Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Babies For a Hundred Years, January 28, 2015

There are words in the soul of a newborn baby,
wanting and waiting to be written.
~Toba Beta

I received in the mail a recent picture of the newest baby in our family, Mason Shepard of Bothell, Washington. His parents sent me this latest picture so I feel compelled to include it in this post and share the joy with all of you. Mason was born just last month to my nephew Patrick and his wife Nicole Haw Shepard, but for a new born, a month is a long time! The first picture shows little Mason by himself on the left, and on the right with his parents Pat and Nicole, and his older brother (by 17 months) Logan Joseph Shepard. 

As an interesting comparison, I am also including a baby picture of Mason's father Patrick when he was a baby, some 24 years ago. This picture was taken in Anacortes, Washington, where Pat's grandparents lived and where he visited often. Also in this picture is Pat's cousin Steven on the left who, like Pat, was born in 1990.

Further it would be even more interesting to compare the previous two baby pictures to yet another baby picture, this one taken 61 years ago and shows Mason's grandfather Darrell Shepard.

This picture also includes Darrell's older sister Linda Shepard (1950-1971) and was taken in San Diego, possibly on the steps of the home of Darrell's grandparents Leroy and Nola Shannon Gower, who resided on Arizona St. in San Diego. Darrell was the fourth child and Linda the third in the family of Eugene and Maida Shepard. 

And finally, this baby photo spread is complete (at least as complete as I can make it from my photo library) with a baby picture of Mason's Great Grandfather Eugene Shepard (1921-2003) sitting in the lap of Mason's Great Great Great Grandfather James Brooks Davis (1870-1928).
This picture was taken in 1922, probably in Beaver County, Oklahoma, where the Davis and Shepard families lived at the time.

So there you have it -- 5 generations of fathers and sons with one exception. Unfortunately I have no picture of Eugene's father William Shepard as a baby. These particular photos -- among all the tales these pictures contain -- tell of the migration of this part of our Shepard family from Oklahoma to San Diego to the Great Northwest -- Portland, Seattle and Anacortes. 

But no matter how many changes take place in our culture, no matter how diverse the generations or varied the particular settings, some things remain the same. Parents and grandparents cherish their baby pictures, while they smile at the memories and the unique stories each one tells.
- - -
Steve Shepard

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

"Romance Can Blossom Any Old Time", January 21, 2015

Love knows no season, love knows no clime
Romance can blossom any old time.
~Robert L. May

In my last blog post, I celebrated the 150th wedding anniversary of my Great Great Grandparents Bill and Maggie Spear who were married on Jan 15. In that post I asked why anyone would choose to marry in January, especially in Indiana where the winters can be so harsh. In response I heard from a long time reader of the The Shepard's Crook, my 3rd cousin Roberta Owens Brooks, a fellow family researcher who said,

"I have another reason William and Maggie may have married in January. Life on a farm in the Midwest in the 1860’s was difficult and extremely busy most of the year. But in January after their tools were cleaned and repaired and the animals taken care of, there was little to do and people had more leisure time. Time to socialize with friends and neighbors—and to marry. Who wouldn't like to have such an event to attend in the dead of winter? It would be the highlight of the season!"

Thanks to Roberta for these thoughtful comments. This got me to thinking: historically, what months of the year have we and our ancestors chosen to get married? Thanks to having my family history records on computer, I can answer that question fairly easily. In my records of all our family members and ancestors, I have dates for 342 marriages. Some of those marriages were very recent, others go back to the 19th century or even earlier. 

Here is what I discovered: August has been the most popular month to get married, followed by December, then June, then January. That August and June were popular marrying months is not too surprising. But I did not expect December and January to be among the most popular months. Almost 25% of all marriages in our families over the years occurred in those two winter months. Equally surprising is the fact that July was the least popular month to get married. Of those 342 marriage dates, only 9 (2.6%!) were in the month of July. 

I don't want to make too much of all this. Although those of us who did get married in winter can feel a little more mainstream than we might have thought. Perhaps it just goes to show you the truth of the words in the song Winter Wonderland: "Love knows no season, love knows no clime, Romance can blossom any old time."

Happy 5th Anniversary to Havilah and Kevin. Speaking of blossoming romance -- and winter weddings! -- this Friday, January 23, is the 5th wedding anniversary of Kevin and Havilah Colgain Wardle. Havilah and Kevin have been living in South Texas, but just recently returned to Utah, their long time home.

Havilah is a Great Great Great Granddaughter of Bill and Maggie Spear. Here's her lineage: Bill and Maggie Williams Spear / James and Callie Spear Davis / Will and Bura Davis Shepard / Elmer and Beryl Swinney Shepard / Art and Joan Shepard Colgain / Havilah Colgain Wardle.

