Wednesday, May 29, 2013

A Time To Love, May 29, 2013

I find television very educational.
Every time someone switches it on,
I go into another room and read a good book.
~Groucho Marx

Hello Family and Friends,

Greetings to all of you from Alameda, California where Cindy and I are sharing some family time with Nathan, Chenda and our grandkids.

Happy Birthday today to my cousin Mike Harrell, who lives in Zionsville near Indianapolis, Indiana with his wife Carole. Mike is the son of my aunt Vicki Gower Johnston of Oak Harbor, Washington and one of the youngest grandchildren of Leroy and Nola Shannon Gower. The first picture shows Mike and Carole at Mount Rushmore last year. 

Mike: "We went on a ride on our motorcycles (Carole on a Honda ST1300 and me on my Honda GL1800) and saw just about every National Park west of the Mississippi. We still can't stop smiling from that one."

Happy Anniversary this Saturday to Desiree and Jeremy Ortiz who will celebrate 11 years of marriage. They were married in El Cajon, California in 2002. Jeremy is one of the great grandchildren of Will and Bura Davis Shepard. He and Desiree and their 5 children live in Blue Springs, Missouri.

JBD at 143. This Coming Sunday, June 2 marks the 143rd anniversary of the birthday of my great grandfather James Brooks Davis (1870-1928). I mentioned him in my last post because he and wife Callie Spear Davis were the ones who moved their family of 9 from Indiana to Oklahoma in the spring of 1913.

James Brooks Davis (see second picture from 1896) was named after his great grandfather James Brooks (1747-1790) AND after a great uncle, also named James Brooks (1784-?). JBD was born in Owen County, Indiana as was his wife Caroline Matilda Spear, and all 7 of their children. JBD's  grandparents Alexander and Jane Davis were the first of our Davis ancestors to migrate, in the early 1850s, from Ohio to Indiana.

Cambellites From Way Back. One other interesting historical note that I like to mention regarding JBD's grandparents Alexander and Jane: the records of the New Union Church of Christ in Owen County, Indiana show that Alexander and Jane were among its first participants, their membership dating from the 1850s. This indicates that our family's affiliation with the Stone-Campbell tradition (aka "the Restoration Movement") can be traced back nearly 160 years. And since Alexander and Jane may have brought their religious affiliation with them from South East Ohio -- in the region where the Restoration Movement began -- the connection may go back even further, although I have seen no documentation yet for that.

Will and Bura's Anniversary. This Sunday is also a milestone because it is the day that James and Callie Davis' oldest child (my grandmother) Bura Davis, and my grandfather William Shepard, were married in Beaver County, Oklahoma in 1915. (On the left side of this blog is a picture of my grandparents on their wedding day 98 years ago.)

Gary and Cindy's Anniversary. This Sunday is an important date for yet another reason: it is the 34th wedding anniversary of my brother Gary Shepard, and his wife Cindy A. Shepard. Gary is the oldest living grandchild of Will and Bura and (as best I can tell) the oldest living great grandchild of JB and Callie Davis. 

Gary and Cindy are originally from Southern California and were married there in 1979, but they live today in Oak Harbor, Washington where Gary enjoys the retired life (and is one of the preachers of the Goldie Road Church of Christ) while Cindy works for Schenck Packing Company. Happy Anniversary Gary and Cindy!
- - -
Steve Shepard

Friday, May 24, 2013

"More of a Love Affair", May 24, 2013

Let your religion
be less of a theory
and more of a love affair.
~G.K. Chesterton

Hello Family and Friends! 

Let me begin with a message I received this week from my cousin Dane Shepard who lives with his family in Newcastle, OK, near the destruction of this past week's horrific tornado: "We are doing well and with God's blessing we escaped the tornado as it went by 5 miles to the north... I'm grateful for all your prayers for us here and for those who lost so much."

