Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!, Nov 27, 2013

Thou hast given so much to me, give one thing more, a grateful heart. 
Not thankful when it pleaseth me, as if thy blessing had spare days, 
but such a heart whose pulse may be thy praise.
~George Herbert

Greetings to all you on the day before Thanksgiving 2013. May tomorrow be a happy, family filled holiday, wherever you may be to celebrate it. 

This Friday is the birthday of my great grandmother Callie Spear Davis (1865-1951). She and great grandfather James Brooks Davis were both native Indianans who were raised near Spencer, Indiana but who migrated in 1913 to Beaver County, Oklahoma. 

Their family included Callie's special needs brother Clayton, as well as their 7 children, the oldest of whom was my grandmother Bura Davis. A number of other Davis family members had already moved from Indiana to Oklahoma, so they were reuniting with a whole clan of Davises who were new settlers to the Sooner state.

Callie, who was born at the tail end of the Civil War, was 47 when she moved to Oklahoma, and lived the rest of her life there. Her life spanned quite an era in American life, from the Civil War to the Oklahoma expansion to the entire first half of the twentieth century. She died in 1951 and is buried in Sophia Cemetery in Beaver County alongside her husband James. 

The first picture taken in 1922 in Beaver County, Oklahoma, shows Callie Spear Davis on the right at 56 years old. Sitting on the running board of their old family car, Callie is with her husband James and the first 5 of their 31 grandchildren: Eugene Shepard (left), Pauline Shepard (top), Elmer Shepard (middle), Geneva Kilpatrick (lower middle), and Bernard Kilpatrick (lower right). 

This Friday is also the birthday of Kim Boyd Clark and her grandson Damian Ortiz. Damian is the son of Jeremy and Desiree Ortiz, also of Blue Springs, while Kim is the daughter of Thelma Shepard Boyd and the wife of Jeff Clark. Kim is also one of the great grandchildren of Callie Spear Davis.

Kim, writing from Blue Springs, says: A lot of excitement happening here. Damian and I will have our birthday dinner at .......not yet decided. Jeremy and Desiree bought a beautiful 4 bedroom house about 15 min away from us and will be moving on Thanksgiving day. We will have Thanksgiving dinner at my moms. Amanda has a wonderful boyfriend that we all really like and I think will be married pretty soon. Scott has a very sweet girlfriend that will be coming with him for Christmas. I am enjoying my hobby of auctions and estate sales and resales in my booth at the Brass Armadillo antique mall. Damian is so busy with school and sports. He is playing basketball right now.

Best wishes to Kim and Damian for a very happy birthday.

- - -
Steve Shepard

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Grateful for Family, November 20, 2013

There is one day that is ours.
Thanksgiving Day is the one day
that is purely American.
~O. Henry

Hello Family and Friends,

Greetings to all of you on this week before Thanksgiving. As I think back on the last year, and consider the family experiences that we have had, and the writing and research I have done, I find myself very thankful for particular family members of recent times and long ago. 

A Never Ending Miracle. I am grateful for the new babies among us, especially those born this year. First, born in San Diego in January, was Carsyn Slaughter, the daughter of Courtney Boyd and her boyfriend. Carsyn is one of the growing number of Great Great Grandchildren of Will and Bura Shepard. 

Kambree Kay Bowman, daughter of Mandi Aquiningoc and Steve Bowman, was born in June in Weatherford, Texas. She is a Great Great Great Granddaughter of both Leroy and Nola Gower and Will and Bura Shepard. 

The third baby born this past year in our larger family is Logan Joseph Shepard, who is a Great Great Grandson of both the aforementioned Gowers and Shepards. Logan, born this past July was born to Patrick and Nicole Haw Shepard of Bothell, Washington.

This first picture shows the newest members of our extended family, Carsyn, Kambree, and Logan. 

These babies remind us that this marvelous thing we call family is a never ending miracle, and will continue far longer than most of us will. They also are that needed reminder that family research is not just an old and dusty endeavor; it is as new and fresh as a baby's dreams. Thank God for the youngest ones among us!

Irish Ancestors. I am also grateful for Irish ancestors who sacrificed much so that we might live in this country. When we visited Ireland earlier this year and saw the land of many family members who came before us, it was a humbling experience. What we learned about how they lived there, and the difficulties of travelling across the Atlantic, was eye opening. Thank God for the numerous folks in our family tree who sought a better life in America.

Gratitude for Our Dearly Departed. I am also very thankful as I remember the lives of two family members we said goodbye to this year. Becky Davis of Bartlesville, Oklahoma, died in early March. She was one of my dad's first cousins who loved family history and lived a remarkable and courageous life. The second picture shows Becky as a young girl with her father Jesse Davis. 

My uncle Terry Boyd of Blue Springs, Missouri, died later in March. He and my aunt Thelma are the Great Great Grandparents of little Carsyn who was born in January. 

I am grateful to God for both of them. Just like the new babies mentioned above, they remind me that family is a never ending miracle. But it is also a fleeting thing that passes away sooner than we ever expected. Thanks be to God for memories of family and the joy that is ours.

- - -
Steve Shepard

Wednesday, November 13, 2013, November 13, 2013

There is no cure for birth and death
save to enjoy the interval. 
~George Santayana

Hello and greetings to all of you from warm and pleasant San Diego. I would like to share with you today about a wonderful online resource for family researchers, called Find-A-Grave. Even though I have been aware of it for a few years, I have just begun to understand how truly valuable it is.

At one can find information on over 100 million people who are buried in cemeteries around the U.S., and around the world. Anyone can add a record for their own ancestors who may not yet be found in their growing database.

