Tuesday, December 31, 2013

New Year's Celebrations, December 31, 2013

Some people ask the secret of our long marriage.
We take time to go to a restaurant
two times a week. 
A little candlelight, dinner, 
soft music and dancing. 
She goes Tuesdays, I go Fridays.
~Henny Youngman 

Chenda Shepard. Happy Birthday tomorrow to our daughter-in-law Chenda Sou Shepard who was born in Cambodia, in the capital city of Phnom Penh, 34 years ago on January 1. After 4 1/2
years in the United States, she lives today in Alameda, California with husband Nathan and children Preslea, Logan and William. The first picture shows Chenda with their youngest son William Quincy Shepard, taken in San Diego last month.

Darrell and Mary Shepard. Today is the wedding Anniversary of Darrell and Mary Medina Shepard, who were married in Abilene, Texas 31 years ago. As I mentioned in my last post, Abilene Christian figured into the wedding plans of Cindy and me many years ago, and it also figured into the wedding plans for Darrell and Mary. They both had attended that Texas school and were living there when they decided to marry on that happy New Year's Eve in 1982. 

Soon thereafter they moved to the West Coast where they have lived ever since. Today they make their home in Kirkland, Washington where they are the parents of Chris, Rachel and Pat and the grandparents of Logan Joseph. The second picture, taken this past summer in Anacortes, Washington shows Darrell and Mary. Also in this picture on the left is birthday girl Chenda Shepard.

New Year Weddings. We usually think of spring or summer as the best time for getting married. But this time of the year -- New Year's Eve and New Year's Day -- has been a popular marrying time for a surprising number of people in our family.

Darrrell's great grandparents Jim and Callie Spear Davis, were married January 1, 1896 (see third picture of Jim and Callie on their wedding day 118 years ago). On that same day in 1903 Jim's brother Tom Davis married his wife Alice Hinton. Those weddings were even in the cold clime of Spencer, Indiana! 

Jim and Callie's youngest daughter Marjorie Davis married John Millikan on January 1, 1931, and -- are you ready for this? -- married her second husband Clyde Williams in 1981, exactly 50 years later, also on New Year's Day. Two of Marjorie's sons were also married that same time of the year: Arlen on Dec 31, 1952, and Gary, Dec 31, 1955. On the Gower side of the family, my aunt Vicki Gower Johnston married Al Perry Dec 31, 1973.

There may be others in our family who were married on New Year's Eve or New Year's Day, each with their own interesting story to tell. Do you know of others?
- - -
Steve Shepard

Friday, December 27, 2013

A 45th Anniversary, Dec 27, 2013

We are not the same persons
 this year as last;
nor are those we love.
It is a happy chance
 if we, changing,
continue to love a changed person.
~W. Somerset Maugham 

It is hard for me to believe that today is the 45th wedding anniversary of Cindy and me. It was in 1968 on this December day, which also happened to be on Friday, that Cindy and I were married at the La Mesa Church of Christ here in the San Diego area. It was an evening wedding, officiated by my second cousin Edwin Kilpatrick, who was also the minister of my family's church, the Linda Vista Church of Christ.

Among those in the wedding party all those years ago were Gloria Weston, Pam Henderson, Connie Cleland, my sister Linda, my brother Gary, the Deveny twins, Dan Frost, and Cindy's brother Joe Paul. The wedding was attended by a large number of our family and friends.

I was home on Christmas break from college at Abilene Christian in order for us to get married. After the wedding we took a few days and went up the California coast for a quiet honeymoon that was a welcome rest after all the hectic preparations for the wedding (most of which I was able to avoid!). Within a few days we returned to Texas for school where we both continued our studies for another year and a half before returning to California. Our first home together was a small apartment across the street from the College. The memories of that time, though they grow faint, still fill us with warmth and joy.

