Friday, May 29, 2015

Spring Time Celebrations! May 29, 2015

The only thing sweeter than union is reunion.
~Kathleen McGowan

Family Reunion in August. Don't forget to make your plans for our Family Reunion this summer on August 22, 2015 at the home of Patrick and Nicole Haw Shepard of Bothell, Washington, a suburb of Seattle. Watch future posts of this blog for more information about the reunion.

Mike Harrell. Today, May 29, is the birthday of my cousin Mike Harrell of Zionsville, Indiana. Mike and his wife Carole have lived in Indiana since moving there from Northern California a couple of years ago. Mike, originally from San Diego, is the son of Vicky Gower Johnston of Oak Harbor, Washington. Mike is the 9th of the 12 grandchildren of Leroy and Nola Shannon Gower to reach that special milestone of 60. 

The first picture shows Indianapolis Colts fans Mike Harrell on the left. The lovely eyes on the right belong to Mike's wife Carole, also a big time Colts fan. Best wishes to Mike for a great birthday!

Jeremy and Desiree Ortiz. This coming Monday, June 1, is the anniversary of Jeremy and Desiree Ortiz of San Diego. Jeremy is the grandson of Thelma Shepard Boyd and the son of Kim Boyd Clark. Jeremy and Desiree are the parents of 5 wonderful children. Together they make up the largest single family among us. Congratulations and best wishes to Jeremy and Desiree for a wonderful 13th wedding anniversary!

The second picture shows anniversary celebrants Jeremy on the right with his wife Desiree in front of him. Next to them is mom Kim Boyd Clark, and on the far left is grandmother Thelma Shepard Boyd. This picture was taken a few months ago when the family was all together in San Diego visiting the Point Loma Tide Pools.

Gary and Cindy Shepard. This coming Tuesday, June 2 is the 36th wedding annversary of my brother Gary Shepard and his wife Cindy Dillon Shepard. They have lived in Western Washington, in the Whidbey Island town of Oak Harbor now for over 10 years. They are both originally from Southern California, where they lived until moving to Washington. Best wishes to Gary and Cindy on 36 years of married life. 

The third picture shows Gary and Cindy in a picture taken back in 1987 when they were on vacation in Northern California in the historic goldrush town of Columbia. With them in their nephew Nathan Shepard. Best wishes to Gary and Cindy for a wonderful anniversary and many more to come!

This coming Tuesday is also the anniversary of my grandparents William Shepard and Bura Davis Shepard. I will write more about them in my next post as we celebrate their 100th Wedding Anniversary.
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Steve Shepard

Friday, May 22, 2015

70 Years Ago, May 22, 2015

For it was not into my ear you whispered,
but into my heart.
It was not my lips you kissed,
but my soul.
~Judy Garland

70 years ago.  Happy Memorial Day weekend to all of you! 70 Memorial Day weekends ago was a fascinating time in the life of our nation and in the lives of our ancestors. The spring of 1945 was an extremely critical moment in world history. World War II had been raging for several years, but we were beginning to get the upper hand. On the last day of April, 1945, Adolf Hitler died. A week later V-E day (Victory in Europe) occurred and the successful campaign there was drawing to a close. In 3 months atomic bombs would fall on Japan with death and destruction the likes of which humankind had never seen before. Japanese unconditional surrender would soon follow. It was a time for optimism but still a time of great uncertainty, as Americans regrouped after the war, mourning the loss of American soldiers who died in the conflict, a number that would reach over 400,000.

In the midst of all that, on May 24, 1945 -- exactly 70 years ago this Sunday -- my parents Maida Gower and Eugene Shepard, were married. Dad was still in the Navy, stationed in Los Alamitos, California, 100 miles up the road from San Diego, where the Shepards and the Gowers lived. Gene and Maida had met at the El Cajon Blvd Church of Christ, just a stone's throw from where Maida's family lived on Arizona Street in San Diego. After many months of a long distance romance, Gene and Maida were married on a Thursday, in the minister's residence behind the church.

The first picture was taken in San Diego, probably in 1945 soon after they were married. Dad is still in uniform with a wedding ring on his finger, and mom is not showing yet with her first child, born the following March.

In December, 1945, after their wedding in May, Gene was released from military duty and he moved to San Diego to live with his bride fulltime. Their first child Gary was born in the spring of 1946, followed by 5 other children born in San Diego over the ensuing 16 years. They established their home in San Diego until 1978 when Gene retired and they moved to Washington state. He died there in the summer of 2003 in Anacortes, Washington, which is where Maida still lives today. Their descendants now number a few dozen and are scattered around Western Washington, North Texas, and San Diego. 

It was a simple wedding ceremony in that parsonage 70 years ago, but their love is still remembered today. Their legacy is a strong one and is celebrated this weekend by all of us who are their family. Thanks to Maida and Gene for their love, their devotion and their lasting witness to the power of Christian love and family affection.

Speaking of Wedding Anniversaries, June 2, 2015 will mark 100 years exactly since my grandparents William Shepard and Bura Davis were married. If you have not yet visited the anniversary page telling about them and honoring them, you can do so by selecting this link.  