In my last post I mentioned that the January 1865 wedding of Bill and Maggie was an act that defied the elements. But Kevin and Havilah took defiance to a whole different level! They were married in the winter of 2010, and not in some warm, cozy church. They defied the elements and were married in the snow of the backcountry of Utah! The first picture (above) shows Kevin and Havilah on their wedding day 5 years ago. The second picture (left) shows the two of them in more recent times.

Whether in the 19th century or the 21st century, genuine love is something that has made couples in our family raise their fists to all opposition -- whether the elements, convention, or the spirit of the times -- and say "We will not be denied!" It's a family story that has repeated itself many times and I am sure will be played out many more times in years to come.

Havilah: Yes, we are back in Utah! After living apart for 6 months, we are thrilled to be together in our new home, in Utah. The property in Texas is officially sold to a wonderful family, and we are loving setting up the new house in Utah. Shocker here, but the new house is in excellent condition, and we were able to move in the day we bought it. Getting to decorate rooms vs demoing rooms- feels luxurious! As for the animals, we brought the majority with us. At the buyer's request, I left a few hens in Texas, otherwise, we have a backyard full of furry and feathered "kids." Egg season just started for Quackers The Goose, and the 130 pound puppy, Henry, has discovered, and fallen in love with snow.
 We plan on sticking close to home for our anniversary, and honestly, that feels like the best celebration I can imagine!

Happy Birthday today to Dane and Nathan Shepard. Havilah's uncle Dane Shepard and Dane's son Nathan Shepard share a birthday today, January 21. Dane, who lives with his family in New Castle, Oklahoma, is the son of the late Elmer and Beryl Swinney Shepard and one of the Grandsons of Will and Bura Shepard. This third picture is a recent photo of Dane.

Dane: I'm grateful for the opportunities and the health to stay as busy as ever.  I'm thankful to "wear various hats" as an elder, claims adjuster, and song worship leader and trainer, as well as continuing in hymn writing, recording, and publishing.  And most of all, I like being a husband and father.  At the end of the month we will be headed to Texas for a song worship event and on to Florida to attend lectures there and see Nathan.  He continues to enjoy his second year at Florida College pursuing a business degree.  He manages to stay very involved with music as a percussionist with the jazz ensemble and the touring Friends band.  Being near water and waves, Nathan has also taken up skim boarding in his spare time.

19 year old Nathan Ross Shepard is a second year student at Florida College, a Church of Christ school in Tampa, Florida. Best wishes to Nathan and Dane for a wonderful birthday celebration. This final picture shows college student Nathan with his sister Kaylan, taken at Christmas.
- - -
Steve Shepard

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

A Cold Sunday for a Warm Event, January 14, 2015

Families are the compass that guides us,
the inspiration to reach great heights,
and our comfort when we occasionally falter.
~Brad Henry

A 150th Anniversary. On Sunday, January 15, 1865 in Owen County, Indiana, our ancestors William Spear and Margaret Frances Williams were married. Why in the world would anyone chose this particular day to get married? The middle of January is the coldest time of the year in Owen County, the average high and low temperatures being 34 and 15 degrees!

Bill's grandfather James Spear had immigrated to America from Armaugh, Ireland around the turn of the 19th century, being one of the most recent immigrants from Europe in our family tree. The Spear family settled in Ohio at first, then immigrated to Indiana in the mid 19th century. The Williams family also had recently immigrated to Owen County in the new state of Indiana, but they had come from nearby Kentucky.

We can only guess why the young couple Bill and Maggie simply could not wait for summer or even spring to get married. Recent years had been emotionally exhausting for them. Bill had married Caroline Spear (Maggie's older sister) in the spring of 1861, with a child, Isolena Belle, being born to them in the spring of 1862. A year later, 24 year old Caroline died, leaving an infant daughter, a devastated husband, and a brokenhearted family, including her sister Maggie.

The first picture (above) shows Margaret (Maggie) Frances Williams Spear with her stepdaughter Isolena Belle Spear (at 3 years old on the right) and Maggie's first child, the infant Caroline (Callie) Spear in her lap. Taken in 1865, this may be the oldest family picture I have ever seen. I found it in a Davis family history (Our Heritage Generations Past and Present) compiled in 1995 by Jerry Davis and Ronald Davis.

In January 1865 when Bill and Maggie were married, the Civil War was still in full swing. At its beginning many thought it would last but a few months with minimal deaths. But by 1865 it had stretched on interminably with hundreds of thousands of young deaths, many of them from Owen County. The numbers continued to climb and the heartbreak all across the country only grew.