The first picture (above) shows the two of us. The left half of the image was taken 45 years ago on our wedding night; the right half was taken just last month while we were on vacation in Kona, Hawaii. The right half of this picture was taken by my mom Maida Shepard, the same person who had to "sign for me" when we got our marriage license all those years ago. Cindy and I were both 20 at the time but an archaic California law stated that men were underage at 20 while women were not.

That Was Then; This Is Now. Tonight we plan to leave all our house guests to fend for themselves and have dinner somewhere here in San Diego at a nice restaurant as we celebrate our years together.

The second picture was taken this past Thanksgiving and shows Cindy and me with our son Nathan, his wife Chenda and their children William, Preslea and Logan. On the left are Cindy's aunt Juanita Eeds and Cindy's mom Paula Harris.
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Monday, December 23, 2013

Merry Christmas! December 23, 2013

There are many gifts under the Christmas tree,
but the very best is the gift of family.

Wednesday this week is not only Christmas Day, it is also the 125th anniversary of the birth of my grandfather William Shepard. For the last few blog posts I have mentioned him and included pictures about him as a way of remembering the important place he has in our family history.

Interestingly, grandfather William -- like many men of his time -- never had a life long profession, or a career that he worked at most of his life. In the census records for 1910, 20, 30 and 40 he gave his occupation as farmer. But we know he did many different things, from factory work in his early years in Illinois, to farming and railroad work in Oklahoma, to driving a gas truck in Colorado, to running a boarding home with wife Bura in San Diego, to working at Seal Laundry in his later years. 

Nevertheless, those of us who knew him remember him as a valued part of our family. He and his sister Sadie were the only Shepard children of their generation, with no cousins named Shepard. Their father William Elmer Shepard was the only Shepard child of his generation, with no cousins named Shepard. Granddad William therefore is a very unique and important linkage to our Shepard ancestry. 

The first picture is a collection of images showing 7 generations of parents and children span more than 200 years. The single picture in the second row is William. Above him are his great grandfather Edmond Owens Jr. (1795-1864) and his mother Elvira Owens Shepard (1865-1931).

Below William are his daughter Pauline Shepard Russell (1916-2000), her daughter Beverly Russell Wilk (1939-1974), her daughter Shannon Wilk (b. 1973), and her daughter Emma Beverly Jean Wilk (b. 2005). Unfortunately, I do not have a picture of William's maternal grandfather, Payton Owens (1826-1872), whose place would be between the top two pictures.)

The 4 images below William in this picture show 4 of the 53 descendants of him and Bura. Their first child Pauline was born Dec 28, 1916 -- 97 years ago this Saturday. 

I am grateful for William Shepard and all the ways that he gave of himself to his family. He will be long remembered as a good father, grandfather and great grandfather, and a very important part of our family heritage.

Family Christmas Gathering. The second picture I am including shows a gathering of a large part of the clan of Leroy and Nola Gower. It was taken at their home in San Diego on a sunny Christmas Day in 1974. This picture was taken just 2 weeks after grandpa Leroy Gower had passed away.

Standing, left to right, are Nola Shannon Gower, Starlene Bass Gower, Hershell Gower, Hendrix Gower, Al Perry, Janet Nolan Gower, Eugene Shepard, Cindy Harris Shepard, Jackie Enderle Shepard, Jason Shepard, Darrell Shepard, Gary Shepard and Kelly Shepard. In the front row are Vicki Gower Perry, Shaun and Lloyd Gower, Russell Shepard, Barbara Shepard, Maida Gower Shepard and Kerri Shepard.

May you all have a wonderful, joyful Christmas!
- - -
Steve Shepard

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

An American Tale, Dec 17, 2013

Happiness doesn't result from what we get, 
but from what we give.
~Ben Carson

As I mentioned in my last post, this Christmas celebrates the 125th anniversary of the birth of my grandfather William Shepard (1888-1976). The first picture (below) shows William with his wife Bura Davis Shepard on Christmas Eve, 1973 -- 40 years ago.