A Fellow Blogger. I have recently come in contact with a member of our extended family who is a fellow blogger, second cousin Brent Taylor of Bartlesville, Oklahoma. Brent's grandfather Jesse Davis and my grandmother Bura Davis Shepard were siblings. They were part of that wonderful family of seven kids of James and Callie Davis, two brave parents who migrated to Oklahoma from Indiana with all their children in tow, exactly 100 years ago. (That is a memorable story in itself and needs to be celebrated and remembered this spring! Stay tuned.)

The first picture, which includes Brent's grandfather and my grandmother, is one I have not shared in this blog for several years. It shows the 7 children of James and Callie Davis and was taken around 1920 in Oklahoma. From left to right are Winona, Lawrence, Esther, Marjorie, Myra, Jesse (Brent's grandfather), and Bura (my grandmother).

Brent Taylor's blog is titled "Bespoke" and I recommend it to you. Even though the byline is a wonderful Chesterton quote -- "Let your religion be less of a theory and more of a love affair" -- his blog is an appealing collection of musings on everything from family to sports to spirituality. He is "a home builder by trade and an occasional writer when the passion stirs in me." And he does write well. I found his post about the passing of his aunt Becky Davis a few months ago not only well written, but particularly touching.

Brent has only been blogging, at least in this incarnation, since December, and my hope is that the passion to write "stirs in him" for quite sometime. I find him a positive addition to the blogosphere, and am especially interested in what he has to say since he is a part of our extended family. Kudos to his uncle Bud Davis for recommending Brent's blog to me.

A link to "Bespoke" is one more that you can find on the front page of The Shepard's Crook in the column on the left under the heading "Other Favorite Sites and Blogs".

I have never met Brent in person, even though we share a set of great grandparents, and even though our own parents (his mom, my dad) were first cousins. But my guess is that most second cousins don't know each other these days. A few years ago, fellow family researcher Nancy Bushong counted 91 great grandchildren of James and Callie Davis, Nancy's husband Jim being one of them. (As far as I know the only place in the world where they are all listed is in Nancy's 2010 book, "Davis and Beck Family History"). Of those 91, 11 are either my siblings or my first cousins, all well known to me, of course. Beyond that I cannot say that I personally know any of the others, although I have corresponded by email with a few.

Part of the reason for that is my grandparents Will and Bura Davis Shepard's move to San Diego in 1940, and the distance that put between those of us in California and the genealogical "holy land" of Oklahoma, where many, maybe most, of James and Callie's descendants live today. It is therefore particularly gratifying that Brent and I have corresponded, and hopefully will share even more by virtue of our respective online presence. The Davis heritage we share is a rich one indeed.

Some Family Happenings. Happy 20th birthday this Sunday to Brandyn Boyd of Coronado, California, the son of my cousin Darren Boyd, and one of the Great Grandchildren of Will and Bura Davis Shepard.

This coming Tuesday is the birthday of Ruthie Russell who lives in Red Rock, Nevada with husband Eric Russell. Eric is another Great Grandchild of Will and Bura Davis Shepard. Happy (special) Birthday, Ruthie!

On This Day 68 years ago my parents, Navyman Eugene Shepard and Maida Gower (see picture from 1945), were married at the El Cajon Blvd Church of Christ in San Diego, as WWII was grinding to its conclusion. Today is one more opportunity to celebrate the lives of both my parents, but in particular my father, who passed away 10 years ago this summer.  
- - -
Steve Shepard

Friday, May 17, 2013

More Family Milestones, May 17, 2013

I don’t care about whose DNA
has recombined with whose.
When everything goes to hell, 
the people who stand by you without flinching 
-- they are your family.
~Jim Butcher

Hello Family and Friends,

This has been quite a week in our family for milestones in people's lives. Here are three more.

Congratulations to Nathan Shepard of Newcastle, Oklahoma who graduates from High School today. He is the son of my cousin Dane and his wife Cindy Shepard.

The first picture shows graduate Nathan in a musical pose. Thanks to proud dad Dane for this picture.