After burying his young wife Caroline, Bill found great solace in his sister-in-law Maggie Williams -- 13 years his junior. It was solace that turned to love. And sometime in the early winter of 1864-1865 they decided to marry and refused to wait till spring when "a young man's fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love" (Tennyson). So in mid-January, in the dead of winter, they were joined in holy matrimony.

A small church had recently been started by new residents of Owen County, the New Union Church of Christ. According to "The Churches of Christ in Owen County, Indiana" (by Rev. A.T DeGroot), Bill and Maggie and many other ancestors of ours were members of that church. It may have been in that little church on Rattlesnake Rd, northwest of Spencer that they were married.

Just as the marriage of Bill and Maggie in January, 1865 marked the beginning of better times for the Spear and Williams families, that same month marked the beginning of better times for our country with the end of the Civil War in sight. Bill and Maggie did not know it at the time but on the day they got married, January 15, 1865, Ft. Fisher, North Carolina, a major Confederate sea port, fell to Union troops, an effort supported by numerous Indiana soldiers. It was a major defeat for the Confederate cause, one more indication that the war would soon draw to an exhausting close.

Bill and Maggie's winter wedding 150 years ago was an act of defiance. It defied the elements by refusing the let winter get in their way. It defied convention by refusing to wait till spring. And for Bill and Maggie it even defied the spirit of the times, dominated by the horror and sadness of war.

Bill and Maggie eventually had 8 children. The second picture (above) shows Maggie (middle right) with 6 of their children: Callie, Pearl, Clayton, Sarah, Morton, and Effie (with the guitar). On January 1, 1896 their oldest child, Callie Spear, would marry James Brooks Davis. The first of Callie and Jim's 7 children -- and one of Bill and Maggie's grandchildren -- was Bura Emerald Davis, my paternal grandmother.

It has been exactly a century and a half since Bill and Maggie married, an event that is still a cause for celebration. After all these years the power and the marvel of their love remains and the effect of their devotion to one another still moves us.

Congratulations to Kim and Jeff! One of Maggie and Bill's Great Great Granddaughters is Kim Boyd Ortiz-Clark who will celebrate a January wedding anniversary this Sunday. She and Jeff Clark of Blue Springs, Missouri, were married 8 years ago on January 18, 2007.

Kim: 8 years have gone by so fast. Jeff is thinking more about retirement. We are looking into getting a motor home. Oh dear, we must be getting old lol but it sounds like fun to me. We have our house on the market, so after it sells .......our life may change. This picture of the two of us was taken 2 weeks ago in San Diego.
- - -
Steve Shepard

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

A Family Is What You Make It, January 7, 2015

A family is what you make it.
It is made strong,
not by the number of heads
counted at the dinner table,
but by the rituals
you help family members create,
and by the memories you share.
~Marge Kennedy

This week three birthdays occur in our larger family, all of which are for people who are descended from William and Bura Davis Shepard, or have married into that family.

Happy Birthday Carsyn Slaughter! Monday of this week, January 5, was the second birthday of Carsyn Slaughter, the great granddaughter of Thelma Shepard Boyd. Carsyn is the daughter of Courtney Boyd and Cody Slaughter of San Diego, and the granddaughter of Darren Boyd of Coronado, California.

The first picture shows little Carsyn being held by her mother Courtney Boyd, with her great grandmother Thelma on the left and aunt Kim Boyd Clark on the right. This picture was taken last month when Thelma's family was all together in San Diego for Christmas.

Happy Birthday Cindy Shepard! Today, January 7, is the birthday of my wife Cindy Harris Shepard, with whom I have the great privilege of living, here in San Diego. Cindy was born in the San Joaquin Valley town of Visalia, California but came as a young child with her family to San Diego where she was raised.

This second picture is one of my favorites and shows Cindy as a child with her father Joe Harris (1922-1999). It was taken about 1950 when she was 2 or 3 years old, possibly in the San Joaquin Valley near where the Harrises lived.

Cindy and I actually met 50 years ago this year (no, that can't be right; I need a fact checker!). At the time we were in our senior year in High School -- hers was Hoover High and mine was Kearny High. We got acquainted through our involvement in our Church youth groups -- hers was the Allied Gardens Church of Christ, and mine was the Linda Vista Church of Christ. Our youth groups co-mingled often for outings, Bible studies, and numerous other activities. 

The result was a few marriages (like ours), and many friendships that have endured through the decades. Several of our friends from all those years ago are Facebook friends even today, including Mel Storm, Frank Hankins, Ron Storm, Connie Shaw Cleland, Linda Cranford Elliot, Jennifer Daniels McGoldrick, Tom Skinner, and Jane Saxton Harris.