"What's a matta you... Why you look so sad?" I was asked recently why our ancestors did not smile much when their pictures were taken. It is a good question. And it is true - many of our ancestors did not smile much when in front of the camera. Were they not very happy? Were they intimidated by the camera? Were the problems of their lives so bad that they could not bring themselves to offer a happy countenance? 

What do you think? I would appreciate your feedback and thoughts on this. Especially from those of you who knew family members from a generation or two ago, like my grandparents Leroy and Nola Gower, and William and Bura Shepard. Many of the pictures we have of them show them with very stoic looks on their faces -- in particular pictures from the early part of the 20th century. 

This second picture is a good example. It shows Leroy and Nola Shannon Gower in 1926 probably in Okemah, Oklahoma. With them are their first two children Hendrix and Maida. Leroy and Nola are very dour, showing nothing close to a smile, especially Nola who appears to be frowning.

The boy Hendrix seems totally non-plussed, while Maida has something of an evil little smile on her face. It appears that she was the only one in this small family group who was enjoying the moment, or making any positive connection with the photographer. 

Compare the two pictures in this post. In the first one Maida and Eugene are young adults in their early 20s, nearly the same age as Maida's parents in the second picture. The two pictures were taken only 19 years apart, with smiles for the camera being much easier to come by in 1945 than in 1926. But that reflected the times: in 1926 we were working ourselves toward the great depression; in 1945 we were moving into the post-war period of peace and prosperity.

Even so, I know for a fact that my Shepard and Gower grandparents were not unhappy people. They had a sense of humor, they could laugh and have a good time. Why then, when they found themselves in front of a camera, did they often have straight faces, somber looks, serious demeanors? 

In the early years of the 20th century, photography was still fairly new and was serious business. Photographers were often professionals and the picture taking moment called for a formal countenance. In addition to that, our forefathers and foremothers lived through some hard times. They were poor farming families in many instances. They endured a lot. Smiles and laughter did not always come easy for them, especially in front of a camera.

These days, with the proliferation of smart phones with cameras, pictures can be taken anywhere at anytime. Photography happens constantly, it seems, and we hardly think twice about it. What a difference from the time in which our forefathers and foremothers lived!
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Steve Shepard

Thursday, May 14, 2015

A Wealth of Celebrations! May 14, 2015

The year you were born
marks only your entry into the world. 
Other years where you prove your worth,
they are the ones worth celebrating. 
~Jarod Kintz

Tomorrow is the birthday of our grandson Logan A. Shepard of San Diego (not to be confused with his second cousin Logan J. Shepard, of Bothell, Washington). San Diego Logan is the middle child of Nathan and Chenda Shepard and the brother of Preslea and William. He is also the 7th Great Grandchild of Maida Gower Shepard. And he is one of the Great Great Grandchildren of William and Bura Shepard and Leroy and Nola Shannon Gower.

The following is a photo presentation celebrating Logan's 4th birthday tomorrow!


Speaking of the late William and Bura Shepard, have I mentioned that their 100th Wedding Anniversary is coming up June 2? The webpage honoring them on this 100th anniversary continues to have information added to it as the weeks go by. You can visit it now to honor Will and Bura and to celebrate this special milestone.

Today is the birthday of Christopher Shepard, also of the Seattle, Washington area, and uncle of the aforementioned Logan J. Shepard. 

This day also marks the birthday of Thelma Shepard of Blue Springs, Missouri and Thelma's grand daughter Courtney Boyd of San Diego.

In addition, on Monday of this week Jacinta Shepard (New Castle, Oklahoma) and Nicole Haw Shepard (Bothell, Washington) had birthdays. Later this week Darren Boyd (San Diego), Ashlyn Ortiz (San Diego), Jason Shepard (Weather- ford, Texas), and the late Elmer Shepard will all turn the page on one more year. 

A wealth of celebrations! Included is a collage of all those with birthdays in our family this week.

This is the most intensive birthday time in the entire year for our extended family: 10 birthdays in a 10 day period (May 11-20).  Happy Birthday to all of them!
- - -
Steve Shepard

Saturday, May 09, 2015

Happy Mother's Day Tomorrow! May 9, 2015

Acceptance, tolerance, bravery, compassion.
These are the things my mom taught me.
~Lady Gaga

Happy Mother's Day tomorrow to all those in our family who are mothers and who deserve our utmost respect and gratitude!

There are two women in our family who will be celebrating the day as mothers for the very first time. Lyndsey Aquiningoc of Weatherford, Texas will be celebrating the day tomorrow with her son Karver who is just 8 months old. And Rachel Shepard of Bothell, Washington will be celebrating her first Mother's Day with her son Kellan, also 8 months old. In addition, best wishes to Nicole Shepard, also of Bothell, Washington. She will be celebrating Mother's Day with her and husband Patrick's two sons, Logan and Mason. Mason was just born in December of last year.