Dane: Nathan has enjoyed his senior year and has stayed busy with home school, concurrent college courses, band, bowling, and church activities along with working part time at Chic-Fil-A. He is 17 and graduating a year early. 

Nathan will go to Florida College, Temple Terrace, FL this fall.  He is undecided as to what field he wants to major in as he has a lot of interests. He enjoys the sciences, music, and writing. We will really miss him, especially his sister, Kaylan.

Happy Birthday tomorrow, May 18, to my nephew, the over-the-top L.A. Kings Fan, Jason Shepard. It is good to know that Jason has retained at least some of his Southern California connection. He was born and raised here in San Diego, but lives and works now in Fort Worth, Texas. 

Jason is the son of my brother Gary Shepard of Oak Harbor, Washington, and Jackie Perry of Granbury, Texas. The second picture shows Jason with girlfriend Jenny in a picture taken earlier this year.

This Sunday, May 19, is the birthday of Ashlyn Ortiz. She is the second of the five children of Jeremy and Desiree Ortiz and a grandchild of Kim Boyd Clark. Strutting her stuff in the third picture is birthday girl Ashlyn.

Mom Desiree: Ashlyn is going to be 8 this Sunday! She is such a loving caring beautiful little girl! Ashlyn is currently playing soccer and loves it! She is such a great big sister to all her siblings, especially to the twins, and she is a big help to mom :) Happy Birthday Ashlyn, we love you!

Jason and Nathan are 2 of the 21 great grandchildren of Will and Bura Shepard. Ashlyn is the daughter of  Jeremy Ortiz, another one of those 21 great grandchildren. Jeremy and wife Desiree and family live in Blue Springs, Missouri.

Best wishes to these three parts of our extended family for a happy and celebratory weekend!
- - -
Steve Shepard

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Celebrating the Present, May 14, 2013

The past is a place of reference,
not a place of residence.
~Willie Jolley

Hello Family and Friends,

I suppose Willie Jolley is right in what he is saying about living in the past in the quote above. Especially when it comes to dealing with pressing, present day issues of a person's life. But I still find great value in the time I spend with family history. 

In this blog, however, I am as concerned with celebrating the present life of our family as I am with under- standing our history, as evidenced in this blog post. This week is a time for a number of family celebrations.

Today, May 14, is the birthday of my aunt Thelma Shepard Boyd of Blue Springs, Missouri, and her granddaughter Courtney Boyd, of Alpine, California. Thelma is the youngest daughter of my grandparents Will and Bura Davis Shepard. Courtney is one of Thelma's 6 grandchildren.

This coming Thursday, May 16, is the birthday of Thelma's son, and Courtney's father, Darren Boyd of Coronado, California. 

Congratulations and best wishes to this trio of Thelma, Darren and Courtney, mother-son-granddaughter, whose birthdays come so close together.

For Courtney, this past Sunday was a very special day, being her first Mother's Day. She and her boyfriend's daughter Carsyn (Thelma's youngest Great Grandchild) was just born earlier this year in January. 

The first picture (above) shows birthday celebrant Thelma with one of Jeremy and Desiree Ortiz's twins and (added to the picture) an image of little Carsyn.

Today is also the birthday of my nephew Christopher Shepard, oldest son of my brother Darrell and his wife Mary Shepard, and one of the grandsons of Maida Shepard. 

Chris and his girl friend Jessica Bell live in Seattle, Washington. The second picture shows Christopher with Jessica when they were vacationing in San Diego last month.

And finally, tomorrow, May 15, is the second birthday of our grandson Logan Shepard of Alameda, California, the older son of Nathan and Chenda Shepard. Thanks to mamma Chenda for the third picture, which shows Logan and was taken just a couple of weeks ago.

Click on Logan's picture to see a music/photo presentation celebrating his two years.