I have mentioned Find-A-Grave before in this blog when it was a resource for information on ancestors of ours. For example, several months ago I wrote about some of the earliest ancestors we are aware of in the line of my grandmother Nola Shannon Gower. Grandma Gower's 6X great grandparents are 17th century Irish immigrants John and Elizabeth McKnight, who are buried in Manokin Cemetery in Princess Anne, Maryland (See picture). Pictures and other invaluable information about these progenitors of ours can be found on at this link.

After the visit I made this past September to my Shannon great grandparents' graves in tiny Gray Cemetery outside Mountain View, Arkansas, I discovered first hand what a remarkable resource it can be, and how easily it can be used. Gray Cemetery is a very small burial ground on private property and is of great value to the descendants of the 30 or so Gray and Shannon folks who are buried there. But for most people there is not much of importance there, hence it has never been listed on

But after visiting Arkansas in September and finally locating Gray Cemetery (you can read that story here), I decided to add this cemetery to Findagrave and include the four people I knew who are buried there. Shortly thereafter some other folks came forward with info about other family members in Gray Cemetery and they added that information. You can now go to the Gray Cemetery page and see information about 8 persons who are buried there, including pictures. 

You can also use the links listed with the people there to go to the memorial page for their family members. For example, on the Gray Cemetery page, you can select "view all interments" and select Great Grandmother Finetta Dearien Shannon to view her memorial page, with pictures and information. On her page you can select the link for Grandmother Nola Shannon Gower, and be taken to her memorial page, which shows you her picture and grave in San Diego at Greenwood Cemetery, which gives you links to other family members.

Here are just a sampling of some of the many memorial pages of family members in Find-A-Grave, with links, pictures and other family data:

By the way, if you click on one of the last two links above, you will see that the picture of my Davis Great Grandparents was put on Find-A-Grave by Nancy Bushong, a second cousin on the Davis side of our family.

Find-A-Grave is a great source for finding where people are buried, getting information about ancestors of long ago, and adding information that you might have, for others to see. All in all it is a boon to family researchers and will become and even greater resource in the future, as people become more aware of it and add to it. 

Do you have loved ones who have passed away that you can add to Find-A-Grave? It is easier than you might think.
- - -
Steve Shepard

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Celebrate Good Times, Come on! November 6, 2013

Ooowee, ooowee baby, 
Won't you let me take you
on a sea cruise.
~Huey Smith 
(1957 song)

The Real Cause Célèbre. Cindy and I and our mums continue to enjoy ourselves on the beautiful waters of the Pacific Ocean, even though our adventure will draw to a close later today. I mentioned in a recent post that we are on this Cruise to celebrate the birthday of my mom Maida, which we did celebrate in style just a few days ago. But the real impetus for this trip was the 90th birthday of Cindy's mom Paula Harris of San Diego. Her birthday was actually back on the 18th of August, but a birthday that big takes time to celebrate properly. Hence this Hawaiian pacific adventure. Happy 90th Birthday to Paula!

The first picture shows the four of us, including new nanogenarian Paula Harris, second from the left.

Havilah Colgain Wardle. Today, November 6, is the 31st birthday of Havilah Colgain Wardle, who lives with her husband Kevin in Victoria, Texas. 

Havilah is the daughter of Joan Shepard of Dixon, California and Art Colgain of Kaysville, Utah. She is the first grandchild of Elmer and Beryl Shepard, and the 9th of the 21 Ggrandchildren of Will and Bura Davis Shepard. Happy Birthday Havilah! The second image shows Havilah in a picture that was taken this past summer.

Speaking of Bura Davis Shepard... this Friday, November 8 is the 117th anniversary of her birth. She was born in 1896 in Spencer, Indiana, and died in October, 1986. She was the oldest of the 7 children of James Brooks and Callie Spear Davis. In 1913 their family of 9, including 16 year old Bura, moved to Beaver County, Oklahoma, where she would soon meet her future husband William Shepard. When they married in 1915 the branch of the Davis family to which I belong began. 

Bura lived for 27 years in Oklahoma and Colorado, and then most of the rest of her life in San Diego, where she is buried today in Greenwood Cemetery, with a number of other family members. She is remembered with affection by all those who knew her, including, perhaps, her great granddaughter Havilah (above) who was 4 years old when Bura died.

The third picture shows Bura in the middle surrounded by several family members. On the left is her husband William, daughter Thelma, and her youngest grandchild (at the time) Dane Shepard. On the right is her son Eugene, his wife Maida, and me and my brother Gary in the front.

This picture was taken at a family Thanksgiving gathering in San Diego in 1953. It reflects accurately Bura's place at the center of our family's life, with granddad not quite in the center but just a little behind her, yet in many ways just as loved, as is indicated by his daughter Thelma holding tightly to his arm. This image also shows Bura's somewhat frail physical frame, yet there is a certain strength evident in her careful holding on to my shoulders, almost as if she is pushing me downward to hold me in place. In some ways her emotional grip on me is felt even yet. The smiles on most of our faces illustrates that this was a happy time in our family's life as we made our way into the upbeat years of the 1950s in the booming community of San Diego.

Shaun Gower. This Friday, November 8, is also the birthday of my cousin Shaun Gower of Escondido, California, just north of San Diego. Shaun is one of the two sons of my cousin Hershell Gower. So to be precise, Shaun is my first cousin, once removed. He is the first of the 14 great grandchildren of Leroy and Nola Shannon Gower. 

I had a enjoyable time reconnecting with Shaun recently after not much contact in recent years. He is doing well and enjoying life with his fiance Tracy. This fourth picture shows Shaun and Tracy in a picture that was taken in San Diego just a few weeks ago.
- - -
Steve Shepard