These days Cindy enjoys the retired life and relishes being an active grandmother of 3 little ones. She also finds time to be of assistance to her mother and aunt, nonagenarians who live in Allied Gardens not far from where we live here in the San Carlos Community of San Diego.

This third picture shows Cindy with her granddaughter Preslea, who is the oldest of the three rug rats. This picture was taken a few months ago at the home of Preslea's parents Nathan and Chenda Sou Shepard.

Happy Birthday, Mary Shepard! This Saturday, January 10 is the birthday of Mary Medina Shepard, wife of my brother Darrell Shepard. She and Darrell live in Kirkland, Washington and are the parents of 3 grown kids and the grandparents of 3 little ones, all of whom live in the Seattle area. Mary is originally from Chicago but met Darrell at Abilene Christian in Abilene, Texas. They have lived in the Great Northwest now for most of their lives.

The fourth picture is one I snatched off of Facebook recently and shows proud mom and grandmother Mary on the right with daughter Rachel and Rachel's son Kellan Shepard, grandson #2 of Mary and Darrell.

Best wishes to these three for memorable and joyful birthdays!
- - -
Steve Shepard

Thursday, January 01, 2015

Happy New Year! January 1, 2015

The littlest feet
make the biggest footprints
in our hearts.

Happy New Year to all of you and your loved ones! 2014 was an amazing year for us and for our entire family. Among the most important things that happened in our family in 2014 was the birth of 3 babies. Pictured below are Karver Bearden (parents Lyndsey Aquiningoc and Colton Bearden), Kellan Shepard (parents Rachel Shepard and Bryan Miller) and Mason Shepard (parents Pat and Nicole Shepard).

It's All About The Babies. In the last 5 years, 8 children have been born into the family of Maida and Eugene Shepard. That makes 8 births in 57 months, or about one birth every 7 months since 2010.

Consider that in that same period of time 3 other births occurred in my aunt Thelma Shepard Boyd's part of our family. That means that in the last 5 years, the descendants of William and Bura Davis Shepard have produced a total of 11 children, approximately one birth every 5 months. Clearly that is a rapid clip, and qualifies as a baby boom for our family. I do not know of another time when so many babies were born among us over such a short period of time. We celebrate these new members of our family and rejoice with the happy parents and grandparents. 

Here are the names, birthdates and hometowns of these 11 children:

Preslea Shepard (3/26/10) - San Diego
Logan A. Shepard (5/15/11) - San Diego
Isaac Ortiz (4/23/2012) - San Diego
Dominic Ortiz (4/23/2012) - San Diego
William Shepard (7/28/12) - San Diego
Carsyn Slaughter (1/5/13) - San Diego
Kambree Bowman (6/14/13) - Weatherford, Texas
Logan J. Shepard (7/21/13) - Bothell, Washington
Karver Bearden (9/23/14) - Weatherford, Texas
Kellan Shepard (10/01/14) - Kirkland, Washington
Mason Shepard (12/12/14) - Bothell, Washington

It is gratifying to know that the future of our family is assured and is in good hands.

Happy Birthday Chenda! 3 of the births mentioned above are children of our son Nathan and his wife Chenda Sou Shepard, whose 35th birthday is today! Best wishes and many happy returns of the day to Chenda, who lives with her family in San Diego. She stays busy with her 3 young ones and her job as child care attendant at our church. Chenda also loves gardening and tends a beautiful landscape around their house. The second picture, taken last month, shows Chenda with William, Preslea and Logan.

Happy 32nd to Darrell and Mary! Before leaving 2014 altogether, I want to wish happy anniversary to my brother Darrell and his wife Mary Medina Shepard of Kirkland, Washington. They were married in Abilene, Texas 32 years ago yesterday. Darrell and Mary are the proud grandparents (and I DO mean proud!) of three of the baby boomers mentioned above. Pictured below are Mary and Darrell with Darrell's mother Maida Shepard.

Mary gets the last word today with the following, which she posted on Facebook a few days ago: Wishing all of my family and friends and facebook peeps a very Happy New Year! This past year was a year of many changes and many blessings. I am thankful for all of the people in my life and thankful most of all for my 3 beautiful grandsons, Logan, Kellan and Mason. You boys give me the most joy of anything in this world! I am also thankful for my children who are doing so well and are all happy. My husband and I will celebrate 32 years of marriage on 12-31, and it has been a fun ride, bumpy at times, but mostly fun! I hope that each and every one of you that reads this knows how much you enrich my life and how much I love you and hope that you are doing well in your life! May 2015 bring many joys and much laughter and abundant love to you!
- - -
Steve Shepard