- - -
Steve Shepard

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Happy Mother's Day Tomorrow, May 11, 2013

I believe in love at first sight
because I've been loving my mother
since I opened my eyes.
~author unknown

Hello Family and Friends,

Greetings to all of you from San Diego, where Cindy and I have returned after an extended time away. The last month was a marvelous experience, especially the time we spent in Ireland, where we were privileged to visit the land of our ancestors. It was only the first of what I hope will be several genealogical journeys to a country where our roots go very deep. Select this link to see some pictures of our recent trip.

If nothing else, this trip, and the research I did prior to going, helped me to see that the family we are today reflects more of our Irish heritage that I would have imagined. Which is to say that family history is not just a study of what our ancestors were like. Just as importantly it explains a great deal about who we are today.

Happy Mother's Day this weekend to all mothers in our family! Whoever that special person is in your life who is your mother, or who has been like a mother to you, let them know of your love and gratitude. 

The first picture shows my mother Maida Shepard when she and daughter Barbara (on the right) were here in California for a visit in March of this year. In the back, photobombing, is our son Nathan.

Also in the first picture are his and Chenda's two sons, Logan (upper left) and William Shepard (eating his hat), who is Maida's youngest great grandchild. One of the family members NOT pictured here is Preslea Shepard, whose birthday we were celebrating on this occasion at Fairyland, Oakland, California

Congratulations to Lloyd Gower of Las Vegas, Nevada, who is the son of my cousin Hershell Gower. Lloyd is one of the Ggrandchildren of Leroy and Nola Shannon Gower. 

He and fiance Tammy Turman (see second picture) were married this past Tuesday in Eastern Mississippi, where Tammy lives. Best wishes and much happiness to Lloyd and Tammy!

Happy Birthday today to Nicole Haw Shepard of Bothell Washington! Nicole is the wife of my nephew Patrick Shepard. This weekend of Mother's Day will be a very special one for Nicole who will become a mother with their first baby in just a few short months! Best wishes to Nicole and to Patrick! (see picture)

Happy Birthday also today to Cindy Saunders Shepard of Newcastle, Oklahoma. She is the wife of Dane Shepard and the mother of Nathan and Kaylan. Best wishes to Cindy for a Happy Birthday, and a Happy Mother's Day, all in the same weekend!

Family Reunion This Summer. Are you making your plans for our family reunion this summer? It will be Saturday, August 10, 2013 in Anacortes, Washington at the home of Maida Shepard. All Shepard, Gower, Davis and any other family members or friends are invited to join us.
- - -
Steve Shepard

Monday, May 06, 2013

May Day, Dublin, May 6, 2013

Everyone has ancestors;
it is only a question
of going back far enough
to find a good one.
~Howard Kenneth Nixon

Hello to all of you from Dublin, Ireland where our extended vacation is nearing it's conclusion. We've had many wonderful experiences that have varied from the memorable to the forgettable to the serendipitous. In regards to the latter, we have been fortunate enough to have landed in two different cities in Europe during major holidays that we knew almost nothing about.

In both cases it felt like stepping into a big party by accident. We knew there was great meaning in the events going on around us, but we had no idea what that meaning was.

We woke up one morning in Barcelona, Spain to find out it was Sant Jordi (St. George) Day. It is similar to our Valentine's Day, but multiplied in popularity several times. Sant Jordi -- the one who slew the dragon --  is the patron saint of books and roses in Spain. How do you go from slaying a dragon to being a patron saint of books and roses, you say? I can't tell you, but stay with me here. Holidays and their histories don't always make sense (think the Easter bunny, colored eggs and Jesus' resurrection).  

On Sant Jordi Day men traditionally give women roses, and the women give men books. And they make a really big deal out of it. Imagine being in San Francisco during the World Series parade last fall and you get a feel for what the crowds were like in Barcelona on Sant Jordi Day. Book sellers, rose stands, and massive crowds of people were everywhere. It was quite an impressive sight.

The first picture shows Diane and Cindy on the morning of Sant Jordi Day in Barcelona, Spain, cavorting in front of the fabulous (and bizarre) Sagrada Familia Cathedral.