On the other end of the spectrum, Happy Mother's Day to my mom, Maida Shepard of Anacortes, Washington. She is the Great Grandmother of two of the babies mentioned in the previous paragraph, and the Great Great Grandmother of the other one. Tomorrow will be the 69th time she has celebrated Mother's Day!

May all the Mother's Day celebrations around our family -- wherever they may occur -- be filled with great joy! The following is an updated Mother's Day presentation, offered in celebration of all the mothers in our family.


- - -
Steve Shepard

Tuesday, May 05, 2015

Living Well Is the Best Revenge, May 5, 2015

Living well is the best revenge.
~George Herbert

Shepard Family Reunion 2015. A family reunion is being planned for this summer on Saturday, August 22 at the home of Patrick and Nicole Shepard in the Seattle suburb of Bothell, Washington. All family and friends are invited to attend. More details will be forthcoming as the date draws near.

One Remarkable Mother. During this week leading up to Mother's Day I would like to feature a person in our family's past whose was a remarkable mother. She was not remarkable because of her grace or beauty, her charm or her ability to embody the best qualities of motherhood as we understand it today. I don't know her well enough to say any of those things about her with any certainty. I consider her a remarkable woman because of what we DO know about her, which is significant, even though she lived her entire life in the 19th century.

Her name was Elizabeth (Liza) Lucinda Mitchell, and she was the Great Grandmother of my Grandmother Nola Shannon Gower. Here is her lineage:
  • Elizabeth (Liza) Lucinda Mitchell (1817-1881), who married Andy Norton (1820-?) then Gus Dearien (1817-1900)
  • Roena Norton (1841-?) 
  • Finetta Dearien Shannon (1861-1960), who married Samuel Pickens Shannon (1858-1930)
  • Nola Shannon Gower (1903-2004), who married Leroy Gower (1899-1974)
  • Maida Gower Shepard (b. 1924), who married Eugene Shepard (1921-2003)
  • Steve Shepard (b. 1948), who married Cynthia Harris (b. 1948)
  • Nathan Shepard (b. 1977), who married Chenda Sou (b. 1980)
  • Preslea Shepard (b. 2010)
Elizabeth Mitchell was born in South Carolina in 1817 to Henry and Abba Mitchell, but as a young woman moved westward with her family. They lived for short periods of time in Georgia and then Tennessee before settling in Stone County, Arkansas where she lived most of the rest of her life. Stone County is where both my Gower grandparents were born and raised.

About 1840 Elizabeth married a man named Andy Norton near Mountain View, Arkansas, and by him had one daughter, Roena Norton. That marriage ended after just a few years and she then married a man named Gus Dearien and with him had two other children, David and Mary. One of the uglier events of our family history occurred when Elizabeth's second husband Gus Dearien had a child by his stepdaughter Roena Norton. He then added insult to injury by causing Roena's disappearance, but kept the child Finetta, and raised her in their home. I have written about that previously in this family blog and do not need to dwell on it here. This post is more about Elizabeth Mitchell Dearien, mother of Rowena and grandmother of Finetta Clementine Dearien. (See picture above of Finetta and her daughter Nola.)

Living well is the best revenge. Despite the dysfunction of the Dearien family, Elizabeth seems to have made a decent life for herself and her children. Her first child Finetta actually created a wonderful family of her own when she married Samuel Pickens Shannon. With him she bore 9 children, the last one being my Grandmother Nola Shannon Gower. Elizabeth and Finetta each had plenty of justification for being bitter and resentful of Gus' unscrupulous actions. Instead Elizabeth illustrates the truth of the saying of George Herbert, "Living well is the best revenge." 

She had all the reason in the world to get back at her husband. Instead she made the best of what came her way. She was a remarkable woman of extraordinary fortitude who endured to the end, and made of her life and her family the best she could under the circumstances. Obviously the sparsely populated hills of Northern Arkansas in the mid 19th century (during and after the Civil War) was no place for a woman to expect much justice from the domestic wrongdoing she had experienced.

So she continued her life with Mr. Dearien for 40 years and died at 64 in Timbo, near Mountain View, Arkansas in the fall of 1881. She is buried in Blue Mountain Cemetery in Timbo alongside her husband. Here is a link to her her online grave page. The picture above on the left is the headstone for L.L. Dearien (Liza Lucinda) and her husband A. M. Dearien (Augustus Marvin) in Blue Mountain Cemetery.

The story of Elizabeth Mitchell Dearien is a sobering reminder of how Mother's Day must be more than a sentimental celebration of charming women. It is also a remembrance of women who had a difficult time in life but endured remarkably despite the injustices that came their way. As we approach Mother's Day 2015, I suggest to you that Elizabeth Lucinda Mitchell Dearien is one such person, a remarkable mother who deserves remembering and celebrating.

William and Bura Shepard's 100th Anniversary. New this week on William and Bura Shepard's anniversary page is a musical-photo presentation of William Shepard and Bura Davis Shepard with family and friends over the years. Select this link to visit their Anniversary Page and view the new photo presentation. 
- - -
Steve Shepard