1700s, during a time of massive Irish immigration. 

In Dexal Shannon's family history book that I mentioned in my last post, it is stated that Irish immigration was such that by 1749 a fourth of the entire population of Pennsylvania was Scotch Irish. (And you think we've got an immigration problem today!?) Our family history witnesses to that statistic, with numerous Irish immigrants settling in that state, among them William and Margaret Pickens. They are also examples of how Irish immigrants often remained in family clusters for generations, and sometimes intermarried. Two of William and Margaret's grandchildren, Anna Pickens and Matthew Gillespie (first cousins) married each other, an anomaly which (thankfully!) I have not discovered elsewhere among our ancestors. Not yet, anyway.

Margaret Pike Pickens was from the town of Limerick, in the south of Ireland, while her husband William Henry Pickens was originally from La Rochelle, France. He immigrated first to Ireland before he and Margaret came across the Atlantic to the new world and settled north of Philadelphia in the Neshaminy Creek area. 

William and Margaret came to America in the first decade of the 1700's, with their 6 children. In the book Scotch Irish Pioneers by Charles Bolton -- you can read it online here -- William and Margaret are listed in the records of a Presbyterian Church at Neshaminy Creek, Pennsylvania, as having been welcomed into the congregation in 1722 as "persons from Eerlant (Ireland)". Also listed as having been welcomed "by certificate" are their son Israel Sidney Pickens, their son-in-law Matthew Gillespie, and Israel's in-laws, George and Lydia Davis, all of whom are found in our family tree, and are people from whom we are directly descended.

I have more to say about these Pickens ancestors, but I will save that for my next post. For now we can add to our growing list of Irish immigrants, William and Margaret and 6 of their children: Israel, Margaret, Robert, Andrew and twins Lucy and Anne, all of whom came over from Ireland. Not long ago I numbered our Irish immigrant ancestors at 11, but that number has now grown to 18.

- - -
Steve Shepard