Our Growing Body of Knowledge. The discoveries that have been made about his ancestry since his death have been amazing. We knew that he was originally from Alton, Illinois. We have also known that his father William Elmer Shepard was originally from Wabash, Indiana, but settled in Madison County, Illinois where he married Elvira Owens before they moved to Oklahoma. We have also known that his grandfather William Shepard was from Wabash, Indiana, and died in the Civil War as a young man.

But research done in recent years has filled in many of the gaps in our knowledge of him and his ancestry. We have learned that his great grandparents on the Shepard side were James and Hannah Shepard (Shepherd?), of Eastern Ohio, who migrated to Indiana in the early 19th century. James' grave can be visited in Paint Creek Cemetery outside tiny Camden, Indiana.

William's grandfather, also named William Shepard, was seriously injured in what was probably the first battle of his Civil War regiment at Bowling Green, Kentucky, in February, 1862. The soldier William was taken to a military hospital in Evansville, Indiana where he languished for 5 long months before he died in July, 1862. His grave in the Civil War section of Oak Hill Cemetery in Evansville is a solemn, historic location.

Furthermore we have learned the identity of William's grandmother, Mary Sprague Shepard, the Civil War widow who was left with an infant son when her husband/soldier died. Her son was born and her husband was wounded in the same month, February, 1862. The widow Mary went on to marry an older man, William Ragsdale, who she hoped would care for her and her fatherless son. She may have been cared for well, but her son William Elmer Shepard found life in the home of his step father unbearable and left home as a teen, never to see his family again. Mary Sprague Shepard Ragsdale died in 1919 and is buried today in Crown Hill Cemetery, Indianapolis, Indiana.

The runaway teen William Elmer Shepard, in about 1880, ended up in Madison County, Illinois where he married Elvira Owen and made a good life for himself. He, Elvira and their two children moved to Oklahoma in the early 20th century. William Elmer and and Elvira are buried in Sophia Cemetery in Beaver County, Oklahoma.

Most of the foregoing details were unknown to granddad before he died in San Diego in 1976. His story, the elements of it he knew, and the elements he never knew, are all part of our family's history, a history that is important because it is OUR history. These are our people. This is literally our connection to the past, our American tale, a story that deserves to be preserved and passed on.

It is unfortunate that granddad never knew much of his own family's history, but it is fortunate that we have been able to fill in so many of the details in recent years. There is much more to learn. As the years go by we will learn even more about all parts of our family. That knowledge that will become an integral part of our self understanding, that we can pass on to future generations. Ours is a wonderful American story, with both heartbreak and happiness, inspiration and regret, successes and failures. It's a story that we celebrate on this 125th anniversary of granddad William Shepard's birth.

That Was Then; This Is Now. The second picture I am including shows twin Christmas Elves, Dominic and Isaac Ortiz, who are Great Great Grandchildren of William and Bura Davis Shepard. They are sons of Jeremy and Desiree Ortiz of Blue Springs, Missouri. Jeremy's mother is Kim Boyd Clark, and his grandmother is Thelma Shepard Boyd.
- - -
Steve Shepard

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

A 125th Anniversary, December 11, 2013

Age is a question of mind over matter.
If you don't mind, it doesn't matter.
~Satchel Paige

A 125th Anniversary. Christmas, 2013 is the 125th anniversary of the birth of my grandfather William Shepard. He was born December 25, 1888, longer ago than anyone in our family that I have ever known personally. The only other family members I have known who were born before the turn of the 20th century were my grandmother Bura Davis Shepard (1896), and my maternal grandfather Leroy Gower (1899).

It seems only appropriate then to spend some time this month celebrating granddad William Shepard by reviewing his life with special consideration of what we have learned about him and his ancestry in recent years. I am grateful for the wonderful grandfather that he was, and honor him this month, 125 years after his birth.