That was two weeks ago. Today we find ourselves in Dublin, Ireland. We were surprised to find out a few days ago that this is a Bank Holiday -- which on this Emerald Isle means a day of major importance. The first Monday in May is when they celebrate the Gaelic May Day festival, historically called Beltane. People are off work, schools and businesses are closed, families leave town for the long weekend -- and they celebrate the holiday in a big way.

When our Irish ancestors lived here, this day was when their cattle were driven to their summer pastures and people lit bon fires to celebrate the end of winter and the beginning of warmer weather. Today it is a national holiday for everyone to take a break from the busyness of life.

The second picture shows George and I enjoying the May Day Holiday weekend, rather naively of course, but willingly nonetheless.

Our vacation is drawing to its end in fine fashion. Our time in this land of our strong Irish roots is nearly over. We fly back to the states tomorrow, and will leave the sound of Irish brogues behind. But the wonderful memories will remain. And our sense of kinship with this land and its people is growing stronger than ever.
- - -
Steve Shepard

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

A Limerick Limerick, May 1, 2013

An Irishman's heart is nothing but his imagination.
~George Bernard Shaw

Hello to all of you from Limerick, the third largest city in the Republic of Ireland, where Cindy and I and our traveling companions are spending a few days. This was one of the cities from which some of our Irish ancestors sailed to America.

The first picture was taken yesterday from our hotel, situated over the Shannon River which you see here in the morning light. Over the Shannon Bridge moves the modest rush hour traffic as it continues through the Shannonbridge Roundabout on the right. What you can't see is Shannon Street just beyond the buildings on the right. I am guessing that Grandma Nola Shannon Gower would have been impressed.

Her Shannon ancestors were among those who came from Ireland. Dexal Shannon's family history book says that 4 Shannon brothers, sons of Robert Shannon, (including Thomas Shannon, Grandma's 4X Great Grandfather) came to America from Munster, Ireland (where Limerick is located). 
If they did, they would have sailed away from the docks that were once situated alongside the Shannon River in this first picture. Other genealogical sources say that the Robert Shannon family was from the north of Ireland, having immigrated first from Scotland and then to America, presumably from a northern Irish port. 

There is strong evidence, however, that Grandma Gower's Pickens ancestors did sail to America from Limerick. Willie and Marge Pike Pickens (who were also Grandma Gower's 4X Great Grandparents) and their 6 children made the dangerous voyage which began at the docks on the Shannon River very near where Cindy is standing in the picture below. They crossed the Atlantic in the early 1700s and settled in north Philadelphia. We don't know what motivated them to immigrate, although we do know that Willie Pickens was from France and had probably not been in Ireland very long. There may well have been economic considerations, or perhaps he was simply a wanderer who needed one more adventure.

Marge Pike, on the other hand, may have had strong family ties in the Limerick area. One of the sources I have read here in the Limerick Library says that Pike (also spelled Pyke) was a common Anglo-Irish name in this particular part of the country. 

Being here in Limerick is like stepping back in time, even though there are constant reminders that in the 300 years since the Pickenses left Ireland this land has changed tremendously. 

One of Limerick's claims to fame is the fact that it is often said to be the origin of the familiar (often bawdy) poem style called a limerick. With that in mind, here then is a (not so bawdy) limerick about Limerick.

Here's an ancestral tale that's terrific,
'Bout an Ireland town, name of Limerick,
where our kin sailed away,
in the "new world" to stay,
on a trip that was ever so epic.

Looking back o'er those 300 years,
at their faith and their pain and their tears,
the eight of them showed
in the courage that flowed,
that they merit each one of our cheers.

If we will remember the strain
of those eight family members who gained
their American dreams
from their hopes and their schemes,
then their efforts will not be in vain.

This, then, is their story so fine,
that I've taken great care to outline,
how from Limerick town,
they risked being drowned,
and fashioned a future divine.

- - -
Steve Shepard