He was born and lived his early life in Alton, Illinois, which is across the Mississippi and upriver just a ways from Saint Louis, Missouri. He and his family, including his only sister Sadie and his parents William Elmer and Elvira Owen Shepard, moved from Illinois to Oklahoma about 1905 and settled in Beaver County. There he met and married Bura Davis, who would be his life partner for over 60 years. After relocating for 12 years to Colorado, they and their four children made their way to San Diego, where he lived the last 36 years of his life.

The first picture shows a well dressed William Shepard in a family picture in San Diego about 1952, in front of their home in North Park. His wife Bura is sitting on the bumper of their car, their granddaughter Linda Shepard is in her lap, with me in the middle of this photo. At the time of this picture William was just about the same age that I am now. (I think I recognize that expanding waistline!)

He died in San Diego on the last day of November, 1976 -- 37 years ago -- at 88 years old. Those of us with warm memories of him as a friend or relative are getting fewer and fewer in number. He and Bura's descendants number 53 today. 40 of those 53 have been born since 1976 when he died.

In the years since he died, computers and the internet have made it possible to discover one's family history in ways that were never dreamed possible before. I will share more about that in my next blog post.

That Was Then; This is Now. The second picture I am including shows Christmas 2013 in Anacortes, Washington. In the picture is my mom Maida Shepard. She was was a daughter-in-law of William for over 30 years and it was in her home that he and Bura lived for the last few years of his life. 

In this picture she is taking a break from trimming the Christmas tree at her home on Wildwood Lane where she lives with grandson Steven and daughter Barbara. Thanks to Barbara for taking this picture and sharing it on Facebook.
- - -
Steve Shepard

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

It's the Holiday Season, December 4, 2013

Let us be grateful
to the people who make us happy;
they are the charming gardeners
who make our souls blossom.
~Marcel Proust

The Holiday Season. When growing up in San Diego with the other members of our Shepard and Gower family, the holiday season, from Thanksgiving to Christmas, was a special time, especially for the children. 

The Shepard part of our family was careful not to celebrate Christmas as an overtly religious holiday, which may seem a little strange to some. But as devout "church of Christ" people we were following a strong church and family tradition that questioned the claim that Dec. 25 was Jesus' actual birth date. To treat it as a religious holiday seemed somewhat "papist" (pardon the expression).

Nevertheless, we made the holidays special times. Christmas and Thanksgiving were filled with holiday celebrations and family gatherings, modest gift giving, seasonal music and usually a Christmas tree. It was how we lived out our very meaningful holiday traditions that continue to be passed on from generation to generation.
The first picture is one that I shared a few years ago in this blog. It is one of the oldest pictures I have of a holiday gathering of our family in San Diego. Taken at Elmer and Beryl Shepard's home on Thanksgiving Day 53 years ago, it shows nearly the entire clan of Will and Bura Davis Shepard. It includes their children Pauline Shepard Russell, Elmer Shepard, Eugene Shepard, and Thelma Shepard Boyd, and their spouses, as well as 8 of the 9 grandchildren in the clan at that time.  

Happy Birthday Patrick. Tomorrow is the birthday of one of Will and Bura's great grandchildren, Patrick Shepard. His father Darrell is the little boy in the picture above, next to the little girl (Joan Shepard) front and center. 

Pat and his wife Nicole live in Bothell, Washington with their infant son Logan Joseph Shepard, a great great grandchild of both Leroy and Nola Gower, and Will and Bura Shepard. Pat is a native of the Great Northwest and lives with his family not far from his dad and mom, the newest and proudest grandparents among us, Darrell and Mary Shepard.

The second picture shows 5 generations in our family. From left to right are Logan Joseph Shepard (2013), his father Patrick Shepard (1992), grandfather Darrell Shepard (1958), great grandfather Eugene Shepard (about 1935), and great great grandfather William Shepard (about 1930).
-- -
Steve Shepard